Updated: Jun 13
BLIND CHANG THE MARTYR - WITNESS of CHINA
Chang Shen, Manchuria
MANCHURIA, in the Northeast of China, was originally the homeland of several nomadic people groups but especially the Manchus who lent their name to the region. Since 1956 it has been called Dong-bei, literally “east-north”. It includes Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces of the People’s Republic of China.
The region borders Mongolia on the west, Russia in the north, China proper to the south and North Korea in the east. Major cities now in that area include Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, Changchun and Jilin City.
Manchuria was renowned for its Shamanism, opium and tigers. The Manchu imperial symbol was a tiger with a ball of opium in its mouth. The Manchurian Emperors were, first and foremost, accomplished Shamans.
The northeastern provinces that were Manchuria and are now Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, have a combined population of well over 100,000,000 people. Included in these 100 millions are the Manchu5s who actually ruled all of China. Having conquered the Ming Dynasty in 1644, the Manchu’s established the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
Today the Manchus have almost completely been assimilated into the Han stock of the Chinese.
Please pray for this “Dong-bei” region of China, for the opportunities are enormous and the need for the gospel there is still very great.
We are sure you will enjoy and benefit from this account of “BLIND CHANG”, a martyr witness within China.
This has long been in our C.B.R. archive but out of print and it was agreed that we now send it forth once again, to testify to the power of the gospel and Christian witness in every generation.
- J.A. Short C.B.R June 2005 (Christian Book Room)
CHAPTER ONE — A GREAT MIRACLE
“Behold, I am the Lord . . . is there anything too hard for Me?” “Ah，Lord God! behold . . . there is nothing too hard for Thee.” (Jer 32:27,17)
The country around Szepingkai has a peculiar formation, somewhat resembling great ocean swells after a storm. Nestling in one of these undulations and protected from the fierce winds which sweep Manchuria from the desert reaches of Mongolia, lies the village of Taipingkow (Valley of Peace). Here Chang Shen was born, and most probably would have lived and died in that region, quite unknown to the outside world. Certain rumours which, in the winter of 1886，came floating in concerning a wonderful place in the city of Mukden (Shenyang), some one hundred and twenty miles to the South. It was said that the foreign doctor there could cure all kinds of diseases, even blind men were known to have gone into hospital and then returned seeing.
Blind Chang, as he was called, was then thirty- six years of age. He listened with intense interest to these tales and hope gradually dawned within him, that he too might receive sight. At last his resolve was made — he would somehow make his way to Mukden.
Thus, one morning in May he set forth on his long tramp, without a guide and with only a stout stick to feel his way. The Chang clan was large and fairly well to do and so they saw to it that he was provided with a little money and warm clothes. The nights at that time of the year were very cold.
All went well for the first part of the journey but when still more than a day’s journey from Mukden he was suddenly set upon by robbers who took from him his little money, stripped him of his warm clothing and left him bruised and well-nigh helpless by the roadside. Imagine the plight of the blind man who was now trembling with cold and rage as he pressed on in his journey. That night his only resting place was the cold brick floor of an open wayside temple. There he contracted that dread disease of the East - dysentery. How he made the rest of his way to the hospital in Mukden he himself afterwards could hardly tell.
When he arrived at the hospital gateway, too exhausted to stand, he threw himself down beside the gate as word was sent asking for him to be admitted. A message was carried back to him that the hospital was full. Not a bed was vacant. There was no room for him. When he was told this, the blind man seemed to not hear as he continued to lie at the gate. No doubt it was indeed the Lord Himself who spoke to the hospital evangelist and caused him, at this juncture, to go out to the gate and find Blind Chang. As the evangelist, looked down at the cold, hungry, suffering, perhaps dying blind man, his heart was truly stirred within him. He had seen perhaps hundreds of cases as sad, some even worse than this but never had he felt so moved, even impelled, to do what he did now. Stepping quickly into the hospital, he went direct to Dr. Christie and begged that the man at the gate be given his own bed.
How little did either doctor or evangelist then know what was in the balance! But the Lord knew that this blind man was to be His chosen vessel to carry the message of salvation to thousands in Manchuria. God in His own wonderful way opened what seemed an impassable door. Thus Blind Chang entered the Mission hospital where a new life for him was to begin.
For one month he remained in the hospital where relief and healing came to his suffering body but only very partial sight to the blind eyes. At best he could but grope his way about with difficulty. Sad to say, this dim but still precious sight given him in the hospital was not long after, totally and permanently destroyed by a not very skilled “Needle Pricker” doctor, such as are found everywhere in China.
The bitter disappointment Blind Chang must have felt at the failure to get back his sight was more than made up to him by the great joy he received as the story of Redemption was unfolded to him in the hospital. He had, as you will see later, been a great sinner. The fact of forgiveness, as experienced by Blind Chang, came to a man, brutal, vulgarized, debauched and debased. But suddenly he came into touch with Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and his entire life was changed forever.
Dr. Christie later wrote, “Never did we have a patient in our hospital who received the Gospel with such joy as Blind Chang. The rapidity with which he grasped the leading truths of Christianity was remarkable.”
Before leaving the hospital for home, the blind man went to brother James Webster and asked for baptism. He was anxious as he said, “to get rid of his past and be cleansed from all his old ways.” Mr. Webster saw that he needed further instruction, for Chang thought that being baptized by the missionary would ensure him complete cleansing. Gently but firmly the missionary made it plain that Chant must return home and show by his life the reality of his faith. Later he, Mr. Webster, would visit Chang and if he still wished to follow the Lord he could be then baptized.
Blind Chang’s disappointment at this was so keen that the missionary almost repented his decision but reasoned that if the man were sincere he could only profit by the delay. So, with a few Christian books and tracts for distribution, Chang was sent on his way.
Yes, Blind Chang had a “black past”. It may be that the secret of his great passion later for making Christ known to other sinners such as he had been, was that “he loved much because he had been forgiven much.” As theLord Jesus said of another forgiven sinner, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”Luke 7:47
Remember reader, we in fact are all great sinners. The problem is that of most of us it must be said, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little little.”
One would fear indeed to use the following words of the apostle Paul in describing the change wrought in this man if his life after did not fully bear out the truth of each word.
When he left the mission hospital in Mukden, he was a new creation in Christ Jesus. “Old things had passed away ...all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17He had “put off the old man with his deeds... ”，he had “put on the new man.” Colossians 3:9&10In Blind Chang’s own hymn given at the close of this testimony we get an indication of the inner spiritual life that had come to be his. A life of sweet fellowship with the Saviour would mark this convert. Through all the hard years of witness, the Lord Jesus Christ would be Blind Chang’s faithful Guide and Companion.
But what of that “black past”? Is it necessary to give any details of it? Yes, for otherwise we could not know how great was the miracle of grace that had taken place in him.
The following facts were given us by a relation of Blind Chang’s, many years after his martyrdom.
We were told that he bore a very bad name throughout his home region. He was an inveterate gambler and a man with such an immoral life that he had become a by-word in an area where such living was not uncommon. He made his living by acting as a sort of Official and using his self-assumed power to prey upon the people who feared him. His only child, a daughter, he turned out of home and was forced into a life of begging and shame. Not long after he also drove his wife from home. Seventeen days after the wife had gone, he became totally blind. Some said this was a judgment upon him because of his evil life, while others said it was the direct result of that life. The people spoke of him as “one without a particle of good in him.”
Mankind’s faith staggers at this being a Bible miracle but what greater miracle can be recorded than such a life as this, changed, not gradually but as quickly as the human eye can open to the light? It is the miracle of the New Birth. We have seen this miracle in evidence again and again, as slaves to sin and habit, bound in chains, as real and strong as any forged in a furnace, have had those chains snapped by the grace of God through faith in Christ that makes the person free!
We can but say, “Lord God, Truly THERE IS NOTHING TOO WONDERFUL, TOO DIFFICULT FOR THEE.” (Jeremiah 32).
CHAPTER TWO — FROM THE OVERFLOW OF HEART
“Thy soul must overflow if thou another soul would’st reach; It needs the overflow of heart to give the lips full speech.” -H. Bonar
As Blind Chang faced the homeward journey his heart was filled with intense joy. So full was he that he could no more help overflowing than a vessel placed under an open tap could keep the precious flow within its own vessel. The blind man had caught the same vision as the little child in theWelsh revival who, after hearing the grown-ups pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, rose and with clasped hands upraised, prayed, “O Lord! I’m only a little girl and I can’t hold very much. Please fill me to overflow, for I can overflow lots!”
Along the road, the blind man traveled to his hometown, were open wayside drinking places. There, wayfarers sat, rested, drank hot water, tea and chatted. On reaching such places, Blind Chang would seat himself at a table and at once begin to tell the Old, Old Story which never, ever actually grows old, the story of Jesus and His love. He gave out with power the little he himself knew and so keen was he that soon crowds drew around him. Thus, before reaching his hometown, his ministry had begun.
The enemy of souls, however, was not going to let this man go without a struggle. While still on the homeward journey, he faced internal, torment, doubts and fears. He kept asking himself - “Can it be the hospital evangelist is no better than the smooth-tongued liars I have been and dealt with? Can it be that the hospital witness is after all no better than ourselves? Did he say he would visit and baptize me just to get me out but have no intention of coming?” When the ground seemed to be giving way from under his feet as it were, the Lord sent a dream to comfort him. Later he said how this dream dispelled all doubts and fears and restored the joy and peace he seemed to be losing.
He dreamt he saw the Saviour coming toward him all glowing white. He had a book in His hand and a crown was upon His brow. As He handed him the book He smiled down upon him and then vanished. This dream to the blind man became not only a strengthener to his weak, failing faith, but was much more — it came to him as a personal but Divine call to carry the Gospel to others. Being thus also influenced by the dream, Blind Chang was by no means alone among many Christians in China. If the complete history of the Church in China were written, it would doubtless record hundreds of cases where men and women have been brought to decision, delivered from fear, strengthened in faith and given courage to face even death itself, through a dream until they became established in the written Word of God.
Five months passed before Mr. Webster found himself sufficiently free from ministry in the hospital to pay his promised visit to the blind man. There were no railways in Manchuria then and it was difficult to visit Taipingkow. Here we will allow Mr. Webster to give his own account.
“At the entrance to the village two men were standing. Addressing one I found him to be a Mr. Li who knew all about the blind man. He led me to his home with much ceremony and while we drank tea together he told me a story which caused me to forget all hunger and weariness. He told me how when Blind Chang returned home from Mukden he began at once to tell the people the story of Jesus, going from village to village and into as many homes as would receive him. In the evenings he would preach to hundreds gathered under the shade of the willow trees. At first, everybody laughed at him or thought him crazed and pitied him. But when he still kept on preaching and giving practical proofs of having undergone a change, people became divided about him. In short, the whole countryside became affected, even to the point of uproar. As week after week passed, the blind man daily prayed his prayer for help from on high, sang his one hymn learned in Mukden (thought to be ‘Jesus Loves Me’), then went forth alone to tell the story of Redeeming Love."
The missionary’s heart burned with joy within him on hearing such news. Would that every newborn child of God at home and abroad could have such said about them. But where was Blind Chang? He was in thevillage but did not know of brother Webster’s arrival. When Chang did hear, with great joy he knew his prayer had been answered. The missionary by this time had also started out with Mr. Li to find Blind Chang. They met on the road and as the blind man came within hailing distance, Mr. Webster called him by name. Chang stood quite still for a moment resting on his staff, as if to assure himself and then with his face radiant with joy and with great tears dropping from his eyes he exclaimed in a voice trembling with emotion, “Oh, brother, I always hoped you would come. You promised and now you have come!”
That night Mr. Webster was kept busy till well past midnight. He had for his bed-fellows Blind Chang and a Chang’s friend. (Chinese beds can accommodate from six to twenty people.) He tells how the last thing heard somewhere in the small hours of the morning was an earnest discussion regarding the difference between Confucius and Christ. Confucius was likened to the man who discoursed on the advantages of walking circumspectly, to a man who had fallen into a deep pit, while Christ was compared to another who, on seeing the man’s helpless condition, threw him a rope and helped him out. Reformation and salvation were starkly contrasted.
The following two days were a never-to-be- forgotten experience for the missionary. Hour after hour of the first day was spent in examining candidates for baptism, each one being given a private interview. On the following day the nine who had been accepted werebaptized and received into the fellowship of the local church. Mr. Webster wrote of this occasion: “I have seldom had more satisfaction with candidates than with these men. I have never witnessed a more interesting scene, nor joined in more solemn and joyful exercises. The nine men were headed up by their blind guide, who had to be led by the hand to receive baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Professing to have come to Christ and having believed in Him, they stated their intention to forsake all for Christ. They declared their intention to forsake the idolatry of their fathers, having cast the idols out, smashing them and burning them completely. They expressed their desire through grace to turn from evil to serve the living God.”
For five years Blind Chang continued to work for the most part throughout his home region, which included Szepingkai and many other towns and villages. By 1892 one hundred and seventy had received baptism there. At other centers, Christian services were held regularly and later seven halls were erected as a result of this work. One Christian remarked to the missionary when he was on one of his annual visits, “If Chang Shen had not lost his eyesight there would be no Church here.”
There was one element in all this which must not be overlooked. This was a very hard thing that came upon the blind man but was really the means of thrusting him forth in a way that resulted in more blessing in his remarkable pioneer life. As time passed “the seeing” Christians came to realize that they knew more than their teacher. Some of these converts were men with spiritualgifts that eminently fitted them to be leaders in the churches. They could carry on the work far better than the blind evangelist. It was thus that God turned Chang’s affliction into a means of blessing for many more of his countrymen.
A Mr. Inglis wrote of Blind Chang; “His was but to kindle the light and then pass on.” C.H. Spurgeon once said, “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to tremendous difficulties.” This surely applied to the blind evangelist of whom we write. Another has said, “The cost of shining is burning.” Such was the life of this man whose testimony has come down to later generations here in Manchuria. He was a bright light. We have recently met Christians who were the grandchildren of men won to Christ through Blind Chang. Those who still live who knew Chang and those who only know of him through the testimony of others, all speak with reverence and affection of his devoted self-sacrificing life.
CHAPTER THREE — A PEER OF PIONEERS
“Measure the life by loss, not gain; Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth; For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice; And whoso suffers most has most to give.” - From “Sermon in the Hospital”
Before following Blind Chang in his wider ministry, we must say a word regarding the man himself. Mr. Inglis describes him thus: “A remarkable man, with a voice more soft and mellow than I have ever known in any Chinese that I have met. He speaks with great rapidity, but words seem to flow from his lips like the ceaseless murmur of a brook." Men listened to him open-mouthed with wonder, even awe. One man, the missionary’s driver, was overhead to say, “What strange influence makes this man so much more eloquent than many who can see?”
Early in his Christian life. Blind Chang formed the habit of fasting. Frequently he went without food for three days and on one occasion he was known to go without nourishment for three weeks. In spite, or who knows, because of this, he was said to be strong and even in robust health. Mr. Inglis considered perhaps the most remarkable thing about this man was his memory. He seemed to have learned the whole New Testament off by heart and could quote from the Old Testament, which at that time, was an unexplored field to most Christians. He also always quoted the chapter and verse.
Had it not been for the instruction given him during the two visits made to the Blind School in Peking, where he learned to both read and write, the Bible would have been to him a sealed book. Upon his return to Manchuria after his last visit to Peking he brought with him portions of the Scriptures that had been stereotyped for the blind into Braille. For a time he carried a portion of the Scriptures with him wherever he went. Great interest was created and crowds gathered to see the marvel of a blind man reading with the tips of his fingers. It was not much wonder, however, to learn later that Blind Chang had abandoned this plan. Even one small portion of the Scriptures in this script was large and cumbersome. Because the blind man’s journeys were often distant, dangerous and difficult, he found that luggage was a problem, so he just memorized more Scripture.
We come now to what is really the most important part of this man’s life and testimony. How inadequate are our powers to visualize this man’s life as he lived it for those twelve years. His ministry, for the most part, was away from his home region. Blind Chang, from the time of his conversion had the spirit and vision of the pioneer. There seemed to be within him that which kept him ever seeking to reach the most needy - those untouched and unreached by the Gospel. Think of this man, blind and for the most part alone, with but his strong walking stick to depend on. Sometimes he was able to have a young person, rarely an adult, as a guide tramping over rough mountain roads. This would be dangerous for those who could see. But ever onward, always with that impelling desire did he live to make Christ known to sinners such as he had been. He was ever eager to tell the story of what the Lord had done for home. In a climate of great extremes, he did this, year after year for twelve years.
A few weeks ago we had the privilege to talk with one, who over thirty years ago had been several times Blind Chang’s guide. He was then a mere boy of fourteen but he well remembers what those journeys meant. He told us how the blind man often met with bitter persecution and endured great hardships, especially when going to a new region. Children were encouraged to pelt him with cods or bricks. Curses were hurled after him as the people drove him from their doors. Worst of all were the dogs that were set upon him. It was this last fact that sent sense of horror through us as we heard it, for we too have had some experience with the fierceness of these great mongrel, half-starved Chinese dogs. What such attacks must have meant to blind Chang, who was unable to fend off their onslaughts! Yet none of these things moved him, neither counted he his life dear unto himself. Again and again he would return seeking a hearing for his wonderful, soul-saving, life-giving message. This he would do until public opinion turned in his favour and victory came. Doors opened and being blind, he was allowed to spend hours in the daytime teaching the women and children while the men were busy in the fields. When evening came the men gathered in summer time under the trees and in winter in the homes, as Blind Chang gave to them all he knew. He had one message. He preached Jesus to them for he knew nothing but Christ and Him crucified. One missionary, in speaking of Blind Chang’s message says: “The one truth Blind Chang emphasized was the Christ delivered sinners by His death on the Cross and that he rose again to justify all who believed in Him. This one great message entered the hearts of his hearers with such power that it became the spring to the true Christian life in those new converts.”
Some of these converts were heard to pray, not in the usual set phraseology used by many Chinese Christians, but in a manner that showed they had learned the secret of fellowship with God. In grateful return for the blind man’s teaching, women cooked, washed, sewed and mended for him. Then, as we have already indicated, the time would come when the Christians felt he had given them all he knew and some began to realize they knew more and were better able to carry on with the work than he. Then it was, that Blind Chang came to feel the old pioneer spirit take possession of him once again. One he would press to “Regions Beyond” that were untouched and unreached with the gospel. There to go through the same hardships, endure the same persecutions but to gain the same victories as before. And all this, he gladly and willingly did because of his Christ-like passion for the souls of men.
Mr. Inglis tells us that wherever Blind Chang went the light of Gospel entered. He was ever keen to be about his Master’s business was seen from the fact that not a few of the boys who acted as his guides were saved. As one of these lads led the blind man, holding the end of a stick, the story of Christ’s love was told to them with such tenderness that the boy’s heart was soon won as he yielded himself to the Lord. The missionary who baptized several of these boys writes: “What delighted me was the frank and hearty way these boys had accepted the story of Christ’s love and sacrifice as told to them by the blind man.”
It is only possible in this brief record to give the story of just one place where Blind Chang carried the Gospel as we have described. While still working for the most part in his home region, he felt pressed to take a journey several days eastward to a glen among the mountains called Teshengkow (Valley of Victory). There one of his own kinsman lived. Here, as elsewhere, he preached Christ daily in the surrounding homes and villages. After remaining about two months there he returned home. Soon word came begging him to return, for many were enquiring about the way of Salvation. Again he faced what now he knew was the difficult return journey. Again he gave two months to preaching there to the enquirers. He had not left that little group of believers long before an urgent message was sent to Mukden asking for instructors. In response to these calls. Dr. Ross and Mr. Inglis started out for Teshengkow that autumn.
For seven days they traveled part of the way through forests, and over mountain roads. Through all that great region the missionary tells us “There was not one who had heard of the Saviour.” But on the last day of their journey they began to realize “The sacred firewas alight.” Scarcely had they seated themselves in the local inn when three men entered, giving them the Christian salutation "Ping an” (Peace with you).
On this first visit Dr. Ross baptized several converts but because there were no shepherds and teachers, as time passed the work languished.
Two years went by and again Blind Chang, hearing of the condition of the church at Teshengkow, felt pressed to visit them. On his arrival he lost no time in visiting the Christians. Throughout the entire region the blind evangelist tramped, stirring up the Christians, winning new converts and putting new life into all. A real revival followed and from that time the work went on. Later, one thousand coverts had been received into the church in that region.
At this time, the anti-Christian attitude of the Chinese government seemed to be decreasing for there came to be what could be called a "pro- Christian” wave pass over Manchuria. During this short period, numbers were added to the local church. Little did any, either missionary or Chinese Christian, dream this was but the calm before the storm. The winter of 1899 was not far advanced before the rumblings of a great tempest could be heard.
CHAPTER FOUR — THE MARTYRDOM
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ” (John 15:13)
Towards the close of the century, a society was heard of in China, who called themselves the “Yi WohChuan” meaning “Righteous, united fighters.” These came to be called by others the “Boxers.” These Boxers were bitterly anti-foreign and their hatred extended to the Chinese Christians who the Boxers considered to be but followers of the foreigners. Men joining this society trained with one object, to destroy all foreigners and all Christians. Their numbers increased with unbelievable rapidity.
During the winter of 1900, the rumours concerning this society seemed like the rumblings of a coming storm. Most foreigners believed that in time the danger would pass as other such troubles had done before. Then early in May the cyclone of horror was suddenly let loose. So sudden and unexpected was it, that hundreds of missionaries and Chinese Christians failed to reach a place of safety and were put to death by the merciless Boxers.
When the clouds of persecution began to gather, Blind Chang was visiting the Christians at Teshengkow. All felt he would be a marked man and therefore one of the Christians there led him further into the mountainswhere he could be safe until the troubles passed. It was in this safe hiding place that Blind Chang was to meet the supreme test of his life.
Several hundred miles distant in a city called ChaoYangShan, about fifty Christians were seized by the Boxers. They were threatened with death and as preparations were being made for their execution a certain man spoke up saying: “You are certainly foolish to kill all these. For every Christian you may kill, ten will spring up while that man Chang Shen lives. Kill him and you may crush the sect.”
As a result of this advice the Boxer leaders promised to save the lives of the Christians if they handed Blind Chang over to them for execution. For a time none would hear of this but when things looked so serious for the Christians, one man, weaker than the rest, went in search of Blind Chang to give him word of what was taking place. When this man reached Blind Chang’s place and told his story the blind evangelist listened silently through it all and then a look of strange eagerness came over his face. When the man had finished his report to Chang, without a sign of doubt as to what he should do, Blind Chang reached out his hand, saying: “I will gladly die for them. Take me to them for it is better that it be so.”
Over that long, stony path they travelled for days with the burning sun of July beating down upon them. Did the blind man’s heart fail within him at times? If so he did not reveal it. On reaching ChaoYangShan he was immediately arrested and bound. His quiet dignity and absence of any sign of fear impressed and awed his enemies.
The details of that sad but gloriously victorious scene has come to us from several sources and differ only slightly in minor details.
The day when he arrived at ChaoYangShan, Blind Chang was taken bound to the temple of Kwan Kung (god of war). Wild crowds had gathered and on reaching the temple he was dragged inside and commanded to worship the gods.
To this he replied with quiet dignity, probably the only calm one in the midst of that throng of savage and merciless tormentors: “I worship only the One Living and True God.”
“But you must repent,” they cried.
“I have repented long ago,” was the quiet answer. “Then will you believe in Buddha?” To this he replied: “I believe in the one true Buddha even Jesus Christ.”
When again he was commanded to bow before the gods, he exclaimed, “Turn my face towards the sun.” He knew the idols always faced the South, so by him facing South his back would therefore be toward the idols. As they turned him he knelt down and worshipped the God of Heaven and Earth.
While this was going on, the Boxer leaders with fifteen executioners were on their way from a towntwenty-five miles away. We know nothing of the terrible days between but from what we have heard concerning the methods of torture used in many other cases, we cannot but believe that those days must have tested the blind man to the utmost. He did not fail throughout that furnace of horror, he was faithful unto death.
Three days after his arrest, on the 22nd of July 1900, Blind Chang was placed on an open cart at eight o’clock in the morning, and driven through the streets of the town amidst great crowds to the common burial ground outside the city wall. Christians followed beside the cart and witnessed the blind man all the way, engaged either in prayer or singing aloud:
“Jesus loves me, He who died Heaven’s gate to open wide; His blood washed away my sin, Let His little child come in. Jesus loves me, He will stay, Close beside me all the way; If I love Him when I die, He will take me home on high.”
On arrival at the place of execution Blind Chang was dragged from the cart and forced to kneel down. As he did so he cried with a loud voice, “Heavenly Father, receive my spirit.” This he said three times but before the third sentence ended, the swords of his murderers from behind him, cut him down.
The Christians begged for his body but the Boxer leader refused their request and forced them to buy oil to bum the mangled remains of Blind Chang to ashes. This was done because a report had spread abroad that the Blind Chang would rise from the dead. The Boxers thought therefore how to make this impossible. Later these very men, the Boxers, became afraid, for they came to believe that the man they had killed was in fact a good man of God. This fear caused them to flee to other areas to escape the revenge they believed his spirit would wreck upon them. With the leaders of the Boxers gone, no further persecution of the Christians followed.
When the Boxer uprising had come to an end and at least some outward repentance was shown, the Provincial Government of Manchuria ordered a handsome stone monument be erected in honour of the man whose memory was so cherished with love and reverence in the hearts of many thousands throughout that area. As a mark of their regard for Blind Chang the official order was given that the highest number of dragons next to that which was placed in Imperial Tombs, namely eight, were to be carved on the stone monument.
We cannot close this brief sketch better than by giving in full the one hymn which has come down to us from the hands of this blind hero of faith. As one reads these lines they seem to breathe something of the closeness and preciousness of Jesus to the soul of Blind Chang as he trod those hard, lonely paths in witness and love for the Lord Jesus Christ. -R.G.
***** JESUS MY GUIDE
By Chang Shen
Jesus my Guide! ‘tis my delight! Peace fills my soul, He is my Guide. In toil or rest, by day or night, Jesus ever by my side. My Guide is Jesus day by day, His hand of mercy laid hold on mine; He is my Guide, on Him I stay, Upon His right hand I recline. Fast hold of Jesus’ hand I take Life’s journey through to Heaven’s gate,
Nor weal, nor woe, my hope can shake, Jesus is Guide, on Him I wait. Victor I stand when life is done, O’er outer foes and sin’s foul brood, Jesus my Guide, I trust alone, I shall not dread the coldest flood.
(Translated from Chinese by John Ross, D.D.)
“I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. ” (Isaiah 42:16)