Beyond the Stone Arches: An American Missionary Doctor in China, 1892-1932
"The words of David Livingstone express my feelings better than any words of my own. ‘God had an only son, and He was a missionary and a physician.’ A poor, poor imitation of Him I am, or hope to be. In this service I hope to live; in it I wish to die." —Edward Bliss, 1892
In 1892—during the latter days of the Qing Dynasty—a 26-year-old Massachusetts native embarked on a dramatic journey to an outpost in feudal China. The man’s name was Edward Bliss, and it was in the impoverished walled city of Shaowu that he fulfilled his dream of becoming a medical missionary and emerged as a true American hero.
In this inspired and riveting read, distinguished journalist Edward Bliss Jr.—the son of this original Peace Corpsman—tells the remarkable story of a courageous pioneer who selflessly risked his life to serve others. With the refreshing intimacy of a memoir and based in large part on letters Bliss wrote home, Beyond the Stone Arches takes us back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which saw an outpouring of missionaries to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Filled with drama and exhilarating anecdotes, Beyond the Stone Arches imparts the complete story of an American missionary: from Bliss’s happy childhood in Newburyport, Massachusetts, to his rigorous days at Yale University, to the remote Chinese city where he battled malaria (which twice nearly killed him), plague, torrential floods, and, finally, the encroaching Communist armies to help make the world a better place in which to live. Bliss continued to heal the sick, toil as a farmer, deliver babies, and work to eradicate the rinderpest virus—all for the "glory of God and dignity of man"—until the early days of Mao Zedong when a Communist army descended on Shaowu.
This intimate glimpse into the life of Edward Bliss also provides a rare impression of the obstacles faced by missionaries in the feudal Chinese culture. A rare tribute, Beyond the Stone Arches is a luminous portrait of an exemplary figure, a man whose extraordinary life story offers us insight into how to face adversity in our own time.