Nearly 1,000 missionary personnel under the China Inland Mission were trapped in China when the Communists took over in the 1940s. CIM ordered a total evacuation in January, 1951, but was it too late? Communists are not averse to killing.

Arthur and Wilda Mathews applied for exit visas on January 3. Their living conditions had deteriorated to a bare kitchen where, in the corner, Wilda had converted a footlocker into a prayer nook. Days passed with no action on their requests. Meanwhile citizens were executed every day, and from her kitchen Wilda could hear the shots. The strain grew unbearable. “The imagination is what jumps around into all sorts of places it ought to keep out of,” Arthur wrote to his parents.

He was told at last that his wife and child could leave if he would secretly work for the Communists. Arthur refused. Day after day he was summoned and grilled. Day after day he said good-bye to Wilda, wondering if he would ever see her again. Finally Arthur bluntly told the authorities, “I am not a Judas. If you expect me or anyone else in the China Inland Mission to do that kind of thing, you had better not try because we cannot do it.”

Wilda was utterly overcome by fear and doubt. Sunday, March 21, 1951 was, as she called it later, Black Easter. Wilda sneaked into an Easter church service, but when she opened her mouth to sing “He Lives!” no words came out. Returning home, she fell at the trunk and her trembling fingers found 2 Chronicles 20.17: You won’t even have to fight. Just take your position and watch the Lord rescue you from your enemy. Don’t be afraid.… Wilda clamped onto that verse, and two weeks later she wrote, “The conflict has been terrible, but peace and quiet reign now.”

It was two years before she exited the country, and even longer for Arthur who became the last CIM missionary to leave China. But miraculously, all of them got out without a single one being martyred. It was the greatest exodus in missionary history.

You won’t even have to fight. Just take your positions and watch the Lord rescue you from your enemy. Don’t be afraid. Just do as you’re told. And as you march out tomorrow, the Lord will be there with you. Jehoshaphat bowed low to the ground and everyone worshiped the Lord. (2 Chronicles 20:17,18)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Mar.25.

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