When James Gilmore sailed for China in 1870, he was young, strong, and in need of a wife. He plunged into reopening the London Missionary Society’s work in Mongolia, but with no one to lean on. “Companions I can scarcely hope to meet,” he wrote, “and the feeling of being alone comes over me.” As labors increased, so did loneliness. “Today I felt a good deal like Elijah in the wilderness,” he told his journal. “He prayed that he might die. … I felt drawn towards suicide. Two missionaries should always go together. Oh! the intense loneliness. … ”

The pain deepened when his proposal to a Scottish girl was rejected. “I then put myself and the direction of this affair—I mean the finding of a wife—into God’s hands, asking him to look me out one, a good one, too.”

In 1873 Gilmore visited friends in Peking, a Mr. and Mrs. Meech. Seeing a picture of Mrs. Meech’s sister, Emily Prankard, James asked about her. As his hostess described Emily, James found himself falling in love. He gazed at her picture, saw some of her letters, and asked more and more questions.

Early the next year, James wrote to Emily, proposing marriage in his first letter. By the same mail, he informed his parents in Scotland: “I have written and proposed to a girl in England. It is true I have never seen her, and I know very little about her; but I have put the whole matter into the hands of God, asking him, if it be best, to bring her, if it be not best, to keep her away, and he can manage the whole thing well.”

Receiving Gilmore’s letter, Emily took it at once to the throne of grace. Later Gilmore recalled, “The first letter I wrote her was to propose, and the first letter she wrote me was to accept.” By autumn Emily was in China, arriving on this day, November 29, 1874. A week later they were married. Gilmore acquired both wife and colleague, and they labored faithfully side by side for years, reaching northern China for Christ.

“A man’s greatest treasure is his wife,” says Proverbs 18:22. “She is a gift from the Lord.”

A truly good wife is the most precious treasure a man can find! Her husband depends on her, and she never lets him down. She is good to him every day of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Nov. 29.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1780 – African-American Lemuel Haynes was licensed to preach by The Congregational Church of Connecticut. Which made him the first African-American minister certified by a predominantly white denomination. He later became the first African-American minister to pastor a white church in the United States.

1847 – The Cayuse massacred missionary-physician Marcus Whitman, his family, and twelve others at Walla Walla. Immigrants had brought measles. The natives accused Whitman and other missionaries of black magic and killed them. This event came to be known as the Whitman Massacre.

1937 – Death of Agnes Ozman, the first student who had spoken in tongues at Charles Parham’s Kansas school in 1901, sparking what would grow into a worldwide Pentecostal movement.

1950 – A convention begins in Cleveland at which The Federal Council of Churches in America merges with seven other Protestant organizations to become the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

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