"Am so tired – Oh, for someone to understand, someone to lean on just for a little while to feel real human sympathy. But there is more need to sympathise than to get sympathy. Oh, Master, at such a time, Thou art the One I need." (1895 Diary, Nellie Marchbank, after seven years in
. She was leading the CIM work in Guixi.) China
While the CIM missionaries may have, at times, felt they were at a disadvantage because they were all single women, it was clear that their status had significant advantages as well.
"...Missionaries and nationals worked together in teams as brothers and sisters. If missionary men had been around, oriental culture decreed that the nationals would have deferred to them. The missionary women, however, provided someone with experience and wisdom who could be consulted, but still allowed the local leaders to take responsibility in the local churches." (Valerie Griffiths, Not Less Than Everything, pp. 117-118)
Not only did the work prosper more because it was entrusted to single women, but their safety was also increased, not decreased, by the fact that there were no Western men present. When anti-Western riots ransacked the town, Nellie wrote, "our peace and our safety lies (under God) in the fact that we are women." (quoted in
I love the way God uses people with different kinds of personalities, breaking out of our expectations and ideals. Consider what Geraldine Taylor (married to Hudson Taylor's son Howard) said when she and her husband visited Nellie (then aged 60). Geraldine wrote,
"We had never imagined anything like the station and work we found in Kweiki. And it is all the expression of this woman's soul. How well I remember meeting her for the first time 30 years ago. I wondered then whether she would ever learn the language, and get in touch with the people. I little realized then that she was already far more of a missionary than I. She had been out a few months longer, but was so reserved, that I, taken up with dear Katie Mackintosh – my ideal of all a missionary should be – was wholly unconscious of the depth and power..." (Griffiths, p. 129)Probably the apostle Paul said it best:
"Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (I Corinthians 1:26-30)