Foreign missionary work to-day, as enter-prised by such a body of Christians as, for instance, gathered together at Edinburgh in June, 1910. for the World Missionary Conference, is no mere attempt to get the world converted; still less is it a sort of romantic interest in yellow or brown peoples, in strange customs and conditions. It is a return on the part of disciples of the Church to primitive and Apostolic obedience.
It is easy to indulge in visions as to what a Christian India, China, or Japan might mean, and what new lessons God may have to teach us through them. This, however, is not the aim and end of our work amongst those peoples. They need to see Christ. They can only see Him in and through the lives and teachings of His disciples. Already such lives and teachings here and there are producing remarkable results. Without women His work cannot be done.
In India the need for the practical sympathy of Christian women is urgent. It is impossible to reach the women of India unless Christian women will come forward to do it. Medical missions, schools and colleges, cannot touch them except through women.
"Think," a woman worker in Benares declared, "what it may mean twenty years hence-a body of educated women cut adrift from their old faiths, owning no moral restraints, no longer a drag on the atheistic tendencies of the men, fanning sedition, increasing unrest, and only too probably turning their newly acquired liberty into something sadly akin to licence; or, on the other hand, the same body of educated women leavened by Christian influence and Christian teaching, no longer a drag upon the groping of the nation after Christ, teaching Christianity to their children of both sexes while they still have them in the zenana, at the most impressionable age, and finally having brought their power and influence to the feet of Christ, becoming leaders for Him among their fellow countrymen."
Again, let anyone try to think out all that is at this moment happening in China and Japan, where our science and civilisation are being adopted almost in panic. After some such knowledge acquired in Japan, it is possible to say that never was there a time when really cultured women, full of sympathy and sisterly love, would find so ready acceptance.
The Japanese are very anxious as to the influence which all this Western contact is going to have on the character of their nation. The Japanese are prejudiced in our favour; there is no race antagonism to overcome, and their womenkind especially need just now the ministry of Christian women.
Other countries, moreover, are scarcely less open. Persia, Turkish Arabia, and other Mohammedan lands are now more or less open, and medical missions, with grand opportunities for nursing work, are constantly needing women's help.
In Africa the doors are not only open, but as one has said, "they are off their hinges," and the only trouble is that doubtful resources of civilisation are getting into the heart of Africa faster than the Gospel.
If these points have been at all sympathetically followed the question will arise in many minds-" How can I obtain more detailed information? "
Let only a few of the principal London offices of Societies be named that have women's work in connection with foreign missions in hand.
Next, and much wider in the extent of the opportunities for women's work, is the Church Missionary Society, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street. The candidates' secretary would always give information. There is a "Candidates' Home Preparation Union," and all possible help and guidance is given, through the library and otherwise, to those who want to know the facts.
For an interdenominational society working in China alone, great opportunities would be heard of through the China Inland Mission, 45, Newington Green, N.
Women looking for opportunities through any of these doors would be expected to have had a good general education, and be capable of further technical training. They would be expected to have clear and distinct convictions as to such things as are mentioned above, a readiness for self-denial and self-sacrifice for Christ's sake, and they should be women who can co-operate with others who, "in lowliness of mind, can esteem other better than themselves." For such women there is a constant demand.
Happily, many women can give honorary service, but there is a much greater number cannot. There has never yet been any prolonged difficulty as to money necessities, and none need, on that account, be discouraged. Provided they are willing to live the simple life, they need never be afraid of lacking sufficiency.