Friday, September 23, 2011

The Fielders of China, 1912-1950

China Missionary Days of the Wilson Fielders
Looking back can help us see the future more clearly.

Jody Towery standing in doorway of last house where an ill Lottie Moon lived. This photo was taken in 1985 so it is hoped someone has done some housecleaning by now. Lottie did not starve herself because the Chinese were hungry and starving. She was sick and died in a Japanese port city on her way to retirement in the USA.

This new book takes up the story of Baptists in China about the time Lottie died.

A new approach to telling the story of pioneer missionaries. This is the story of Maudie and Wilson Fielder, Texans who went to China 100 years ago to share the Gospel. It is their story and China's story of the 20th century.

Lots of Southern Baptists know of Lottie Moon, but little else of what Baptist work has been like in China (or rest of the world for that matter) from 1835 to 1950. This but a part, but an important part. To know where we have been helps us know where to go! (ancient Chinese proverb)

Britt Towery with Wilson Fielder March 8, 1953, Stag Creek Baptist Church, Comanche County Texas. Fielder went to China from Comanche County in 1912. Spent over two years in Japanese internment camp in Shanghai. The book Stangers in a Strange Land relates the story of Maudie Albritton Fielder and Wilson in China. Purchase through e-mail or regular mail: Britt Towery Or The Tao Foundation, 124 Northstar Drive, San Angelo, Texas 76903. $20. postage and handling.

Christian growth in China exceeds the national GDP

Pray for the new leaders of the churches and seminaries.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND -- From West Texas to Central China, new book on Maudie and Wilson Fielder

A Miles, Texas Sweetheart and a Comanche County Cowboy

The first time I stopped in Miles there was an excellent homemade pie store in what was once a gasoline filling station. For those new to West Texas, Miles, Texas, is a pleasant little town halfway between Ballinger and San Angelo on Hwy 67.

My purpose this visit was not for pie. I wanted to search out some local history. I wanted to see the area of town where Maudie Ethel Albritton lived.

The historical marker in front of the First United Methodist Church on Fourth and Broadway had just the facts I needed. The original 1901 wood frame Methodist Church was where Maudie attended Sunday school and church as a teenager.

Maudie was born in Navarro County in East Texas. Due to her mother’s poor health the family doctor recommended they move to a drier climate. They moved to Miles. Why Miles? The historical marker helped here too. The founder of the Miles Methodist Church was a Methodist circuit rider from Navarro County. It is quite possible that Maudie’s parents Tennessee and William Albritton knew him before he came west. Miles had a dry climate and good preaching.

Miles was home to Maudie until her 22nd birthday. The love of her life, Wilson Fielder, a cowboy from Comanche County, Texas, left the Concho River for China’s Yellow River. The fledging Republic of China was just emerging from the ruins of the Qing Dynasty.

The mail service from Central China to West Texas and back was slower than the Pony Express. With the patience of Job, Maudie accepted Wilson’s “far flung” proposal. So, in the summer of 1914, Maudie waved goodbye to friends and family at the Miles Santa Fe Railroad Depot and began the journey of her life.

A few months later Maudie married her teenage sweetheart, Wilson Fielder, in Shanghai, China. A honeymoon on the Yangzi River was but a beginning. Maudie and Wilson spent the next forty years sharing their faith in Central China, the birthplace of the Chinese people. They lived through some of the most hectic, action-packed years of China’s modern history.

The story of Maudie and Wilson Fielder has been in the works for twenty years. This columnist knew them well. The two youngest children of Maudie and Wilson made the book possible: Florence Ann McKinney and he late L. Gerald Fielder.

The title of the new publication of The Tao Foundation is “Strangers in a Strange Land.” Available in bookstores from October 10 –- Double Ten –- which is the one hundred year anniversary of the revolution that brirthed the Republic of China. (Based on the island of Taiwan since 1948.)

When Maudie’s train left Miles the town had a population of 1,500 and was served by two railroads. There were five churches, a beautiful brick school, two lumber yards and one of the strongest banks in Texas. (According to the Miles Messenger and Enterprize newspaper account.)

The Star Barber Shop advertised sharp razors, clean towels, hot and cold baths for a reasonable price. Tennis shoes (white) were selling for seventy-five cents a pair. The Central Hotel and Café offered a Sunday Chicken Dinner for thirty-five cents.

Maudie became a Baptist before going to join her Comanche County cowboy Baptist missionary Wilson Fielder. She was baptized in our very own Concho River the Summer of 1914 by Pastor Isaac Newton. The book is filled with such nuggets and items of inspiration; dozens of photos; a China map; an update on China Christianity after the Fielder’s retirement in 1950.



Three who made a difference: John Stott, Eugene Nida, Dick Baker

Three who made a difference

Renown Christian pastor Rick Warren observed what church goers really want in a pastor. He saw a church sign that said: "Come hear our pastor! He's not very good but he's brief"

The national magazine Christianity Today recently interviewed Billy Graham who will turn 93 on November 7. The interviewer asked Graham: “If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?”
Graham’s reply: “I would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to the people in high places. People in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.”

Last month I happened on a tiny news item that said Eugene A. Nida, a native of Oklahoma died in Spain August 25 at age 96. This Baptist minister was a linguist and was widely considered the father of modern Bible translations, recruiting and training native speakers to translate the Bible into a great number of languages.

To Nida “no two languages are identical, it stands to reason that there can be no absolute correspondence between languages. Hence, there can be no fully exact translations.” While the impact of a translation may be close to the original, there can be no identity in detail.

Two of his books that were helpful in my ministry were “Message and Mission” (1960) and “Customs, Culture and Christianity” (1963). They remain important to the person seeking to make his faith and different cultures and languages more relevant.

Another loss to the Christian faith was the passing of John Stott this summer. It left a huge hollow space in the evangelical cause of the Christian faith. New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote in 1985, “If evangelicals chose a pope, they would likely select John Stott.”

This British Anglican, who went on to minister to all brands of Christianity, was the author of over 50 books. His most popular book, “Basic Christianity,” could be compared to a textbook guide for Christians of all stripes. A book that has helped many relate to the fundamental truth and principal importance of the Christian faith.

His many sayings have become a trademark of the evangelical world. Such as: “I want to shift conviction from a book [Bible], if you like, to a person [Jesus]. As Jesus himself said, the Scriptures bear witness to me. Their main function is to witness to Christ.”

John Stott has been the compassionate strain of evangelicalism. In recent years, this form of evangelicalism has been over shadowed, and too often displaced by the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and
John Stott has made a far greater impact on the Christian movement than all the television preachers – who, as New York Times columnist Kris Kristof wrote --- Stott’s primary “concern was that Christians emulate the life of Jesus --–“ especially Jesus’ concern for the poor, oppressed, demoralized, exploited and powerless.

Unfortunately, in recent years, Americans have come to accept that a preacher can explain the Bible on television without much historic knowledge of Bible times; showing little or no interest in the nuances of the original texts. American evangelical church members have a history of been skeptical of an educated clergy. A college or seminary education was not conducive to “well-grounded spiritual preaching.”

And last, but no less important, was the death of Richard D. Baker September 5, 2011. For more than forty years Dick and his brother Bo were the finest evangelistic team Southern Baptist ever produced. Dick wrote the Baylor University Fight Song along with hundred of gospel songs like: “His Way Mine” and “Longing for Jesus.”

Men like Eugene Nida, John Stott and Dick Baker made our world a great deal better for having walked among us.

Wherefore Art Thou MIDDLE CLASS?

The squeeze on the middle class escalates

I remember seeing my barber dad sitting on the edge of the bed at night, going through the coins and bills of that day’s labor.

Barbers are basic middle class America. That is how it was and is with small local, independent one or two chair barbershops.

Why else would cartoonist Charles Schultz have given Charlie Brown a barber for a father? Because the loveable little Charlie Brown was “everykid” (I made the word up. It means Charlie Brown was a typical example of every ordinary American kid). He probably never won a baseball game but he never gave up. He probably gave Lucy fits with his humility and persistence. He was “everykid.”

And barber Brown (adults never appear in the strip) is “everyman,” the ordinary person. The world of the ordinary person, the middle class, they are the hub around which the wheels of a nation turns. Call him “your average Joe Blow,” or John Doe; the ordinary guy or gal that makes up the American middle class is hurting – soon to be missing.

This term, middle class, is primarily an American democratic creation; another “only in America” thing. African and Asian countries, Europeans and Latin Americans have a tiny if any middle class population. They have the rich and they have the poor.

The richer the rich get, the poorer the poor get. The more the privileged obtain and gain, the more the poor are deprived and left at the end of the bread line. Nothing we can argue with there. (But I’m sure some will.)

It’s a world of winners and losers; the upper crust and the crumbs. That is the way it has been since the days of Plato and Ezekiel. Evidently it will always be thus till we all get to heaven – where there is a classless society from all I have read. According to the Good Book, everybody in heaven is rich.

Meanwhile, back on the U.S.A. bit of earth, the middle class continues to be squeezed harassed and oppressed by a growing oligarchy. Oligarchy is a new word for some of us. It began back when the Greeks were giving democracy a try out. Those against democracy were from the Oligarchy Party --- rule of the few over the many. In Texas we call that “rule by a few fat rich guys.”

This take-over by the few is a work in progress. Recently, this year, the American Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as an individual. Corporate personhood leads to oligarchy. This is not a new debate. It goes way back, but what scares us middle class folks is the role of corporate money in politics. Elections are won by those who have the most money to spend. My friends say this makes for an uneven playing field.

Some middle of the road middle class politically-afflicted individuals want to level the playing field, This, they claim, by introducing and supporting a brand new amendment to the Bill of Rights. It would be the 28th Amendment and says corporations are not individuals.

The New World Order, a conspiracy about who rules the world in the future, may not be a huge Socialist Government takeover. It may turn out to be a mere Corporate Oligarchy.

Either way it is difficult to think this is good for the likes of Charlie Brown’s middle class barber father.

Tea Party Not Just For Tea Drinkers

A Big Tea Party For Everyone

The announcement was shouted from the rooftops, loud and clear: It’s party Time! Everybody is invited! Refreshments will be provided! There will be free drinks for all! There is but one minor inconvenience: there will be no beer, hard liquor or cider, not even coffee on the table.

The drink of choice will be tea. Tea, with or without sugar, ice cold, hot or tepid, black or red, tea made to make your taste buds rejoice as if you were in an old time brush arbor spiritual revival.

Feel free to bring along any good fruit flavors to add to the mix and savor the moment. Nothing like having a party where everyone’s particular tastes are met.

Since the party is for everyone’s tea-liking taste, why not just call it a Tea Party? Make it ‘The Place Where Everybody Is Somebody.”

Tea -- Oolong, light or dark, black or red, green or white, Hibiscus or Rooibos, even chai and wellness teas -- will be on the serving table. All the blends are sure to quince your thirst at this great American Tea Party.

It should be noted this Tea Party does not have any relationship with The Republic of Tea Company that claims to be the leading purveyor of premium teas. A tea has to be of the greatest quality to have the approval of those who gather around the exalted Tea Party table. Few are elevated to such a status.

Tea leaves are prepared and cured using various methods. Sometimes they are run through hot and boiling water. There will be no boiling water at this Tea Party. The tea is to be ready to consume just like good old Jim Jones Kool Aid. A drink preferred by a variety of less cultivated parties.

The Tea Party we envision is a breed apart. It cares for all kinds of people – even those who do not drink tea. But be sure of one thing: these folks are occasionally opposed to fear-mongering. At an earlier, sparsely attended Tea Party, major time was given to informing Americans there is much to fear from the Muslim’s Sharia law.

In America today, a scary anti-Muslim sentiment is boiling over in a most ridiculous way. Someone needs to turn down the heat. Ultra-conservatives (who invented the Tea Parties with their heaps of corporate money) are now publicly promoting the notion that Sharia law is going to displace our Supreme Court and do away with our Magna Carter freedoms. It is all a big secret as to how the clandestine Muslims are going to do this. But do it, they are, say the elders and high priests of the Tea Party. (No names, so as to protect the guilty.)

Islamic law has for centuries kept Muslim government and religion tied together with their own version of Sharia law. It is a guide for devout Muslims. America is not at risk of falling under the sway of Sharia law. We have enough problems keeping the laws we have.

Get over it! No Sharia edicts for America. It will not happen even if Oklahoma’s legislative gurus keep making laws to ban something we don’t even have, and are not in danger of getting.

When I was young there was supposed to be a communist under every bed and around every corner. Never found one. Senator Joe McCarthy was the chief nut job then.

Don’t be afraid of Sharia law, the Tea Party will be on the front lines defending the laws the Founding Fathers who gave their blood, fortunes and estates for democratic law. The Tea Party, after this next big meeting, will have all the facts to show there is no cause for alarm – except for some ancient Islamic edict. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? (For the younger readers: that is the opening line of the radio drama, “The Shadow.”)

If you are going to the Tea Party, remember to bring a brown paper bag lunch. Because nothing nourishing will be served, just the Tea Party’s own mixed-up-tea.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Roses and all the best to Dick Baker

This little note, in part, was sent through snail mail to friend Dick Baker in Plano, Texas.

Roses are for the living: Personal word to Dick Baker

Nobody ever sang "I may never pass this way again" like this blessed musician and friend. Just dropping this note to let him know what he means to us. As his late Bro. BO said so often in jest but from the heart, "Dick's always 'longing for Jesus.'

September 2, 2011
Dear Dick,

You are constantly in our thoughts. Jody and I would love to travel up to see you, but not in a position to do so.

But the many songs and words of encouragement to us through the years continue to be a blessing.

Like the time we went down into the Arizona San Manuel Copper Corporation underground mine with one of the church deacons. What a time it was. At lunchtime when they set off the explosives, you remarked that noise and shaking was same as the powerful blast of salvation that God gives. Changes everything. Always the poet. But more than a poet, your smile, songs and spirit brought up the light of any room you entered. You were great the week you spent with our growing church in the desert north of Tucson.

And that monkey in our backyard in Kaohsiung, Taiwan when you and Bo took time to stop after meetings in Singapore. The monkey seemed to like you. How could it be otherwise.

And, the lunch with us for our daughter Linda’s birthday in the revolving restaurant in Kowloon in 1970. Your son Paul sure liked the oysters on a half shell in that supper-club basement of the Grand Hotel.

I’m looking at a BSU newsletter you and Jody wrote when she was finishing Farmersville High School, Texas, and you were beginning Baylor University. --- And the joy of introducing her best college friend, Margaret Ann Self to you. A meeting planned in heaven long before any of us were born.

We wish you and all your families and friends some of your joy and faith as the shades begin coming down and the light of real life begins to form out there in front of you.

God bless, dear friend, and thanks for coming our way.


弟克陶普義 牧師敬上
Britt Towery
124 Northstar Dr.
San Angelo, Texas 76903