Faith and Humanitarian Aid in Wartime China, 1937-1941

Student Author(s)

Claire Barrett

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Marc Baer, Dr. Jonathan Hagood, and Dr. Gloria Tseng

Document Type


Event Date



The outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and World War II (1939-1945) created one of the largest refugee populations of the twentieth century. This research demonstrates how the Reformed Church in America was more effective in administering aid to the Chinese population than other relief organizations and the Chinese government in particular. With China already weakened due to the fractures between the Communist Party in China and the Chinese Nationalist Party, the ruling CNP could not effectively distribute aid to their citizens. On the islands of Kulangsu and Amoy, the missionaries provided an infrastructure on the ground that assisted with medical aid, food, housing, schooling and spiritual guidance, as well as acting as a historical witness to war crimes committed by the Japanese. The missionaries’ practical demonstration of the word of God would eventually determine the modern, twenty-first century view of evangelists in China. The Chinese perspective on the missionaries changed throughout the twentieth century. However, the twenty-first century narrative in China is that without the missionaries and their work, thousands of Chinese refugees would have perished. That is the enduring reality of the story.


This research was supported by a Pagenkopf History Research Scholarship.

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