South China Mennonite Brethren Mission

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The General Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church in 1909 discussed the matter of opening a mission in China, but the Board of Foreign Missions did not see its way clear to do so at the time. Franz J. and Agnes Wiens then set out in 1910 to begin an independent Mennonite Brethren (MB) mission in China, receiving their support from friends. On their way they stopped nearly a year in Russia, holding evangelistic meetings in MB churches and winning supporters for the intended mission. They arrived at the Baptist Mission, Swatow, South China, in the fall of 1911. In May 1912 they proceeded into the Hakka area 200 miles inland, and opened a mission among the Hakkas at Shanghang (Shonghong), on the Han River, Fukien Province. While procuring or erecting the required buildings, Wiens preached in the city and surrounding villages and opened chapels in strategic centers. Soon a number of Chinese converts were won and baptized and an indigenous church was organized. To supply a pressing need for native evangelists, ministers, and teachers, Wiens opened a Bible institute for training such workers. He also began a school for boys and another for girls, and began medical work. In 1915 the MB Conference agreed to give partial support to the mission, and in 1919 it took over the mission and accepted new missionaries for this field.

Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Dick, Helena Heppner, and Tina Kornelsen left for this field in the spring of 1920. Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Wiens followed early in 1921. Their stay and service was short, as less than two years later Mr. Wiens died and Mrs. Wiens returned to the homeland a year later. Maria Richert, Sophia Richert, Paulina Foote, and Adelgunda Priebe entered the work a little later.

The mission prospered for some time, and Mr. and Mrs. Dick began a second station at EngTeng, 40 miles from Shanghang. Schools increased and hospital work expanded. At the 1921 conference F. J. Wiens, who had then returned for his first furlough, reported an indigenous church of 450 members, 11 outstations with ministers, and 17 schools with 30 teachers.

The most serious hindrance for the mission was the continuous political unrest with repeated revolutions and civil wars, which not only interrupted the work, but also endangered the missionaries’ lives. In 1927 all the missionaries were obliged to leave the field and were plundered by pirates while proceeding to the coast in river boats.

Several later efforts were made to renew the work of the mission. Mr. and Mrs. Dick returned to China, but were compelled to remain at the coast much of the time. F. J. Wiens returned about 1935 and found the buildings of the mission stations demolished and the native church scattered, but many believers still firm and true in their faith. He did not rebuild the stations but devoted himself to traveling and preaching in the Hakka area. The Conference meanwhile maintained a policy of waiting.

In 1947 the MB Conference made another attempt to resume the work of the mission and sent Mr. and Mrs. Roland Wiens there. They still found some believers and an indigenous church again began to rise out of chaos. Some new converts were won and baptized and work in school and hospital was begun. The communistic revolution in China thwarted all further efforts, and all the missionaries were evacuated in 1951.


Wiens, F. J. Fifteen years among the Hakkas.

Wiens, F. J. Pionierarbeit unter den Hakkas in Süd-China. 1922?.

Author(s) J. H Lohrenz
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Lohrenz, J. H. "South China Mennonite Brethren Mission." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 17 Jul 2018.

APA style

Lohrenz, J. H. (1959). South China Mennonite Brethren Mission. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 July 2018, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 584-585. All rights reserved.

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