restricted access 5. Sun Yat-sen's Baptism and Some Christian Connections
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5 Su n Yat-sen's Baptism and Some Christian Connections A significant even t for Sun Yat-sen during his middle school-days in Hong Kong was his baptism by the American missionary, the Revd Charles R. Hager. This event influenced hi s future lif e and relationships. Immediately, it provided him with a surrogate family during hi s several year s as a school-boy i n Hong Kong . H e en tered an intimate fellowship bound together by a new commitment for, as a very small, new Christian congregation, its fellowship was close and binding. This congregation was the result of the missionary concern o f oversea s Chinese . The connectio n wit h oversea s Christian communities was later used by Sun Yat-sen in his journeys to raise funds and enlist support for his revolutionary cause. His acceptance of Christianity linked him with a distinct group of interconnected familie s o n the Chin a coast an d overseas. I t was through this group that Sun met his one-time secretary and second wife, Soon g Ching-ling . Thes e thre e differen t aspect s o f Sun' s baptism will be considered in turn. The Establishment of the American Board Mission in Hong Kong In 1873, at the age of 14 , Sun Yat-sen left hi s home village near Macau to join an older brother in Hawaii. There he entered th e Iolani School, which was conducted by churchmen. They aroused in Su n a desire t o accep t th e Christia n fait h publicly . Thi s was vigorously opposed by his older brother, who was supporting him and paying the school fees. To remove the boy from Christian influence , hi s brothe r sen t hi m bac k t o hi s hom e villag e i n th e Hsiang-shan (now Chung-shan) District of Kwangtung. This move, from the brother's view, was not altogether successful . Sun' s attractio n t o Christianit y an d rejectio n o f traditiona l Chinese religious practices were reinforced upo n his return by a fellow villag e youth who had recently come back from Shangha i with similar attitudes. The two offended village opinion by a minor mutilation of an image in the local temple. Out of favour in their home village, Sun Yat-sen and his accom- 88 CHINESE CHRISTIAN S plice i n th e escapade , L u Hao-tung , foun d thei r wa y t o Hon g Kong. There they met the Revd Charle s R. Hager , who recalls in 'Some Persona l Reminiscences ' publishe d i n th e Missionary Herald o f 12 April 1912 the result of a meeting with the young Sun: 'Of course , I coul d no t hel p askin g hi m whethe r h e was a Christian , t o whic h h e replie d tha t h e believe d th e doctrin e o f Christ . "Then why do you not become baptized?" "I am ready to be baptized at any time", he replied; and so after som e months of waiting he receive d th e ordinanc e i n a Chinese schoo l roo m wher e a fe w Chinese were wont to meet with me every Sunday. ' Sun Yat-sen wa s baptized eithe r a t th e close of 188 3 or early in 1884. As a professed Christian , Sun entered int o his new life with enthusiasm. Hage r sai d that , 'Afte r Su n becam e a Christia n h e immediately began to witness for Christ, and such was his earnestness that i n a short tim e tw o of hi s friends accepte d Christianity . This was at a time when few convert s were made an d when man y feared t o identify themselve s with Christians. But so great was the influence o f Su n tha t h e wo n thes e me n t o th e truth . I t wa s th e same power that he always had of making men accept his opinion'. The tw o friend s wer e L u Hao-tun g an d Ton g Phong . Ton g ha d been a friend an d fellow-student o f Sun's in Hawaii.1 The first name on the register of the Revd Charles...