Baptist, Missionary, Shanghai China

At the Gates of Shanghai...

"... in the providence of a merciful God, we stand together at the gates of the most distant field on the globe.  And we have to be the pioneers of our mission."  Those words spoken by Matthew to Eliza (Lizzie) on the eve of their disembarkation.  

It's difficult to imagine what Matthew and Eliza were thinking on that first Monday in Shanghai.  I am sure they were both excited and afraid as they looked out into their new mission field; with little schooling in the local language, and without the support of a local church to help guide them.  At that time, the Baptist Foreign Mission Board was still in its infancy, and had very limited resources to help a young missionary in that part of the world.  The closest assistance they could give would have been provided by the Hong Kong mission, established a year earlier and already in disarray due to the death of their missionary leader, Rev. Clopton.

Matthew and Eliza during their first year as missionaries to Shanghai (Image from At the Gates: Life Story of Matthew Tyson and Eliza Moring Yates by F Catharine Bryan)
Matthew and Eliza during their first year as missionaries to Shanghai (Image from At the Gates: Life Story of Matthew Tyson and Eliza Moring Yates by F Catharine Bryan)
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Baptist, Missionary, Shanghai China

The journey...

I couldn't decide if I should next move to Matthew T Yates' back story (his life as a boy in western Wake County North Carolina, his salvation, schooling at seminary, marriage to Eliza, etc), or jump forward to his first voyage to China.  After some thought, I decided that his testimony and salvation was a really powerful story, and I really want to take the time to do that correctly. So I'll hold off on that one for now.

So let's fast forward to January of 1847.  The group of faithful that have been tasked with planting God's seed in Shanghai traveled from Richmond, where they held a Designation Service and received their commission, on to Philadelphia, and then arrived in New York.  Their party included Rev. J. Lewis Shuck, previously a missionary in Macao and Hong Kong until the death of his wife, and his Chinese Christian co-worker, the Rev. Yang Chiu-ling. (They were returning back to China after a two year furlough.)  In addition, two couples, Dr. J. Sexton James & wife, and Rev. & Mrs. T. W. Tobey had also volunteered to serve in Shanghai and were travelling together.

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Baptist, Missionary, Shanghai China

Where to begin....

I am sitting here thinking where to begin the story of my fascination with Matthew Tyson Yates and his life in China.  I thought I could just brain dump a bunch of random stuff on here, but that wouldn't be very scholarly of me. Of course, I'm no scholar so I can get away with that. 😊

My first trip to Shanghai was in the spring of 2014 on a business trip.  We were scheduled to fly from Tokyo to Shanghai, and then take the train to Hefei.  This being my first visit to China, I was both nervous and excited.  [**Mental note to write about my experience going to Hefei some other time. 😉]

Growing up, I had always heard the stories about our ancestor, Matthew T. Yates, how he went from being a country boy growing up in western Wake County, North Carolina, to eventually serving as a missionary in Shanghai China.  I was also told that he was buried in Shanghai, and saw some old photos of his and his wife Eliza's headstones in a cemetery 

After some research, I found out that he was buried in the Eight Immortals Bridge Cemetery (Ba Xian Qiao, aka "Pahsienjao") Cemetery in the French Concession.  I then learned that Pahsienjao cemetery had been converted into Huaihai Park following the cultural revolution time in China.  [If you would like more information about Pahsienjao Cemetery and who was buried there, you can follow this link to the Find-A-Grave site for that defunct cemetery.]

Matthew T and Eliza M Yates' headstones in Pahsienjao Cemetery - Shanghai, China
Matthew T and Eliza M Yates' headstones in Pahsienjao Cemetery - Shanghai, China
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Baptist, Missionary, Shanghai China

My first journal

I have been researching the life of Matthew T Yates, a Baptist Missionary to China, for many years.  Mostly because he is a relative of mine on my mother's side, and because I'm fascinated about that time period in China (mid to late 1800s).  I've visited Shanghai where he was stationed, and each time I've been drawn toward gaining a greater understanding of what his life was like and the obstacles he and his wife, Eliza, faced. 

Matthew T Yates from the Southern Baptist Archive
Matthew T Yates from the Southern Baptist Archive

My goal is just to use this site as a place to post interesting items, photos, and information about his ministry, his family, their life in Shanghai, and anything else along that line.

If you want to watch a short video introduction about Matthew T Yates' work in China, check out this 3 minute video from the IMB vimeo site.

I hope you enjoy checking in on my site from time to time.