A Missionary’s Letter Home

On August 3, 1900 Lizzie Atwater – a missionary to China, a wife and a mother – wrote this letter to her family.  She, along with six other missionaries and their children, had been arrested during the Boxer Rebellion in China – a nationalistic movement aimed at driving foreign religions out of China and returning the country to their old, pagan Chinese beliefs.

I was moved by the calm, assured words of a woman who was convinced she would soon die. As missionaries and ministers we walk in the shadow of courageous men and women like her. Now that the baton has been passed to me, I want to carry on the legacy of faithfulness, the legacy of sold-out commitment and the legacy of “not loving their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” (Rev 12:11)

I hope her letter will encourage you also.


Dear ones,

I long for a sight of your dear faces, but I fear we shall not meet on earth. They beheaded thirty-three of us last week in Taiwan. I am preparing for the end very quietly and calmly. The Lord is wonderfully near, and He will not fail me. I was being restless and excited while there seemed to be a chance of life, but God has taken away that feeling, and now I just pray for grace to meet the terrible end bravely. The pain will soon be over, and oh the sweetness of the welcome above!

My little baby will go with me. I think God will give it to me in heaven, and my dear mother will be so glad to see us. I cannot imagine the Savior’s welcome. Oh, that will compensate for all these days of suspense.

Dear ones, live near to God and cling less closely to earth. There is no other way in which we can receive that peace from God that passeth understanding….I must keep calm and still these hours. I do not regret coming to China but am sorry I have done so little. My married life, two precious years, has been so very full of happiness. We will die together, my dear husband and I.


Twelve days after she wrote this letter, Lizzie, her husband, five other missionaries and their children were all executed.