Stories: by Person: S

Jehu Lewis and Henrietta Hall Shuck

1814 ~ 1863
1817 ~ 1844

During the 1835 meeting of the Baptist Triennial Convention, when an offering was being received for foreign missions, Jehu Lewis Shuck put into the offering plate a slip of paper on which he had written, "I give myself." He married Henrietta Hall the same year and they were appointed for missionary service in China by the Baptist Convention. The Shucks arrived in Macao in 1836, where they lived and worked until the end of the Opium War (1839-1842), then moved to Hong Kong and a year later organized the first Baptist church there. While her husband was involved in evangelization and publishing, Henrietta opened a school for Chinese children and began taking Chinese orphans into her home, a practice she had begun in Macao. In Hong Kong the number grew to thirty-two children whom the Shucks fed, clothed, and nurtured. Besides being the first American female missionary to China, Henrietta Hall sent supporters at home a steady stream of letters, many of which were published, and her premature death at age 27 (after she gave birth to her fifth child) gained for her a place in Baptist mission lore---especially among Southern Baptists---second only to that of Lottie Moon.

A year after Henrietta's death in 1844, J. Lewis Shuck left on furlough, and while in the United States affiliated with the newly formed Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board (SBCFMB), married a second time, and then returned to China, accompanied by his new wife and several other newly appointed missionaries. He settled in Shanghai, the northernmost of the five new treaty ports, and with Matthew T. Yates organized the Baptist Mission in China. Generally, they worked harmoniously together, but there arose problems compounded by the death of Shuck's wife, Eliza, in 1851, which left him with six children, three in China and three in the United States. In November 1852, still grieving, Shuck left China for the last time. He had begun three churches, built four chapels and a school, baptized at least forty Chinese converts, and written and published thirteen works in Chinese languages. After arriving in the United States in 1853, he resigned from the SBCFMB to accept appointment by the Southern Baptist Convention Domestic Board as a missionary to the Chinese in California, where, in 1855, he organized in San Francisco a Chinese-speaking Baptist church, the first in the United States. He retired to Barnwell, South Carolina, in 1861 and died shortly thereafter at the age of 49.

About the Author

By Alan Neely

Henry Winters Luce Emeritus Professor of Ecumenics and Mission, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

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