1886  — 1938

James Outram Fraser


English missionary in southwest China.

James Outram Fraser was the third son of James Fraser and Annie Palmer. Both parents were professing Christians, but his father was absorbed in his work and in politics, and they could not get along. His mother, who had considerable independent income, took the children to London when Fraser was a teenager. From then on, she was the prevailing spiritual influence in his life. Highly cultured and refined, she taught the children music and drawing, read to them and talked with them about Christianity, and set an example of devoted prayer. She took the church to the Wesleyan chapel near their home, where they heard of the work of foreign missionaries. Unknown to them, she also prayed that one of her children would someday take the gospel overseas to those who had never heard of Christ.

As a youth, Fraser loved outdoor activity and developed unusual stamina by walking long distances, cycling around England, and mountain-climbing in Switzerland during summer vacation. Possessed with a passion for music and capable of long hours of disciplined practice, he learned the great piano classics by heart and at the age of twenty was scheduled to give a solo concert in London. His outstanding mathematical ability and brilliant intellect would soon lead to graduation with a degree in engineering from Imperial College, London University, with the promise of a successful career.

Just at that time, in 1906, a fellow student gave him a small leaflet that dramatically changed his life. The tract spoke of the manifest command of Christ to preach the gospel to every creature; the vast multitudes who had never heard of Jesus; the responsibility of Christians to obey their Lord in this matter; and the necessity of dying to oneself in order to follow Christ. These words struck Fraser as from God, and suddenly his career and even his music paled in importance compared with knowing, following, and proclaiming Christ to lost souls.

Immediately, he changed his lifestyles, pouring himself into Bible studies in student fellowships and forming the habit of disciplined, daily communion with God in the Scriptures and in prayer. He heard the great preachers of the day, learnt of Hudson Taylor’s ventures into Inland China, and met C.T. Studd at a summer Christian training camp. 

As soon as he received his engineering degree, he applied to the China Inland Mission. Rejected twice because of an ear infection, he was finally admitted to the training school in London at the age of twenty-one. Here he met missionaries passing through on their way to and from China, and heard their stories of triumph and tragedy; learned how to relate to people of all classes and church backgrounds; plunged into even deeper Bible study; and imbibed the spirit of the CIM, still vibrant with the memory of J. Hudson Taylor, the founder. “It was inspiring to hear them pray… . These people,” he said later, “seemed to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Crossman 12). He loved the principle of depending directly upon God for provision through prayer, rather than on appeals for funds. The CIM practiced living among the people, adapting their dress and diet, and learning the language and culture as well as possible.

Early years in China

At the end of his training Fraser was sent to Anqing (formerly Anking)China for the initial six months of language training, and then he travelled to the province of Yunnan, riding with another CIM worker, John McCarthy, through Burma and over the lofty mountains into China on mules. Fraser “developed the habit of propping up the score of a Mozart overture or Chopin prelude and ‘enjoying the music’ as he rode” (Crossman 15). His first home was Tengchong (then called Tengyueh) in the far west of Yunnan, in the foothills of the mountains of Burma. Living in a small room over a Chinese inn, he spent most of his days studying Mandarin further. On learning Chinese, he wrote:

This mountain is called The Chinese Language. It is very steep at first, but gradually seems easier as you go up. Then, just when you feel you are getting on, another peak comes into view, rising higher than the first, but all a part of the same mountain. This also has to be climbed. It is called Chinese Thought and Modes of Expression. You had been told about it before you began to scramble up the first mountain . . and the first glimpse shows how far it is above you. (Taylor, 31-32)

From the beginning, he set himself the goal of “getting hold of a good colloquial knowledge of Chinese, but it will take a long time… . This is more important, I feel, than to become a learned Chinese scholar, for after all the chief thing is to talk in a way easy to be understood.”(Crossman, 16) To do this, he spent hours in the marketplace, listening to people and jotting down words he had heard, committing them to memory later and using them at the first opportunity. In time, Fraser’s mastery of both spoken and literary Chinese was reckoned among the best in the CIM, which had high standards of language acquisition. Such a regimen of solitary language study naturally induced loneliness and boredom, which he fought by getting up early to go out to different spots in the nearby hills to pray, sing praises to God, and meditate upon the Scriptures. He also disciplined himself to be faithful in his daily tasks, rather than longing for more “meaningful” work, remembering the saying of Hudson Taylor, “A light thing is a little thing. But faithfulness in a little thing is a great thing” (Crossman 17).

Soon he had progressed enough to begin preaching in public. To prepare for this, he searched the pages of the Bible, especially the Book of Acts, to clarify for himself the essential points of the gospel which Christians should present. These include the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the necessity of repentance for sin, and the promise of eternal life to all those who sincerely believe. He knew, of course, that the “whole counsel of God” must be taught to Christians, but evangelism must focus on the core truths.  Unlike Timothy Richard, who was disappointed with the results of street preaching and later rejected the “simple gospel” for a more indirect approach to learned scholars, but like Jonathan Goforth in the far north of China and like Hudson Taylor, Fraser found a ready response, which greatly encouraged him.

In time, however, he discovered that his real gift was not preaching but conversing with individuals, what was called “personal work.” For the rest of his missionary career, he spent countless hours just sitting with people, listening to them and conversing with them, both non-Christians and those who had chosen to follow Christ. He supplemented his preaching with the distribution of tracts and portions of the Bible, usually Mark’s Gospel, for those who could read. Always a lover of music, Fraser also taught simple Christian hymns to those who showed interest, especially after he discovered that the tribal peoples were quite musical, loved to sing, and readily learned and repeated the songs he introduced to them. Naturally, not all went smoothly. As people became used to him, some lost interest; others who expressed interest or even commitment fell back into old habits; and even more found it difficult to resist the pull of the old demon “gods” whom they had worshiped, as we shall see.

Meeting the Lisu

Tribal folk came down from the mountains on market days to sell their wares and buy necessities or baubles for the women. Their bright, colorful dress made them immediately recognizable, and their friendly response encouraged Fraser to invite them to his preaching chapel to hear the gospel in simple Chinese. Of course, he couldn’t understand a word they said in their own language, but soon he felt a growing interest in these despised, neglected folk. He had come to China to work among them, though originally intending to serve in eastern Yunnan, and now his heart began to yearn to be among them and share with them the only message that could deliver them from bondage to sin and Satan.

Finally, an invitation came to visit a village in the mountains, which he did. Listening to them chatter away in preparation for a wedding feast, he jotted down hundreds of phrases, using the English alphabet. When he read these aloud, they were delighted at his “speaking paper.” Going on to another village, he found one family so receptive to his simple message in Chinese that they decided to destroy all the paraphernalia of idolatry immediately.

To his dismay, his senior missionaries in Tengchong were assigned to another place, and he was left in time to run the mission station and the small church that was beginning to be planted there. Quickly, he discovered two things: First, he could spend his whole life there, faithfully ministering to the local population, but never taking the Good News to the multitudes of tribal people whom he so longed to reach; second, he depended entirely upon God’s strength and the work of the Holy Spirit to help him in his weakness, especially when facing the opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil. He quickly saw that “solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees.” Notice the word “our.” His letters home increasingly included more and more details of his efforts to spread the gospel, the results, and the fierce spiritual opposition, including the sin in his own heart and the fierce attacks of Satan. He began to call more and more upon his friends at home to join him in disciplined, fervent intercessory prayer, believing their work was just as necessary as his. This became the main theme of his missionary communications for years to come.

The tribal people at last!

Fraser’s burden for the tribal people living deep in the mountains grew heavier and heavier as he prayed daily for their salvation. How he yearned to be among them! Finally, Dixon Hoste, General Director of the CIM, reversed a previous decision that had assigned him to work with a team in eastern Yunnan and now gave permission for him to follow his sense of leading to the unreached Lisu and others in the western part of the province, most of which had never been traversed by a European. Fraser made several exploratory journeys, finally settling in the autumn of 1914 among the Black Lisu in Tantsah, a strategically located village, one of three hundred towns inhabited by 10,000 Lisu and many more Kachins.

Fraser lived with the Lisu, dressing like them, eating their food, and conversing constantly with them. He found that children were his best language teachers, for they never tired of repeating words and phrases, which he wrote down and memorized. He often made solitary journeys across lofty mountains on treacherous paths to preach in other villages, teach hymns, and make friends. Not infrequently, he found a warm welcome, and sometimes, as before, people indicated that they wanted to follow Christ. Usually, such a decision led immediately to burning all the altars, idols, images, strips of paper with writings on them, and other paraphernalia of their superstitious beliefs, so new converts knew intuitively that they must make a clean break with their former faith in order to worship the one true God and follow Christ as Lord. They had suffered in the bondage of fear long enough, and found joy and life in the new freedom that Christ brought to them.

Spiritual warfare

This kind of advance into terrain long held by Satan could not go unopposed. One of the earliest families to turn to Christ and destroy their idols relapsed into bondage again when four sons became ill and died. Demon possession drove some people insane, turning them into raving, mocking madmen. Time after time, commitment to Christ would be followed by inexplicable illness, often fatal. Prayers for healing by the frightened new believers did not always bring relief. Neighbors and family members would mock them and attribute their afflictions to their failure to worship the tribal gods. Clearly, belief in the Christian God not only failed to protect them, but resulted in calamity. Entire families lost heart, and villages told Fraser he and his message were no longer welcome. Old Five, one of his early helpers and previously very effective as an evangelist, became cold and indifferent. Fraser later discovered that the man had long been guilty of sexual immorality. He repented and was restored but was never again as useful in gospel work as before.

Like many missionaries, Fraser was slow to believe that demon possession could take place today, but he soon realized that the same evil personage that resisted Jesus and the apostles maintained his ancient hatred of God, goodness, and the gospel and could exercise his wicked powers, though limited, to torment the minds and bodies of seekers and new believers alike. And not only them, but missionaries, too. Many times, Fraser found himself gripped by unexplainable despondency and depression; darkness seemed to be closing in and threatened to overwhelm him. More than once he contemplated suicide by just leaping off a cliff into a gorge far below. On other occasions, he doubted whether God’s promises were true. Frustrated by frequent apostasy and the failure of his labors to bear fruit, he wondered whether he should give up completely. Considerable meditation and prayer had led him to ask God, in full faith and confidence, to cause hundreds of families to turn to Christ in true repentance and lasting faith. When this did not happen, he began to suspect that the whole process of discerning God’s will and then praying “the prayer of faith” had been nothing but self-delusion.

Lessons in prayer

Gradually, haltingly, and with many defeats and setbacks, he learned lessons in prayer and perseverance that enlightened and encouraged those who read his vivid letters home and interceded for him and many thousands who have read the two major biographies written about him (one by Mrs. Geraldine Taylor, and one by his daughter Eileen Fraser Crossman; see “Resources” below).

First, he realized that Satan still prowls around “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He came to see that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We must, therefore, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” and “put on the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Every weapon listed in that passage has to do with truth in all its manifestations, but all must be put on, as the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers!” says, with prayer.

Fraser learned to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). He spent hours, and sometimes entire days, on his knees, begging God to deliver the Lisu—and himself—from the deceitful lies of Satan and from the destructive power of evil spirits. Convinced that if the Apostle Paul needed intercession, so did he, he intensified his appeals for small groups of intercessors to “pray also for me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel”( Ephesians 6:19) and to send down the Holy Spirit upon the benighted tribal folk.

Prayer is not enough, however. The words of James, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), emboldened Fraser to claim victory over Satanic doubt and depression, sometimes with a triumphant shout from the mountaintops. At some point, we must stop praying and start praising God, who has promised to answer our petitions, giving his messengers strength and opening hearts to repent and trust in Christ. (We should note, however, that, unlike many modern Christians who engage in what they call “spiritual warfare,” Fraser would not believe that the Bible supported practices such as “claiming” a place or a people for Christ or “binding” the spirits that supposedly rule over districts. Instead, he relied upon prayer to God to deliver individuals from demon possession and to open the eyes of families to discern Satan’s lies and decide to accept God’s truth, believing that Christ had already “bound the strong man” during his earthly ministry.)

There comes a time, too, when we must rise up from our knees and just get to work at the task set before us, such as “hard study of the Lisu language,” which Fraser found to be a powerful antidote to self-pity and depression.

Fraser also learned that he must take care of his body. Weeks and months of sleeping outside or on cold, damp floors in a hut and eating nothing but the sparse diet of the dirt-poor Lisu, while trudging over steep mountains on rugged trails and preaching to crowds in one village after another, wore down his body and rendered him vulnerable to illnesses such as malaria and typhoid, forcing him to return to the mission home at Tengchong for rest and recuperation.


After he had begun to practice what he had learned, Fraser saw great breakthroughs, as hundreds of entire households forsook their idols to turn to the living God through sincere repentance and faith in Christ.

Why had he prayed for whole families to turn to Christ together? Because, as he said, until the head of the household resolved to put away idolatry, steps of faith by women and younger members of the family would be unstable. (His insight has since been ratified by countless studies, especially in Donald McGavran’s works.) In a close-knit tribal society, individuals who stray from the herd will encounter fierce resistance, but if a senior male leads his family, everyone else will find it easier to adopt new ways.

The reason Fraser asked God to move hundreds of families is that he knew that single family units would, like individuals, find it difficult to stand against the rest of the village, but that if many families together forsook their idols, the momentum would make evangelism, church planting, and the gradual transformation of the whole culture immeasurably easier.

As we saw earlier, Fraser early employed music to engage the heart and mind of his Chinese listeners. He did the same with the Lisu, providing them with many songs which taught the Scripture and essential biblical doctrines in a way they could easily remember; this was especially important for illiterate people.

Fraser tackled illiteracy directly, however, as he, with the help of another missionary and a tribal Christian, reduced the Lisu language to writing, and as he produced not only hymns but also a catechism and the Bible in their own tongue. Bible translation, too, involved cooperation with others, but Fraser’s knowledge of Greek and his fluency in Lisu enabled him to play a major role in this crucial aspect of ensuring that Christianity would take root among the Lisu. Years later, the British government asked him to produce a handbook that would help foreigners understand the Lisu people, so Fraser composed a work on the history and culture of the people, coupled with a Lisu grammar, dictionary, and vocabulary book.

Nor did he neglect systematic instruction to groups and individuals, accomplished by constant itineration to the villages where churches were springing up. From the outset, he resolutely opposed the idea of using foreign funds to support Lisu church workers and evangelists or to construct chapels, knowing that money from overseas would create an unhealthy dependency. “Foreign money and foreign control would build a foreign church, and a weak one” (Crossman 173). Fraser never paid his Lisu helpers, but encouraged sacrificial giving by the Christians both to support pastors and evangelists as well as to support the families of volunteers who offered themselves for outreach to new regions. He constantly searched for practical methods to equip the Lisu to rise above the grinding poverty in which they had lived since being driven by the Han Chinese from the lowlands, immersing himself in the study of local soils and agricultural methods and crops to replace the poppy plant they no longer cultivated for opium.

In time, these methods, fueled by faithful intercessions by hundreds, then thousands, of prayer supporters at home who avidly read Fraser’s lively letters, brought immense fruit. Thousands of Lisu became followers of Christ. They established churches that were self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating (the co-called “Three Selfs” later used by the state-sponsored Christian organization under Communist rule) with their own elders, deacons, pastors, evangelists, and Bible conferences, entirely independent of foreign control, but warmly welcoming help from missionaries for teaching, training, and pioneer evangelism.

Leadership in the CIM

CIM leaders noticed his gifts and wisdom. After his first furlough in 1922 to England, where he was heartbroken to find most Christians largely uninterested in what God was doing among the tribal people, and a period in the United States, where he met with an enthusiastic reception, he was shocked and dismayed upon his return to China for find that his plans to return to the Lisu would have to be shelved. The directors in Shanghai had decided they needed Fraser in Gansu, far to the north of Yunnan, and later in Shanxi. So, submitting to them as unto the Lord, for three years he traversed the deserts and mountains of northwest China, visiting CIM missionaries in far-flung and lonely places and writing a riveting travelogue.

Upon his return to Shanghai, he was again detained, this time to help with administrative leadership at International Headquarters. He loved spending time in prayer with General Director D.E. Hoste, but he knew he was not suited for this kind of work and longed to be back with his beloved Lisu. After a few months, he was released and sent back to Yunnan, this time as superintendent of the field.

As more and more Lisu became Christians, CIM leaders had sent new workers to help with the burgeoning ministry among tribal people. Those who served under Fraser regarded him almost with awe, as they observed his incredible physical stamina, Spartan way of life, total adaptation to Lisu customs, fluency in the language, persevering prayer, strategic planning, and intellectual brilliance, coupled with a love of life, infectious laughter, and remarkable humility that made him approachable to all, especially children, whom he loved with a delight that was reciprocated.


Almost from the beginning, Fraser had struggled with profound loneliness. Naturally affable and sociable, he rejoiced when co-workers were sent to help him and when he could spend time with the couples who ran the CIM mission homes in Tongcheng and elsewhere in China. Still, though Lisu had for years kindly tried to match him up with one of their girls, he longed for a feminine companion with whom he could share his life and his missionary labors.

While staying for a while in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, Fraser was asked whether he knew that Frank Dymond, missionary with the United Methodist Mission, had a daughter named Roxie due to arrive soon. As soon as he heard her name, Fraser’s heart turned over, though he had never met her or heard of her before. When he saw her a few days later, “his heart turned over again” (Crossman 203). But he was 42 and she was only 23; she had grown up in far more comfortable circumstances in China than he had become used to, and was very “fair and fragile,” delicate and refined (perhaps reminding him a bit of his mother?), whereas he was, frankly, pretty scruffy looking. She was also a stunning beauty. How could he arrange to meet her?

He decided to offer to give a piano concert in the YMCA building and invited all the foreigners in town. Missionaries, consuls, and businessmen filled the hall, and finally Roxie, who arrived late and slipped into the back row. She left as soon as the concert was over, but he pursued her ardently, convinced that she was the one God had prepared for her. He told her of his travels around northern China and the mountains of Yunnan, but, she wrote later, “he never told me of the way he had been used among the Lisu… . He was a great conversationalist. He loved life and found the world full of interest. He had read widely, travelled widely and had a keen mind… . He had a great sense of humour and few who knew him could forget the way he would throw back his head and laugh” (Crossman 204).

He shared his dream with her: “‘It has been to have my wife on one mule, myself on another and all my worldly possession on a third.’ She was attracted to his obvious strength and manliness, but would the age gap be too great? … Could she manage all the travelling?” (Crossman 205). When she expressed her doubts, he returned to prayer and fasting and wrote to her, “If you will not have me, I’ll go back to being the loneliest man in China.” (Crossman, 205)

Roxie finally consented, and the wedding took place in October 1929. Three days later, they set out on a five-and-a-half month trek through the mountains to visit both reached and unreached tribal people. She described him on this initial trip together:

James was tremendously strong and frequently spent most of the day running alongside my mule, leaping over boulders and climbing up rocky places, talking and reminiscing to me by the hour. Living in the wilds as he had done, he had grown very indifferent to dress (which to his great amusement he had to change a little after marriage!), yet even when staying in places little better than pigsties he was always the gentleman. And wherever it was possible to muster some people, he would take out his hurricane lamp and preach to them. On his return he would always spend much time in prayer. (Crossman 207)

Riding on mules and sleeping in the hay lofts of horses’ inns, Roxie experienced his life and soon entered fully into his ministry, though she spoke only Mandarin Chinese. When they journeyed with Lisu Christians, they usually slept outside under the stars. Roxie became his indispensable companion and co-worker and bore him three daughters, the second of whom, Eileen, wrote one of the biographies mentioned above. She obviously had gleaned much from her mother’s memories, Fraser’s colleagues, and the letters and diaries he left.


The Frasers went on furlough in 1934. The next year, while in Canada, they heard James Goforth, who was then 76 years old and completely blind but so full of the Holy Spirit that “when he stood up to speak there was such an unusual sense of the presence of God James and Roxie were stirred” as had previously been the case with thousands of Chinese and missionaries all over China. Quoting, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6), Goforth brought conviction of sin, deep repentance, and spiritual revival wherever he preached.”

After their return to China, they became involved in the revival movement sweeping parts of the country, fanned earlier by Goforth and now by Chinese evangelists like those in the Bethel Band (Andrew Gih, John Sung, and others), as well as Christian missionaries. Troubled by tensions and conflicts among missionaries arising from clashes of personality, background, and convictions, Fraser sought for a new work of the Holy Spirit for himself and his fellow workers.

God answered their prayers as, at one meeting after another, the Holy Spirit came with power upon Westerners and Chinese alike, evoking bitter sorrow for hidden sins now openly confessed, cries for God’s mercy and grace, and fresh wonder at God’s astounding grace. Fraser, who often spoke on “The Fullness of the Spirit,” was amazed that people who had been missionaries for years were dramatically and permanently changed after a new encounter with God through the Spirit. He noted that revival brought conviction of sin; a new “revelation” of Jesus, his grace and glory; a deeper and more intimate understanding of the truths of the Bible; and what he termed “an anointing of power” for more effective witness (see Acts 1:8). With a hunger that tribal Christians would receive the same blessing, he arranged special meetings all over his district in Yunnan and was thrilled when God brought renewal to them, too. In his last years, this burden for a fresh work of the Spirit never left him, and he spent more and more time in prayer, often with Roxie, that God would continually fill them and others with his Spirit.


No one is perfect, of course, including James Fraser. Not everyone agreed with his missionary methods, such as constant itineration rather than settling in one place for a long time, nor did all his fellow missionaries like his firm insistence upon the indigenous principles upon which he insisted so strongly. Frank and straightforward in his communication, he offended some whose “hurtability level” (his term) was low, and who could nurse a grudge for a long time. He spent many days on long journeys to distant colleagues to seek reconciliation with those who thought he had offended them.

Fraser’s insistence upon missionary marriage as one of full companionship in the work, with the wife engaged as completely as her husband, seemed unbalanced to those who thought that mothers should not neglect their children for the sake of ministry. Similar criticisms, based on a traditional interpretation of the Bible, were voiced about his egalitarian views on women as preachers and church leaders. (Here, as elsewhere in Fraser’s life, we can see the strong influence of J. Hudson Taylor, who has been faulted for these same practices.)


Despite these and other points of friction, after his death, Isobel Kuhn provided this description of how most of the CIM missionaries in Yunnan felt about their superintendent:

There was no one else on earth who had such a complete knowledge of the details of our problems, no one who could share so perfectly in our joys and sorrows… . He was our missionary ideal, a continual rebuke, challenge and stimulus to maintain at any cost the apostolic methods of missionary work. His brilliant gifts, united with unfailing humility and a sympathy motherlike in its tenderness and thoughtfulness, made him our refuge at all times of perplexity and need.” (Crossman 236)

During the final phases of translating the New Testament, Fraser, whose “knowledge of Greek was scholarly” (Crossman 223), was asked to come and participate in the revision. After he had stayed with the main translators for several months (later joined by Roxie), Leila Cook described what they had observed:

His help with the translation was not the only help we received. His daily message for morning prayers were an inspiration… . His capacity for work was astonishing, but with it all he always seemed fresh and full of life, always of an even temper, always considerate of others, and a perfect gentleman… . He had read widely, and his conversation was rich and varied. He would sit, between whiles, and play on our little organ—Chopin’s Polonaise and treasures from Beethoven—bringing such glorious music out of it! The Lisu would crowd in to listen.And one thing that impressed me as the months went on—he had such a wonderful control over every part of his life. He was completely master of himself. He not only wanted to live a self-denying life, enduring hardness for Christ’s sake, he could do so. To bring his life up to his highest thought seemed to be quite natural with him. And he was so practical about it.” (Crossman 222)

Last days and legacy

Fraser finally settled down in Baoshan with his wife, who had begun to long for more stability and a settled home for family. Before too long, however, he died in September 1938 of malignant cerebral malaria, for which no suitable medicines were available in their area. He was 52.

The Lisu Christian church which Fraser and his fellow-workers helped to establish continued to grow and mature. The entire Bible was eventually translated into Lisu and a few copies were distributed to them in 1968, but a final revision and large-scale distribution had to wait until 1980. By then, the Lisu had gone through decades of persecution. Many had died for their faith under Communist rule; others had fled to Burma (now Myanmar) to worship freely and to escape forced abortions. In recent years they have returned and have continued to multiply and mature. At a conference in Beijing in the fall of 2015, a Chinese researcher who had spent years with them reported that they had gained such a reputation for being good citizens that the local Communist government allowed them full freedom to worship and to propagate their faith. More significantly than that, the researcher noted that they had basically constructed a new culture, one based on Christian values.


  • Crossman, Eileen Fraser. Mountain Rain: A Biography of James O. Fraser. An OMF Book. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1982.
  • Taylor, Geraldine. Behind the Ranges: The Life-Changing Story of J.O. Fraser. Singapore: OMF Books, 1998. First published 1944.

About the Author

G. Wright Doyle

Director, Global China Center; English Editor, Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.