The turn of the 19th century in China ran bloody with violence and civil unrest. In the summer of 1900, the “Righteous Fists of Harmony” plowed into the Shan-si province in Northern China with brutal force, inciting mayhem in the streets. Fueled by a burning hatred for all things foreign, the Boxer Uprising sought to eliminate the influence of all things non-Chinese.
With chilling similarity to current reports from countries such as Iran and Sudan, newspapers across the West chronicled the bloody trail of 136 Protestant missionaries and 53 children killed in a single summer. Initially a rebellious faction, the Boxers were empowered by and aligned with the ruling Qing Dynasty and friends of the “Empress Dowager” by the time the majority of Christian nationals and western missionaries realized their danger. There was no safe quarter within the government, and to uphold the name of Christ was to be an enemy of the State.
A. E. “Archie” Glover describes the majority of these events as a distant cloud, just visible from the little, rural mission compound his young family and a few assistants maintained in the small hamlet of Luan Fu. The speed at which that little cloud rumbled to a great storm and broke over their mission is remarkable and terrifying. Within days of rumored Boxer activity in Shan-si, the Glovers and their lady assistant Ms. Gates were forcibly launched on their “Thousand Miles of Miracle” to the city of Hankow and passage to safety and the Southern Chinese coast.
With meager provisions, unwilling guides, and abuse and death in the wings, A. E. Glover faithfully journals each day of their ordeal, from the chilling depravity of a rabid mob to “stealing” minutes between agonies to share the gospel with the Chinese people he loved. Truly, God shepherded this little group of women, children, and Mr. Glover himself on a physical and spiritual journey beyond what the majority of us in Europe and North America are ever likely to experience.
Buoyed by the steadfast, Godward confidence of his young wife for the majority of the trek, the book’s author describes touching scenes of nearness to Christ and moments of pure miracle amid their “quaking fears.” Their adventure is full of narrow escapes, unexpected kindness, the gloom of death, and the thrilling, obvious intervention of the very hand of God.
I found it difficult to read A Thousand Miles of Miracle in Chinaand not compare the attitude and hearts of the Glovers with those of James and Peter in their Epistles. “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers trials” echoes James 1:2 as we see the missionaries worshiping with overflowing hearts in a sewage-ridden prison cell. Likewise, consider the apostle Peter’s words as Mr. Glover describes his awe and peace amidst the vituperative rants of the Mandarin of Yung-tsi against “Je-su Kiao” and His followers: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified” (1 Pet 4:12-14).
In summary, the chronicle of A. E. Glover’s deliverance from the land of the Boxer Uprising bears a fitting title. It is simultaneously a remarkable story of deliverance, faith, and confidence, and a chilling review of persecution, abuse, and martyrdom for Christ and the gospel’s sake. The faithfulness and nearness of our God as described in A Thousand Miles of Miracle in China shines encouragingly to Christians everywhere.
A Thousand Miles of Miracle in China is available through most bookstores, www.amazon.com, and without cost in digitized form through Google Books.