My Mom, who lives in her home town of Wilmington N.C. often sends me newspaper clippings, and sometimes the material is blog worthy, this being such a time. Here is a picture of a man who was baptized in the Fifth Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington in November of 1880.
The man’s name was Charles Jones Soong. This story was told because two weeks ago in that same church his great grandson, Michael Feng, a NY city financial adviser, will be baptized in the same church. So who exactly is that man staring at you above? Mr. Soong (1863-1918) was a one time stowaway from Hainan province in China. He managed to get employment as a mess boy on the USS Colfax which brought him to Wilmington. He was converted under the ministry of Rev. Thomas Page Richaud, the pastor of that church in late 1880, having confessed his faith and being baptized thereafter. Local Methodist embraced Soong, and paid for his college education at then Trinity College (which when it moved became Duke University). In 1885, only a few short years later, he graduated from Vanderbilt with a theology degree and was sent to China as a Methodist missionary. This apparently was not really his calling, and so instead he became a business man and started a printing press which turned out thousands of Bibles in Chinese. He became a close associate of Sun-Yat-Sen, the leader of the Chinese Republican movement, and Soong, as a successful businessman, funded Sun’s activities including his campaign to become the first President of China, which he did in 1911 when the Manchu dynasty finally fell. Soong’s daughter married President Sun, another daughter married General Chiang-Kai-shek leader of the Nationalist Party, and Soong’s oldest son, T.V. Soong, became premier of Nationalist China, and China’s foreign ministry during WWII. There is of course more to this story, but history would have been very different had China not turned to the Maoist Communist philosophy. Who knows, it might even still have a Christian President today.