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Ah Ho's gold chair : the life story of the Bible woman of the Presbyterian Chinese mission in Portland,… Bell, Lucia Chase 1896

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PRICE, 3 CENTS ;   PER HUNI>RED,; $2.50. tit   Ah Ho's Gold Chair.
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not;
I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will
make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight:
these things will I do unto them and not forsake them."
Published and presented to the North Pacific Board
of Missions by tfie Woman's Missionary Society
of the First Presbyterian Church, Portland.
June 25TH, 1896.
Ah Ho is very proud of her new country home
in a suburb of Portland. It is just a little three-
room house, which her husband, Dong Faiy, is
working hard to pay for, month by month, but it
has clear, pleasant windows, and a neat little porch
with a splendid view of valley and mountains, and
in the tiny yard are growing the choicest of roses
and pansies, the gift of thoughtful friends. She
tries to tell me, in her broken English, how she
loves the changing beauty of Mt. Hood, and how
"often times it seems to stand in a sea," rising
from the blue billows of the Cascade range.
Upon the wall in the diminutive parlor, hangs a
mountain picture she has painted. It is just as
crude, but not so gaudy as most Chinese pictures.
The snow peaks in it are white and blue, like
doves; the sky is a frank, "baby pink ;" the trees
are boldly "conventionalized," as one might
Photographs of her friends are displayed in the
parlor, and Christmas cards adorn the table. Ah
Ho, herself, in her Chinese dress seems almost out
of place in this American room.
She has "such nice neighbors." Cosy American
homes are all around her and the neighbors often
come in to see her. They say, "Now Mrs. Dong
Faiy, just run in any time."
"And do you run in to see them?"    I ask.
"Oh yes, I do," returns Ah Ho, in that slow,
soft voice, "but often time I don't feel like going
to a neighbor's. / feel like staying home—all
day—7vith my Lord."
And this is so reverently uttered ;   its tender
—5— naivete speaks of long hours of precious, silent
communion, the fruits of which we see in her devoted life.
Once she was able to read the Bible a little, in
the Chinese, but now she cannot, because her eyes
have been weak for so long that she has forgotten
She is sorry for this, but she says brightly, "I
jus' trus' God all time, any way. I am so happy
to talk to Him. He teach me, so I learn that
When the North Pacific Board of Missions held
its annual meeting at Salem, this year, Ah Ho was
in attendance, and her eloquent, artless story of
her life and work made that evening a memorable
In describing some features of idol worship as
she had known it, she used as an illustration a
little paper idol which she had prepared for the
occasion, fashioned exactly as it is used by the
To the request that I may   see this ridiculous
image, she replies that it is in the possession of
Mrs. Holt, of the Presbyterian Chinese Mission.
"I wouldn't keep it in my house!" exclaims Ah
Ho, and her expression of mingled fear, contempt
and loathing is indescribable.
She adds, "I got to be careful of that! // might
come into my heart."
Wise Ah Ho! She is a solid Christian, but does
not believe in leading her own heart into temptation. Also, she feels that the presence of the
"accursed thing" in her. house might be an
offence to some weak brother or sister of her own
She first heard about the one true God when she
was a very little girl, in the Presbyterian Mission,
with Mrs. Happer, in Canton.
Of course I am anxious to know how the child
Ah Ho came to be in the mission, and this leads to
told in broken English, a part of which I translate
into more formal phrase.
At the time of her birth and all through her
early childhood, the country in which her family
lived, Suning, in the southern part of China, was
in a state of constant strife, with frequent robberies and murder.
"Strange people were always coming to chase
us out of our home"—referring to the frequent raids
of mountain pirates into country neighborhoods,
when whole families were driven into utter destitution, and the women and children carried into
slavery, if indeed they were not murdered.
Her father owned a farm, but was a soldier and
had some official duty away from home, only paying his family occasional visits.
Ah Ho had four brothers older and one younger
than herself, of whom all but one died during her
In later years the mother told her daughter all
about this unhappy time; how she was always "in
a tremble" for fear of an attack upon her home,
when the little Ah Ho was only four or five days
old, and the mother was obliged to take her
children and try to run away to save their lives.
"Then so trouble, mamma's small foot—she couldn't run—she got to carry me in a bag—she so tired,
so sick! By and by she came to old jar on edge of
pool. She put me in that jar, and wrote father's,
mother's name on it, and set it in the pool. She
hoped some one find—may be take care of me.''
Struggling on after this, she presently met Ah
Ho's father coming home to the rescue.
When he heard what his wife had done, he said,
"Mamma, you only got one girl! You going to
throw her away?" "Then my mother feel so sorry, she cry, and
they go back and find j ar and take me out, and my
father say, 'Mamma, you so tired—give me that
baby!" '
Quickly he "made a pocket to carry her in" and
tied it to his belt, and they hastened on.
In a fight with the robbers that day, the baby
Ah Ho's face was splashed with blood, and oue
little foot cruelly hurt as she lay girdled to her
father's waist.
''Some men say to my father, 'Give up wife,
child—then no fight!" '
But my father tell them, "I fight! I keep wife
and child!" And he did fight—he drove them
At night they hid in a cave in the mountains.
The next day they were very hungry, and had
"nothing but grass to eat." There was more fighting too, but at last they came down to an old
deserted house where they could rest.
There a Christian Chinaman found them and advised the father to put the baby and mother in the
mission at Canton.
His advice was taken, but the mother became
very ill the first day and was carried to the home
of her own father in the country.
The baby was left in the care of Mrs. Happer at
the Mission until she was two or three years old.
Then they took her back into the country to "try
ask mamma if she willing to let me stay with them
till I am twenty, to be in school."
Mamma say, "No, better let papa come home
first. I must ask him, and he can not come for
very long time.'' And she say to me. ' 'You not
know mamma very well—I sorry you love Mrs.
Happer best—you talk two mammas all time."
So my own mamma keep me with her."
When Ah Ho was about four years old "another
war" took place. The mother and the other children escaped, but this time the little Ah  Ho was
-8— carried off and left with a number of other little
girls in charge of some soldiers, in front of a joss-
house. The soldiers by and by ran away, and an
old woman who belonged to some sort of sisterhood and "had her head all shaven" came out of
the temple, took them all in and kept them for
""many months."
At last she delivered Ah Ho into the care of a
man who said he knew her father and would take
her home.    Instead of this, he
where the child saw him killed in a quarrel with
another ruffian, who took her to his own house
and kept her there "to be his child," until one day
he came in from some bloody fight and said angrily, "You have not brought me good luck! I shall
sell you!"
He took her into the street and offered her for.
sale.    And there it happened—or was it a mere
* 'happening?"—that she was seen and recognized
by Mrs. Happer, who bought her and took her
There she lived until she was about eight years
old. A happy memory of that time is that they
let her draw and paint pictures and gave her some
lessons in painting, which she loved dearly. She
could not study much, because her eyes were always so weak, but it was then that she first heard
and learned the Lord's Prayer.
Out of this blessed home shelter the child was
lured one day by the falsehoods of a Chinese
woman who worked in the mission.
Through some trivial offence of Ah Ho's, which
had happened principally through her hysterical
terror of being alone in the dark and needed only
to be confessed to be forgiven, this woman preyed
upon her fears; telling her that the missionaries
were not good, but were deceitful and wicked white
—9— people, and only waited for an excuse to "chop
her in pieces;" that Mrs. Happer had ordered one
hundred pins to be driven into her arm, and was
ready to cut off her head at any moment, until at
last the child was persuaded that her only safety
lay in instant flight.
The sufferings Ah Ho soon endured with this
woman, led her to piteously entreat that she might
be taken back to Mrs. Happer, no matter what
happened, but without avail. Hidden for a long
time in a dark crowded den, she nearly died of
thirst and starvation, having nothing to drink but
brackish water, and nothing to eat but some kind
of bitter greens.
For a whole year she was kept where her only
bed was a pile of filthy rags "between two walls,
like the nest of a rat," a place stifling with heat,
into which there was no way of entrance, except
upon hands and knees, because it was, also, "close
under a roof."
Here an effort was made to teach her how to
make lace, but the child was desperately stubborn
and would not learn.
The next year she was put into a different place,
*'to be taught singing," which she was persuaded
to try to learn, with the promise that she might
then go back to Mrs. Happer and "sing for her
and make her happy.".
Instead of this, when she had learned to sing
she was taken into the theatres and gambling
houses to make money for her tyrant.
When Ah Ho was fourteen years old she said
one day, desperately, "You promised to take me
back to Mrs. Happer if I learned to sing. Is this
the way you take me?"
The woman at first was very angry and fiercely
struck the girl's face, but afterward pretended to
yield. Ij|§
" Will you go back to Mrs. Happer?" she asked.
'I will take you if you will.    For she has gone
—10— home—across the water.   You shall go to her with
She described America as the Golden Hill, a
place where everybody sat upon chairs of "solid
gold," and where Ah Ho would be covered with
rich jewelry, and could earn a great deal of money.
Mrs. Happer had died during Ah Ho's captivity,
but the girl of course did not know this, and with
new hope consented to come here.
Ah Ho's father also had died and the whole
family had been reduced to deep poverty by means
of the frequent piracies and constant strife. The
mother had somehow learned of her daughter's
fate, but was utterly unable to find any redress,
because she was penniless and Ah Ho's mistress
was working in the interest of a powerful society
of high-binders in Canton. She even considered
it a great boon to be allowed to come to Hong
Kong and spend two nights, under strict surveillance, with her daughter, before she was taken
from China.
Here, on the first night the mother related to
Ah Ho all the story of the troubles at the time of
her babyhood and afterward, and taught her the
names of her family and parents and home. The
next night she had Ah Ho rehearse it all to her, to
be sure that she would remember. She wept a
great deal, but tried to keep up courage, saying :
"Honey girl, I hope it will be all right.
You will earn a great deal of money and may be
come home by and by. You must mind your
mistress and not make her angry. If she whips
you it will hurt my heart."
That was the last time she ever saw her mother.
"Then I come to San Francisco, and I am put in
awful old dark house, and have sad trouble. And
all time I keep saying. "But where is my gold
chair?" And the woman she say, "Pretty soon—
pretty soon—pretty soon you see."
Now I know where my gold chair ;
Some day I get happy day to go home to
heaven—then I see!"
And no words can describe the eloquence of Ah
Ho's upward look and gesture, as she exclaims,
"Up there!"
The full story of this part of her life is too shocking to relate, but something of the desperate
struggles of that girl-child at our doors, battling to
belong to herself, can be read in the scarred,
maimed hands of Ah Ho, and in the pain the poor
brave body bears, even to-day.
Almost sick unto death, struggling along the
street one day in San Francisco, she sank down
and was brought in and tenderly cared for by the
lady missionaries in charge.
When recovered in health she was given a home
with a Christian Chinaman and his wife. Here
she heard once more of the love of God, and there
began to awaken in her heart old memories of that
Name heard in earlv childhood.
"Only, all the time He seem too far; but
by'n'by I think, 'Why, if He is God, he can
hear me any where.—I am not a Christian then,
though.   I have so awfui bad temper!"
The missionaries held prayer meetings at this
house every week and her interest increased,
until at last they asked her to be baptized. She
said at first. "But you do think I am good-tempered
enough?" Her good friend, Tarn Sing, replied,
"Why, plenty! Come, Ah Ho, we want you! Our
little baby is to be baptized next Sunday evening.
Think how lonesome I will be, standing up by
myself, holding the baby. You had better come
now." She still insisted that she was "not good
enough," but said she would "ask the Lord what
—12— she must do." Tarn Sing also said they would "all
ask Him in the evening at prayer-time."
In the night "it was so trouble, I could not
sleep." At last, as she was praying earnestly,
"Lord, tell me what I must do!" all at once
"everything seem light, and I hear a voice say
so plain, ' Come, Ah Ho! This is good for youf
And then I am so glad, till morning! Mrs.
Tarn Sing, she send for Mr. Loomis, and I tell
him% and so, next Sunday evening I am baptized, with the little baby."
(And I shall never forget the quiet gladness
shining in Ah Ho's face as she speaks of that
blessed time.)
So many disappointments crowd into the resolute little life even after this—we cannot
wonder that the "awful bad temper" was found
hard to conquer. We do wonder, as we think
of it all, and see the gentleness, the consecration of these later days.
Coming to Portland about 1882, with the expectation of working in a Christian Chinese
family, she found herself deceived and led into
an evil den of the worst character, where she
was closely watched to prevent her escape.
"But I keep watch!" she says. "All time I
watch a door! One day I look out and see
white man close by. I run' right out and cry
and say, 'Oh, help me find hotel!' So he show
me hotel and I run in there and ask, 'Find me
minister! No matter what church—only find
minister!' And they did find me minister, and
Dr. Lindsley* he was the one ! And Mrs. Lindsley
and Mrs. Holbrook came. Then my big troubles
all over. I join Dr. Lindsley's church and I am
member ever since. All time they help me. I
work for Mrs. Lindsley, and then I live with
Christian Chinese family and they get sewing for
"Dr. A. L. Lindsley, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church;
—13— me—because I am not strong to do house-work..
Dong Faiy he come and bring aprons for me to
make, and—after while—he get me nice place, to
work for Mrs. J. Q. A. Henry,"—the wife of Rev.
Dr. J. Q. A. Henry, pastor of the First Baptist
She remained with Mrs. Henry until Dr. and Mrs.
Holt took charge of the Presbyterian mission,
when she gladly associated herself with them in
evangelistic work for her people.
During her stay with Mrs. Henry she was married to Dong Faiy, a Christian Chinaman, a member of the Baptist Church.
"Dong Faiy say he so lonesome—he need some
one to light the lamp and make the tea, and I am
so home-sick, so I promise to marry, if he wait one
year. I say, 'You not know me very well—I not
know you—so better wait.' Dong Faiy look me
straight in eyes and say, 'I wait ten years for you!' "
And she adds with happy face, "Dong Faiy very
goo(l husband to me.''
Ah Ho's chief joy to-day is to pray with her
people and to speak to them of the happiness of
the true religion. Only a few weeks ago a Chinese
woman said to her, "I know my gods not true. I
ask and I ask, and I do everything—and they
never hear!" "But now," adds Ah Ho, "she come
tq our church every Sunday. She is very little bit
of woman, but she carry her great big baby every
time—so she can come. She say she know Jesus
She greatly loves our dear Dr. Maud Allen, who
has dedicated her life to India. Dr. Allen's
heart in her girlhood first turned toward the needs
of China, and it was her delight in her Portland
home, to visit Ah Ho and talk with her of her
people. Afterward, when Dr. Allen's steps were
turned to India instead of China, Ah Ho still rejoiced. Her love seems to reach out to all, high
or loWj rich or poor.    She made for Miss Allen a
—14— pair of quaint, comfortable slippers. When she
heard that they were "so comfortable" Miss Allen
"could not keep them but had worn them out," she
said gladly, "Why, now I make her some morel"—
and so the helpful hands are always busy.
Ah Ho dearly loves children. She never had a
child of her own, and when, some years ago, a
little motherless baby boy of her race was placed
in her care by its father, for an indefinite time, her
deep delight was pleasant to see. She dressed it
gaily in the droll little Chinese costume, ancl always proudly carried it with her to the meetings
at the mission and upon visits to the Chinese
By and by, in spite of Ah Ho's faithful love, the
child became ill and died. It was hard to give up
her treasure, but the grieved heart never faltered
in its trust. To a friend who extended sympathy
she said, with that luminous out-shining of peace
in the strong face, "Yes—I sorry he have to go.
But God know best. When I keep child, all time
I think of him—I not do God's work. Now God
take him—so I work all for God."
She is perfectly fearless in the work of rescuing
Chinese women and girls from slavery, and has
risked her life for their sakes more than once.
To quote Mrs. Mary H. Holbrook, of the Chinese
Home Society:
"Both they and we owe her a debt that only our
blessed Master can ever repay, for it is through her
that every rescue has been effected." What this
work has been, can be best learned from the thrilling reports of this branch of the Woman's North
Pacific Board.
Under Ah Ho's leadership some of the girls of
the Home are already becoming useful in evangelistic work among Chinese families.
Although her own health is frail, there is no
work in the mission dispensary too hard or too unpleasant for Ah Ho's willing hands.
—15— Under the joss-house in the heathen quarter of
this city there is a hidden place of darkness, into
which the Chinese cast their dying ones, or those
supposed to be near death. They do not dare remain near the dying, being in fear of the devil who
is believed to be hovering near, to snatch the departing soul. Sometimes they throw food to them;
sometimes desert them altogether.
Ah Ho heard of a man who was suffering in one
of the miserable haunts of this quarter, and sent
word to him that he should come to the dispensary
at the mission for relief. He did not come, as she
had expected, and the next she heard of him was
that he had been cast into that living tomb. With
her faithful helpers she found her way to him, and
called, "Come to me!   I will help you!"
A voice faintly answered, "How can I come?
It is all dark—it is night!"
Again called the messenger of Jesus, \ 'No—it is
day—all bright day.    Come to me!"
And so they brought him forth from the black
gloom, and carried him to the hospital, and to-day
he is well.
She sends letters and sometimes a little money
to her mother in China, and says sadly of her—
"she so old—and she pray all time and make gifts
to her gods every day for me!"
This afternoon as I rise to go, Ah Ho says, softly, "Shall we have some prayer?" And so we
kneel together and ask God to bless us both, and
that the dear mother far away in the darkness may
soon hear the voice of Jesus calling, ^Come to
Since writing the above, only a few weeks have
passed, but Ah Ho is no more with us.
On the 22d of June, Jesus called her, and she has
gone to be in the quietness and peace,  "with her
—16— r
Lord"—waiting  "for the gladness of the full redemption in the undimmed brightness of Messiah's
Ah Ho has found,  at last, her chair of gold.
"And they shall come from the east and from the
west and from the north and from the south and
shall sit down in the Kingdom cf God."
"And behold there are last which shall be first
and there are first which shall be last."
Lucia C. Beee.
—17— &n fjjfctemavicmu
Our Chinese Home in Portland is mourning today.
Dear "grandma," as the little girls lovingly
called her—our honored and prized co-worker, Ah
Ho, the beloved wife of Dong Faiy, has been
called up higher, and is now in the presence of the
Ah Ho was brought to San Francisco when quite
young, and passing through some hard and painful experiences, came at last under the care of Mrs.
I. M. Condit, of the Presbyterian Mission. This
proved a rich blessing to her, the good seed there
sown bringing forth an abundant harvest in her
after life.
Ah Ho came to Portland in 1882. Providence
guided her to the Rev. Dr. Lindsley, pastor of the
First Presbyterian Church, and here she found
wise counsellors and faithful friends.
In 1883 she made a public confession of her faith
in Christ, and was ever a consistent member of the
First Church during her life.
For a year or two past she suffered from the
growth of a tumor, and it had long been the
opinion of our physicians that an operation must
eventually be performed.
She had however continued cheerfully to fulfil
her duties until it was no longer wise to delay
surgical treatment, and she went to the hospital for
that purpose.
The operation was successfully performed, but
she did not rally.  On the third day a sudden hem-
—18— orrhage from the lungs came on, and after a few
more hours of weakness and suffering, her happy
spirit was released.
Funeral services were held in the chapel of the
First Church, conducted by Rev. Dr. Holt, assisted
by Rev. Dr. Hill, the pastor. The chapel was
filled with members of the different churches, and
a good representation of Chinese.
The service was very impressive. Dr. Holt gave
a brief account of Mrs. Dong Faiy's Christian character, and her valuable services to the cause of
Christ, under the North Pacific Board. He said it
was impossible to estimate them. He knew not
where we were to look for one to fill her place, if,
indeed, one could ever be found.
"I have never seen," said the speaker,—"and I
say this deliberately, realizing the full meaning of
my words—/ have never seen a woman of any race
who -was so entirely devoted to the service of fesus
Christ as was this woman whose body lies here
Turning to Dong Faiy, who was deeply affected,
Dr. Holt addressed him in his own language, holding the fixed attention of the Chinese present for
several minutes.
And then, with words of comfort and Christian
cheer to the weeping girls from the Home, whose
hearts were crushed under the weight of this, the
first real sorrow they had ever known, Dr. Holt
concluded his remarks.
After a few words by the pastor, and a closing
prayer, the procession moved to the cemetery.
Many sincere friends who honored and valued
this obscure Chinese woman followed her remains
to the grave. Flowers in rich profusion entirely
covered the grave from sight. The simple words
of Christian faith and hope and the song "Rock of
Ages" around the open grave, could but be a forcible object lesson to the  crowd of curious lookers-
—19— on; not only to the Chinese, but to the many, even
of professed Christians, who think it a "foolish
waste   of time   and   money  tp   give to   foreign
And now we leave her body in its quiet resting
place, until the glad resurrection morning, when
she shall appear in glory with the Lord whom she
Mary H. Hoebrook.
Mrs. Dong Faiy's interest in the Chinese
Mission here, dates from the summer of
1885, when the mission was opened. She was a
most valuable helper. She was well known in
Portland among her own people. She was in sympathy with those in distress and in opposition to all
evil doers. Knowing her own people she knew how
to help them, and also how to circumvent them
when this was necessary, as it often was. There
was no woman too low for her to visit, no man too
proud for her to approach. There was no distress
which she was not ready to relieve, and no sin or
outrage she feared to rebuke. She was fertile in
expedients, ready in emergencies, fearless in any
danger, and counted no trouble or weariness or
labor too great, if she could render a needed service. Her own debased country women never had
a better friend.
Evil men feared her and slandered her, but
she held steadily to her purpose, through evil and
good report.
Her counsel was always wise, and her judgment
could be relied upon. She was a mother to the
Christian women, and looked after them with
anxiety that they should do right, and be faithful
as Christians. They received much of her care and
She will be missed in every branch of our work
more than we can express.
We thank God for her life and influence among
us. We trust His wisdom in removing her, and can
say, although tearfully, "Thy will, not ours be


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