October 30, 1939 – The Beginning of Our Mission Work in China Through Missionary Arndt Twenty-five Years Ago

This article by G. Birkmann, pastor emeritus, was first written in German for the 30 October 1939 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It was translated by Ray Martens.


I became aware of this noteworthy man when he was still a pastor in Michigan. He dealt with the First Article of the Christian Creed in an altogether original and constructive way at a convention. I was pleased to read this lecture in the Synodical Proceedings. Then I learned to know him at the general convention of the Missouri Synod in Milwaukee. He impressed me as a lively, energetic young pastor. His gait was so quick that one could hardly keep in step with him.

It was eighteen years later before I saw him again in St. Paul, Minn., where he was then a professor at our college and, at the same time, an assistant pastor at a congregation in the city. At that time, I was on my way to the Synodical Conference at New Ulm, Minnesota, and, while I was in St. Paul, had a number of days’ time to look around and to make visits. So, I went also to Prof. Arndt, who was so friendly as to escort me on a tour of the city and to introduce me to the professors at the university whom I wished to meet. I spent one night with Arndt and also learned to know the other professors at our college who happened to be there—it was vacation time. Buenger and Abbetmeier especially remain in memory. Prof Arndt was already determined at that time to go to China and to bring the Gospel to these people. He had been studying Chinese in St. Paul for years in order to learn their language. He had a number of friends who were pleased with his plan and who also made the case at a gathering of the Synod that mission work should begin in China. The convention could not agree to do mission work in China along with that in India. It was held that this would be more than it could handle. But Arndt and his friends in Minnesota went ahead, collected the required travel money, and Arndt went to that faraway land all alone and began the work which, at first, seemed limited and very toilsome, but which was blessed by the Lord and made progress, especially when the Missouri

Synod subsequently took over its management and support and sent out more and more missionaries from time to time, with the result that now we have nearly thirty missionaries there who were sent there from our country, along with a number of native assistants.

Missionary Arndt worked faithfully and successfully and performed worthwhile tasks through the translation of Luther’s catechism and other writings. During the winter of 1922, he presented reports of his work and about the people in China in a number of congregations here in Texas. Then he went back there to continue his work for a number of additional years. He had rare willpower and tough perseverance to make happen what he had intended, and this surely flowed from a heart filled with fervent love for the Lord and with zeal to reach the lost.

I wish to mention along with this that we currently have a missionary to China in our area, a Mr. Diers residing in the vicinity of La Grange. He is on a one-year leave in our country after he spent eight years in China. As I hear reported, he has already made reports in a number of places, and will probably continue to make such reports at other places. [The next eight lines are so illegible that only an occasional phrase can be identified: “Mr. Diers . . . . . at the convention of the Texas District . . . . . here in Giddings . . . . . .] . . . . that also from our midst someone may be found willing and able to do this great work of the Lord.