From Millsville to China, the long way
By Marjorie Johnson-Fraser
For the lawyer
Pearl Gertrude Young (July 6, 1904 – November 21, 1986) was from Millsville, Pictou County. She served as a missionary in China and Taiwan where she spent 40 years. She was the niece of the Reverend Dr Luther Young.
Pearl was born July 6, 1904 in Millsville, daughter of Dr. Milton Robert Young and Margaret Fraser and eldest of five children. Dr Young was Millsville’s physician for 22 years before moving in 1923 to Prince Street, Pictou, and had his practice in the family home.
The family attended Hermon Presbyterian Church in Millsville, built in 1865. Hermon was a biblical name: Mount Hermon, located 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Three men from Millsville – William Young, James Rae and John Mackay – gave their church Hermon’s name. This church was the home port of two generations of missionaries who surrounded the Earth. Pearl was the seventh to become a missionary abroad.
Pearl attended Millsville School, a mile from the church, where in some years it was packed with children to the doorstep. She graduated from the Académie de Pictou in 1921 and won the 46th gold medal.
The following year she became a teacher and might have taught at Millsville School. In 1922 Pearl entered Dalhousie University. It was his intention to study medicine, having been inspired by his father’s life as a physician. She felt that being a medical missionary would be the highest form of service. He insisted that she was not physically strong and that she should take an art class. Pearl Gertrude Young received a Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University in the spring of 1925, then attended Provincial Normal College in Truro in May and June. Since Pearl taught for a year and graduated in the arts, she has earned a first-class upper bachelor’s degree. She then taught at Kentville High School for two years.
In 1928, she attended the Christian Missionary Alliance Training Institute in Nyack, NY, where the school motto was: “The whole Bible for the whole world”. The students who attended devoted their lives to foreign missions. Pearl is the third daughter from Millsville to attend this institute. While in Nyack, she and another student discovered a needy mission field in the mountains of Virginia. They only had $ 1.25 between them, and they went. Their house was a two-room mountain cabin. People believed they had been sent by the government to spy on their illegal whiskey stills. Their small house was stoned at night and shots were fired into the air to frighten them. Anarchy abounded. An influenza epidemic has struck. Pearl found there were other ways to help – cook them something to eat, milk their cows, feed their horses, and visit a sick woman. Gradually, people’s attitudes changed. Their hearts softened to receive their message.
Having been there for nearly a year, Pearl read in a church magazine that the China Island Mission prayed for 200 workers. She applied, was accepted and in July 1929 returned to Pictou to make preparations.
One day in October 1929, Pearl boarded the train for Pictou. His mother, his father, his sister, his brothers were there to say goodbye to him. Also, her dear friend, the Reverend AD Stirling, who had been a minister at Hermon Church when she was young.
On the way to the West Coast, Pearl was joined by four American girls. At the Mission, missionaries had no guaranteed salary. The first months in China were spent in a missionary language school upstream of the Yangste River from Shanghai and she gradually began evangelistic work in the towns and villages of the countryside. How she loved to make these trips! It was hard, to travel by mule on unsuitable roads, to stay a few days in each place. The little houses were infested with hungry vermin – rats and bedbugs!
Word later came to go to the coastal town of Chifoo – now called Yantai, where she became a missionary teacher for the children of missionaries who were far away in the inland stations and only saw their children once a year. about.
Pearl herself had such a wonderful childhood that her heart sank because these little children couldn’t be at home. When Japan invaded northern China in the late 1930s, her father called her to come home, which she could have done, but, like others, she felt that ‘she had to stay.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, she and other teachers and children were forced to stay in their own compound for a year. Then for two years in another internment camp with 1500 people and 300 children and without contact with the outside world.
Pearl continued her missionary work in the internment camp under the most difficult conditions, never knowing when her life would be taken.
In the spring of 1945, they knew the war was over when they saw an American plane flying overhead and there was a lot of cheering, waving and shouting. The planes soon arrived with welcome supplies.
Eight years after leaving Canada, Pearl Young returned to Canada not knowing what to expect. She had not received any mail in the past two years since Japan did not allow any mail entering or leaving her camp. When she arrived home in Pictou, she found her father very suffering from cancer.
While at home for 11 months, Pearl spoke in many churches across Nova Scotia, talking about the work and need for missionaries in China. She resigned from the China Inland Mission, joined the Pentecostal Church, and returned to China in December 1946. Her father gave her a check sufficient for the trip and more.
In China, Pearl was doing evangelical work as an independent missionary when the place was overrun by Communists who stole everything they had from people. She and her colleague, Esther Hess, each packed a suitcase and unbeknownst to them, the Communists had planned that when they walked through the city gates they would seize their possessions and bury them alive. It was their favorite way to get rid of people. No trace would be left. The Christian people prayed that the nationals would arrive in time to save them, and they did. If they had come 15 minutes later, the plot would have been completed on the two missionaries. Two Chinese officers were assigned to take care of Pearl and Esther and they marched with the national army for four days, traveling on foot through hills and mountains and through severe blizzards and snow. They left the army and the two Chinese guides walked for two more days until they reached the railroad, then by train to Hankov, a large city on the Yangste River. Pearl and Esther were strong for surviving this trip!
Pearl Young returned to Canada in 1949 and remained there for five years. On March 11, I was in 10th grade at Pictou Academy when she gave an interesting talk about life in China.
At home, she received a letter from the pastor of Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, NY, who, along with his wife, were the directors of their religious camp called Pilgrim Camp on Brant Lake in New York State. She accepted a position there and served from 1949 to 1954.
In the fall of 1954, Pearl returned to the Far East, this time to Taiwan, also known as Furmosa. This country is 90 miles wide and 235 miles long. His passage was provided quite miraculously. The Canadian government issued a check from Ottawa to all Canadian citizens who were detained in the Japanese concentration camp in China nine years ago. This payment was sufficient to cover his expenses in Taiwan, as well as many other needs.
Arriving in Taiwan, she and Elizabeth, another missionary, settled in Taipei, which is the capital and the largest city. While she was a missionary here to the Chinese – especially the Taiwanese, she was God’s vessel in many ways. She was humble, conservative, obedient, faithful, kind, loving, and full of love for the church and holiness.
Pearl Young returned to America in 1968 and again in 1979. During one of her visits to her home in Pictou, her sister-in-law, Doris Young told her, “The Chinese people are your people,” and Pearl replied. : “The same the moon shines in China as here in Pictou. As we can see, and Pearl knew, her home is in the Far East and North America was a place to visit. She remained very active in the job she chose even when she was 81 years old.
One Easter day, while Pearl was in Taiwan, her niece, Joan Young, daughter of her brother, Dr. Clarence Young, came to visit her in 1983. She attended a church service when Pearl first spoke. in Chinese, then in English.
The Pearl Church in Taiwan, before his death, had grown from a small church to one of the largest Christian denominations among the Chinese with some 25 affiliated churches, some located in North America.
Pearl Gertrude Young died in Taiwan on November 21, 1986. Many Chinese from Taiwan and New York City attended her funeral at Pictou United Church on December 8. Pearl is buried next to her sister, Hildred, at Seaview Cemetery, just outside Pictou. .
Marjorie Johnson-Fraser, Toney Mills, is a long-time member of the McCulloch Genealogy Center. She is a local historian who has researched various people, places and events in Pictou County. She is a retired teacher and active member of the Toney River Presbyterian Church.