01 Mar How an Englishman opened up China
When he died in 1857, Christian missionary Walter Medhurst left behind a great legacy that included the Parapattan Orphanage in Jakarta, All Saints’ Jakarta, Renji Hospital in Shanghai, the Shanghai Mission Press and a Chinese Bible that was used for more than 70 years. But Walter’s greatest achievement was surely the opening up of China to the West, a lasting legacy that affects our world even today. As one of the first missionaries into this notoriously closed society, Walter was delighted to find on his arrival in 1843 an outgoing and resourceful people more than willing to interact with him and his family. Dealing with Chinese authorities, however, required great diplomacy and tact and the formidable Medhursts employed every skill in their considerable arsenal to achieve their goals.
Medhurst’s descendant, businessman-turned-author John Holliday decided to write about his distinguished ancestor’s accomplishments following the discovery that Parapattan Orphanage is still caring for the dispossessed children of Jakarta even today. His book, Mission to China: How an Englishman Brought the West to the Orient, is an extraordinarily accomplished history that reviewers have been raving about. ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live presenter Phillip Adams declared it ‘a terrific book’ that he can’t wait for the movie adaptation of! High praise indeed from this erudite man. Over on ABC Local Radio’s Nightlife, Phil Clark interviewed John at length about Walter’s many good deeds, and the lasting legacy of an open China.