Woman to Woman Minnie Vautrin China Fund
In November of 2012, Disciple women went to China as part of the 2012 Woman-to-Woman Worldwide delegation. Woman-to-Woman is sponsored by the International Disciples Women’s Ministries and administered by the staff of Disciples Women in conjunction with Global Ministries. This program provides an opportunity for church women to experience solidarity with one another, to affirm the united of the church in Jesus Christ, and to join the common struggle for justice and peace in the world today. The delegation was led by Pat Donahoo, executive director of Disciples Women, and Xiaoling Zhu, Global Ministries area executive for East Asia and the Pacific. Participants came from all over the United States to learn firsthand about the church in China which will be the focus of the 2013 Disciples Women’s study.
As a result of this trip, the Disciples Women Woman-to-Woman Worldwide have elected to support as their service project, The Minnie Vautrin China Fund. Gifts to this fund will be used for projects for poor and marginalized women and girls from the rural areas of China. Projects will include education, support of the poor, medical care, and small loans for women starting small businesses through the Zhoukou Lay Training Program in Henan Province and the YMCA in Shanghai.
Miss Wilhelmin (Minnie) Vautrin, a Disciples woman, was born in Secor, Illinois, graduated from the University of Illinois in 1912. She was sent to China by the United Christian Missionary Society (predecessor of the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries) of the Disciples of Christ in 1912, where she first served as a high school principal in Luchowfu and then became head of the education department of Ginling College when it was founded in 1916 in Najing (formerly Nanking). She served as acting president of Ginling College from 1919 to 1922 when President Matilda Thurston returned to the United States for fundraising. With the Japanese Army advancing on Nanjing in 1937, Vautrin was called upon to take charge of the college campus, as most of the faculty fled Nanjing and established a refugee campus in western China. Her diary and reports provide a detailed account of the situation in Nanjing under Japanese occupation, especially the atrocities known as the Nanjing Massacre, which continued into the late spring of 1938.
In her last entry of her diary; April 14, 1940, Vautrin wrote: “I’m about at the end of my energy. Can no longer forge ahead and make plans for the work, for on every hand there seem to be obstacles of some kind. I wish I could go on furlough at least once.” Two weeks later she suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to the United States. A year to the day after she left Nanjing, she ended her own life.
ZHOUKOU LAY TRAINING PROGRAM
Over 90 percent of the Christians in Zhoukou come from rural villages and have little education and few opportunities. Under such circumstances, there is a need for pastors to be better equipped in order to provide necessary pastoral care. The scarcity of pastors is a serious problem with sometimes only three pastors available to lead the 700,000 believers in Zhoukou City. The church conducts lay leader training for women and men all year round. All of these lay leaders receive one-week of training once a year. There are normally 600-700 lay leaders in attendance for a week in the training class. While they are receiving the training, they also get advanced agriculture technology classes. They are encouraged to become preachers for the local churches and to provide pastoral care, as well as functioning as an agriculture development technicians. Growing wheat is necessary for food but does not provide family revenue, since farmers must spend a lot of money on fertilizer and pesticide. Another project of the Zhoukou Church is a tree project. This sustainable agriculture project aims to educate seminary students, lay leaders, and villagers (men and women) about the techniques of multi-storied agriculture, and also helps the church to be financially sustainable. Of the revenue generated, half is used to sustain the church financially, and the other half is used to fund the training of pastors.
The Shanghai YMCA was established in 1908. Service was interrupted during the Cultural Revolution. Since service was resumed in 1984, the Shanghai YMCA and YWCA cooperate in their effort to become a vibrant organization with an “international Christian background.” As a non-profit social service organization, the YMCA aims to promote the volunteer movement and contribute to social development while maintaining the principles of equality, justice, love, and peace.
With social development and changes, the Shanghai YMCA has continued to keep pace with society and with the times by dedicating themselves to social services, education, and training. They offer services on environmental change, public interest, and social development. One of the areas they are working on is early childhood development. They start from the first day of birth to early childhood teaching parents to listen to the experts. Parents are trained to teach their children to do synchronized games under the guidance of the instructor. They offer one-on-one consulting services for parents giving them access to a full range of scholars, experts, social workers, and child protection practitioners. Their focus is on personality development with an eye to behavior formation and family interaction. Another area is the children’s rehabilitation center which was established in January 2008. The program focuses on autistic children providing them with early training and early intervention in order to lay a good foundation for future integration into the community.
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