The contribution of women has been a neglected area in Restoration Movement studies, but their stories are just as inspiring as the stories of men in the movement. This article will acquaint readers with a young girl who dreamed of going as a missionary to Japan and through many hardships, fulfilled that dream.
Sarah Andrews was born in Dickson, Tennessee. Her mother, a devout Christian, had often told her daughter of the work of J. M. McCaleb, pioneer missionary to Japan. The young girl would dream of that far away land and dream of sharing the story of Jesus to the Japanese people.
Sarah was baptized at age 14 by I. B. Bradley in 1906. She wrote to J. M. McCaleb, sharing her dream of coming to Japan and helping in the work. McCaleb, perhaps not realizing the seriousness of her desire to fulfill her dream, encouraged the young girl to attend school and receive training that would help her to come to Japan. Sarah graduated from Dickson College with a certificate in teaching. She also took additional classes at the state college in Memphis and David Lipscomb College in Nashville. At the age of 22, feeling prepared, she wrote to McCaleb: "I am ready for you to announce in the papers that I wish to go to Japan this fall" (McCaleb, 4). McCaleb endorsed her to the Christian Leader readers: "It seems to me that the arrangement indicated ... is just as the Lord would have it in every respect: our sister commended, sent forward to the foreign field and supported by the church where she has been born and brought up." (McCaleb. 4). Along with McCaleb's endorsement, the Leader also carried a recommendation by her preacher, I. B. Bradley. "She is enthusiastic over the prospects of going to Japan and to the work. I think she is dependable and will make an earnest, zealous worker. I have been interested in her for ten years - ever since I've been with the church at Dickson. I baptized her and have watched her development and noted with delight her zeal and earnestness, as well as her loyalty to the Lord's revealed will and way." (McCaleb, 4).
Sarah realized that some might question what type of work a single woman could accomplish in Japan. She wrote in the Leader, "Will say at the outset that I expect, with God's help, to continue to remain within the bounds of woman's realm as clearly taught in the New Testament." (Andrews, 4). She continued, describing the work she envisioned among Japanese women and children, "If God permit, I expect to care for the sick, give to the poor, help the heavy ladened, weary and oppressed, teach in the school if Bro. McCaleb desires - in fact, do anything by which some may come to the knowledge of the truth. Is there a better way of teaching humanity than by becoming a servant to all? True happiness comes through helping others. In Japan alone there are forty millions who have never heard of Christ as the Savior of mankind. Hence, there is plenty of work to be accomplished. In many respects woman's place in the church cannot be filled by a man." (Andrews, 4).
Though funds for her support were slow in coming, on Christmas day 1915 Sarah began to realize her dream as her ship set sail from the United States. She arrived in Tokyo in January 1916. It's one thing to dream a dream. It can be altogether different to live it. Sarah's first years on the mission field were spent in Tokyo learning Japanese and teaching English Bible classes. She also learned about the religious practices of the Japanese people. One practice especially saddened her. "The Buddhists believe that children who die have to expiate their sins in the nether world by heaping up stones; and sometimes in graveyards women may be seen piling up stones with feverish energy, very often crying the while. These are mothers who have lost children, and who fancy that they are lightening the burdens of their departed little ones. This is, indeed, a piteous and touching sight." (Practices, 1).
Sarah's first years in Japan were also hard, as she suffered from many health problems. Some of these were due to difficulty in acclimatizing to the Japanese weather. Others may have come as a result of her intense pursuit of language skills to the degree that she neglected to get proper rest and nutrition. On furlough trips home, she required weeks of complete rest to restore her health. One visit included a rest in the mountains of Colorado. Another included a complete physical at the Mayo Clinic. Because of Sarah's health problems, David Lipscomb's wife, Margaret, gave Sarah a hot water bottle and later helped to raise funds so that Sarah could live in a Western style house in Japan. Margaret Lipscomb maintained a life-long interest in Sarah's work in Japan.
Works Cited: Sarah Andrews, "Sister Andrews' Future Work," Christian Leader 6-29-1915: 4. Sarah Andrews. "Some Religious Practices of the Japanese, Christian Leader 12-11-1917:1. J. M. McCaleb, "Another Worker For Japan," Christian Leader 6-8-1915: 4. 1002 Clairmont Ave., Cambridge, OH 43725.
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