|Through Fire and Through Water.|
Montinglupa, Rizal, Philippines
February 24, 1945
I was happy today to receive your letter. Sorry you have not received my card. I have heard from others and also wish this letter to be a reply to them. Send no funds till I require them, as I am unable to plan the future yet. Would appreciate advice from home.
By now you will long have known of our rescue by the U. S. Armed Forces, an event the like of which is probably unprecedented in history. Suffice it to say I was among them. We were really at wits end, starving, while our soon massacre was undoubtedly planned by the Japanese. Yesterday morning I felt especially moved to prayer and before daylight was on my knees, not in petition, but thanking God that aid was at hand, though I knew not how. At daybreak while cooking my meager lot of unhusked rice, out of the sky fell the paratroops. Bullets sped wildly through our flimsy barracks, and amid the spreading flames we were ordered to pack our valuables and leave. There at the edge of camp the astounding amphibian tanks were waiting for the women and children. Among many others I walked to the Laguna de Bay where the returning tanks picked us up and ferried us down the lake, arriving at our present refuge in the evening.
Last night my bunk mate, a Bro. Brooks, and I were reading our Bibles. His fell open at Psalms 66 and verses 11-12, "Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." It is surely a wealthy place here now, with good food and friends.
The last three years have been long and hard but God has a purpose in it all. I have done very little for Him. I have however improved my Chinese and gained victories in spiritual battles. By Gods grace I still have a vision of a humble life, a greater fellowship and greater zeal, working with fellow missionaries new and old to a more effectual service in China.
I know your prayers have guarded me, and I have constantly remembered you. I enjoyed the nice letters from Ruby with the pictures of her baby. Would like another newsy one. God bless you all.
THROUGH FIRE AND THROUGH WATER
By John R. Blalock
The Chinese Incident, as the Japanese called that war, began July 7. 1937, and by the summer of 1938 all the large cities of North China and all areas along the railroads were under the control of Japanese forces.
Early in 1940 my uncle and aunt, Elder and Mrs. T. L. Blalock, with whom we worked together in the Baptist China Direct Mission, left China for furlough In the United States. I accompanied them to Shanghai and saw them on board ship, then returned to the mission at Tajan, Shantung. Miss Leala Woodley, recently come from furlough, was working out from Tajan city, while Elder and Mrs. Charles Ballou were about ten miles away at Tawenkow, and Elder and Mrs. W. L. Randall and family were working around Tsingtao, a seaport on the east side of the Shantung Peninsula.
In November, 1940, when relations between the U. S. and Japan suddenly became tense, a letter was sent out by the U. S. Consul warning all Americans to leave North China at once. Elder and Sister Ballou left for Shanghai where they boarded an American ship crowded with refugees trying to leave China. Sister Woodley went to Tsingtao, and a little later in the month she sailed together with Bro. and Sister Randall and family for the United States, giving her assistance to Mrs. Randall with the children. Of all the mission I alone was left to be responsible for receiving and receipting for the funds for the evangelists, for teaching in and helping to maintain the Taian Bible School and also for carrying on the evangelistic work.
Everything continued much as usual that winter and the following spring, then early in the month of August, 1941, conditions suddenly were changed. The United States froze all funds sent into areas controlled by Japan, and the banks no longer could cash the checks that I received. I realized that I must leave China in order to receive support and continue helping the workers there. However I found that I could not leave Taian. A travel permit from the Japanese military was necessary to travel anywhere, and they would not issue me one. Time and again I wrote to the U. S. Consul in Tsinan, only fifty miles away, asking him to intercede for me through the Japanese Consul there for a permit to travel to Shanghai for leaving China. At last, about the middle of October, I received this permit to travel on the railroad from Taian to Shanghai.
Leaving Taian I took with me three American children, Jimmie, Jackie and Sally Bateman, born of a Chinese mother and an American father, who were then in my care. Their father, an American soldier who had retired in Tientsin, had died in 1930 leaving them semi-orphans. The American Legion in Tientsin then began assisting in the education of these children. A Methodist missionary in Tientsin, who was associated with the American Legion, being a former army nurse, had sent them to school at the Methodist Mission in Taian. It was there that I met them, and we became friends. When this Methodist lady left in 1940 for the states I continued to look after them, keeping them in school at my expense and having the American Legions funds saved for use in their passage to America to take advantage of their U. S. citizenship. Now that I was leaving China to go to the Philippines, which was then American territory and under the American flag, I wrote their mother that I would accompany them to the Philippines if she wished, for they were back in Tientsin with her at the time. They all arrived in Taian in late September, and when my travel permit at last came through we were able to set out for Shanghai together. At that time U.S. law required that a child born abroad with only one American parent must live under the American flag for five years before his 21st birthday or lose his right to American citizenship, and Jimmy was then 15, Jackie was 13 and Sally was just past 11 years old.