China’s homegrown Protestants

About 1913, a young Christian convert named Jing Dianying presented himself to a mission hospital in Tai’an, a city in western Shandong province. He wished to be emasculated. At the time, Jing’s language tutor was Nora Dillenbeck, a single American missionary described in recommendation letters as “very attractive in face and form.” Though Jing was married, a “warm relationship” had developed between them. Jing’s alleged guilt over his desire for Dillenbeck prompted the drastic request.

Dillenbeck appeared at the hospital and “tearfully dissuaded him.” Jing later divorced his wife (who had bound feet), experienced a Pentecostal “baptism by the Spirit” and started a communalistic sect called the Jesus Family. Dillenbeck herself eventually joined the Jesus Family as a Bible teacher and itinerant evangelist, but historian Lian Xi provides no evidence of later romantic involvement. She died in 1938 and Jing in 1957.


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