Arlington UM cataloguer mission artifacts

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Librarian Lai has organized a collection which includes materials in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Manchu, Mandarin, and many dialects. Many of the items which he has included in his catalog are not available elsewhere in the Western hemisphere.


Zion's Herald 1981/02 Page 7 


Among the 550,000 volumes in theHarvard-Yenching Library of Harvard University is a unique collection of Protestant missionary works in the Chinese language, including many versions and editions of the Bible and its separate books, catechisms, commentaries, hymnbooks, prayer books, text books, serials and small religious and secular tracts.

The librarian who .is most knowledgeable about this vast collection, which had its beginning in materials supplied by the American Board of commissioners for Foreign Missions, is John Yung-hsiang Lai, a member of Calvary United Methodist

Church in Arlington, MA. Mr. Lai recently published a catalog of this material.

Although John and his family have a Presbyterian 'background, having belonged to a church in Taiwan that was over a hundred years old, they have many Methodist onnections.

The road from a small town in the southern part of Taiwan where John was born to Harvard University is a long one.

Yeh Lai, John's mother, was the first Christian in her family. As he put it, "She loved the Lord and worked hard for the church in her life.'* The intensity of her faith was reflected in her service as deacon and elder in her congregation, helping pastors develop churches in the city. She opened her house in Anian-chiao as a meeting place for services and Sunday school.

In her latter days she sold her house and contributed the money as seed money for the construction of the Anian-chiao church. It was completed just four months before she died in an accident in 1978. At the time of her death, she was 79 and had been a widow for 21 years.

John's father was a school teacher but later became a coal dealer.

John’s wife, Helen, was born in a Christian family. Her father, a Taiwanese, was educated in Japan and married a Japanese woman, a graduate of Aoyama Gakuin University, a Methodist institution. Helen is also a graduate of that same university.

After his retirement from farming, Helen's father devoted his life to orchid cultivation and scripture study. In 1970, in commemoration of the jubilee of his baptism, he published a 463-page Topical Concordance of the Bible in Chinese. The second volume, 726 pages in length, was published on his 84th birthday in 1978.

Helen's parents, who still live in Taiwan, visited the United States last summer and visited the library where John is associate librarian.

John began his education in Taiwan but then attended Tokyo University and received a bachelor of law degree. Later he received his master's degree in library science from George Peabody College for Teachers, now a part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He returned to Taiwan and rose to be head of the Department of

Library Science at the National University of Taiwan.

Along with membership in Calvary United Methodist Church in Arlington, the Lais also are members of the Boston Taiwanese Christian Fellowship, which meets on Sunday afternoons at the Community (UM) Church in Brighton.

Once a month, John gives a testimony from the pulpit in his mother tongue.