“Nothing Daunted: The Story of Isobel Kuhn” by Gloria Repp. Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, South Carolina 29614. 167 pages.
Review by Steve Hyde
When I read the story about the life of Isobel Kuhn the word which comes to mind is “sacrifice”. Few have sacrificed so much for the gospel; constant sickness and hardship. They lived through wars and revolutions, yet their faith in God was undeterred. Under the China Interior Mission of Hudson Taylor, it seemed that strict obedience was demanded of every missionary. Assignments to where a person would live were made by senior missionaries and expected to be followed. Even decisions about taking their children thousands of miles away to boarding school at age 6 at the demand of the senior leaders seem almost unreasonable to me. As I read the book, I felt as if they (the parents) barely knew their own children, especially their oldest daughter Kathryn. Husbands and wives were separated for months and even years on end, for the sake of evangelizing remote tribes. Isobel was living a dream to work among the Lisu people of Southwest China. They lived in the high mountains and were first brought to Christ by another famous missionary J.O. Fraser of whom the book “Mountain Rain” is written about his life. It is one of my favorite biographies as well.
Isobel was originally from Canada and God took her to China right before the Japanese invasion, including all of WWII and ended with her escaping into Burma as the communists took over China under Mao Tse Tong and his cultural revolution. These were brutal days. Many missionaries and native Lisu leaders died from either sickness or violence. Previously to becoming Christians the Lisu were famous for their brutality. At the time Isobel was in China, they were ruled by opium warlords who demanded they grow opium poppies all over the mountains. Isobel and her husband spent their lives discipling the Lisu Christians to live righteous lives, which included not growing opium. I believe much success was granted to the Lisu people in coming to Christ simply because they were so remote that no officials would be bothered to seek them out in the mountains.
This was a very encouraging story. I love, more than anything, missionary biographies. They encourage me in my faith and my perseverance as well. As I write this review, I found the book in an old missionary house in the mountains the Philippines among a tribe called “Matigsalog”. I am sure the previous missionaries who read that book were encouraged as well. As I complete my training among Matigsalog pastors, I will put the book back where I found it for the next missionary who comes along. Probably God will use it to encourage another missionary in the remote mountains as well.
I would highly recommend this book, and the book “Mountain Rain” by J.O. Fraser’s daughter. Through these two books you can get a good understanding of what God did among the Lisu people. When the missionaries were forced out (at gun point) in the 1950’s they were separated from the Lisu church for nearly half a century. In the early 1990’s as China began to open more, it was discovered that the meager church of 15,000 people who the missionaries had left had grown to more than 200,000 and is considered the only tribe in China which is “Christian”. Thanks to the sacrifice of missionaries like J.O. Fraser, John and Isobel Kuhn and many other missionaries too who put their trust fully in Christ. To God be the Glory.