Pearl Allene Todd — Missionary to China

Miss Pearl Allene Todd,[1] was born in Hahira, GA, on November 2, 1890, to Rev. Edward and Emma Todd, one of five children. She came to Christ at the age of thirteen and was baptized in Plant City, Florida. Later, she graduated from Tift College with a degree in Classical Studies in 1913. It was as a senior in college that she being “led by the Holy Spirit, she gave her life completely to the Lord. She promised to enter the door, or doors, He would open for her. This decision had a great depth, scope and definiteness. With sheer abandonment she gave herself to serve God through the doors He would open.”[2] Though she would never marry, she spent her life raising spiritual children.

After graduating from college she taught seventh grade in public schools for two years, just prior to extensive service with the WMU. Then, from 1915-17, she served as the Young Peoples Secretary of the Georgia WMU, after which she attended and graduated from the WMU Training School in 1919. In 1919, she applied to serve as a missionary with the FMB; still, she served two years as the WMU Secretary of Oklahoma before being deployed to the Shantung Province. Upon arriving in Shantung, she was stationed in the port city of Chefoo where she served as the principal of Williams Memorial Girls School only taking furloughs from May 14, 1927, to July 18, 1931, then from May 29, 1938, to August 19, 1939. Her first furlough was extended as Miss Todd was recovering from surgery and a train wreck. Her physical health plagued her once she returned to China. In a touching letter to Dr. Charles E. Maddry, she offered to return half her salary since she could only do work part time.[3] He graciously refused and kept her on full salary unless she would choose to come home for treatment, when she would still receive a fair pension.[4] On another occasion, Dr. Maddry refused to accept her resignation, again offering her support as her health recovered on a furlough in the US,[5] one which she never took. After Dr. Maddry’s response, there is no record of her health or a desire to return to the US until her last furlough in 1938. After being repatriated in 1942, she spent seven years completing deputation work stateside, after which she returned to the FMB to serve seven years in Fukuoka, Japan, from Jan 7, 1950, to her retirement on August 21, 1957. Miss Lois Glass summarizes her life of service by saying, “The deep purpose of Pearl Todd’s life was to win and train her students to Christ and to Christian living.”[6]

Chefoo (now “Yantai”) is one of two major port cities in the Shantung Province, the other being Tsingtao (Qingdao). In 1927, the missionaries were called to the ports out of fear of approaching armies. The Nationalists were combating the warlords and were moving north. In Chefoo, the missionaries of the North China Mission gathered where they first were introduced to the teaching and healing ministry of Marie Monsen.

The gathering where Ms. Ola Culpepper’s eyes were healed after prayer was a pivotal point in the beginning of the Shantung Revival. Chefoo is the city in which Miss Todd spent her missionary career teaching women. However, Miss Todd had taken her first furlough beginning on May 14, 1927, not to return until July 18, 1931, at the height of the revival. However, once returning, it was not long before she experienced the conviction of sin that was characteristic of the revival. She quickly confessed a lie she had been living for over a decade. She had been misrepresenting her age!

Her confession reveals the method behind the revival. She had been attending revival meetings in Hwangshien, as a guest, when she desired to heed the call to be filled with the Holy Spirit, however, she had been instructed to confess every known sin. The Spirit brought this sin to her attention. To some, this may be considered small or insignificant, but she wrote about it thusly, “This sin, Dr. Ray, got all down into the very warp and woof of my sould and many many threads branched out from that original sin, pride, deceit – oh, you can readily see the prefect network that branched out around self-will and was strangling out the life. So this original sin had branched out so it became the sin I had to confess to those friends that Sunday night in Jane Lide’s sitting room!”[7] This level of conviction over sin and attitude of consecration characterized the revival message.

Though Miss Todd returned from her furlough having missed the beginnings of the revival, she reports about the fruit as late as 1937. In a letter dated February 1, 1937, she recounts revivals being led at her school by Miss Tippett “general evangelist for all China”. Miss Tippett praised the girls at Williams Memorial School for knowing their Bibles. Miss Todd was proud that the girls knew the Word. She also recounts the efforts of evangelists both witnessing to the families of students and others going out two by two from village to village to evangelize. In one village, a much respected teacher, educated in the famous school, Yi Wen, was transformed:

The young fellow was in such remorse, fear and distress that he feared for his very life. He got literally down in the dust. His remorse now, was equally a thing to call the village to look upon their leader in amazement, and some of them began to fear. Indeed the Lord showed forth His power in this brilliant [sic] proud young man. His remorse grew until he could hold out no longer, but came begging to our evangelists.[8]

As a result of this man’s conversion, the evangelists were able to lead most of, if not the whole, village to Christ.[9]

Still, in January, 1938, Miss Todd rejoiced that each day had been a glorious “gift of another chance, another chance to live in China”, that she had “not known such joy before.” Chefoo had already fallen under Japanese control, the Japanese forces stationed adjacent to the school property. She reported that “Everywhere God is using these unparalleled days to draw the Chinese hearts to refuge in Him. It is revealing how many are really finding sanctuary in Him.”[10] Such confidence in light of such circumstances is certainly telling.

Todd, Pearl. “A Bond Slave of Jesus Christ.” Home and Foreign Fields 17, no. 12 (December 1933): 14.

________. “Rev. and Mrs. C.W. Pruitt—Shaping Chinese Souls for Fifty Years.” Home and Foreign Fields 16, no. 4 (April 1932): 2.

________. Correspondence. International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Missionary Correspondence Files. AR. 551-2. Box 61.


[1] The following biographical information was compiled from her “Operation Baptist Biography Data Form for a Living Person” and her “Application for Appointment as a Missionary”, both found in her missionary correspondence files.

[2] “Operation Baptist Biography Data Form for Living Person”. The back page included a descriptive characterization provided by someone other than the person in question. In this case, this section was completed by Miss Lois Glass.

[3] Letter from Pearl Todd to Dr. Maddry, March 28, 1934, Chefoo, Shantung, China.

[4] Letter from Charles E. Maddry to Miss Pearl Todd, May 25, 1934, Richmond, VA.

[5] Letter from Charles E. Maddry to Miss Pearl Todd, June 6, 1935, Richmond, VA.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Letter from Pearl Todd to Dr. Ray, August 30, 1932, Chefoo, Shantung, China.

[8] Letter from Pearl Todd to Friends, February 1, 1937. Chefoo, Shantung, China.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Letter from Pearl Todd to Dr. Maddry, January 16, 1938, Chefoo, Shantung, China.

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  1. Miss Pearl Todd’s father was pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Lowndes County, Georgia for many years. Miss Pearl was also an active member when she was not serving in other areas. As a girl in that church, she impacted my life tremendously!! We wrote to her while she was in China and also when she served in Japan. She influences all of us to have a missions spirit and to promote all the missions efforts of the SBC. She taught our G.A’s to sing “Praise Him! Praise Him!” in Chinese. We have a prayer room with many of her momentos and writings (also some Chinese and Japanese garments). A wonderful, godly woman that lived her whole life to serve the Lord.

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