Pearl Pauline Caldwell — Missionary to China

Miss Pearl Pauline Caldwell was born on Aug 19, 1877 in Pontotoc, Mississippi, the third of five children to Isaac and Alice Caldwell. Baptized at the age of nine at Cherry Creek Baptist Church, it was as a member of the Sunbeams that she first felt called to missions. As a young adult, she graduated from Blue Mountain College in 1899, then attended the W.M.U. Training School from 1908–1910, being appointed to the FMB on June 3, 1910, and send to Laichow, North China, by October of the same year. In 1915, she transferred to Pingtu, North China, where she was stationed for the rest of her career, except furloughs from June 15, 1917, to September 5, 1918, from March 18, 1925, to September 16, 1926, from May 26, 1934, to August 15, 1936. She was also interned during WWII by the Japanese, being returned to the US on the Gripsholm on September 19, 1943. She retired on January 1, 1947. Miss Caldwell never married. She died at the age of 85 on September 25, 1962, and was buried in Cherry Creek Baptist Cemetery in Pontotoc.[1]

Pingtu, historically, was an important station in the North China Mission. Here, Lottie Moon served faithfully for decades. Also, during the Shantung Revival, Pingtu was reported to be one of the most fruitful evangelistic stations—one pastor in that region reported 5000 baptisms alone. Miss Caldwell regularly traveled through the countryside, visiting village churches, as an evangelist. Partly because of her faithfulness, but more so because the Chinese Christians also preached from village to village, the Shantung Revival reaped much fruit in her area. In a letter to Dr. T. B. Ray, Corresponding Secretary of the FMB,  in 1932, she reports that there was a great revival in the village churches such as she had not seen before.[2] In January 1933, she writes to Dr. Ray of hundreds being saved during a 43 day trip to the villages. She reports of a group of students who were saved who had a burden for their lost families and neighbors that they “were just filled with consuming desire to see others saved.” The people would burn their earthen gods in response. Even in spite of persecution, two teachers who had lost their jobs because of their faith continued to preach the gospel. Her letters continue to report of her work in the village churches.[3] In December 1933, in a letter to Dr. Maddry, she reports that the revival continues.[4] Certainly by this time, Dr. Maddry had received numerous reports from others on the field and expressed interest over the matters, looking for explanations. In one lengthy letter, Miss Caldwell gives a succinct account of the revival:[5]

First, she defends the practice of the Chinese of praying out loud, all at once. Interestingly, she states that “in my 23 years in China this kind of praying has been practiced.” Then, she traces the origin of the revival in her station to a “Chinese Workers Conference” where a “humble servant of the Lutheran mission” spoke. [Could this have been Miss Marie Monsen?] The missionary spoke boldly about sin:

There was deep conviction of sin. People became angry then later fell to their knees confessing their sins. I can truly say that in hundreds of cases restitution has been made old scores were settled. Some church members and even workers found that they had never been born again.

From this meeting, she recounts that the workers left this meeting to go to their respective churches carrying the message inflamed by their own experience. The Chinese spread the revival through preaching of the gospel, calling for repentance and faith.

Next, she draws out the important role that prayer played on the revival. She recalls that “there are churches where Bible study and prayer groups meet and have met every night thru these three years.”

In final comments on the nature of the revival, she tells how the missionaries themselves have been revived:

Not only have our brothers and sisters among the Chinese had deep heart searchings, your missionaries have too found of a truth “the heart is desperately wicked and deceiptful. Many letters have been written to friends in the homeland, confession made and restitution made. As to my own experience, this was the deepest spiritual experience that I have had since I was born into His family. Like Dr. Torrey I believe not only in the “second blessing” but in the three hundredth and on and on. My experience may all be found in Dr. Torrey’s, “The Holy Spirit.” Just in my great need a friend from home sent me this book. It was just what I needed, helped to clarify His word and was an untold blessing to me.

In this extended quote, traces of Keswick theology and implicitly the fundamentalist movement is seen through the influential ministry of R. A. Torrey. He would have profound influence as well on Miss Bertha Smith.

Miss Caldwell concludes this letter by distinguishing the Shantung Revival from the “Spiritual Grace Movement”. Thus, because of its broad, through brief, description of the revival, the letter by Miss Caldwell to Dr. Maddry is of great importance.

In summary, it is fitting that Dr. Wiley B. Glass said this of Miss Caldwell, “If any modern missionary lady deserves a halo for service comparable to Lottie Moon, I would say, ‘Put it on the brow of Pearl Caldwell.’”[6]

Resources:

Caldwell, Pearl. “The Entrance of God’s Word Giveth Light.” Home and Foreign Fields 19, no. 11 (November 1935): 3.

________. “The Gospel Triumphing.” Home and Foreign Fields 17, no. 5 (May 1933): 26–7.

________. Correspondence. International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Missionary Correspondence Files. AR. 551-2. Box 79.

“Pearl Pauline Caldwell” from the “Caldwell Family History”. [Internet Resource] http://www.rcaldwellfamily.net/getperson.php?personID=I00156&tree=RobertCaldwell. Accessed on February 3, 2010.


[1] This information was compiled from her “Operation Baptist Biography Data Form for a Living Person”, her “Application for Appointment as a Missionary”, all found in her missionary correspondence files, and a website maintained by her extended family.

[2]Letter from Pearl Caldwell to Dr. Ray, January 26, 1932. Pingtu, Shantung, China.

[3] Letter from Pearl Caldwell to Dr. Ray, January 18, 1933. Pingtu, Shantung, China.

[4] Letter from Pearl Caldwell to Dr. Maddry, December 7, 1933. Pingtu, Shantung, China.

[5] Letter from Pearl Caldwell to Dr. Maddry, December 23, 1933. Pingtu, Shantung, China.

[6] “Operation Baptist Biography” survey found in her missionary correspondence file.

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6 Comments

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  1. This lady is a great-great aunt of mine. My grandmother used to talk about her when I was a little girl. It’s fascinating to read out my amazing heritage. Where can I find more information about her and her books, letters, etc?

    • Elizabeth,

      You can some of her articles she submitted to the Southern Baptist missions Journal Home and Foreign Fields by searching for her name on the Solomon Database at http://archives.imb.org. I was granted access as a researcher to her missionary correspondence file at the physical IMB archives in Richmond, VA. They should grant you access as well as a relative.

      I pray that you find something of value in looking into Miss Pearl’s life. Reading has certainly been a blessing to me!

      Best wishes,

      -Wes

    • carl Pulgarin April 19, 2012 — 11:30

      Hi,

      I dont know if what I am going to tell you is of interest but in case it is, I have just bought a massive collection of letters and personal Items belonging to Pearl Caldwell, I even have her passport when she went to China ! if you have any interest in buying this collection from me then do contacting me at: hk247365 (at) yahoo (.co.uk)

      Carl

    • Elizabeth, my name is Don Caldwell. Pearl Caldwell was a great aunt of mine. Her brother, John Broadus Caldwell, was my grandfather. Who are your relatives? My phone number is 432/290-4216. I would love to visit with you about our family.

  2. Carl, Pearl Caldwell was my great aunt. My grandfather was her brother. My name is Don Caldwell & I would love to visit with you about the letters. My phone number is 432/290-4216.

    • Hi there,

      You replied to my message about the Pearl archive….

      If you wish to discuss the purchase of this archive please contact me via email; hk247365@yahoo.co.uk

      Sorry about the two year wait….. I have not had the need to sell until now…

      Regards,

      Carl.

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