Thursday, January 05, 2012

Bill Wallace of China

The Friends of the Knox County Public Library regularly conduct used book sales as a fundraiser. The big sales are once a year. The next one is March 10 - March 17, 2012 at the Knoxville Convention Center 701 Henley Street, Knoxville, TN. They have started a few mini  sales at branch libraries through out the year. I try to attend and have been really pleased with some real jewels that I have been able to buy and put in my collection. 

One book I bought a few years ago is a first print edition (1963) of the Broadman Press Books published book Bill Wallace of China written by Jesse C. Fletcher. Bill Wallace was a Knoxvillian. His mother died in Bill Wallace's early life. His father was a doctor that practiced medicine at their home at the corner of Broadway and Silver Place. Bill Wallace was a member of Broadway Baptist Church. Bill Wallace became a good surgeon/doctor but felt God's calling on his life to become a medical missionary. So, Bill Wallace on September 6, 1935 and sailed out of San Francisco Harbour and went to Wuchow China's Stout Memorial Hospital to serve as a medical missionary as part of the Foreign Mission Board. 

During his time he was able to work with the hospital administrator and help guide the hospital in spite of war and conflict. The administrator retired and left. Wallace who did not feel he had the ability and gift of administration. But, he stepped in and ran the hospital. He had to help relocate the hospital due to war and conflict. They eventually returned and had to rebuild the hospital. 

However, in the spring of 1949 the "Red drive" of the Communists was being very successful. They eventually made it to Wuchow and in July 1950. The problem is for nearly everyone in the region, the only American anyone knew was Bill Wallace. The evening of December 18, 1950 a raid was conducted and the Communists took him into custody and jailed Wallace. The charge was being "President Truman's chief spy here in South China" Of course this was a trumped up charge. In jail he was mistreated and he died in jail. The Communists tried to report that he had hung himself in jail. However, when his body was examined by the medical staff there was no evidence of a hanging. No swollen head, the eyes were not bulging out. The only thing physically showing on his body were bruises on his torso. 

He was buried in a crude wooden coffin there in South China by the Communist guard and one person from the hospital. Bill Wallace had remarked to a colleague in China. That he "was one piece of a man" Bill Wallace did not understand or recognize the impact he had as a medical professional and a messenger of God. After he was buried, the people that came to love Dr. Bill Wallace of Knoxville laid a cement terrace on the grave and another on the level below it. Concrete steps led from the lower terrace to the grave. Over it, they erected a single shaft reaching heavenward. On the shaft they inscribed in simple Scripture their estimate of the life of  Dr. William L. Wallace: "For to Me to Live Is Christ" 

Of course Knoxville has a church on Merchants Drive named in honor of  Dr. Bill Wallace life. "Wallace Memorial Baptist Church". Also, in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Baptist students of the University School of Medicine worship in a chapel named for Bill Wallace. There is also a church in Indio, California that had a small church named in memory of Wallace. A section of the medical school library where he studied is dedicated to him. Also, in Pusan, Korea there existed a Wallace Memorial Baptist Hospital. 

Interesting note, I bought this book with one of many at the book sale. When I opened the book, inside was the article about this book that was published The Knoxville News-Sentinel's Sunday Magazine and Feature Section on Sunday June 16, 1963. A story written by Lee Davis about the book and about a remembrance event that occurred with June 17, 1963.  


Anonymous said...

hello. my sister has a copy of this book and she wants to get rid of it but not throw it away and she was wondering if it is worth anything. or can it be donated. i would really appreciate some info.

thank you

Brian Hornback said...

I am sure that Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, the home church and named after Bill Wallace would accept it. They are in Knoxville, TN. If she really wants to donate it, I would be happy to accept it and put it in the hands of someone that would take great care of it.