Peter Matson was a missionary laboring in interior China, under the Evangelical Mission Covenant Church, who experienced an unusual answer to a prayer which had been prayed eighteen years previous to the experience. In interior China a native priest by the name of Hsiung one day found a small portion of Mark's Gospel lying in a rubbish heap. He read these words, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Over and over the priest read the story. He wondered what the words could mean.

He looked to his gods whom he had served faithfully for so many years for the answer, but they were dumb. From that moment henceforth Priest Hsiung asked God to send somebody who could tell more of this wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ. For eighteen years he prayed to God who had sent His Son, to send somebody to explain the story of the Book. The idols during these times meant nothing to the priest, for he believed there must be a God who cared, and to Him the priest prayed and burned incense.

Eighteen years later he was to say to Peter Matson, "At last He has answered. You have come."

Now the remarkable part of this experience is that eighteen years earlier on a memorable day, almost ten thousand miles away, Peter Matson was in a hayfield one afternoon with his companions stacking hay. As the sun went down Peter's friends returned to the farmhouse, and young Matson heard the heavenly Voice calling him to China. He knelt beside the haystack and consecrated himself to Christian service.

"In those sacred moments, too holy for human intrusion, Peter Matson made his life's commitment to God," writes his wife, Elda Matson. "We hear but the echo: 'Lord, here am I; send me. But, Lord, if it is Thy will that I stay home, half of all that I earn the rest of my life is Thine, that others might be sent to those in heathen darkness, that they might hear the gospel and be saved.'"

Then came Christ's gentle answer, "I have chosen you to go."

Six years later Matson sailed for China, and for twelve years he labored only a few miles away from Priest Hsiung. This missionary felt led to go to the very town where the priest had been praying for eighteen years, and hold services. Now this was on a market day, when the crowds were milling. There was no place for the missionary to speak except in the home of a friend who had invited him there, and as he arose to preach he noticed crowded in the door of the house a priest. There was something that drew the missionary's eyes toward the priest. There was a sincere, searching heart that spoke out of the priest's eyes and face. After the missionary had finished with his message, he decided to hunt out the man on the following day.

After a long search the missionary found the monk, and the priest said, "Ai-ya, you have come."

Then from the pockets of his much-patched robe he drew out a little book which Peter Matson recognized as a copy of the story of Jesus as told in Mark's Gospel. Although well worn, the book had been carefully preserved, for the priest had sewed a cloth cover around it. In the dismal room of the dilapidated Taoist temple, Priest Hsiung began to tell the strange narrative which the missionary recognized as the old story of a prayerful search after truth and the miraculous answer by God.

The priest related how eighteen years earlier he had by accident discovered this discarded Gospel of Mark in a rubbish heap, and how he had prayed for eighteen years for God to send somebody to teach him the way.

In turn, Peter Matson, in checking back, related to the priest how exactly eighteen years earlier God had spoken to him to become a missionary in China.

Thus for eighteen long years the Taoist priest prayed for a messenger to explain the story, and for eighteen years God was in the process of answering that prayer.


From: ANSWERED PRAYER IN MISSIONARY SERVICE By Basil William Miller, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, Missouri. First Printing, April 1951 Second Printing, July 1951 Printed in United States of America