Baptist and Reflector
KNOXVILLE — A new book on the life of Bill Wallace, a Southern Baptist missionary doctor who served in China from 1935 until his death in 1951, is now available, debuting on Amazon as the No. 1 children’s religious biography.
Based on the 1963 bestselling book, Bill Wallace of China, by Jesse Fletcher, BILL: An American Doctor in China by Ann Lovell is written specifically for fourth to sixth-grade readers.
“Ann has captured the fascinating story of Bill Wallace for a new generation of readers,” said John Green IV, lead pastor of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville, which was started and named for Wallace in the early 1950s.
“May her work inspire them to live for Christ and take the gospel to the ends of the earth as Dr. Wallace did.”
Jim McCluskey, pastor emeritus of Wallace Memorial, agreed: “Ann’s work is moving and accurate. The style is punctual and clear. It brings this inspirational story to life for a new generation,” he said.
Writing the foreword of the book, IMB president Paul Chitwood reminded kids that missionaries are “regular people who are on mission with God and their mission field is overseas. … Without them, entire countries of people will miss out on the good news about Jesus.”
“In many parts of the world, there are no churches or Christians to tell the good news about Jesus,” Chitwood continued. “Many missionaries travel to dangerous places and make huge sacrifices in order to answer God’s call and share the good news with those who haven’t heard. Bill Wallace was one of those missionaries.”
‘To live is Christ’
Wallace, who was born in Knoxville, was an American doctor who served in Wuzhou, China, from 1935 until his death in a Communist cell in 1951. From the moment he arrived, China was at war or threatened by war, first from the Japanese and then from the Communists. Through every challenge, he and the staff of Stout Memorial Hospital loved and cared for the people. Stout Memorial Hospital became known as “the life of China.”
With the start of the Korean War in July 1950, the Communists began a campaign against “American Imperialists.” At rallies, Communist leaders began to denounce American “exploiters.” The problem in Wuzhou was that the only American most of the Chinese knew was Bill Wallace. His life made the charges against Americans seem ridiculous. The Communists knew the only way to discredit America was to discredit Bill Wallace.
On Dec. 18, 1950, Wallace was arrested and falsely accused of espionage. Over the next several weeks, he was tortured by his captors. He died in a Communist cell, February 10, 1951. Although the Communists forbade Chinese Christians to mark the grave, they later returned and built a small monument. On the shaft, they inscribed the verse that defined Wallace’s life: “To me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).
Sparking interest in missions
Ann Lovell of Richmond is a former IMB missionary who served 13 years in Southeast Asia and four years on the IMB communication team in Richmond. Lovell grew up in Knoxville and was a member of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church.
As a young teenager, she read Jesse Fletcher’s version of Bill Wallace’s story.
“I read Bill Wallace of China when I was 12 or 13,” Lovell said. “I was intrigued and inspired by his life, especially since he grew up in my hometown.
“I also credit Jesse Fletcher — through the Bill Wallace book — with sparking my interest in becoming a missionary writer. My prayer is that this version of Bill’s story will ignite the imaginations and calling of a new generation of kids.”
“Kids can learn about a heroic missionary and benefit more than 3,600 IMB missionaries serving around the world in the process,” Lovell said.
The book is available on Amazon. It will also be available March 16-17 at Wallace Memorial during their Green Light Missions conference. Lovell is donating all proceeds from the sale of the book to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. B&R