Saturday, May 7, 2011

China's National Graduate Seminary 1989

IN THE FALL OF 1989 JODY TAUGHT THEOLOGICAL ENGLISH to a choice group of Chinese graduate students at the Nanjing Theological Seminary in downtown Nanjing, China. We lived at the teacher's hostel and walked to the seminary for classes. It was during this semester that the Berlin Wall fell. Jody also taught English classes at Nanjing University and the students were excited about the news they got from the BBC short-wave radio. The seminary students are pictured in the classroom with Jody. Great group of future leaders. Probably they are already in places of leadership with the growing churches of China. The seminary now has a new campus.

It was always a treat when having dinner with Bishop and Mrs. K.H. Ting. Here Jody is seated next to the bishop in his residence (1980s) a few blocks from the Nanjing Seminary.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan

SUN MOON LAKE 1957 island-wide Protestant missionary conference. Jody and Britt attended for their first time. Among the many attending were the grandson and great-grandson of James Hudson Taylor. founder of China Inland Mission. The following year, due to a typhoon at the close of the conference, we flew off the lake in a sea plane to Taipei and then on to our home in Keelung. A sea plane lift is not at all like today's jets. Sun Moon Lake village had the look of a Japanese country town. Japan owned Taiwan from 1905 until 1945 used it as a holiday spot. Japan also had Korea as a colony during the same time, mistreating the people of both countries. 1957-1966 the Towerys lived, worked, taught and studied in Taipei, Keelung, Pingtung and Kaohsiung.

Towery and their two adopted daughters, Linda and Patricia, transferred to Hong Kong, serving at Pui Ching Middle School, Hong Kong Baptist College (now university) and with the North Point Baptist Church (Mandarin-speaking).

1971-73 lived in Houston where Jody taught elementary school and I taught Old and New Testament surveys and World Religions at Houston Baptist College (now university).

1973-1977 back in Hong Kong with Mandarin-speaking minority work and pastor of the English-speaking International Baptist Church, then meeting in the chapel of the Seventh Adventist Hospital.

1977-1982 -- one year as associate pastor of San Antonio's Trinity Baptist Church and four years as pastor of the University Park Baptist Church in the same city. Both daughters married there.

1982-1990 -- back to Hong Kong and began building bridges of understanding between American Christians and churches with the churches of mainland China that began opening in 1979 after 13 years of the Cultural Revolution.

1990-1991 -- in Fort Worth, Texas, as International professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Astounding students with the great growth of churches in China.

1990-1996 -- Interim director of Asian Studies, Baylor University. Jody taught elementary school in Marlin, Texas.

2000 -- Finally took Jody to New York City on short holiday.

2002-2011 -- Living in San Angelo, Texas.


Jody Long Towery, Howard Payne College, 1951

Jody and sister LaVerne with mother Lucille McCormick on their mother's front porch, all dressed up for Sunday Church in the historic ye olde First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, February, 1957.

Jody was a cheerleader for the Farmersville Farmers, 1944-1947. She was first in her family to attend college. Her pastor, Merideth Wyatt, was a Howard Payne College graduate, so naturally he recommend the little Baptist school on the banks of Pecan Creek in Brownwood, Texas. The school founded in 1889 became a full university later in the 20th century. There she roomed with Elouise Roberts ( who later married fellow-student Beryle Lovelace). She would later in her college years introduce Ann Self to Baylor's Dick Baker.

She found faith in the Lord Jesus at a summer Baptist camp at Lake Lavon. Her mother and sister soon were baptized after seeing how much Christ meant to Jody. She began Bible Club in high school and was a summer worker in black Vacation Bible Schools. Her mother became a long-time choir member.

Thus began the journey of a little girls from north Texas to the ends of the earth.

(more coming . . . .)

The Jews in China

A bit of Jewish history still being uncovered

The Jews in China

In the 1950s, on a train from Taipei, Taiwan, to Kaohsiung, missionary Pearl Johnson of South Carolina, told me about the Jewish congregations in Kaifeng, China. In the 1930s, when she was a missionary in Shandong and Guangdong provinces, she said there were about seven or eight Jewish families still in the city of Kaifeng. That started me wanting to know more about the Jews in China.

In the early1980s I was able to go to Mainland China. I flew into the city of Zhengzhou and took a bus fifty miles to Kaifeng. After visiting with an old pastor who was ill, I walked the Jiao Jing Alley in Kaifeng, the center of Jewish activity, but saw no evidence of the ancient Israelites. Their stone monuments and Torahs had long ago been purchased or stolen mostly by Europeans.

(A Kaifeng Torah is in the Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. Texas. It was a special treat to see it once. It is Scroll 12 and includes Genesis. The history of how it came to be in Texas is as interesting a tale as the story of Jews thriving in China.)

In Beijing I met Zhao Shaowei, wife of Wu Jian, a former manager of the Jinling Hotel of Nanjing, China. Ms. Zhao was tall for a Chinese and had distinctly western features. She knew she was a descendant of the ancient colony of Jews in the city of Kaifeng. Both her mother and grandmother told her about the Passover meal and of eating, at times, baked bread without salt.

The West learned of the Israelite’s existence in China in the early 17th century. Pioneer Catholic missionary, Mateo Ricci, while visiting with a Kaifeng Jew who had a Chinese name, learned of their presence. The Jew styled himself an Israelite. The term “Jew” meant nothing to him. He told Ricci of their Hebrew Torahs and what he could remember of their history, which turned out to be little more than stone-carved monuments dated 1489 and 1663. Later investigations revealed the largest synagogue ever built to have been in Kaifeng.

The synagogue was established in the year 1163. The structure was destroyed several times, but always rebuilt. A 1489 inscription says the Jews arrived in Kaifeng during the Song dynasty (960 to 1126 AD). There were two stone monuments erected in the synagogue courtyard in 1663. On the stele they recounted the decades it took to rebuild the synagogue and rewrite the scrolls. By the 1850s the Kaifeng Jews referred to themselves as “the eight clans” with Zhao Shaowei’s surname being among them.

Consider the possibility of “The Lost Tribe of Israel” ending up in China. Descendents of the vanquished Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 724 BC could have migrated farther east and ended up in a cosmopolitan China. Maybe they were not lost, but living in settlements in Persia, Afghanistan, India and China.

Later migrations could have begun with the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and Judean exile in Babylon. Another good time for leaving home was in 70 AD as the Romans destroyed the second Temple.

Then again, It is more than probable that during the years of the Crusades, when Muslims and European Crusaders were fighting over who should “protect the holy places” of the Holy Land, Jews left in droves. Generation after generation they kept moving.

By the time of Jesuit Father Ricci, the Jewish congregation was on the brink of extinction, partly from the lack of rabbis who could read the Hebrew Torah and lead the services. Centuries of intermarriage with the Chinese had a part in melding the two cultures.

In China, the Hebrew people found the only place on earth where they were accepted and not persecuted. Their search, and ours, for peace and a normal life continues, as does my love of history.

(This is also found ALONG THE WAY )

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On left is a Waco picture of daughter Linda and in the middle is Britt Aaron, her firstborn, and Jody rolling out jiaozi, more commonly known in States as dumpling or pot stickers. They are the best North China food you can get. Fun to make together and eat together.

Second photo is Jody and daughter Patricia making more jiaozi in our home at 10903 Silhouette, San Antonio, TX.
Pictures made sometime in 1986 while Jody and Britt were home from China bridge building of friendships and ways foreigners can cooperate, be more help than hinderence with the message of Christ through the churches.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Begin the year with a good cold


With a hoarse and sore throat and a head that felt twice its size from a month-long cold, I stayed home from worship services last Sunday

All the doctor could tell me was I didn’t have the flu. So with that assurance I stumbled on toward Christmas, wishing January would come quickly. The old wives’ tale says nothing cures a cold, just wait it out. It will be gone before the week’s out. I was longing for January as it became evident one week was not chasing away this demon of a cold.

With all the strength I could muster I turned on our television and dialed cable number three last Sunday. Jody (she caught the cold also) and I sat on our sofa and watched the 10:30 morning service from the First Baptist Church of San Angelo.

Pastor Mark Bumpus’s sermon was not just for Sunday, but for every day of the week. Like most preachers know “church” is not just a Sunday thing. Sunday only starts a week with God, if we so choose. A church visitor ask an usher “when does the service begin?” Christian service, replied the usher, begins right after the sermon.

The scripture was from the Old Testament, Isaiah 41:10. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

With apologies to Pastor Bumpus, I thought it wise to go through the week with this first 2011 column. The scripture from Isaiah has an encouraging word for every day of the week. Each day’s word:

SUNDAY, God is reminding us to not be afraid. None of us know what a day or even a week can bring, but “fear not.”

MONDAY, God explains “fear not,” by assuring us that He is our God. One of the primary teachings of the Christmas just past is “Emmanuel”—God with us, even on “blue” Mondays.

TUESDAY, do not be worried, anxious or troubled about events near and far, for once again God is ever-present. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He is even closer when trouble rears its ugly head.

WEDNESDAY, He assures us of the fact He is still with us in the middle of the week. “I am your God!” means we are in a personal relationship, not some spiritual “feeling.” You can’t go so far that He is not there.

THURSDAY: “I will strengthen you!” If ever a sentence demanded an exclamation point, it is this one. “Wait upon the Lord, who renews your strength” (Isaiah 49:31). America, like Israel, should know God is our strength, not a strong military.

FRIDAY, God is not just a spectator, but the only reliable one to help us. We need lots of help as the week ends, for often find our work is not finished. He helps us when under pressure.

SATURDAY, not only is there strength and help in time of need, but His righteousness is always underneath. His righteous right hand keeps us from wandering. We will not slip through his fingers.

For the many who are facing unemployment; death of a loved one; fear of death itself; disappointment in others; loved ones in prison or twisted with doubts: remember that God has not forgotten you.
“Let shadows come, let shadows go, let life be bright or dark with woe; I am content, for this I know, Thou thinkest, Lord, of me.”
I’ve read many 19th century newspapers. A majority of them printed a local sermon each week. Reporters took notes and printed a summary (when short of news, sometimes the whole sermon). If well done, they informed and blessed the readers. Back in great-grandfather Argyle C. Towery’s day there was no television for the homebound. (Somewhat of a blessing in disguise.) Argyle was also great-grandfather of a Texas Pulitzer winner, Ken Towery.
For the New Year may all your sniffles and colds be little ones.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas is what we choose to make it

Towery Column for Christmas Eve, Friday, Dec. 24, 2010
(Brownwood Bulletin; San Angelo Standard-Times)

Christmas is what we choose to make it

As you read this it is Christmas Eve. Some are glad the whole exciting season is almost over, when, in truth, it has actually just begun.

So many distractions come every Christmas season. Every Christmas we tell ourselves it will be different this year; we’ll even attend church. Enjoy the choirs and hymns and remember it is all about the coming to earth of the Prince of Peace.

Year to year, there are those without a Christmas tree, wreath or gifts for their children. Or as in this war, loved ones unable to be together for Christmas. When it is the first Christmas without a loved one for the first time, the time can easily becomes a painful experience.

For the many who are lonely and even unhappy this Christmas, for any number of reasons, pause --- pause and reflect. At home or church, hospital or retirement home, pause – reclaiming the “now” of life instead of repeating “what if---?”

The Advent, or coming of the Christ to earth, is an event in itself. The days of preparation (after Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday) have a special meaning and preparation for Christmas. Seldom considered is the fact that day Christmas Day is the beginning, not the end, of the celebration. As a boy my mother never took the tree down until mid-January. Keeping alive the spirit of the season.

In a perfect world, after the 25th of December has passed, the parties and good deeds begin. We celebrate after, not before, the traditional event of Christ’s birth. Just as Christ brought the promise of hope, the season should be the revival of more hope for the future.

A colleague from Denmark told of his family putting up a Christmas tree or wreaths late on Christmas Eve. I identify with that custom. It announces something big and important is about to take place. The family enters the next day, thankful for the suddenness of, as well as the glory of Emmanuel, “God is with us”.

Lest this is too “sermony,” keep in mind that materialism is not going away. Don’t let commercials interfere. Think of the joy a Santa Claus means to many children. The simple poem ‘Twas the night before Christmas, helped make Christmas a commercial success. But it is also one of the most moving ditties of the season.

The commercial aspect is a significant part of the traditions of the season. Some thoughtless individuals tell us there is a “war on Christmas.” Not so! Except for disbelievers and people of other faiths, Christ is never left out of Christmas or Xmas.

My Aunt Mae Johnson was generally upset at Christmastime by the use of “Xmas” for Christmas. The use of Xmas in English is not an attempt to secularize the holiday. It actually puts Christ at the very center of Christmas.

The “X” and “P” are the first two letter of “Christ” in the Greek language of Jesus’ day. Since X in English has a different meaning and use, English speakers have mistaken Xmas as leaving Christ out of Christmas. The abbreviation Xmas expresses ideally the heart of the celebration.

John Calvin, a great 16th century Protestant reformer, was opposed to the bad things that were associated with Christmas. And there were many appalling observances in many cultures and countries. But John Calvin kept the holiday as celebration of the birth of Christ and saw it as a matter of liberty for the churches and the individual.

It is well known that the Puritans, in England and later New England, opposed Christmas. Puritan pastor Cotton Mather felt there was no biblical or historical evidence for it representing the birth of the Christ. There is no evidence, biblical or historical for a Christmas holiday. Traditions, even if tainted with myths, are what we make of them..

Christmas is what we choose to make it. Make it such a good season of peace and love that it carries on into the New Year and all the remaining years we have. Choose well.


Britt Towery, writer and former teacher welcomes input. His e-mail:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where We've Been . . .

November, 1954, Jody and Britt Towery and the members of the First Baptist Church of San Manuel, Arizona. This was Towery's home and where the church held worship services and two Sunday school classes. Other classes at the local elementary school.

The church building began construction in December of that year. The land was donated by the copper mine and smelter company. After Towerys accepted work in Taiwan in 1957, the church continued to grow (even more) and later built more educational space and a beautiful worship center. We attended the 50th anniversary in 2005. What a treat.

Organization of the Baptist Church in Pingtung, Taiwan. Jody (white blouse) is in front row next to Mrs. Alexander (Nan) Herring and other other fine, inspiring people, . This was 1960.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jody Towery Watercolors