During the Christmas season, local Southern Baptist churches collect donations for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Funds received go towards that denomination’s international missions in an effort to spread the gospel around the world. The offering was named after a Southern Baptist missionary who spent nearly 40 years living and working in China.
In remembering her selfless service to the Chinese people, many Audrain County residents might not realize that the name of a Martinsburg native is still remembered in the Asian nation.
Bishop Adolph J. Paschang was born in Martinsburg in 1895 and grew up on a Martinsburg farm. He completed grade school at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. He later went to St. Louis University High School before attending a Jesuit college in Wisconsin. Soon after completing seminary, he spent about three months in Martinsburg before departing for China, where he preached and worked in Southern China. He spent about 30 years serving the Asian people.
According to a book called “The Little Bishop of Charity,” written by Paul Hoer in 1987, Paschang recalled the tough life in China in the 1920s. He noted the challenges of the poor transportation and strange customs.The book also noted that by 1927, he was apart of a mission that featured 15 resident stations, 188 outstations, 28 schools, and six dispensaries.
There were 25 priests and three brothers caring for the needs of approximately 7,000 Christians. He did return back to the United States on vacation through the years or for a funeral of a loved one.
Challenges seemed like they would mount in the 1930s as Japan invaded China and Japanese forces took the southern area in which he resided.
Hoer noted in his book that during Pearl Harbor, Bishop Paschang and three priests gave food to 1,000 refugees before Japanese soldiers arrived and stopped the distribution.
Paschang and other missioners were then arrested and expelled to the “Portuguese enclave of Macao.”
The Martinsburg Monitor even printed a letter from him dated October 25, 1945 talking about how the war had taken a toll on their mission. In a later letter he foretold the Communists would likely reach their location.
He was captured and tortured by the Chinese Communist authorities.
He was forced to call the missionary headquarters with ransom demands that started as high as $44,000 U.S. dollars.
The total was dropped to $6,000 before nothing was paid.
A New York Times article dated 12 days later said the now 56-year-old bishop from Kongmoon (now called Jiangmen) had been beaten since the church refused to pay the ransom money.
Six months later, he reached Hong Kong where reporters learned about the horror stories of what happened to him in captivity.
Bishop Paschang was expelled by the Communist Chinese Government and visited the U.S. briefly before returning to the Asian nation to help the people he loved to serve.
In 1957, he suffered a severe stroke and couldn’t walk. He was constrained to a wheelchair in 1958 then died at a Hong Kong hospital 10 years later.
His legacy lives on however as a new primary school was founded and named after him in his memory in Ngau Tau Kok, Kowloon in 1969.
A new school near the location was constructed in 2002 and re-named “Bishop Paschang Catholic School.”
The school building was handed back to the government in 2008.
The school is still there today and his legacy lives on at the St. Joseph Catholic School as an outdoor memorial and an indoor photo case is there to recognize his service.