Friday, December 4, 2009

James O. Fraser

I realized today that I had said in this post that I was going to post biographies about different missionaries. I only did one on Eric Liddell and then forgot the rest-- oops!! So here is one on a favorite of mine: James O. Fraser.

The year was 1906. James O. Fraser, age 20, was studying engineering at Imperial College in London. He had an incredible gift for music, and his future of a brilliant engineering career seemed promising. However, his life was turned around when a fellow student gave him a small booklet challenging readers in regards to their response to teh Great Commission.

“A command has been given: ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.’ It has not been obeyed. More than half the people in the world have never yet heard the Gospel. What are we to say to this? Surely it concerns us Christians very seriously. For we are the people who are responsible ...”

“If our Master returned today to find millions of people un-evangelised, and looked as of course He would look, to us for an explanation, I cannot imagine what explanation we should have to give ... Of one thing I am certain ¾ that most of the excuses we are accustomed to make with such good conscience now, we should be wholly ashamed of then.”

It was a turning point in James’ life. After he graduated, he applied to the China Inland Mission, and, in 1908, he set sail for China.

James was sent to work in a rather remote province called Yunnan, located in the southwest, near Burma (Myanmar). He was stationed specifically in a town called Tengyueh, where he worked more on the Chinese language and attempted to shared the Gospel with the people.

While in Tengyueh, James noticed an unusual group of people come to the marketplace. Their dress, language, and customs were very different from the Chinese. James discovered that they came from the mountains, six days’ journey away, and they were called the Lisu, though the Chinese contemptuously called them the “monkey people”.

This began his interest in and work among the Lisu people of China. He began travelling on horseback across the mountains to Lisu villages, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. He did not realize at first what a huge spiritual stronghold he was attempting to break through, and, as he worked and saw little result, he began to experience great doubts and depression from satan, who didn’t like his realm to be assaulted.

However, by God’s providence, a magazine called the Overcomer was sent to James, and it encouraged him that he could have spiritual victory in his own life and among the Lisu. He learned to resist the devil with Scripture in the power of the Holy Spirit. During that time, the Lord also taught him powerful lessons regarding prayer, which he recorded in his letters home and in his journey. James came to ask in complete faith for hundreds of Lisu families to turn to Christ.

The Lord heard and answered his prayer. The answer was not immediately obvious, but James was assured of it. In time, Fraser began to see a great breakthrough among the Lisu. Demon altars came down; hearts were radically changed. By 1918, it was estimated that about 60,000 Lisu believers had been baptized.

God continued to bless the work. IN 1924, James went on furlough to England and North America. It was during this time that God used him in the calling of missionary and author Isobel Kuhn to China (her story is told in her books By Searching and In the Arena, published by OMF Books).

When James returned to China, he was surprised to find that the mission was sending him to Kansu, a province farther north. He worked in this bleak, cold region for a couple years. In 1929, he married Roxie Dymond, and together they returned to Lisuland, where he continued to work until his death of cerebral malaria in 1938.

After his death, the Lisu continued to flourish, even during the great persecution of Communist China during and after the 1950s. Many Lisu Christians fled to Thailand and Burma. Today, the Church of Christ among the Lisu continues to thrive; there are an estimated 100,000-200,000 Lisu Christian in Yunnan Province today. God continues to bless the work and answer the prayers of His willing and humble servant, J. O. Fraser.

For more information, go to, or check out the following resources, all published by OMF International.

Fraser, J. O. The Prayer of Faith.

Crossman, Eileen Fraser. Mountain Rain.

Taylor, Mrs. Howard. Behind the Ranges.

Kuhn, Isobel. Ascent to the Tribes.

Breakthrough: The Life of James O. Fraser and the Lisu People (DVD)

This article was originally featured in the April-June 2009 issue of the Tuckleberry Times.

(Sorry, I have no idea why the writing turned out like this on here! :-S )

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