The British doctor established hospitals for Tibetans and called on Chinese Christians to care for the souls of the ethnic group.
In the early 20th century, the gates of Tibet were still tightly shut to Christian missionaries.
The people who lived across the Tibetan Plateau were devout believers in Tibetan Buddhism. One out of every four adult males was a lama (monk). At that time in history, infectious diseases such as syphilis, leprosy, smallpox, plague, and diphtheria were rampant. Due to the lack of medical care, the only method of prevention was to isolate the sick, even to the point of casting them out of the community for life.
A good number of missionaries from the China Inland Mission (CIM) hoped to share the gospel with Tibetans. But because they could not enter Tibet, they could reach Tibetans only through neighboring provinces. As early as 1918, missionaries Harry French Ridley and Frank D. Learner began spreading the gospel in Qinghai Province. By the end of the 1940s, there were an estimated 200 believers in eastern Qinghai, but not a single Tibetan among them.
That would eventually change. Also in the 1940s, a CIM missionary served in medical missions among the Tibetans in Gansu and Qinghai Provinces: the English medical doctor Rupert Clarke.
During Clarke’s youth, he often stayed at his grandmother’s Victorian manor, where the family would gather several times a day for prayer and where attending church on Sunday was a given. Although biblical knowledge filled young Clarke’s mind and he lived in a rule-abiding manner, he lacked the assurance of salvation in his heart.
This continued until he attended university and joined a Christian fellowship. There he met fellow students Robert A. Pearce and James Cecil Pedley. Pearce and Pedley felt that while Clarke had the appearance of being a Christian, he had not tasted the joy …