Chen Yuling brought glory to God in many ways, but especially noteworthy was her twenty-five years of service as one of the first Chinese missionaries to China’s minority peoples. Yuling was born to a prominent Zhejiang family in 1886. Many ancestors had been government officials, and her father served as the chief officer of military supplies for Zuo Zongtang, one of the Manchu Qing Dynasty’s leading generals. Her father became a Christian when she was 13, but in the chaos resulting from the 1900 Boxer Uprising, he was separated from the family for two years. In 1904, she enrolled in the Peishan School for Girls in Tongzhou, and she later transferred to the Beiman Girls’ Middle School in Beijing.
Yuling became a Christian at Beiman after hearing the famous evangelist, Rev. Ding Limei, speak at a revival. She graduated from Beiman in 1910 and continued her education at the Beijing Union Women’s College. When she graduated in 1914, she felt the Lord calling her to break her marriage engagement and devote herself to Him. She worked for a women’s ministry for four years. Then in 1918, she joined the China Home Mission Society (中华国内布道会-CHMS), an organization devoted to reaching minority nationalities in southwest China. CHMS was the first missionary society organized and funded solely by Chinese and its seven founders were: Rev. Cheng Jingyi (诚静怡牧师), Dr. Shi Meiyu (史美玉医生-Mary Stone), Cai Sujuan (蔡苏娟姊妹-Christiana Tsai), Rev. Yu Rizhang (余日章牧师-David Z.T. Yui), Dora Yu Cidu (余慈度姊妹), Hu Suzhen (胡素贞女士), and Rev. Ding Limei (丁立梅牧师).
Rev. Ding led the first CHMS team to Yunnan to work among the Miao. Yuling was the youngest of the six team members, but when the others left, she stayed in Yunnan, eventually working there for 25 years. During these twenty-five years, she was occasionally invited to speak at missionary conferences, and she spoke with power and understanding. For fifteen years she served under the CHMS. She was based initially in Kunming, but came to work primarily in small towns and villages, both evangelizing and setting up schools. She then felt called to work independently as a faith missionary, and God used her to plant a number of churches among minority peoples. She described one experience in these words:
“I remember at that time the Holy Spirit filled me, led me to a village in Yunnan to evangelize. The power of the Holy Spirit filled me completely, I preached in the name of Jesus, laid hands on many sick and prayed. No mater if they were crippled, lame or blind, God healed them all. So many people came, and almost every home in the village had believers. Even the village chief knew the Lord. Because there were many believers, at that time they all felt the presence of Jesus and wanted me to build a place to worship. In a short time they built a hall that could seat several hundred.”
For health and other reasons, she left Yunnan in 1941 and worked in Xi’an for two years. After the war she returned to Beijing, and in 1945 met Chen Weikun (陈伟昆姊妹), who had been saved years earlier at a revival led by Yu Cidu. Chen Weikun became Yuling’s co-worker for the rest of her life. Yuling turned down an invitation to teach at the seminary operated by Rev. Jia Yuming (佳玉明牧师). Instead she continued her evangelistic ministry, this time in Guangdong and Guangxi. She moved to Hong Kong in 1949, and there she taught in a Bible school and wrote several commentaries until she retired in 1962. Three years later she was taken home by the Lord whom she had so faithfully served.