“Apostle of Turkestan”

George Hunter (1861-1946)

“Nothing was to enter into his life unpenetrated by its central enthusiasm—Preaching the Gospel of Christ.”

Such was George Hunter. He knew his God and nothing anyone could say or do shook his testimony or moved him from his one statement: “I am here solely to preach Christ crucified.”

Known as the “Lonely Warrior,” George Hunter lost many of those dear to him, including his mother, the woman he loved, and his best friend and coworker. As a young man he had a strong desire to be a missionary, and although he was rejected by the China Inland Mission after his first offer of service, he did not give up. He applied a second time and was accepted.

He arrived in China in 1889 and possessed an irresistible instinct to visit lands where he found no foundations laid by another man. Realizing that the only way to reach the traveling tradesman and nomadic peoples would be to become like them and to travel with them, he journeyed across the Gobi Desert. He was recognized as a man who, having received an inward call, could not be restrained from answering it. He became known as the “Scotsman of the Gobi,” preaching everywhere he went and spreading the Gospel in both oral and written form.

During a missionary conference, he noted sadly that “too much of the Conference was concerned with those parts of China which are largely evangelized, while vast fields outside this sphere were not very much referred to.” He noted that God’s open doors are frequently overlooked, and only when the opportunity has passed do mission authorities appeal for prayer and for ventures of faith to enter closed lands. He realized the urgency of entering the open door while it remained open and of buying up the opportunities rather than just talking about them.

George Hunter was passionate about preaching Christ to men and women who had never heard His name. Realizing the urgency of getting the Scriptures into the hands of every tribe in Central Asia, he translated Scripture portions, as well as a number of other books, into several of the nomadic languages and spent the majority of forty years traveling over rough terrain to get God’s Word into the hands of people. His life of pioneering with Good News for everyone was a daily thrill, for his was the privilege of leaving behind the Book which is God’s message of reconciliation to man.

Eventually known as the “Apostle of Turkestan,” George Hunter was said to be always on duty; the results of his wide-sowing of the seed of life are immeasurable. He was a true Christian, for he was Christ obsessed. Imagine the impact that could be made if more such people might be found in the missionary force where too few are prepared to pay the cost involved, and some even resent the fact that such a price should be required of them.

Quotations: George Hunter: Apostle of Turkestan by Mildred Cable