The patient stirred. Dr. Wallace tried to soothe him in his Tennessee-accented Cantonese. The patient was waking from an abdominal surgery. They alone were left in the upper story of the Stout Memorial Hospital in Wuchow, China. Everyone else had taken refuge in the basement when the air raid alarm had sounded. The year was 1938, and the Japanese were invading China. Just then there was an explosion on the roof directly above them—and doctor and patient were thrown to the floor! Miraculously, neither were hurt.
Bill Wallace heard God’s call to be a medical missionary at seventeen years of age while tinkering in his garage one summer afternoon. For the next ten years, he did not cease to prepare himself until he was an excellent surgeon in the residency program at Knoxville, TN. At that time, Dr. Beddoe, administratorof the Southern Baptist mission hospital in Wuchow, China, sent a desperate plea to the mission board: “We must have a surgeon!” Bill Wallace sent in his application for missionary service the same month.
Dr. Wallace was a humble servant, a man of action and not a man of words. But his presence brought a new vitality to the mission hospital. “The Chinese had heard sermons before, but [now] they began to see one, and that made the difference. ..Sometimes his soft, stuttering witness to [God’s love] was more effective than the most eloquent evangelist’s plea. ” The influx ofpatients increased by 50%, and there was spiritual revival. While Wallace was saving lives with his scalpel, God was saving souls.
The hospital survived the Japanese invasion, while Wallace, a handful of other missionaries, and the Chinese staff continued the work. Dr. Wallace operated day and night, sewing up the mangled bodies of the victims of war. Later on furlough, Wallace was asked why he would return to Wuchow. He simply said, “It’s where I’m supposed to be.” By the time Wallace was forty, the Communists were persecuting Christians. Many missionaries left. Wallace chose to stay. Now the beloved doctor who stood so tall for Christ was a threat to the communist agenda. They planted a gun under his pillow and arrested him. After weeks of public accusations, humiliation, and torture,the night guards beat him to death in his cell. Chinese Christians erected a shaft over his grave with the inscription, “For me to live is Christ.
1 Quotations from Bill Wallace of China, by Jesse C. Fletcher