Librarian Lai has organized a
collection which includes materials in Chinese, Japanese, Korean,
Vietnamese, Manchu, Mandarin, and many dialects. Many of the items
which he has included in his catalog are not available elsewhere in
the Western hemisphere.
1981/02 Page 7
By T. C. WHITEHOUSE
Among the 550,000 volumes in theHarvard-Yenching
Library of Harvard University is a unique collection of Protestant
missionary works in the Chinese language, including many versions
and editions of the Bible and its separate books, catechisms,
commentaries, hymnbooks, prayer books, text books, serials and small
religious and secular tracts.
The librarian who .is most knowledgeable about
this vast collection, which had its beginning in materials supplied
by the American Board of commissioners for Foreign Missions, is John
Yung-hsiang Lai, a member of Calvary United Methodist
Arlington, MA. Mr. Lai recently published a catalog of this
Although John and his family have a Presbyterian
'background, having belonged to a church in Taiwan that was over a
hundred years old, they have many Methodist onnections.
The road from a small town in the southern part
of Taiwan where John was born to Harvard University is a long one.
Yeh Lai, John's mother, was the first Christian
in her family. As he put it, "She loved the Lord and worked hard for
the church in her life.'* The intensity of her faith was reflected
in her service as deacon and elder in her congregation, helping
pastors develop churches in the city. She opened her house in
Anian-chiao as a meeting place for services and Sunday school.
In her latter days she sold her house and
contributed the money as seed money for the construction of the
Anian-chiao church. It was completed just four months before she
died in an accident in 1978. At the time of her death, she was 79
and had been a widow for 21 years.
John's father was a school teacher but later
became a coal dealer.
John’s wife, Helen, was born in a Christian
family. Her father, a Taiwanese, was educated in Japan and married a
Japanese woman, a graduate of Aoyama Gakuin University, a Methodist
institution. Helen is also a graduate of that same university.
After his retirement from farming, Helen's father
devoted his life to orchid cultivation and scripture study. In 1970,
in commemoration of the jubilee of his baptism, he published a
463-page Topical Concordance of the Bible in Chinese. The second
volume, 726 pages in length, was published on his 84th birthday in
Helen's parents, who still live in Taiwan,
visited the United States last summer and visited the library where
John is associate librarian.
John began his education in Taiwan but then
attended Tokyo University and received a bachelor of law degree.
Later he received his master's degree in library science from George
Peabody College for Teachers, now a part of Vanderbilt University in
Nashville, Tennessee. He returned to Taiwan and rose to be head of
the Department of
Library Science at the National University of
Along with membership in Calvary United Methodist
Church in Arlington, the Lais also are members of the Boston
Taiwanese Christian Fellowship, which meets on Sunday afternoons at
the Community （UM） Church in Brighton.
Once a month, John gives a testimony from the
pulpit in his mother tongue.