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“God kept me for the work for which I am best fitted”

“God kept me for the work for which I am best fitted”

Friday, October 14, 2011 — Week of Proper 23, Year One

Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai, 1906

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 988)

Psalms 16, 17 (morning) // 22 (evening)

Jeremiah 38:14-28

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Matthew 11:1-16

I want to think a bit about Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky who is commemorated today. His is an amazing story.

A native of Lithuania, he was studying for the rabbinate when he became interested in Christianity. He moved to the U.S., eventually graduating from my seminary, the General Theological Seminary in New York City. (1859) He responded to a call for missionaries to China and learned to write Chinese during the voyage on ship. (That’s remarkable.) Starting in Peking, he translated the Bible and parts of the Prayer Book into Mandarin. In 1877 he became Bishop of Shanghai and began translating the Bible into Wenli. He founded St. John’s University in Shanghai. (That school is a fascinating story as well. Look it up.)

In 1883, at the age of 52, he was stricken with paralysis. For most of the rest of his life he lived in Japan where he continued his translation work, typing some 2,000 pages with the middle finger of his partially crippled hand. He lived until 1906.

Four years before his death, he said this: “I have sat in this chair over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted.”

That quote humbles and awes me.


In 1883, at the age of 52, he was stricken with paralysis.

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