An interesting profile on Bill Wallace, who was born in Tennessee and spent much of the 1930s and 1940s as a missionary and doctor in China.
Wallace was not the only foreign missionary martyred in China during the tumultuous years of a Japanese invasion, civil war and the beginnings of communist rule — which ended the missionary era. But his life story became as familiar to Southern Baptists of several generations as that of Lottie Moon, the missionary heroine who died serving China several decades before Wallace arrived.
Born in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1908, Wallace was the son of a doctor and as a boy tagged along with his father on patient rounds. At age 17 — while working on a car in the family garage — Wallace heard God’s call to medical missions. He answered yes, recorded the commitment on the back leaf of his New Testament, and never turned back.
After college, medical school and a surgical residency at Knoxville’s General Hospital, Wallace turned down a lucrative offer to become a partner with an outstanding surgeon. He was appointed in 1935 as a missionary to China by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board — 10 years to the month after he made his garage commitment.
He went to Wuchow (now Wuzhou) in southern China, where missionaries at the Baptist-run Stout Memorial Hospital were desperately praying for a surgeon.
Wallace is apparently quite well known among Southern Baptists. A book has been written about his life, as well as a short documentary video:
He nearly died from typhoid fever in 1948. After recovering, he kept right on working in Wuchow after the communist defeat of the Nationalist Chinese in 1949 — earning even the grudging respect of communist soldiers as he treated their wounds.
But missionaries were no longer welcome in China, and the start of the Korean War in 1950 sparked an intense anti-American propaganda campaign. Wallace’s arrest came in December of that year after local authorities “found” a gun under his mattress during a search and accused him of being a spy. He died in jail less than two months later.