We are fortunate now to have enough to eat, and a house to live in, and clothes to wear. It is like a dream the hard years I had with the children. But I am glad of them, for they brought me nearer to the real values of life, and showed me how wonderful is God’s love and mercies.
Agnes Chan, May 2, 1947.
Agnes Chan, also known as Ah Fung as a child, was born in China to a poor family with six daughters. Ah Fung was bought by his father’s friend but unfortunately, her mistress, decided to sell her to another family when she was fourteen. By the providence of God, she was received by a Christian family where she came to know Jesus Christ. Due to the passing of the husband of the family, Ah Fung was sold to another family in Victoria, British Columbia.
One evening after unjust treatment from her new master in Victoria, she left the home and knocked on the door of the Chinese Rescue Home, a missionary home school in Victoria. She was welcomed into the home and given a new Christian name, Agnes. Agnes interpreted for the missionary whenever they visited Chinatown.
Agnes was an earnest Christian with a sincere faith. When Agnes heard the news that her baby sister was sold, she wanted to quit school in order to earn the money to redeem her sister. The Women Missionary Society (W.M.S.) of the Presbyterian Church in Toronto decided to lend Agnes the money so that she could redeem her sister and also remain in school.
After Agnes graduated from high school, she was sent to Women’s College Hospital in Toronto by the recommendation of the W. M. S. She graduated from the Women’s College Hospital in 1923 and received the “highest standing in theory – and practical obstetrical nursing.” Following her graduation, she took post-graduate courses in Detroit, in children’s work.
In the Fall of 1924, Agnes was recommended by the Methodist Mission to serve as the Assistant Matron at the large hospital and Girl’s School in Fatshan. Before she finished her first term, she was appointed as the Superintendent of Nurses in the hospital. She was appointed as one of four official delegates from China to attend the International Congress of Nurses held in Montreal in 1929. Afterwards, she received additional education in public health in Toronto.
In addition to her contribution in nursing and hospital administration, Agnes developed a special passion towards the care of orphans. When the city of Canton fell in the autumn of 1938, Agnes and other missionaries established the Springfield Orphanage as a home for the abandoned children.
Agnes was later transferred to the hospital in Wuchow. She stayed at the hospital until the very last minute in order to rescue a baby from the Japanese invasion. Her assistant and all the other children had left by boat. When all her hope was gone, her faith “never wavered.” A farmer appeared with a little boat and he took Agnes and the baby to join her friends and the rest of the children. Once again Agnes experienced the faithfulness and miraculous care of her God.
“During the year of evacuation, Miss Chan, Miss Taam and other nurses, were able to support the family of 17 children, and 4 refugees by their medical work” and God looked after them. When word about her work with the orphans reached home in Canada, her friends from Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto all sent financial support for the orphans.
“The Story of Miss Agnes Chan, R. N.” Bob Steward Archives, United Church of Canada, Vancouver.
Agnes Chan Clipping Files. The Women’s College Hospital Archives, Toronto.
亞鳳聽聞市內有一間宣教士主辦的收容中心和學校 — 中華救援之家，她十分渴望能進去。有一晚她受到維多利亞的新主人虐待後，出走家門，便去敲中華救援之家的門。她向宣教士解釋她的處境及提到自己是個基督徒，她們歡迎她加入這個家，並為她起了一個新英文名：Agnes。她在救援之家除了上課讀書和遊戲外，還陪同宣教士探訪唐人街，替宣教士翻譯。在救援之家讀完小學後，她就上中學，接受Grace Baker小姐的教導。