“I’d Rather Have Jesus”: Chan Sui

Chan Sui: “I’d rather have Jesus”


Chan Sui in Chinese Outfit (left) and in Western Outfit (right) Taken from the Methodist Recorder, Victoria, B. C., December, 1900 圖照:中式服裝的陳水(左)與西式服裝的陳水(右) 攝於一九零零年Chan Sui in Chinese Outfit (left) and in Western Outfit (right)
Taken from the Methodist Recorder, Victoria, B. C., December, 1900

The life of Chan Sui, almost an unknown figure in Chinese Canadian history, tells the story of transformation through his encounter with Christianity. While many Chinese people were attracted to Christian missionary services for benefits they could receive (such as English language training, upward mobility, financial help, etc.), Chan was a true disciple of Jesus who was ready to pay the price for living out his Christian convictions.

Chan Sui was born in a village near Canton, China, to a farming family. His parents were devout Buddhists. When Chan was sixteen years old, he came to Victoria, British Columbia and secured a job as a household servant. Eager to learn the English language, he attended the Night School for Chinese ran by the Methodist Mission. At first, he had no interest in religion but was soon attracted to the preaching of Rev. John E. Gardiner, a pioneer missionary working with Chinese people in B.C. Chan made the decision to become a Christian and committed himself to lead his fellow countrymen to Christ.

After working as a household servant for a while, Chan wanted to start his own business. He partnered with a Chinese Christian friend in the Chinese grocery business. Because of his desire to keep the Sabbath holy, their store did not open on Sundays. As a result, their business was boycotted by the Chinese community because Sunday was the day for the Chinese from the rural districts to come into the city for trading. Other Chinese merchant friends advised him, “Either give up your business or give up your religion.” Chan was put under much pressure and he prayed for God’s guidance. He finally gave up his grocery business and switched to a laundry business. Despite many obstacles, he succeeded in his laundry business and was able to save money for future educational opportunities. He felt compelled to preach the Gospel and returned to Canton to attend the Wesleyan College there to prepare himself for the work of the Gospel.

The life of Chan Sui is best summarized by the lyrics of a favourite Christian hymn, “I’d Rather have Jesus.”

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today. (Refrain)

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name.
(Public Domain)


Doddridge, D. D. “Chan Sui or Our Chinese Christians and the Sabbath.” Methodist Recorder, Victoria, B. C., December 1900. Pp. 4-5.



陳水出生於中國廣州市附近的一個鄉村農家。父母是虔誠的佛教徒。他十六歲時來到卑詩省域多利市當家僕。因渴望能學會英語,他到循道會的華人夜校上課。起先他對宗教毫無興趣,但不久他被John E. Gardiner牧師(一位向卑詩省內華人傳福音的先鋒)的講道所吸引,於是決志信耶穌成為基督徒,並且誓言要領他的同胞歸向基督。






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