John Alexander Short was born into a working class home at Barmers, South Australia on Australia day 1939. His parents were nominal Anglicans but under the influence of a godly grandmother he attended Sunday School. John completed his secondary school studies at the Adelaide Boys High School, and graduated as a dental technician from the Royal Adelaide Dental Hospital. In January 1962 he joined the staff of the Adelaide YMCA and continued in this work until his departure for China and Hong Kong in January 1964.
At 21 years of age, through the efforts of the YMCA Secretary in Adelaide, Mr Graeme Irvine, John was saved and thereafter made it his consuming passion to make known the Gospel of God’s love in Christ and His substitutionary death to young people at the Adelaide YMCA. After hearing Dr. Andrew Gih, the Chinese evangelist, and missionary Gladys Aylward, John knew the call of God to serve the Lord in China and was commended from the Unley and Elizabeth Gospel Halls in South Australia. He sailed for Hong Kong in January 1964.
Between 1964 and 1974 refugees were pouring out of China to escape the cultural revolution and each morning John worked in the Kowloon Peace Clinic with veteran missionary Miss Frances Wilks, extracting teeth from poor refugees. In the afternoon he studied the Cantonese language. Having obtained a good understanding of the language John worked to establish New Testament Churches and by the early 1970s two new Churches were planted in busy Mongkok and another in the New Territories city of Tsuen Wan. Today there are more than fifteen local assemblies throughout the Territory.
While at a Sunday School picnic at Tegiggee in country Queensland in 1976, John met his wife Karen who had been converted at 17 years of age through the witness of a fellow worker at the Bunderberg Base Hospital where she trained as a nurse. She later specialized in Ophthalmic nursing in Melbourne and they married in January 1978 in Bundaberg, God has blessed them with three sons who all grew up in Hong Kong. It became clear to John that there was a great need for sound New Testament Church literature and the Christian Book Room, China’s oldest Gospel Publishing House, was purchased. Over past decades, much effort has been invested in the translation and publication of sound, encouraging written ministry for China’s inland provinces.
Today, to the glory of God, that ministry has expanded into Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and other Chinese speaking areas. John is assisted by a team of dedicated co-workers including some who have been with the CBR for more than 50 years. Upon the death of Chairman Mao in 1976, prayer was answered and regular monthly visits into all of China’s provinces with much needed Bibles and literature, teaching tools, clothing and practical fellowship for evangelists and needy believers, became possible. A vast network of contacts has been established and this is seen as one of the most precious and valuable possessions. There has been much to encourage us in Hong Kong especially in the commitment of local brethren to full-time labours. Brethren Silas So-Man and his wife Sarah in 1982, and Thomas Yiu Kwong-Yin in 1993 continue in the work locally. We were joined in the work by Miss Joy Smith and Mr Bryan Ford in 1998, who subsequently married in 1999. Their contribution to the work has been a blessing locally and into China.
Since the hand over of the British Colony of Hong Kong to China in June 1997, there has been an increased sense of “big brother” monitoring Christian activities and the ministry continues amid increasing pressures. In May of 1996 John was arrested a second time in China and his entry visa was revoked. He became“persona non grata” with the communist authorities for almost two years. During this time Karen, along with other workers, continued fortnightly visits inland with the literature ministry. Eventually, when it was proved John had no political agenda, he was again allowed to visit China’s provinces. During the ensuing years he has been arrested on several occasions for speaking out about brutality against Chinese Christians. Pray for China!
Since the lifting of the“Bamboo Curtain”, Christian testimony in China has spread like wildfire, with millions seeking answers to their deep spiritual need. The need for sound Bible teaching has never been greater but the 21st century missionary faces seemingly impossible odds to carry on the great commission. Those who are called and commissioned “to go”, however, will be more than able to overcome. The missionary call “to go” has never been revoked, irrespective of the “missionary-go-home” and “leave-it-to-the-national-workers” statements that we hear expressed. We are still called to go in person, or in proxy into all the world. It may be locally, or across a cultural barrier overseas. Have you heard the call? – Then“GO”!
Acknowledgement : Herald of Hope, June, 2009 The Story of John Short
50th Anniversary card : made by Gospel Attract