BREWSTER, John Herbert (1895-1973) • Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography

BREWSTER, John Herbert (1895-1973)

Ian McDowell, ,

BREWSTER, JOHN HERBERT (b Melbourne, Vic, 1895; d Sydney, NSW, 1973). Open Brethren pioneer China missionary and organiser.

John Herbert Brewster left tor China from Open Brethren assemblies in Melbourne in 1911. With British workers he settled in Ch'ao-yang, Jehol province, Manchuria. They took over from the LMS, whose station had been destroyed by the Boxers. Brewster married two years later. Dorothy Flanagan, the first person to take a bicycle into northern China, joined them in 1929. Conditions steadily became more difficult. They endured Japanese bombing and invasion; bandits stole their possessions; they encountered villagers possessed by demons; they conducted Bible schools. By foot, donkey, or cart, they visited many Chinese villages in the region preaching the Gospel. Those who believed immediately destroyed their idols and heathen shrines. They braved all kinds of diseases with no defence except simple hygiene. Brewster buried his wife and infant son and daughter on the field. He married his deceased wife's sister in 1922.

From 1942 the missionaries endured privations under Japanese internment in Manchuria, until repatriation to Australia in 1944. Brewster lost his wife at this time, but returned to China at the end of World War Two. Ch'ao-yang was now in Communist hands, and further work became impossible.

A long-time sufferer from the after-effects of poliomyelitis, he returned to Australia, and settled in Sydney in 1948. He became a treasurer and correspondent of the Australian Open Brethren world-wide missionary work at its headquarters in Goulburn Street, Sydney, and continued this work until his death.

W T Stunt et al, eds, Turning the World Upside Down (Bath, 1972); Australian Missionary Tidings, Dec 1973


Electronic Version © Southern Cross College, 2004

Content © Evangelical History Association of Australia and the author, 2004


  • There are currently no refbacks.