Robert A. Jaffray
Although born into wealth and privilege, Dr. Robert A. Jaffray had the heart of a pioneer. His father, a Canadian senator, owned and published the influential Toronto Globe newspaper (now the Toronto Globe and Mail). After hearing A. B. Simpson preach, young Jaffray enrolled in the New York Missionary Training School (now Nyack College), and in 1897, a few months before his twenty-fourth birthday, he sailed for China. There, Jaffray and his group joined a party of Alliance missionaries that had been on the Chinese field for three years. Among them was Minnie Donor, whom he wed in August 1900.
During their long tenure in China, the Jaffrays and their colleagues led many people in the Guangxi province to faith in Jesus Christ and planted churches in the Wuzhou area. Jaffray made good use of the ink in his bloodline and established the South China Press, which published The Bible Magazine, a Chinese-language journal that made Jaffray’s name well-known in Chinese communities around the world.
In the year 1887, which witnessed the founding of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, A. B. Simpson had called for an early effort to enter Vietnam (then called Annam) with the gospel. Supported by faithful intercessors at home, the missionaries in South China made repeated attempts to secure an entrance into that virgin field. Robert Jaffray with Lloyd Hughes and Paul Hosler, assisted by the British and Foreign Bible Society, finally established a base at Tourane in 1911.
In 1928, Jaffray felt God pulling him to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Pooling money he had inherited from his father together with donations from Alliance churches in the United States and Canada, Jaffray set out on a new venture to bring the gospel to the islands of Borneo (now Kalimantan) and Celebes (now Sulawesi). Minnie joined him some time later, after she had finished her work in China.
The Jaffrays were living in Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, at the outbreak of World War II. They, along with their adult daughter, Margaret, were sent to an internment camp in Kampili, Indonesia, but in June 1943 Jaffray was separated from his family and sent to the men’s camp. Jaffray went to be with the Lord in the middle of the night on July 29, 1945, less than a month before the Japanese surrender. Minnie Jaffray and Margaret learned of his death after their release.
(From Alliance Life, August 2008)