The Earliest Protestant Missionary to Korea
by Rev. David T. Myers
It wasn’t luck. It wasn’t chance. It wasn’t good fortune. It was plainly providential.
Sent to Korea as a physician, Horace Newton Allen was in Seoul in 1884 when a royal relative of the governing family was stabbed and left badly injured. A German diplomat called for Dr. Allen to treat the young man with Western style medicine practices with the result that the young member of the royal family recovered in three months. Obviously pleased with the results, the royal family was grateful beyond words and ready to do any thing and everything the physician desired. He promptly went about to establish a hospital which sought to train native Koreans in Western style medicine practices. But Allen also sought to open up the vast land to American evangelists and missionaries, for that was what Dr. Allen was himself.
Born April 23, 1858 in Delaware, Ohio, Horace Newton Allen studied at Ohio Wesleyan University. Graduating from there, he went on to get his medical credentials from Miami Medical School in Ohio. Sent out first by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions to China, he stayed but a year as a result of less than welcome from the Chinese people. So he went to Korea and had the above experience.
This wide and effective door occurred when Korea was still anti-Christian in its attitude and actions toward Christians. A little before this, over 10,000 Koreans who had converted to Christianity had been beheaded. But his example as a Christian doctor enabled the opening of the door to Christians evangelists and missionaries from other lands, including the United States, to enter the land and minister there in complete freedom.
In fact, so much did he identify with the Korean people, that the United States in 1897 appointed him as a diplomatic minister and consul general to that land. He stayed there in this government position until 1905 when President Teddy Roosevelt recalled him. He returned to the United States and died in 1932.
The medical facility which he began was called in Korean, “The House of Extended Grace.” And that is what Dr. Horace Allen brought to Korea as he evangelized the souls of people in that Asian nation and healed the bodies of Korean people.
Words to Live By: When God opens up a wide and effective door, God’s people need to be ready to enter through it for the work of Christ’s kingdom.