Dr. Bill Wallace Biography
GENTLE GIANT -- Southern Baptist missionary doctor Bill Wallace died over 50 years ago in a lonely Chinese jail cell, falsely accused of being a spy. But it wasn’t his lonely death that defined Wallace’s heroism. It was his love-filled life. Wallace healed bodies and souls in southern China from 1935-51, enduring Japanese invasion, civil war, hunger and the coming of communism. The Chinese had heard sermons before, but "in Bill Wallace they began to see one, and that made the difference," wrote his biographer, Jesse Fletcher.
Bill Wallace was born in 1908, the son of a physician. Young Bill however, had little interest in medicine and instead came to love cars and motorcycles. At the age of seventeen, Wallace's life was changed forever when God led him to submit his life to missions. On that day, July 5th of 1925, Bill Wallace accepted the call of God to become a medical missionary wherever His Master saw fit to lead him.
Ten years later after finishing medical school and turning down a lucrative offer of a medical practice in the States, Wallace headed off to Wuchow, China to become a medical missionary for the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1935 Bill Wallace left his beloved Knoxville, TN and found his way to the Stout Memorial Hospital in Wuchow. The years that followed were hardly easy in China. Wallace continued to minister through the Boxer Rebellion, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and the Communist takeover that followed the war. Everyone who encountered Wallace found him to be a tireless laborer in the Master's fields. He had an intense love for the Lord and those the Lord loved.
In spite of all that Wallace had done to help the Chinese, the new communist regime came to see him, as well as all foreigners, as a threat to their iron grip on the people of China. While many missionaries heeded the advice of their mission boards to leave China, Bill Wallace could not bring himself to leave the people he had come to love. After being accused of espionage and forced to sign a phony confession, Wallace eventually was beaten to death in a dark prison cell.
After Wallace's death, the Communist sought to bury his body in an unmarked grave to cover up their evil deed. Faithful Christian Chinese, not fooled by the ruse, found Wallace's body and laid him to rest in a proper service. They placed a marker there in Wouchow that simply read, "For Me to Live Is Christ."
Around the world there are many memorials to Bill Wallace of China. Jesse C. Fletcher wrote Bill Wallace of China in 1963, exposing a new generation to this example of selfless missions. A motion picture based on the book was later released. In Puchan, Korea there is the Wallace Memorial Hospital. The Baptist Student Union at the University of Tennessee Medical Center is named for Wallace. In Knoxville, TN there is the Wallace Memorial Baptist Church. Wallace's great memorial is not buildings however. Hundreds of young men and women have been inspired by his life to take their medical abilities and use them to the glory of God. May we all remember Bill Wallace of China and the God he so faithfully served!
Source: Bill Wallace of China by Jesse C. Fletcher, Timothy and Denise George, Editors (Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996).
Click here for a printed copy of a message by Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Theological Seminary about the life and death of Dr. William Wallace, published in 2007 in a book entitled "Five Who Changed the World". (Thanks to Dr. Akin for his gracious permission.)