Blue plaque unveiled in memory of Swansea missionary Griffith John
A BLUE plaque has been unveiled outside a Swansea church in memory a preacher who made a huge difference to the lives of people — in China.
When Swansea-born Griffith John left his home to pursue his true calling he entered another world.
The 19th century Christian missionary, who worshipped in the city's Ebenezer Chapel as a boy, faced a long and difficult journey in 1855, halfway around the planet, but arrived safely in China where he was to leave such an impression his name would still be known over 150 years later.
John spent over 50 years in the Wuhan province where he made a giant contribution to education and health services.
In 1866 he founded the Union Hospital in Wuhan, now a major centre for healthcare and medical research.
Today there is a statue of Griffith John positioned outside the hospital, and keen to strengthen the area's links with Swansea, the hospital board commissioned a bust of John as a gift to Swansea.
Last year a Chinese delegation travelled the same path as John, in reverse, to present the bust to Swansea Museum to mark the 100th anniversary of his death.
The copper bust was made by a famous Chinese artist called Xiang Jinguo.
In unveiling the blue plaque on Ebenezer Chapel, near Swansea's train station, yesterday, council leader David Phillips called John "one of Swansea's greatest sons".
Ebenezer's minister, Graham John, said: "We are very pleased to have the blue plaque here.
"It's a commemoration of a great man who came from this church and was converted here and was sent to the mission fields from here.
"We are grateful to the council for nominating him and bringing this plaque to a place that had so much meaning in his own life. He was brought up here as a young man
"He left for the mission fields in 1855 and he did many wonderful things there, not just as an ordinary missionary, he was a leader amongst men."
Mr John added that the congregation had been taken aback by the work of his namesake.
He said: "We have had a year of various activities to commemorate his life and death and we have been learning, ourselves, of what a remarkable man he was.
"When I came here seven years ago I just thought that he was another missionary but I have found out this year that he was a remarkable man, a great leader."
We have people from China and vast areas come along, his name is well known over there. There are busts of him outside hospitals and theological colleges that he started, he's considered very highly as an educator because he was responsible for putting together China's first education syllabus."