During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Presbyterian missionaries devoted their lives to providing education, medical aid, and refuge to the people of Persia. Through epidemics, famine, the Persian Constitutional Revolution, and the Great War (WWI) missionaries often endangered their own lives while providing relief aid. They struggled with prejudice and obstruction by Muslim and Gregorian Christian clerics and by government authorities. After years of patient, self-sacrificing pursuit of missionary service, did they win the admiration and respect of the Persians?
Western Persia Mission: A Biography of Annie Rhea Wilson (1861-1952) by Kathryn McLane describes real events in the lives of Presbyterian missionaries in Persia from 1880s to 1940s. In 1886, Annie Rhea Wilson travels to Tabriz with her husband, Reverend Samuel Graham Wilson, where they spend thirty years of their lives as missionaries, educating young Persians at the mission Boys’ School. Told through fictional dialogue, Annie and Sam initially struggle with Persian languages and customs, but soon, they emerge as leaders of the mission and build a new compound, including a church, missionary residences, a medical dispensary, and a school.
As the great-granddaughter of Annie Rhea Wilson, Kathryn McLane was intrigued by family history and desired to understand and preserve her ancestor’s story. She began researching archives of the Presbyterian Church, as well as autobiographies, reports, journal articles, and books written by the Presbyterian missionaries of Persia. The author strove to provide an accurate, factual depiction of missionary life in Persia, the struggles and successes of the missionaries, and the civil strife of Iran during this era so that readers may fully understand the depth of their service.