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Title: Dr. H. L. Emil Luering
Date: 01-Jan-2017
Category: Essay - Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah Methodist

October 14th saw the passing of another of Malaya’s great missionaries, Dr. H. L. E. Luering, at Frankfurtam-Main, Germany, where he was professor at the Frankfurt Theological Seminary.

Born December 9, 1863, at Delmenhorst, Oldenburg, Heinrich Ludwig Emil Luering was the second son of a Methodist pastor, Adolf H. L. Luering. His early education he received in Bremen, Strassburg, Pforzheim and Schaffhausen. Two semesters at the University of Zurich were spent in the study of natural science, but after a long and serious talk with his mother young Luering decided for Christ and went to the University of Strassburg to study theology. There he also studied oriental languages and in 1887 received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy on a dissertation “A comparative Study in Medical Knowledge as found in old Egyptian Papyri and the medical writings of the Greek and Roman authors”. The opportunity for a brilliant career as a scholar seemed open to him when he was called to the Methodist Publishing House of Bremen as scientific worker. Luering, however, had gradually come to the decision that he must follow his father in the ministry. He had served as pastor in Kiel for three years when a letter came from Bishop Thoburn asking him to go to Singapore as a missionary to help Oldham in the newly-founded mission. When only a boy he had longed to be a missionary, but he told no one except his sister, who kept his secret. Now he felt that Bishop Thoburn’s letter was a call he could not refuse, so without hesitation he accepted, and sailed for Singapore on September 16, 1889.

Soon after his arrival Luering was sent on an exploratory journey to Dutch West Borneo. The following year he went to British North Borneo to open work among the Dyak head-hunters. In December 1891 when he returned to Singapore it was decided that he was needed in Singapore.

Dr. Luering’s unusual talent for learning languages was a great asset. While in Borneo he had become proficient in Malay and he now applied himself to the various Chinese dialects spoken in Malaya. Years later at a General Conference of the Methodist Chuch he found two Chinese delegates who could not converse because they came from different parts of China and he obligingly acted as interpreter. He took joy in learning a new language and never let an opportunity pass. Thus when malaria forced him to take a three months vacation in Amoy he learned the Hokkien dialect.

In 1899 Dr. Luering was appointed to Ipoh, where he was a great help to the Chinese churches, for he already knew the Foochow and Hokkien dialects and he soon learned the Cantonese and Hakka dialects. He was the first of our missionaries to be interested in the jungle people and he even baptised one Sakai woman. He was probably the first European to be able to speak the Sakai language.

In 1902 after conversation with officials Dr. Luering was commissioned by the Perak Government to go to China to bring 1,000 colonists from Foochow to settle Sitiawan, a then pratically unpopulated section. He naturally chose as many Christians as he could find for the new city. Sitiawan of to-day should remember its founder.

During his furlough in 1966 Dr. Luering made an extensive tour of the United States, where he lectured on Missions in Malaya. On his return in 1907 he was sent to Penang where he served as District Superintendent until 1909 when he received a call from the Methodist Seminary at Frankfurt-am-Main. He taught first at Roderburg and then for twenty five years was acting director at Ginnheim. His special fields were dogmatic theology and ancient languages, but he never lost his interests in missions, and especially in Malaya. Even in recent years when missionaries from Malaysia visited him he would speak in Malay. Practically every Methodist preacher in Europe has studied under Dr. Luering, and many from America have come under his instruction as well. All look upon their old professor with love and admiration, for he possessed not only an amazing knowledge but a magnetic personality. He was deeply spiritual as well as warm hearted and friendly.

In addition to his other activities Dr. Luering wrote many articles and monographs in various languages. While in Malaya he wrote and  translated hymns into Malay, besides contributing to important works by other Malay scholars. He wrote many philological and ethnographic articles on the Dayaks, Malays and Sakais, which appeared in the journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. In later years he wrote several monographs in German, and was a frequent contributor to the missionary magazine “Der Missionsbote.”

Dr. Luering retired from his professorship at the age of seventy but continued to lecture and travel in the interest of missions, until a year ago when he underwent a serious operation. To the last he kept his live interest in other people and cheerful outlook on life. His was a life full of adventure and worth, and his death was one of hope and victory.

Dr. Luering is survives by his wife, who was Violet Marie Beins of Singapore, six of their seven children, and seven grandchildren. A host of friends in Malaya, Europe and America also mourn the passing of this great soul.

His great love of nature, his deep sympathy for all living creatures, his genuine piety and child-like simplicity of character were impressive marks of his personality. He combined a big heart with a brilliant mind, an ardent love of Fatherland with a glowing love of Christ and a desire to share the riches of the Gospel with all humanity.

At the funeral service in Frankfurt, on October 18th, Bishop Dr. Melle, who gave the address at the graveside, fittingly chose the text from Philippians 1:21—“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

The Malaysia Message
Vol. 48 No. 1
January 1938 

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