Over the next decades, Bell would occasionally run the hospital at Haichow Pinyin romanization: Haizhou when the doctor there was on furlough or otherwise absent. Among other missionaries who worked with Bell at Qingjiangpu over the years were doctors Kerr Taylor and his wife Fannie , Sun, Chao, Chi'en, Ts'ao last two joined staff in late s , Wu joined ca. Other members of the staff over the years included Agnes Woods nurse , Cassie Lee Oliver nurse and anesthetist , Eli Liu male nurse , and Elinor Myers Woods lab technician from on.
Miss M. Waterman, Miss A. Kao and Mr. Kang were elders of the church in Qingjiangpu Kang was the Bells' Chinese language teacher.
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In , Graham resigned as pastor of the church and a Chinese Christian took over. Every year the hospital had an evangelistic emphasis week. In the visiting evangelist was Leland Wang. In it was Andrew Gih. Special mention should be made of Virginia's activities. Besides maintaining the home and educating the children until they were high school age, she also led Bible studies and was in charge of the women's clinic, determining which cases were serious enough for the attention of the doctors.
Bell, besides his medical duties, also often preached in the church and went on evangelistic missions. In October , Bell became temporary administrator of the hospital when Woods went to the United States on a long delayed furlough for two years. The next year the Bells' first child was born, Rosa Wertenbaker.
Starting that same year Bell began opening dispensaries around the countryside, which increased greatly the number we were able to serve. The dispensaries sent the more serious patients to the hospital. Bell had acquired his Chinese name by this time, Chong Ai Hua, which has been translated into English as "the bell who is a lover of the Chinese people. In the summer of , the Bells returned to the United States on furlough. Nelson visited there to speak and met a laymen of the church, Benjamin Clayton.
Clayton was impressed by Bell's description of the work as well as Bell himself and donated large sums for new buildings and staff over the following years. The tenures of doctors Patterson, Gieser and Vinson were also financed through a fund set up by Clayton. During his furlough, Bell practiced briefly at Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions to hone his medical and surgical skills.
He also took a course from Moody Bible Institute. By September , the Bells were back at Qingjiangpu. Once he was back, Bell took over Woods' responsibility as medical visitor to the local jail and prison. During the early s, using funds supplied by Clayton, he supervised the addition of a new women's and administration wing to the hospital. Because of the increased use of the hospital by the Chinese and the improved facilities, the hospital was self supporting by the early s.
In the Bells' first son was born, Nelson Jr, but in October of the same year the baby died of amoebic dysentery. The next year Woods returned to the United States because of illness and remained for some time. In his absence Bell was the superintendent of the hospital. The next year in April the missionaries evacuated the city to avoid the advancing Nationalist armies.
The Bells went to Shanghai and then returned to the United States on furlough.
They stayed in Waynesboro until the birth of their daughter Virginia in June. She was nicknamed MaiMai and Giniong. Then for four months after that he was head of surgery at a hospital in Holden, West Virginia. At the end of the family returned to China. When he returned, Bell and Dr. Ts'ao became quite well known in the Chinese medical community for their successful treatment of cases of kala-azar black fever with the drug stibosan. In the summer of there was another brief evacuation of Qingjiangpu by the missionaries. Woods had returned in and was heading the medical work, while Bell headed the surgical and administrative work.
In , the mission closed its boys school because of the demand of the government that it be registered and the possibility that it would have to eliminate the Christian message from the curriculum. At about the same time Bell resisted efforts to turn over the hospital to Chinese nationals, feeling that Western expertise was still needed.
He supported, however, the transfer of leadership positions in the local church to Chinese.
At about the same time he was a leading critic of the report Rethinking Missions published by the Laymen's Foreign Mission Inquiry, which characterized medical missions as inefficient and inept. Bell's own medical reputation was high in both China and the United States. In became a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. The Bell children were educated at home by Virginia until Ruth followed her there in In December another child was added to the family when Benjamin Clayton nicknamed Didi was born.
The family returned to the United States on furlough in and lived in Montreat, North Carolina, where the girls went to school.
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There had been fighting and "incidents" between the Japanese and Chinese for years, but all-out conflict broke out in At the insistence of the American government, the missionaries evacuated Qingjiangpu in to avoid advancing Japanese troops. The next month the Bells returned to Qingjiangpu. When the city was occupied by the Japanese in February , Bell was able to persuade them to allow the missionaries to continue their work.
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In April of the same year, the family returned to the United States for a brief furlough. When they returned in September, they took Rosa back with them, since she was having health problems and they wanted to personally care for her. Rosa returned to the United States in May the next year.
The Bells enrolled their daughter Virginia in the school in Korea in September but she had to return a few weeks later when the school was closed because of wartime conditions. In May of , the entire family went back to the United States on furlough. The family settled in Montreat again, after a visit to Ruth in Wheaton. Bell served on the board of the MRA for many years. During the summer Billy Graham, a classmate of Ruth's in whom she was romantically interested, came to Montreat to meet the family.
They married in August and Ruth lived with the Bells while Graham served as the traveling vice president of Youth for Christ in and Later the Grahams bought a nearby house in Montreat. Bell, realizing that because of the possibility of war between the United States and Japan it would be unwise to return to China, opened a surgical practice in the Asheville-Montreat area, with an office in Swannanoa.
He eventually became assistant chief of staff at the Asheville Memorial Hospital. For several years he had become increasingly concerned about what he saw as liberal trends within his Presbyterian denomination. To help combat these trends he founded in March with five others a publication entitled The Southern Presbyterian Journal renamed The Presbyterian Journal in when G. Aiken Taylor replaced Rev. Henry B. Dendy as editor.
In the decades that followed he was one of the primary shapers of the Journal , which was probably the most important voice for conservatives within the denomination. Bell resigned from the Journal in because of the role Taylor and the board were taking in forming a new Presbyterian church in reaction to the ultimately successful movement of liberal elements in the PCUS to unite it with other Prsbyterian denominations.
After the end of World War II, the Bells were kept from returning to China by Nelson's bursitis and family responsibilities, as well as discouraging reports from missionaries and Chinese Christians. The victory of the Communists in the Chinese civil war put a permanent end to any hopes the Bells had of returning. Darby Fulton, a former missionary and old friend, was the executive secretary. Bell continued to serve on the board, with one brief interruption in , until He was chairman of the Fields Committee , and on the Executive Committee from During this time period, he frequently traveled to the various mission fields to visit the workers there and see conditions first hand.
For example, he visited Brazil, Africa and Europe in , went around the world by way of Taiwan in , saw Brazil in , Korea in , Japan and Korea in , Palestine in , and the Far East in He was very active in his local church and was twice elected moderator of the Asheville Presbytery.