Hollands, Margaret L

1923 - 2000

On 21 July 1923, Margaret Hollands was born to a Christian family in Kent, England. Her parents religiously taught her about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and at a young age, she gave her life to him. At the age of 15, she felt called to serve in China after reading a book about missionary work in China. However, she resisted the calling for a number of years before finally surrendering to God’s will.

As a schoolgirl, she had the privilege of attending a Crusader class which helped her faith to grow. At college, it was the fellowship within the InterVarsity Fellowship that gave her a fuller vision of the needs of the world, among many other blessings.

Margaret graduated from Bedford College, London with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She became a teacher for three years before finally joining the Women’s Training Home of the CIM. In the one year there, she was spiritually blessed, “It is God that girdeth me with strength and maketh my way perfect, and I pray that in all things He may be glorified.”[1]

In 1949, she and other CIM workers landed at Chungking airport at dusk. Through the dark streets and peering faces, they climbed into a truck that took them to the Mission Home. The next day, they travelled to their language school at a hillside place. Crossing the Yangtze River by ferry, they were touched deeply by the poor boat people with “all the family, plus dogs, chickens and pigs living together on the boat.”

“On the surface there is humour and a sense of the ludicrous but one knows that beneath is the deep-seated resignation under hardship and fear of the unknown,” she wrote. They noticed a funeral procession going on nearby with the mourners carrying incense, paper money, and a paper house for the deceased’s comfort in the next world. This event strengthened Margaret’s resolve to work hard in this land of spiritual bondage.[2]

Unfortunately, in 1951, the communists’ takeover of China forced Margaret to seek refuge in Hong Kong and Singapore. When Malaya became one of the new fields, Margaret and two other missionaries, Betty Laing and Doris Dove, arrived in Scudai New Village in October 1951.[3] They moved into a small room in the Chinese school which was their accommodation. The children were inquisitive and friendly. Daily meetings with the students were organised but their interest fluctuated.[4]

After six months, in mid-1952, Margaret Hollands was transferred to Sungei Way New Village with Annette Harris and Ferne Blair, who was a qualified nurse. Initially, the villagers were suspicious that these European missionaries were actually spies of the British government. With the daily medical clinics and house visitations run by Blair, the wall of hostility was broken and trust developed.

After a year, in mid-1953, one man took a stand publicly and said that he believed. He was a great gambler but the night he found Jesus as his saviour, he was delivered from his bad habit. A few months later, his wife also believed. He often testified that his whole family received peace and was no longer hounded by fear at night of the evil spirits.

In July 1954, ten people were baptised in a disused mining pool and a local church was founded. Three local male believers took turns preaching at the Sunday service. Four men were dedicated as deacons and administered the Lord’s Supper. The women visited with enquirers and taught Sunday School. Later, six new believers were baptised, with six more asking. Many of the believers were eager to tell others of the Saviour, distributing tracts, visiting, and holding evangelistic meetings in nearby villages.[5]

In 1955, she went back for furlough and was posted to Rasa New Village the following year, doing church planting work. From 1961 to 1965, she was reassigned to the Church at Cha’ah New Village, which nearly collapsed when OMF left them as they were still spiritually not ready for autonomy. Self-support was a principle that they understood and practised. However, self-propagation was something they failed at miserably due to constant rejection and disappointment — they stopped doing altogether.

Margaret was able to re-energise their evangelistic efforts through home meetings and visitation. The other issue was self-governance, as leaders of calibre naturally gravitated towards the town and cities for better job opportunities. The leaders left behind in Cha’ah were less educated and constantly burdened with a search for livelihood. During a crisis, these semi-educated people did not turn to the Bible for help but instead conveniently turned towards their old belief, Confucianism. Therefore, Bible teaching was intensified and evangelism was role modeled. As a result, the situation in Cha’ah improved and stabilised.[6]

After going on another furlough in 1966, she was re-assigned to Batu Anam and Segamat. From 1971 to 1980, she served at the Christian Grace Church in partnership with Rev Wong Kim Swee, as OMF shifted its focus to urban town churches. Margaret was involved in Bible teaching, preaching, training, and counselling. Her attention was on the young people and many were inspired by her life and teaching. Some went for theological training and full-time work. She managed to groom a new generation of Bible study leaders, Sunday School teachers and Vacation Bible School teachers.

Margaret was often the speaker at the annual conferences for OMF-founded churches. Her solid exhortation in Mandarin made a significant influence on the lives of a large number of youths. Ampang Chinese Methodist Church was another area of influence, where she did Bible training and impacted the life of a young lad, Henry Yong Wei Choong, who later became a church pastor.

From 1981 to 1982, she took up the position of a warden at the Malaysian Bible Seminary. She introduced a “new approach to life, expecting the students to do everything in a manner that pleases God”. She also helped the Chinese-speaking students to do their practical assignments in small churches, where some were to later act as pastors. Many Malaysian Christians, gifted with leadership ability, were impacted by her mentoring efforts in equipping them properly prior to godly service. [7]

In 1983, Margaret Hollands returned to the United Kingdom after serving in Malaysia for 32 years of faithful and fruitful ministry. She continued to inspire and mobilise many young people in England to join the mission field. [8] On 8 April 2000, she was called home to be with the Lord.


  1. ^ Margaret Hollands, “We Concluded That God Had Called Us,” China’s Millions, September–October 1949, 2.
  2. ^ Margaret Hollands, “A First View of China,” China’s Millions, January 1950, 5.
  3. ^  Betty Laing, “The New Outreach,” China’s Millions, October 1951, 149.
  4. ^ Margaret Hollands, “Resettling in a Settlement,” China’s Millions, January 1952, 3.
  5. ^ Margaret Hollands, “Birth of a Church,” China’s Millions, December 1955, 108. 
  6. ^ Margaret Hollands, “Growing Pains in a Church,” Asia Millions, November 1965, 133. 
  7. ^ Margaret Hollands, “Malaysian Bible Seminary,” East Asia Millions, 1981, 57–72. 
  8. ^ Hollands, “Malaysian Bible Seminary,” 71. 

Tai Kim Teng

The author, an orthopaedic surgeon and the former executive director of OMF in Malaysia, is the executive director of DCBAsia.

© Tai Kim Teng. This article from New Villages and Missionaries, OMF in Malaya, 1952-1982 is reproduced with permission of the publisher, The Overseas Missionary Fellowship.