Victor Plymire was born in 1881 in Loganville, Pennsylvania to Amos and Laura Plymire. At the age of fifteen he gave his life to Christ while listening to a street preacher. After working for a time in electrical construction he felt the call to become a missionary, which led him in 1908 to get on a ship in Seattle, WA and venture to the country of China, then to eventually settle in Tangar, Tibet. There he studied the language and culture of the Tibetan people while attempting to share the gospel. Victor had through time met and married Grace Harkless, who was herself a missionary in China; the two had a son they called John David. The couple settled back in Tangar, which today is called Huangyuan.
For 16 years Victor worked in Tibet before he had his first convert, and from there he slowly built a church. In January of 1927 tragedy struck; his wife of eight years and his six-year-old son contracted smallpox and died. He built a small coffin for his son, and church members provided one for his wife. He buried them on a plot of land sold to him by a local farmer. The ground was frozen and with only strength to dig one grave, he buried them together on that plot of cold earth.
Despite his grief, Victor continued his plans to trek across Tibet to India in May of 1927. In the next several months Victor traveled with 47 yaks and a few helpers over 2000 miles from Northeastern Tibet to Calcutta, India. He gave out 74,000 gospels and 40,000 tracts in the Tibetan and Mongolian language. From Calcutta he sailed back to China, where he met other missionaries, one of which was Ruth Weidman, whom he married in August of 1928. Victor and Ruth had two children, David and Mary Ann; David later wrote a book entitled “High Adventure in Tibet,” chronicling his father’s work as a missionary.
In 1949, the Plymires left China due to the Communist revolution, and left behind the Tibetan, and Chinese Christian converts; many of whom were imprisoned for their faith. The churches were closed and the believers were forced to worship in secret.
Victor and Ruth returned to the U.S. and lived in Springfield, Mo., where in 1956 Victor passed away never knowing what had become of the People and churches he left behind. But in the 1980’s and 1990’s change began to take place in China and eventually some churches were allowed to reopen. The government returned property to churches who could show legal written proof that the church had previously owned the property. In Tangar (now Huangyuan) the son of one of the Plymire’s associates requested the return of the church property, but he had no legal deed to show the authorities. He contacted Victor’s son David and ask him to look through his father’s paper for any deed to property in Tangar. The only deed David found was to the lonely mountainside plot where Grace and John were buried. For some unexplained reason the deed was made out to the church, rather than to Victor. The officials accepted the deed and returned the property to the church. Sixty-seven years after Victor buried his first wife and son, God used their grave site to restore a church to his people.
Now God will use your sacrifice, your prayer, your loss and pain that is devoted to Him and His work to do the same kinds of things for future generations of His people. It is like seeds that are planted in the soil, who, when the conditions are right and the time has come, burst from the ground to produce a harvest to sustain life. Persevere, you faithful ones; “No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (All historical information from The Assemblies of God archives.)