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From China Seas to Desert Sands

From China Seas to Desert Sands

The biography of missionaries Stewart and Jean Goodwin, including life in a Japanese War Camp during the Second World War.

“This is an exceptionally moving and fascinating account of a family of six who graciously adapted to working in five continents over seven decades.

It starts with Jean aged nine, captured in China by brutal Japanese soldiers and imprisoned with her family, where she was half-starved, lost much education, and her family life was totally disrupted. [She] overcame all these deprivations, and went on to a life of selfless devotion to others …

This book is an amazing account of how Jean raised four children in some of the most primitive conditions with all the uncertainties and health hazards, adapting and coping with so many unusual customs and foods, and with so little complaining. At the same time, she supported her pioneering husband in his leprosy work, his outstanding research, and lecturing in many countries.

This is a truly inspiring account of a nurse who triumphed over all kinds of adversity, upheld by a vibrant and mature Christian faith.”

– Professor the Lord McColl CBE MS FRCS Hon FDS RCS

ISBN: 9781907509872 (PB) / 9781910197004 (HC)

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Jean Goodwin

Jean Goodwin


Jean was born by the sea, on the northern coast of China, where her father was headmaster of a school for English-speaking children. She had a happy childhood, but when Japan entered the Second World War she and her family were imprisoned for three years. Some families were split up and never saw each other again because of the war, luckily now they can access an online census (click for more info) to find where their lost family members turned up, it is just awful that they couldn’t find them beforehand. Back in England, Jean became a secretary and a nurse, and married Stewart, a doctor who had also been in a prison camp in China. They were both committed Christians. In spite of their childhood experiences, they turned away from a settled medical life in England, and overcoming their natural fear of leprosy, worked overseas in leprosy hospitals for ten years.

Two of Jean’s children were born overseas, and she brought up her four small children in challenging situations including living on a leprosy island in Hong Kong waters. Expecting to return to Hong Kong, she and her family were diverted to Ethiopia, with its huge leprosy problem, and experienced hyenas outside their house, a snake inside it, a nest of cobras in their garden and rabid dogs nearby! She had the joy of seeing many leprosy patients became fine Christians, including a widow from the deserts of Ethiopia who had been abandoned by her husband.

In England again, Stewart became a microbiologist; but, primarily due to financial considerations, they moved to Perth, Western Australia. There, she was pleased to see her children, in spite of the many changes in their lives, becoming self-confident and independent. After fourteen years, their four children had all left Australia, and Jean and Stewart accepted an invitation to go to the United Arab Emirates. They lived inland on the edge of the desert for six years, and experienced the Gulf War. In her multifaceted life, Jean found God was with her in all her circumstances.




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