The first area in which the SMB worked was in the province of Heilongjiang (Apostolic Prefecture Qiqihar) in the remote north of China. The first three SMB missionaries went there already in 1924, only three years after the founding of the Mission Society.
The pastoral work was an enormous challenge because of the climate and lack of infrastructure in the province.
Then came the Japanese occupation followed by the communist regime that made missionary work difficult and then impossible.
Many missionaries suffered in prison, three met a violent death, and a further nine died from typhoid, scarlet fever, sepsis, stomach poisoning or heart failure.
Up to the expulsion of the last missionaries in 1954, altogether there were 49 “Bethlehemites” working in various functions in community pastoral work, education, and administrative functions.
After several visits to our first mission area, the SMB initiated in 2007 further training courses in Communicative Theology for priests, nuns and seminarians from China. These workshops take place in Singapore, Taiwan, Switzerland, und also sporadically in China.