10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I cannot say enough good things about this book. It's wonderful, beautifully told, and of great importance. And it covers all the different groups who brought Christianity to China--Nestorians, Catholics, Russian Orthodox, Congregationalists, Presbyterian, and many more.
Many of them would come be martyred.
The 1600's was the "century of Catholic carnage" (p 39) and Hattaway recounts mesmerizing stories of the period, stories of the incredible courage of the missionaries and the steadfast faith of converts.
Churches were demolished, thousands of Catholics dragged into prisons. Tibetan Catholics were "singled out for retribution" (p 43), and even later, in 1905, Tibetan Catholics were shot to death for refusing the Dalai Lama's order to give up their faith.
Some of the biographies will make you want to weep, like the Chinese girl, Agnes, who was starved to death. Some are amazing. When the Catholic Liu was executed, eyewitnesses reported that ball of fire rested on Liu's head, and "an angel appeared to wipe the blood from his face" (p 73).
By the 1900's Protestant missionaries arrived in full force, and many of them, also, would die to bring Christ to the Chinese. Hattaway has lots of pictures of the missionaries, all looking so Victorian and stalwart in their Chinese outfits. Then you turn the page and see a photo of the Boxers. And see the vicious curved swords they carried, many of which would soon be covered in blood.
The Boxers rampaged across China, killing any Christian they saw. They hacked Christians to pieces. They attacked a church and burned everyone inside alive, including women and children. The missionary Frank Simcox wrote that "The Church has become a Martyr Church, and we rejoice...she has proved she is able to suffer for the Lord" (p 197).
The fruit of their labors could be extraordinary, as born witness to in the biography of Blind Chang. When young, Chang swindled money from people. and he was known as "a drunkard, womanizer and gambler" (p 228) who drove away even his wife and daughter.
Then he went blind. Only the missionaries would take him in and their charity and love made him a Christian. Even though he was blind, he decided to travel back to his village to tell everyone about Christ. A missionary was later astonished to find the 200 villagers wholly Christian, all singing hymns. Chang had converted them. He later traveled widely, telling everyone about Christianity. He had to endure taunts, flung rocks, and half starved dogs set on him.
Later, the Boxers captured 50 Christians and vowed to kill them all unless Chang came. Blind as ever, now old, stumbling, Chang made his way to the Boxers and offered his life for the 50 Christians.
At the end, the Boxers offered Chang his life if he would only sacrifice to Buddha. They hoped to prove this famous Christian could be turned. But Chang refused and was martyred for Christ.
The twentieth century saw the rise of communism. Untold numbers of Christians were imprisoned or killed. Even before taking power, the communists massacred 600 Catholics at Haifeng. Finnish Free missionaries were cruelly murdered. "A diocesan priest named Laurent Chen and his catechist were buried alive at Gaocheng" (p 358).
Most horrifying is the tale of the hundred Christian lepers. In April, 1951, the communists ordered them into a hut and "All the lepers were burned alive" (p 163).
Perhaps the most heart wrenching atrocities took place in the last few decades. The l993 history of Lai Manping a house church Christian,"spitefully beaten to death by China's Public Security Bureau" (p 472), the evangelists who were stripped naked and had other Christians forced to beat them. Or Little Wang, who had only been a Christian for five months before he was martyred. His widow bravely confronted his murderers. In the end, the man who murdered Little Wang converted due to the widow's forgiveness and witness.
This is one book you MUST have.