Three Good China Books—And One More

post date: February 27, 2008
For those wishing to know more about the church in China, these three books are a good place to begin.
Jesus in Beijing by David Aikman
Before writing this book David Aikman served as the Beijing bureau chief for Time magazine. If you want the most up-to-date treatment of the Christian movement in China, start with this book. The subtitle gives you his perspective: "How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power." He gives special attention to the importance of the growing house church movement.
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China Journal: 1889-1900 by Eva Jane Price
A friend gave us a copy of China Journal and said, "You need to read this." It tells the story of a young couple from the Midwest who came to China in the 1890s with high hopes of winning people to Christ. The book details both the triumphs and the hardships of missionary life in China for American missionaries for who knew as little about the Chinese people as the Chinese knew about the Christian faith. Eva Price kept a journal that was lost for decades until her descendants found it and published it. The book is made more poignant because she and her husband were among the many missionaries killed during the Boxer Rebellion.

Safely Home
Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
We have all heard a great deal about the "underground church" in China. In this gripping novel Randy Alcorn paints a vivid picture of the difficulties faced by some Christians in China. When people ask, "Is this story true?" the answer is that almost everything you hear about China is true somewhere. What is undeniably true is that the house church movement has faced extreme persecution in the past. The situation today varies greatly depending on local conditions. In some parts of China house churches operate with relative freedom. In other places they are actively harassed. Alcorn’s novel helps us understand one part of the story. It will surely remind you of the price that some believers pay–not only in China but around the world–for their faith in Jesus Christ.

The first three books specifically focus on the church in China. The next book is worth reading as a good way to get a sense of what China is like.
River TownRiver Town by Peter Hessler
I had heard about this book but never read it until Marlene purchased a copy at the Shanghai airport as we were leaving China. I picked up it and ended up reading half of it on the flight to Chicago. In the mid-90s Peter Hessler was sent by the Peace Corps to teach in a remote town on the Yangtze River in the Sichuan Province. This is the story of his attempt to understand China from an outsider’s perspective. Hessler gives us a beautifully written, carefully observed story of his two years as a foreign teacher in China.


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