When China became open again to visitors from the West, we were glad to hear that the church had survived the severe communist years. But we may have forgotten the sacrifice that many early missionaries made establishing the church in China.
Bo Caldwell has given us a tender novel about her maternal grandparents, missionaries who went to China in 1909. As young Mennonites, Will and Katherine independently realized God had called them to China missions.
After being on the mission field for a time, they discovered their love for each other and married. They ventured three day's journey from their home base to establish a new mission compound. Ministering to people who were suspicious of them, they began to see converts and make trusted friends. They survived the emotionally painful death of their infant daughter, the turbulent time of rebellion against the Manchu regime and the rise of Sun Yat-sen. They provided medical help and encouraged hygiene and prompted their women converts to not wrap their daughter's feet.
Six years after they had arrived in the village they had fifty six members in their congregation. They were plagued by bandits and suffered illness. Yet they persevered.
The 1930s saw the rise of communism and it became evident that there was increasing hostility toward foreigners. Where their presence had at one time provided protection for the city, now they realized they must leave to keep their friends from harm.
They gave up their dream to live the rest of their lives in China and returned to the U. S. after 27 years in China. The culture shock upon their return was much greater than when they had gone to China. And their adventure was not over as more trials awaited them in their latter years.
Caldwell has written a wonderful novel. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to know what missionaries endured to establish the gospel in China a century ago.
Henry Holt & Co., 304 pages.
For a conversation with the author, go to: http://www.blogger.com/tbbmedia.blogspot.com/2010/11/author-inspired-by-her-missionary.html
Publisher's information: http://us.macmillan.com/cityoftranquillight
This book was provided for review by The B & B Media Group.