The Heavenly Mob

China’s Christian Martyrs by Paul Hattaway

Brother Yun had a fifteen hundred year heritage.

New Zealander Paul Hattaway is a missionary to China, so in writing a history such as this it is obvious that he knows what his mission is up against.  Like his earlier book The Heavenly Man, Hattaway’s China’s Christian Martyrs tells the stories of individual men and women who put the gospel before their own comfort.  There are Chinese of fifty-eight races, and Westerners of three continents: individual names and faces within the great cloud of witnesses that began with a dozen Nestorians in 635 and continues with millions today.  Three quarters of the book is taken up by the twentieth century, almost half by the Boxer massacres.

Several of the stories are of arrogance and interference; the consequence of outsiders favouring their own ways over indigenous ways, or the not always unintentional links between white-skinned missionaries and European colonial powers.  Most of the stories are of otherwise-ordinary foreign Christians sharing the good news of grace with groups occasionally unwilling to listen, and of the resolve and resilience of the local believers.

This book is fast-moving, engaging, easy to read, and lends itself to using a story or two as an aid to meditation.  The individual testimonies are inspiring although at times Hattaway uses martyr-jargon like “promoted to His Glorious Presence” which distracted me a little bit.

The take-home message is that Christ is coming with grace for another beloved ancient people, and he is doing it from the inside.  Maoist China doesn’t stand a chance.

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