Shandong: The Revival Province

Written by Paul Hattaway Reviewed By John Plumley

Paul Hattaway served as a missionary in China for thirty years. He is the founder of Asia Harvest, an organization that supports the advance of the gospel and the development the church in China. Hattaway is a fluent Mandarin speaker and an authority on the history of the Chinese church.

Shandong: The Revival Province is the first book in The China Chronicles series in which Hattaway traces the history of the church in every province of China. Hattaway’s express purpose for this book (and all those in the series) is to tell the story of the spread of Christianity in China. As a result, “Multitudes would be strengthened, edified and challenged to carry the torch of the Holy Spirit to their generation” (series overview). Hattaway indeed fulfills his purpose. This book challenged this writer to love Christ in a deeper way and make him known in my generation.

A well-known saying among the Chinese states, “He who holds Shandong grips China by the throat.” In Shandong: The Revival Province, Hattaway chronicles the hand of God gripping China and shaking it for his glory. Written in an engaging style, the book traces the establishment of the church in Shandong Providence by the first evangelical missionaries. It ends with the state of the church in Shandong in 2016.

Hattaway begins with a nine-page overview of Shandong history and development. Shandong means “East of the mountains.” He notes that Shandong is the home of Confucius and also the center of house church revival in China. This section provides a good overview on Shandong Province for the uninitiated.

Beginning in the 1860s, Hattaway traces the spread of the gospel in Shandong, decade by decade, ending in 2016. He gives attention to prominent missionaries from those earliest years of missionary activities, including those who are more obscure yet made a contribution in Shandong. Of course, Hattaway mentions prominent Chinese evangelists and pastors who made an impact in those pioneer years. For the period following the 1950s, his exclusive focus is on house churches and the indigenous pastors who led them. Hattaway highlights the faithfulness of house church pastor David Wang, who defied communists after the takeover. Hattaway writes, “Wang summoned his family into his study and them to pray for him. He then walked up the aisle of the church and removed the portrait of Mao and walked out” (p. 174). Wang became a marked man, but by the grace of God, he and his family were able to flee to Hong Kong and evade capture. Many other examples are given of house church Christians’ faithfulness to Christ at great cost.

A volume of this nature is long overdue. According to Hattaway’s introduction, almost a century has passed since such a comprehensive survey of the church in Shandong has been compiled (p. xiv). The Appendix contains an estimated number of evangelical Christians in every city and prefecture in Shandong. The chart identifies Christians in the house church and Three-Self Patriotic state church. This is an invaluable tool for researches, missionaries, and anyone interested in the study of the church in Shandong.

The rich history of the faithfulness of Chinese Christians amid persecution encourages the church inside and outside of China to remain faithful. Hattaway, being a fluent Mandarin speaker, makes extensive use of first-hand interviews with Chinese house church leaders. Through these interviews, Hattaway is able to preserve an oral history that otherwise might fade with time. Further enhancing the credibility of Hattaway’s research are bibliographical notes for each chapter and a bibliography that cites all of the major works of Shandong missionary and church history.

I highly recommend Shandong: The Revival Province. This book is relevant for a pastor, missionary, researcher of anyone interested in the history of the Chinese church. The reader who takes up this volume will be enriched by the story of faithful men and women whom God used to build the church in Shandong.

John Plumley

John Plumley
Lake Wales Baptist Church
Lake Wales, Florida, USA

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