Note: I received this book for free from Asia Harvest in exchange for a review. I took waaay too long doing this review due to our recent mission trip, so I greatly appreciate their patience and generosity! Stay tuned for another review this summer on Guizhou, the second book in the China Chronicles series.
Shandong, an eye-opening decade-by-decade account of how God has moved in Shandong Province, China, is the first of the China Chronicles series, which chronologically sweeps over the history of the Christians in China one province at a time. This work by Paul Hattaway is an in-depth, 293-page history of the progress of Christianity in Shandong Province beginning in 1860 with the coming of the first evangelical missionary and continuing on to the present day, complete with tables and resources at the end. Encouraging and inspiring stories are sprinkled in this very historical book the whole way through. You’ll definitely finish the book with a different outlook on the Chinese ekklesia! (photo credit: Asia Harvest)
The Things I Liked
- This book had so many encouraging stories! Every few pages there would be an amazing testimony of how God was/is moving in the Bride of Christ in Shandong.
- My view of Chinese Christianity was shifted greatly. Before, I had thought of their faith as somehow higher or more superior than ours, but this book showed me their amazing strengths and also their weaknesses. As I have mentioned before, I like it when people are shown as humans.
- There is a heavy emphasis throughout the book of salvation, repentance, and confession of sins. I also liked the fact that revival and repentance were always shown as working hand-in-hand: revival leads to repentance, and repentance to revival.
- There were several mentions to parts of Jesus’ ministry that are often neglected in our culture: for example, there were several examples of demon possession and deliverance or being filled with the Holy Spirit. There are many examples of the works of the Spirit that cannot be denied.
- I really like how there are contemporary stories from very recent times in the last couple chapters.
The Things I Didn’t Like
- There are several vague mentions of “sensationalism” throughout the book. It is never clear what this means, but it could be insulting to those who believe in the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit as I do. I personally don’t know the author’s intentions in using this term; I just know I have seen it misused before to describe moves of the Holy Spirit, and it was never clarified either way in the book.
- There’s a bit of denominational-ism sprinkled in, especially toward the beginning. I know that there’s not much an author could do to remedy this, as many mission boards and ministries are associated with a denomination.
- The book is particularly historically dense toward the beginning. I’m not criticizing this, but I personally wasn’t expecting that type of book. Note that as the decades of history go by, there are more and more specific testimonies and letters from Chinese believers, which lightens that aspect up. But do allow some time to read this book 🙂
Note to Parents
This book has very little questionable content, but I think the main issue would be that it’s too historically dense for most kiddos. There are a couple instances such as mentioning that rebels raped innocent females or that someone’s back was so infected that it split right down the middle and they were thrown in human waste. (These examples are actually the worst I can think of) However, these instances are few and far between, and are not described in great detail. None personally disturbed me, and that normally says something XD. As I said, this book is likely way too historical for most kids (it’s not a dry list, but it does read like a schoolbook toward the beginning; less so toward the end). My suggestion would be to read some inspiring excerpts during a family time for your kids to experience the encouragement of this book without the occasional scene or the historical aspect.
If you have connections to or an interest in God’s moves in Chinese believers, this book would definitely be an encouragement for you! I would especially recommend it to those of you who enjoy a good, deep history book.
How to Purchase
I would recommend purchasing this book through Asia Harvest so you can be sure your money is going to good use to strengthen our Chinese brothers and sisters. For shopping on a budget, check out deals on ThriftBooks.com or other thrift sites.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions, comments or questions! Please feel free to suggest a book for me to review, ask questions about this book, or leave a welcomed suggestion on how these posts should be laid out. I’d also love to hear if you’ve read this book too! I look forward to your comment 🙂