Shandong - The Revival Province Paul Hattaway

There are indisputably 100 million Christians among China’s 1,400 million population. The growth of so many believers has come with much hardship and many miracles and most dramatically in the eastern coastal province of Shandong. This first of this series of China Chronicles covering church growth in Shandong comes from The Heavenly Man author, Paul Hattaway with a preface by Brother Yun. The series is aimed at the Church in China and overseas, evidencing the spiritual legacy of the last 160 years, building from Hattaway’s 30 year missionary service in China.

China Chronicles starts publication of God’s mighty acts there coincident with new persecution of the house church movement distances itself from state authorisation. Today such leaders are being imprisoned and their church buildings pulled down. For all of this the Evangelical movement can look back through centuries of persecution and hardship to ongoing resurrection of the body of Christ from occasions of despoliation. This phenomenon is especially evident in the easterly coastal province of Shandong,‘China’s Revival Province’ where 5 million residents identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ, 40 times more than when Communism arrived in 1949.

The book has chapters covering decade after decade from the 1860s to 2010s each full of graphic stories of miracles and healings alongside hardship and suffering. The stories seem to ring true even if they challenge western presuppositions with their matter of fact reporting of events like dead people being raised to life. Paul Hattaway has gathered some impressive testimonies that help make sense of the astonishing growth of the church in China. His sources are all Evangelical with rare mention of Catholics though the latter are included in the state approved figures for overall Christian allegiance in the appendix. This allegiance, extending beyond national allegiance, is perceived as a threat by the government. It traces back to heroic western missionaries like Lottie Moon, Marie Monsen and Scottish Olympian Eric Liddell.

Mao’s wife once said Christianity was dead and buried and now confined to the history section of the museum. This history is a most remarkable counter to that misjudgement. It contains stories of how periodic lukewarmness and apathy among believers is challenged by the Holy Spirit through holy pastors. It can’t but fuel the thought that if the Spirit can do this in China can’t he do the same for the moribund realms of western church life? This is a readable book with a good storyline providing the reader with a generous tonic to their faith expectation.

Shandong - The Revival Province  Paul Hattaway
The China Chronicles - inside the greatest Christian revival in history
SPCK 2018 £9.99 ISBN 978-0-281-07888-2 293pp

Canon John Twisleton    7 February 2018

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