As the new year kicks off we’d like to suggest some additions to your 2017 reading list. Last year members of our team along with several of ChinaSource’s regular contributors were busy with book projects. Here we share some of the fruits of their labors. Each of the books presents a different perspective on China. Together they help fill out the very dynamic picture of what God is doing in China today.
Within just over a year, the ChinaSource book page went from two books to five! Three books authored by our ChinaSource colleagues were published—beginning with President Brent Fulton’s book China's Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden which came out in November 2015. That was followed early in 2016 by Marketing Consultant Hannah Lau’s book, Wherever You Go: A Conversation about Life, Faith, and Courage. Then, just before Christmas, The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China by Senior Vice President Joann Pittman made its debut.
What prompts people to write? Who do they hope to reach? What do they want to convey?
Here Brent, Hannah, and Joann share some of their thoughts as authors.
From Brent, China’s Urban Christians:
I felt many of the prevailing narratives about the church and China were outdated and failed to take into account many of the far-reaching changes China has experienced in the past three decades, particularly the effects of urbanization upon the society and upon the church itself. Just as urbanization has redrawn China's geographical and social landscape it has also in some ways redrawn the spiritual landscape as well.
The book is both for the non-specialist who desires a general understanding of how social and policy developments in China during the past couple decades have affected the church, as well as for the specialist who would like to take a closer look at the issues facing the emerging urban church in particular.
While it is often assumed that Chinese Christians' main concerns are political, in reality the issues they face are many and complex. In fact it may be said that their biggest challenges have more to do with their own internal structure and development then with outside constraints.
From Hannah, Wherever You Go:
To be honest, I never intended to write a book. It started off as processing my journey of being a tent-maker in China. But as I began to journal, the Lord revealed to me that my experiences may have been mine, but the truths that he spoke into those experiences were neither unique to me nor unique to China. In fact, they were truths that young people could relate to all around the world. That’s when I felt I needed to share my story.
My hope is that it will reach anyone who is at a crossroad. This could mean many things, from students preparing for college and deciding what path to choose, to young adults trying to figure out how following Christ fits in with their vocation. But crossroads come up in all stages of life. I hope that anyone who is trying to navigate what life with God looks like—whether in their studies, work, or mission field— will be encouraged, knowing that they are not alone, and that the journey is worth it.
I hope to convey that the Lord will be with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9), but he also has a “go” that he has prepared for each of us. Stay close to his heart and be ready to respond to his leading. It may be difficult but it will be worth it when you know you’re exactly where the Lord wants you to be.
From Joann, The Bells Are Not Silent:
For a long time, friends and colleagues urged me to write a book about China. “You lived in China for nearly three decades,” they said, “surely you have something to say.”
My standard reply has been that there are so many books written about China each year; I don’t want to write one until and unless I have something new to say—some angle or perspective or story to tell that hasn’t been told.
In March 2012, I travelled with my friend Noël Piper to Sichuan province. We dubbed our trip “The Esther Expedition” because we were researching the life and work of Esther Nelson, a woman from our church who served as a missionary in that region from the 1920s to the 1950s. It was during that trip that I stumbled onto an untold story.
In the months between that discovery and moving back to Minnesota, I travelled around China looking for more bells. I found bells from Germany, France, and Russia hanging in Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches. I wanted to tell their stories.
I think my book will appeal to anyone who is interested in China, history, bells, and travel (that’s a mouthful!).
I hope to convey two things to my readers. First of all, stories reside in unexpected places. How many times in my life have I seen or heard a church bell and never considered that it has a story to tell? If we are curious and observant, we will discover all kinds of stories in the seemingly ordinary places and objects of our lives. Secondly, because the bells I found all had similar stories of survival during China’s tumultuous history they are reminders to us of God’s faithfulness to the church in China.
In addition to these three books, we are always happy to bring worthwhile books to your attention. Several of our good friends and contributors to ChinaSource are also authors and we are pleased to recommend their books to you.
- Andrew Kaiser Voices from the Past: Historical Reflections on Christian Missions in China and The Rushing on of the Purposes of God: Christian Missions in Shanxi since 1876 both published in 2016.
- Tabor Laughlin, Becoming Native to Win the Natives: Cross-Culturally Becoming All Things to All Men, 2016.
- David Joannes, The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary
- Amy Young, Looming Transitions, with a newly available audio book.
Happy reading (or listening)!
News and Notes
- On Dec 18, 2016 Hannah Lau spoke at Emmanuel English Church in Hong Kong. You can listen in here.
- Alexander Chow of the University of Edinburgh reviewed China’s Urban Christians in his January 11, 2017 blog post.
- Hannah Lau spoke twice at Alby Singapore. On January 11 she spoke on “Finding Your Calling” and then the following week on January 19 she spoke on “He. Me. We: A God-Centered Singlehood.”
- Also on January 11 Joann Pittman spoke to a small group at Berean Baptist Church in Burnsville, MN.
Ways to Pray
- Praise God for the successful publication of three books! Pray that each book will be used to honor God, edify his people, and advance his kingdom.
- Give thanks for the Lord’s provision in the closing weeks of 2016, and for the many who shared generously in supporting ChinaSource’s ongoing ministry.
- The 2016 winter issue of ChinaSource Quarterly takes an in-depth look at China’s emerging cross-cultural missions movement. Lift up Chinese church leaders as they mobilize, train and send workers to the harvest field, both within China’s borders and beyond.
- China’s new Foreign NGO Law went into effect on January 1. Pray for the ChinaSource team as they monitor the implementation of the law and advise those serving in China on how to respond.
- Pray for those in China who will be affected by the new Foreign NGO Law—that they will be well informed of what needs to be done to continue serving effectively and have the resources to meet the new requirements.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- The Clock Is Ticking, From the West Courtyard, December 16, 2016.
- The Challenges of Localization (3): Authority, From the West Courtyard, December 19, 2016.
- Cross-Cultural Missions from China, ChinaSource Quarterly, December 19, 2016.
- We Have a List! From the West Courtyard, December 21, 2016.
- Why Don’t Chinese Pastors Write Books? Chinese Church Voices, December 27, 2016.
- The Challenges of Localization (4): Money, From the West Courtyard, December 28, 2016.
- 2016: Not “Business as Usual,” From the West Courtyard, December 30, 2016.
- China’s Church at the Threshold, From the West Courtyard, January 4.
- The Challenges of Localization (5): Pride, From the West Courtyard, January 6.
- The Foreign NGO Law: An Infographic, From the West Courtyard, January 9.