Book Review

A Lifeline for China's Unreached Cities

China’s Unreached Cities, Volume 1, A Prayer Guide for 52 of China’s Least Evangelized Cities, by Paul Hattaway, Asian Minorities Outreach, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 1999.  ISBN 974-85303-8-8.  In the U.S. order from AMO, PO Box 901, Palestine, TX 75802. International email US$13/each; US$8.50/ 2-5 copies.

At a recent pastors’ conference, it was found that despite their training and experience as pastors, access to a free press, web sites and a genuine commitment to the great commission, these men knew very little about the half of today’s world that has not been reached with the Gospel—specifically, the portion that resides in the People’s Republic of China. As I reflected on this, it seemed to me that perhaps the greatest obstacle in China ministry is neither division nor apathy, materialism nor persecution; rather, it is simple ignorance. Paul Hattaway’s China’s Unreached Cities is an effort to break down that obstacle.

Between our understanding of China and her present reality, a “grand canyon” exists. On the one side are the cities of China with their famous millions riding buses and bicycles, commuting in taxis and even private cars. On the other are the Christians in the outside world—for decades cut off from contact with those cities. Even now, while receiving regular news about them, that news for most is almost always second-hand, almost always political, and almost always contradictory. And so, between these two sides a wide canyon of ignorance and confusion remains. Lack of knowledge inevitably translates into lack of action while paradoxes paralyze. Even as Scripture asks for the unreached, “How shall they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” we may ask for the reached, “How shall they be sent to those of whom they have not heard?”

China’s Unreached Cities, Volume 1, is a lifeline thrown across the canyon in the hope that prayer and workers will cross over as a result. Let us thank Paul Hattaway for the lifeline! It is one of too few. His book consists basically of two page profiles on each of 52 relatively unreached cities in China.

His book consists basically of two-page profiles on each of 52 relatively unreached cities in China. The format is similar to that of his earlier book, The 50 Most Unreached People Groups of China and Tibet, but incorporates some improvements over the earlier one.

In this volume, Hattaway writes with passion. His lengthy introduction, for example, is a heart cry to those on the “reached” side of the canyon to cross over to the “unreached.” It is moving without being emotional and challenging without being condemning. In addition, the page of quotes from earlier missionaries, found at the beginning, is powerful, providing motivation as well as historical perspective.

His use of the term “unreached” in the title of his work is an accurate description and realistically describes the contents. In addition, specifically denoting that this book is a “prayer guide,” not just a Christian coffee-table book, enhances its usefulness. The foreword he has included provides a quality, independent perspective from Jim Nickel of the Institute of Chinese Studies. Also included is an excellent four-page section on “What Should You  Do Next?” Space is used very efficiently to provide useful information such as historical background, demographics, city-specific prayer points and graphs indicating the status of each city’s evangelization.

Inevitably, the choice of which 52 cities were included can be debated. I am somewhat familiar with a number of the cities listed, but not all of them and would probably have made some different selections. These possible variations, however, are minor critiques; the overall work he has done is significant. May we learn from brother Hathaway’s labors, and let God break our hearts for these lost cities, wherever they may be on the scale of “lostness!”