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Peter Anderson’s Story of Service in China

The cover of Africa to China with Love by Peter S. Anderson, ChinaSource, Chinese Christianity, Africa, Cross-Cultural, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Serving

Africa to China with Love: A Lifelong Missional Adventure by Peter S. Anderson. New Zealand: Castle Publishing Ltd., 2023, 434 pages. ISBN 978-0-473-67837-1 (softcover); 978-0-473-67838-8 (EPUB); 978-0-473-67839-5 (Kindle). Available from Amazon, Ambassadors for Christ, and Castle Publishing.


When I first saw the book Africa to China with Love, I was intrigued by its title. In fact, I actually felt a little bit puzzled. Being familiar with the church in China, I was wondering why the book wasn’t called, China to Africa with Love? After all, many Chinese people have moved to the African continent and the number of missionaries from China to Africa has increased over the past decade. However, the subtitle “A Lifelong Missional Adventure” shed more light on the contents of the book. It also further sparked my interest. I was curious to read how Peter Anderson, the author, would look back on a life of ministry in and for China.


The book is written in chronological order. It consists of 20 chapters which each summarize an event, occurrence, or development during a certain time span. Throughout the book, Anderson shares about the opportunities for increased involvement in China by foreign Christians, especially in the academic and professional spheres.

The book starts with the author’s family history, and how God called him from Africa—where he was born and came to faith—to serve in China. This happened when he was only 10 years old. In the early chapters, Anderson narrates how the Lord led him on his missional journey that would last a lifetime. He recounts how he met his wife Geralyn, studied theology, and set out on the path of Christian ministry in Asia, following God’s call. In the mid-1970s, Anderson and his wife were accepted by a Christian organization and moved to Taiwan, where they learned Mandarin and started serving in different capacities. After a few years, God opened an opportunity for them to move to Hong Kong and start focusing on mainland China.

From chapter three onwards, Anderson describes how his involvement in China evolved in the following years. His first visit to China was in 1983. China had just opened up to the West. This trip into China started in Shanghai, where he got to meet church leaders and attended several church services. The account of Anderson’s experiences in the earlier years makes the reader realize how much has changed over time.

Throughout the book, Anderson recounts the story of his own involvement in China as well as the engagement of other foreign Christians. He describes the different cities or regions they get involved in, the people they meet, and how the vision for the work in China expanded over time. He includes lots of stories and interesting details. One such story recounts a dramatic event that happened as Anderson and a team of professionals were on their way back from a remote area. They came to a point on the mountain road where a logging truck had just slipped off the road into a ravine. In a miraculous way, Anderson and his friends were able to rescue the injured truck driver, carry him up the mountain, and take him to a hospital for medical care. This is just one of those unlikely stories that are almost too hard to imagine. But it is also a story in which Anderson shares of how God was at work—sometimes in surprising ways.

Chapter 16 is a more personal chapter, marking a significant event in Anderson’s life. His wife Geralyn is diagnosed with cancer and passes away about one year later. He shares excerpts of letters that he wrote to friends in that period. They show his grief and sadness, but also testify of the hope he has in Christ. Chapter 16 not only marks a difficult time in Anderson’s life; it also is a turning point in his ministry and in the book.

The following chapter is entitled “A New Beginning.” Anderson continues his ministry in China and marries again. The last few chapters of the book tell some of the challenges and blessings that he and his second wife Elizabeth experience as they serve for another few years in China. By the mid-2000s they leave Asia, settle in New Zealand, and continue a different type of ministry there.

Some Reflections

In the preface, Anderson writes, “In telling my story, I want the focus to be on the One who called me and on the people to whom I was called.” I appreciate his genuine desire to give glory to God, and I do not feel that the author is at all boastful. The book indeed recounts how the Lord has opened doors for the author and other foreign professionals, and how the author’s life and ministry in China developed over time. However, much of the story centers around what the author (and his colleagues) did: his travels, the events, his engagement in different locations, and so on.

Throughout the book, Anderson seeks to accurately recount the story of his involvement in China as well as the engagement of other foreign Christians. Although some sections are undoubtedly subjective in nature (it concerns his personal story after all), he does a good job of describing events in detail. I was frequently surprised at the details he remembered, which shows that he has put a great deal of research into writing this book. And despite the many details, the writing style is engaging, and the book reads quite easily.

If we compare this book to another account of serving in China, we can observe some interesting differences. The book The Most Unlikely Missionaries by J. M. Gurvsy was also published in 2023 and is also written by a foreign Christian serving in China. In contrast to Anderson’s book, Gurvsy’s book is less of a historical overview of events that happened; it concerns a more personal narrative. Gurvsy takes a thematic approach. He reflects on his personal growth as a Christian serving in cross-cultural work overseas.

Readers who appreciate a detailed, chronological account of Christian work in China over the past few decades, and are also interested in Anderson’s personal journey, will enjoy this book. The book is also interesting for people who have served in China during the same period. They will find a great overview of how the work in China developed and will most likely enjoy the stories Anderson shares, including the joys and challenges he encountered along the way.


As I read the book Africa to China with Love, I could sense that Anderson has a deep love for God and for China and its people, and that he has served them from the heart. At times, it felt like I was sitting next to the author, and he was showing his photo album while sharing his memories and telling stories of the different time periods.

In the beginning of the book, Anderson expresses his desire: “May the stories I share in this book inspire you to pray for China and to reach out in love to all her people–both the Han majority and the many ethnic ‘minorities.’” Although I did not feel that the book necessarily inspired me to pray for China and its people, it has led me to give praise for God’s work on the mainland over the past four decades.

We have now entered an era in which the Chinese urban church has emerged and is maturing, and thus the involvement of foreign Christians has changed significantly. Anderson’s book certainly is a testimony to what God has been doing in China in times past. It is of great importance that these stories are being told and preserved. I am therefore thankful that Anderson has taken the time to put this detailed account together and that he has shared his lifelong missional adventure with us all.

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Image credit: Greg Rosenke via UnSplash.

Michelle Woods

Michelle Woods (pseudonym) has a master’s degree in special education and has lived in China since the early 2000s working with children with disabilities and those who care for them.View Full Bio

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