For those who love learning about religion and history, this book is for you. It’s about the history of Christianity in China. It begins with missionaries traveling to China in the 1800s and continues to present-day Christianity. This scholarly work explores the Christian movements that spread throughout China and the key people involved.
I didn’t know much about Chinese history, so many of the things I read in this book were new to me. One thing I found especially interesting, (because it’s similar to Joseph Smith’s first vision) was that there were others who had visions of God and Jesus. One was a king named Hong Xiuquan who had a vision in 1837. “In this vision, he had been given a sword and was told to destroy devils…” (18). Not only did he see God and Jesus, but Heavenly Mother appeared in his vision as well. Page 22 has a description of the vision and reminds me a lot of the War in Heaven. In the next century, in 1917, Wei Enbo had a similar experience and started the True Jesus Church (19). I liked this because it reminds us that God speaks to people of all cultures and religions.
Another thing I found interesting was that the Christian missionaries received medical training. Many of them worked as doctors in China, including the women. I love that this book talks a lot about women and the work they were doing. There was one instance where a doctor was asking for more funds for the women’s hospital that she was in charge of, but the men turned down her request and used the money to build a new men’s hospital instead, even though the women’s hospital needed the renovations more.
Chapter 4 is called “The Three Lives of Deaconess Yang” and focuses on the different stages of Deaconess Yang’s life. It’s an interesting story because after Yang’s husband and mother-in-law died, people weren’t very kind to her, so Yang attempted suicide (which at that time was a sign of loyalty). The suicide attempt failed but she won the honor of the people and the way opened up for her to become a nurse. My favorite part is the healing that occurred when Yang was treating a patient. It says, “she laid hands upon his head in prayer” (120). The patient immediately felt the power emanating from Yang and was healed.
These are just a few of the various fascinating stories found in this book, and I’m very pleased that many of the stories are about women. I was sad, though, to read about many of the things women had to deal with at that time and place, such as their value being tied to their husbands. There were numerous obstacles and contradictions in society the women faced, but I enjoy reading about how they overcame those things. If you love learning about how people shaped history, you will definitely enjoy this book.