by Andrew T. Kaiser
Pickwick Publications, 2016
—Reviewed by Mark A. Strand, Professor, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
If you have ever feared that history is boring, fear no more. In the spirit of his catchy title, Andrew Kaiser rushes through 139 years of missions history in Shanxi in a riveting fashion. Weaving together historical recounting of events with deep biographical sketches, Kaiser brings a little-known province in China to life. And through it all, The Rushing on of the Purposes of God leaves one inspired by what God has done in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. This book achieves several accomplishments rarely seen in missions literature.
The Rushing on of the Purposes of God describes the inspiring work of God through faithful missionaries and among faithful Chinese believers, while transparently describing the shortcomings, doubts, and failings of the missionaries. Kaiser’s clear avoidance of the tendency to whitewash the missionary achieves his goal in multiple ways. For example, in one section Kaiser describes the self-doubt that the missionaries experienced about whether they really had a message to offer the people. This treatment of the material gives even more glory to God, while serving as a teaching tool for missionaries present and future. Kaiser has deftly demystified the missions experience.
Kaiser is able to carry the reader to the peaks of gripping stories, while carefully filling in the thinking of the missionaries at the time. Using lengthy quotes, Kaiser allows the missionaries to speak for themselves, and thus brings the reader close to the heart and the passion of the missionary. While describing the details of the journey a missionary experienced riding in a mule cart from Beijing to Taiyuan, my back nearly became sore as a result of the vividness and detail of the writing.
This book is meticulously footnoted and referenced, allowing the reader to dig deeper on issues of interest. It also includes a Chinese terms list, a bibliography, and a detailed index. Containing only five chapters and over 256 pages, the chapters do get a bit long, but they are broken into sections with emboldened headings, helping to break up the lengthy chapters. This book satisfies the curiosity of the academic reader, but is of interest to the casual mission reader.
The Rushing on of the Purposes of God draws vivid lessons from history that is completely applicable today. Through the famine of the 1870s, the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, rising nationalism in the 1920s, civil war in the 1930s, communist takeover in 1949, and more, God’s purposes were rushing toward unimaginable achievements. This is inspiring and informative for missionaries and missions supporters in any country. The Rushing on of the Purposes of God is appropriately titled, and it lived up to the expectations of this reviewer.
Fulton, Brent. 2015. China’s Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot be Hidden. Eugene, Ore.: Pickwick Publications.
Hamrin, Carol Lee and Stacey Bieler, eds. 2009. Salt & Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China. Eugene, Ore.: Pickwick Publications.
Liao, Yiwu. 2011. God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China. New York: HarperCollins.
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EMQ, Vol. 53, No. 3. Copyright © 2017 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.