Book Review -- Jeanette Li: The Autobiography of a Chinese Christian - translated by Rose Huston
Surprised and delighted was I to find this autobiography of Jeannette Li back in print. It was thirty eight years ago that I stumbled across the Banner of Truth edition of this book in a church library in Maine and read it with fascination. This new Crown & Covenant edition is printed on good quality paper and is of a larger size than the Banner of Truth edition. Each chapter title includes a wonderful pen and ink drawing. The middle of the book contains a number of photographs.
This new edition includes a forward by J. Bruce Martin, President of The Reformation Translation Fellowship. It contains a very helpful history of RTF in China and a wonderful summary of the Gospel being spread while Christians were under great persecution by the Chinese and Japanese. I found it a great reminder for the need of the church in America to remain constant in prayer for these brothers and sisters in Christ.
Although this book is an autobiography, it clearly shows some character development. The book starts with Li’s childhood and stories of her understandably childish behavior. It includes her struggle with alcohol, her struggles with her circumstances and her spiritual growth, her long service as director of an orphanage and ends with her gutsy, but spiritually mature encounters with officials in trying to leave China for America to be with her son in her old age.
Li serves as a wonderful example for us in how to struggle with God in prayer. One example of this is her grief at the death of her mother. On pages 68 and 69 she describes her prayer life during this time as one of complaining. Yet God, by his Spirit and by Li’s great familiarity with scripture, reminds her of God’s listening ear and his love, mercy and wisdom. She then sings from Psalm 37. What a wonderful pattern for us to follow: scripture memory, prayer and psalm singing.
I loved the short chapters in the book. It allowed me to focus on a single theme/incident and to ponder them between readings. Her confidence in God and persistence under difficulty encouraged me in my own difficulties at the time I was reading the book.
Chapter 31 includes a story about the difficulty of Chinese to give up idols. It contains an extended dialogue that serves to model an apologetic against idol worship.
Chapter 35 on the children of Daigang includes stories of guidance received as a result of prayer and the role of earnest, constant prayer in missions work.
Chapter 36 includes a story of how Li’s strong but polite stand against worshiping idols and other Gods brought her respect from some of the Japanese officials.
I am so glad I had the chance to reread this book again after 38 years. What a wonderful testimony to the faithfulness of God, and of Christians under persecution. I will be praising God more often for his faithfulness to them and praying more earnestly for Christians now under persecution.