5 Questions for Paul Hattaway
On 19 July, we will publish Guizhou by Paul Hattaway, the second in a series of books about the exponential growth of Christianity in China.
Here, we caught up with him about writing and his plans for the future.
1. Why did you choose Guizhou as the second province to feature in the China Chronicles series? What stands out for you about this province, since it is so very different from Shandong, the subject of the first book?
Guizhou has been a part of China dear to my heart since I first traveled there 30 years ago. It is a poor and rugged province, but populated by warm-hearted people. It is very different from Shandong, and provides an interesting contrast from the predominantly Han Chinese Shandong Province.
Indeed, my aim in The China Chronicles series is to intermingle provinces that are mostly Han Chinese with provinces with a high proportion of ethnic minorities. I believe this approach will give readers a balanced and varied view of what God has done in China.
2. The province of Guizhou itself has more than 80 distinct tribes. Some have responded much more warmly to the gospel than others. Why do you think this is?
Yes of the 80 ethnic groups in Guizhou only about 15 could be considered reached by the Gospel today, but some of them have been thoroughly impacted and transformed, while others remain relatively untouched. This is because of the significant cultural and linguistic barriers that exist between the Chinese and those groups, and between the different tribes themselves. It hasn't been a simple task reaching all of the groups, and millions of people in Guizhou today still have little or no knowledge of Mandarin, the national language. Historical factors have also prevented the Han Chinese church from impacting some groups. Centuries of genocide and hostility have created barriers that have prevented the flow of the Gospel between the people.
3. Christianity has grown exponentially in China. How has that influenced government policy in China?
It has influenced policy greatly, especially since the early 1990s, and the leaders of China believe the collapse of the Soviet bloc was directly caused to the role of the Church in Russia and Eastern Europe. The government has kept a wary eye on the churches in China, but are now moving against the house churches quickly and brutally as they fear they have grown in size and influence to a level that makes them feel very uncomfortable.
4. Are you pleased with the initial reaction to the first volume, Shandong?
Yes, very much. The feedback from countless readers has been encouraging. Readers like the format and style of the books. They are not dry history, but a living and inspirational account of the amazing things the Living God has done to reach people in the world's most populated country. Many people are looking forward to the next book in the series, which is a great blessing. They will soon see that the story of the Church in each province is quite different, and there is much we can learn from each one.
5. Guizhou will be the second in a series of possibly twenty books. What is your overall vision for the series? What do you look forward to next?
Yes I am continuing to write, and progress has been swift. Next year we hope to release two more books. By the end of the series, I hope and pray there will be a clear record of what the Lord Jesus has done in China, having grown His followers from just a few million to over 100 million under the rule of hardline atheistic Communism. This miracle has made China the location for what is surely the greatest revival in Church history, and I consider it a great honour and joy to present the books to believers around the world.