The China Years

Having had an interest in China since the 1940s, when a CIM (now OMF International) missionary came to stay with my family, I was pleased to be able to review this book. Covering the period before Chairman Mao, it gives the background to how China used to be predominantly a rural community busy in the paddy fields, rather than the urban-dominated society it has become today. The Cooks’ letters have been assembled and are faithfully quoted by their son as editor of this interesting compilation.

The Cooks were in China at an interesting time, to say the least, with anti-foreign demonstrations, flood, fire, Japanese air raids and the rise of communism and the repressive regime that it brought in.

Mr Cook was not so much an evangelist, but was of a practical nature and lived the Christian life as an example in his love and care for others. This was a key to their ministry and to their legacy. Although the Christian church later became suppressed during the Cultural Revolution, the Cooks helped lay the foundations of a church that came through this period and is vibrant today without the need of foreign help, although there is still some persecution especially of the non-registered house churches.

The type of work and witness laid down by the Cooks and described in the book, and the characteristics of the church they helped to shape, seems to have played a part in helping the Chinese government to accept such Christians in a professional capacity, although they have to be circumspect. The Cooks found themselves called ‘Yang kuei tsi’ (‘foreign devils’) in the street and this still happens today!

I found the book interesting, although the chapters were too long and the print not always easy to read. There are some odd expressions, such as commenting on a clearly miraculous intervention by stating that they ‘were lucky’. However, a passage on another such intervention did acknowledge it as the Lord’s doing!

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