Sunday, 5 May 2013

Across the China Sky ~ C. Hope Flinchbaugh

Finding this book was a revelation for me. I was really excited to find something where the sole story was not hinged on romance. This possibly had much to do with just having read Revolution In World Missions by K.P. Yohannan. I didn’t know fiction could include such awesome topics! Don’t get me wrong because I do love a good ‘kissing book’.
But seriously, it blessed me to find a work of fiction set in another realm: persecution. Most Inspirational novels use verses from the New Testament. This is the only one I have come across that has the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Christ at its very core.

One reviewer wrote, Flinchbaugh's writing is sensitive, compassionate and articulate.” I couldn’t agree more.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s a personal coming of age thing for me or not, but Hope’s book provided food for the inner man that gets far above and beyond our Café Society to the realities of life in China’s persecuted church. We know these things exist and that real people struggle within them, but we have little to connect us with their reality.

I considered only momentarily whether or not Christians under wraps in China was a morally sound topic for a work of fiction because fiction can so easily make a mockery of things we ought to uphold. I took about two seconds to decide that there are people who will never read testimonials or bios. Fiction is the only way to reach them, therefore it is the perfect topic for a novel.

My only disappointment was in finding out that this book is a sequel! Daughter of China is its predecessor, and I’m really hoping to get my hands on a copy of that too, very soon. Sometimes jumping the gun is very uncool. This one could easily stand alone (but what a crying shame if it did).

So. How would this unique and genuine subject matter be treated? I held only a minute degree of scepticism. The author is extremely well acquainted with issues surrounding the persecuted church, and her writing is fluid and transporting. What a joy to read such seamless work. It allows fast delivery into the moment and to my mind, this topic is worthy of our utmost respect.

Suddenly I wasn’t just reading about the rice paddies on the hillside, I was standing in them. I felt the rock beneath me as I sat with Liko and Mei Lin listening to them discuss their future, and I walked behind them toward the house as the sun sank beneath the horizon and another day neared its end. I read this book in a day and what a joy to experience that, too. It was so lovely to be able to have a virtually uninterrupted journey, more so because of my deep investment with the characters, aware it would not be far removed from the truth.

There are some completely unexpected twists and turns in this story and the characters are easy to associate with. Because we have heard of certain levels of persecution to some degree, when the story takes a turn for the worse, your brain starts screaming at the characters to watch out. It was impossible to keep from thinking about our different lives, and the freedom we live with and most assuredly take advantage of. Have we lost our fervour? Ha. Decide for yourself, because the question will be presented to you though it is not asked once inside the pages. We will have much to answer for.

I could not put this one down. Even when I had other things requiring my attention throughout the day, the book was either in my left hand, tucked under my arm, or right where I could see it to pick it up again (and that’s saying something). I treated it as real. For all I cared, it was a true story. 

This book will get you thinking, and it should. Prayer is truly our greatest weapon, and the author gets into territory I honestly believe many Christians would simply not know how to handle if they were faced with the same spiritual realities. What a challenge to our reality.

I hope you can find a copy of this book soon, and let it pour into your heart to the full. I am at a loss to describe it beyond this.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings." 1 Peter 5v8-9

Soyez sobres, restez vigilants: votre adversaire, le diable, rôde comme un lion rugissant, cherchant qui dévorer. Résistez-lui avec une foi inébranlable, sachant que les mêmes souffrances sont imposées à vos frères et sœurs dans le monde.



  1. Mercey, I am thrilled to hear you couldn't put the novel down! Across the China Sky is the second novel in a series:
    Daughter of China
    Across the China Sky
    I'll Cross the River
    Each book can be read as a stand alone or part of the series. It's extremely interesting to me that you reviewed this novel because it details the experiences of Christians kidnapped by a cult inside China. This novel is based on the true story of 30 plus pastors who were kidnapped by this cult--pastors who were invited to a "seminary" and discovered it was not Biblical at all. Presently, I am broadcasting once again about the Eastern Lightning Cult, which today goes by the new name "Church of Almighty God". I'm broadcasting on blogtalk radio on Voice of Hope, in both Mandarin and in English.

    Your words encouraged me to tears here. I read them to my husband and we took heart once again that people really are listening--people like you, Mercey. God bless you richly! I do hope you'll try to make to the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in July. I'll be teaching there. It would be wonderful to meet you! Keep writing!
    Hope Flinchbaugh

    1. Pooh, I wish I could make that Conference! This year does not permit, but I'll put it on my dream list (after all, God placed these dreams in my heart!). Being in another country factors in my equation, though not God's ;) ~ and I take a raincheck on that meeting, please. I'll be the one who walks up and hugs you and won't let go.

      I loved this book, and will seek out the other two. I credit my Mum with teaching me about Voice of the Martyrs and awakening my mind more than 20 years ago to the realities the persecuted face. One thing that breaks my heart most of all is the sheer cunning the enemy uses to trap the innocents because their hunger and need is so great.

      If only we hungered so much. Wouldn't we have the closeness we claim we long for?

      One thing I love in a work of fiction is to find a letter from the author in the back. Yours was so heart-wrenching to read! Oh my soul.

      YOU keep writing and please never stop. Stay in step with the Spirit, dear lady. God bless YOU!!