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The decade of 2010’s ends with news of how the Chinese government is persecuting some unregistered Christian churches in that country. Not that it’s something new because persecution has always been there (specially from a communist country). What made this quite a shocker is that it’s more aggressive by closing churches, bringing down the cross symbols, and getting pastors jailed. Added to that are videos of the arrest and various ministries asking for prayers for these believers spilled.

But the truth is, that’s just a side of the story.

Picking up the book, The Registered Church in China, by Wayne Ten Harmsel, tells the other side of what we don’t hear from the Christian and secular news. Just when you thought that you already know what happened in the persecuted church in China, Harmsel provided a surprising, thought provoking, and interesting account that will quickly flips the popular narrative.

You might have placed certain groups in boxes or labeled them as the heroes and villains but think again. The story of the registered church is not the story of compromise but a story of men and women who wants to serve God and His church. The Registered Church in China will dispel common myths in both the registered and unregistered church. Recent developments like regulations and steps taken by the communist government might give us a dim future but, as you read through the interviews, you might find an angle of positive outlook from the churches there.

The Registered Church in China provides the essential components to understand the church in China, the issue between the registered and unregistered church, the State and the Church, and what’s in store for Christianity in the midst of a communist country. Drawing from personal experience and interviews from different unregistered churches, Harmsel uncovers the stories that we rarely hear. His diary entries on the first part of every chapter adds heart to what might be a straight expositions on what will be tackled on that chapter. It really made a difference including those entries.

I like chapter 4, in which Harmsel discuss the new regulations of China. Chapter 7 is also very memorable. Although this is an already strong book, I find parts of it that stand out.

This book is a game changer for us who hear about the persecuted church in plain black and white. The gray part of the narrative matters and are highlighted here in a careful, sensitive, and balanced view. He provides his own insights to which he is really trying to hit the spot that will provide the reality (even if its a bit negative) and spark hope for the readers (there is a glimpse of positivity in this darkness). To which it gives something a bit shaky on the book but actually it poses a challenge to handle both. After all, we don’t hold the Chinese government but God's sovereign hand is always on it.

Yes, The Registered Church in China is a must read for us to get updates and solid insight from a missionary who has been there and experienced it. it will bring a new light to what we already have digested concerning believers in China. In a brief volume, Harmsel really lays down clearly what you should know not just the prevalent persecution but also the description of both churches and their condition that will move you.

This leads to what Harmsel told me in an interview, that the book is also for Christians who are considering doing mission to China. I hadn't thought about that while reading and interviewing Harmsel, but indeed this book will be helpful as well as encouraging for anyone who wants to do mission or help the churches in China.

My verdict: 5 out of 5

Review copy of this book was provided by Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Click here to read my favorite quotes from the book.

Read my interview with the author of this book, Wayne Ten Harmsel.

Buy your copy of this book here.

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