Book review:   "China's Book of Martyrs" by Paul Hattaway  (

Why house churches are blossoming in China

One reason why there are now  100,000,000 Christians in China, is  that the blood of Chinese martyrs has been the seed of Christian growth.  Since the first recorded martyrdoms in AD 845, about 250,000 Christians in China have been killed for their faith.

From 1900, more Christians have been martyred in China than in all other places combined.

"China's Book of Martyrs" by Paul Hattaway records the heroic stories of thousands  of these martyrs, locals and foreigners, from all Christian denominations.

Martyrs like Eleanor Chestnut from the USA who served as a medical missionary in Guangdong Province from 1893.
In order to build a clinic, Chestnut used most of her salary, and for years lived on very little food. When her hospital was attacked by rioters on October 28, 1905, she could have escaped, but chose to stay, her final act of service to the Chinese people being to rip a piece of material from her own dress to bandage the head of a child wounded by the rioters.

Martyrs like Bishop Ferdinand Hamer from the Netherlands who served in China from 1865 until his death at the time of the Boxer Rebellion  in 1900.   He, too, could have escaped, but chose to stay with his flock, and suffered an atrocious death.  His fingers,  toes, nose and ears were cut off, then he was covered with cotton cloth soaked with oil before being hooked feet first to the top of a tripod and set on fire.

In earlier days, some missionaries felt that the faith of local Chinese Christians may not have been very deep. But the opposite was true and more than 200,000 of them courageously laid down their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

"China's Book of Martyrs" is not something to be read at one sitting.  A few of its 600 pages  is all one can take in one reading.  It is so overpowering.   But it's truly a daily dose of courage.

Like many other outstanding  books about China from Paul Hattaway,  "China's Book of Martyrs" can be obtained from

- reviewed by jdwomi