Shanghai Faithful
By Jennifer Lin
Rowman & Littlefield

In an article published in 1932, in the Chinese-language Faith newspaper, the US-educated Anglican priest Lin Pu-chi wrote that the study of China’s church history was “indispensable” because “every society […] must use the past as a mirror”. He also lamented that books on the Chinese church were scarce. More than 80 years later, Jennifer Lin – his granddaughter and a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer – has contributed to our understanding of Christianity in China, through the history of five generations of her family. Her protagonists include a “counter-revolutionary” uncle, Watchman Nee, whose followers worshipped in China’s off-the-grid house churches. His story and those of other relatives became Lin’s obsession after a question whispered to her father during a family reunion in Shanghai in 1979, seven years after Nee had died in a labour camp. The author and her father – who had not returned to China since leaving for the US in the 1940s – had been clueless about the political drama that had played out within the walls of the family house in the International Settlement. As she remembered the relatives whom she met, she wondered: “Who were the victims? Who the collaborators?”