A Lonely Path of Discipleship: A biography of George W. Hunter, pioneering missionary in remotest China

Hardback, 260 pages. Published by Chapter Two, Fountain House, Conduit Mews, London. ISBN 978-1-853072-44-4.

George Hunter’s life [1861-1946] is traced from early years. Apart from one furlough, he spent 57 years in Chinese Turkestan, modern Xinjiang, a primarily Muslim area. Most of that time he served alone, though there was one fellow worker who spent eight years with him – Percy Mather.1 Based in Urumchi, he evangelized, going from village to village, and also did a lot of translation; it was a rather routine and monotonous life, requiring endurance and commitment. ‘Hunter laboured – ploughing and sowing year after year, in biting frost and ferocious heat – in a land of deserts interspersed with oases, of high and unbroken mountain ranges and of grassy trackless steppes, everywhere he went (often on horseback) he distributed booklets and sold Gospels and New Testaments to the few individuals among the untouched tribes who could read … contacting them in their wilderness tents and in caves in the mountains’.

The author, having served the Lord in different countries, especially amongst Muslims, has sought not only to describe Hunter’s life and service but also to teach from it. He makes wise reflections, judiciously incorporated into the narrative, with sound scriptural observations: for example, on disappointments in the path of discipleship, on the importance of intercession, on marriage to be of the Lord.

This is a scholarly, serious work, well researched. It is historically informative and very interesting: there is a detailed analysis of the region from early times through the period of Nestorian missionary work on to the times of Genghis Khan and the days of the Silk Road. Then, through the Imperial age of the 19th century with its opium wars, on to the present Communist age. It is a well presented book. Amongst other matters, there is a clear map, an aid to spelling and pronunciation, an extensive bibliography, photographs, including one of Hunter in national dress and of a statue of Mao Zedong in Kashgar; an appendix on Nestorianism, and an index. It is accurately translated from the original Norwegian.

Here is a thoughtful book to motivate readers to determined service: highly recommended.

[Our thanks to Bryan Charles, Appledore, Devon, England, for this review]

Endnote

1

Mather’s biography entitled The Making of a Pioneer is written by Mildred Cable and Francesca French, (Hodder & Stoughton, 1936). It is well worth reading, as are other books by these Christian ladies; for example, Ambassadors for Christ, Through Jade Gate, The Gobi Desert, Something Happened, etc.

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