Bill Wallace of China, by Jesse C. Fletcher
In a chapel sermon at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Paige Patterson recommended reading “Bill Wallace of China.” Most people know of William Wallace of Scotland through Mel Gibson’s movie “Braveheart,” but relatively few have heard of William Wallace of China. What a shame. . . .
I have had this book in my personal library for several decades but it never seemed to make its way to the top of the “next to be read” stack of books that I keep by my bedside. Like most book lovers I have a problem . . . a big problem . . . well, an obsession – – – I buy more books than I can read. If I started reading right now and read twelve hours a day for the rest of my life I would not be able to read even half of the books in my personal library. So, it is not uncommon for me to own but neglect a book. I regret that I neglected this book as long as I did.
When Dr. Patterson recommended this book I had just finished reading another book (Homer Hickam’s book The Coalwood Way — which, by the way is a great read) and was considering what to read next, so to paraphrase Augustine, “I heard the voice on the other side of the wall calling out ‘Pick up the book and read.'”
As a young man in Tennessee Bill Wallace felt called of God to prepare for service as a medical missionary. After completing his preparations he was appointed by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) to serve in Southern China. Nothing so amazing there, . . . so why the book? Wallace served in China during the Boxer Rebellion, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and in the subsequent revolutionary war when the Communists wrested control from the Nationalists.
The book is full of drama, intrigue, and suspense. Without those elements the book would not succeed. But, what makes the book compelling is that the reader experiences Wallace in a similar fashion as did the Chinese people. The reader, like the Chinese, is introduced to the quiet unassuming Wallace, gradually comes to like Wallace, then respect him, love him and finally finds that Wallace’s life story compels both introspection and committed personal action.
I add my voice to Patterson’s in recommending this book. The book is a quick read, but the reader will take much away from it in terms of clearly defined informational content as well as a tacit knowledge that drives volitional intent.