Book Review Archives

Called to China: Attie Bostick’s Life & Missionary Letters from China: 1900-1943

By: Rebekah E. Adams
Reviewed by: Rosanne Osborne
Halldale Publishing Company, 2006
$18.95, Paperback

Attie Bostick left her home in Shelby, North Carolina, in June 1900 and did not return until December 1943. Her success as a missionary was achieved within a context of famine, illness, war, and detention. Her great-niece, Rebekah Adams, has relied on Bostick’s letters and diary entries to reconstruct the life of dedication and sacrifice of this pioneer missionary.

Tracing Bostick’s heritage and early years of study at Jones Seminary and Judson College, Adams shows the influence of her brother G.P. Bostick, a Southern Baptist missionary appointed to China in 1889, on his young sister.

Arriving in China as the Boxer Rebellion raged, Attie Bostick began language study in Shanghai. In the fall of 1901, after the rebellion was quelled, Bostick moved to Taian in Shantung Province and then to Pochow to help G.P. care for his five children after the unexpected death of his wife.

In 1921 when Attie returned to China after the death of her mother, she found the country in the jaws of famine and unrest. Following a visit with her brother, she journeyed to Kweiteh to begin the work that would consume much of her attention for the next two decades. She would experience the death of G. P., another famine, and finally the Japanese invasion in 1937.

Perhaps the most arresting portion of the book treats the years of the Japanese occupation. Late in 1940, the State Department requested that all Americans evacuate. Attie Bostick chose to stay. A year later she was arrested by Japanese authorities and interned in a Lutheran compound in Kweiteh, unable to send or receive mail. Her diary of those days is included and provides an interesting glimpse of the faith that sustained the missionary until August 1943 when she sailed for the States.

The book is a tribute to Attie Bostick and her colleagues during the years of China’s troubled history prior to being closed to the western world. Adams carefully weaves the historical context for the work of Christian missions with details that enable the reader to see the impact of Americans on Chinese nationals. Because Bostick was a contemporary of the well-known Baptist missionary Lottie Moon, this book will be a welcome resource for Baptist churches that emphasize mission giving each Christmas to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Yet, the book is not limited to a single denomination in its impact. Attie Bostick worked with missionaries of many persuasions in building Christian churches in China.

Rosanne Osborne is Hixson Professor of English at Louisiana College.