(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

When Stefanie Peng’s grandmother receives a dire breast cancer prognosis, Stefanie, a twenty-four-year-old journalist living in Illinois, promises to reunite her grandmother, who fled mainland China during the bloody Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s, with her husband, Stefanie’s grandfather Peng Chongde, a charismatic Christian preacher who subsequently endured a lifetime sentence in remote government labor camps. With surprising ease, Stefanie secures a post teaching English at Beijing University, never suspecting that she is being lured to China by the shadowy Public Security Bureau, whose agents are certain that threatening Stefanie with imprisonment will convince the aged Peng to cooperate in the government’s efforts to track down an elusive Christian preacher known only as Lao, the Brother.

Troy Hardigan, a longtime Peng family friend whose life has been redefined by his recent embrace of Christianity after a lifetime of indifferent worship, works for an international communications corporation involved in delicate negotiations across Asia concerning satellites with intelligence-gathering capabilities. As Stefanie, once in Beijing, begins to negotiate her grandfather’s release, Troy acts as her protector even as he falls in love with her. With her instincts as a journalist, Stefanie becomes involved with free union agitators but, more important, with the Christians in the underground movement. Rejecting the government-sanctioned Christianity—which cannot baptize, cannot reference Revelation, and cannot preach Christ’s miracles—this underground movement thrives only by painstakingly translating smuggled Bibles and then copying them by hand. These valiant converts conduct services in caves, warehouses, and barns, always under the threat of police raids, usually prompted by informants, and the inevitable exile to “reeducation” camps.

Kong Qili, introduced initially to Stefanie as a university administrator, is actually a career government agent involved not only in the campaign to eradicate the underground Christian menace...

(The entire section is 846 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Aikman, David. Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Tranforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2003. Compelling account of Christianity’s impact on post-Tiananmen China that fleshes out the complex tensions central to Wilson’s novel.

Alcorn, Randy C. Safely Home. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 2001. Cited by Wilson, a novel about an American executive who, on a mission to exploit cheap Chinese labor, reclaims his Christianity after witnessing horrific conditions.

Bays, Daniel H., ed. Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996. Helpful, accessible collection that examines the historic implications of the Christian mission to China.

Flinchbaugh, C. Hope. Daughter of China. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 2002. Cited by Wilson, an inspirational novel of a Chinese orphan whose conversion to Christianity and subsequent commitment to evangelization draws her into conflict with the oppressive Chinese government.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Tiger in the Shadows. 251, no. 11 (March 15, 2004): 53. Concludes that, despite Wilson’s lack of skill in plotting, she “succeeds in showing the abuses and restrictions imposed on Christians in China” and the novel will appeal to Christian readers.

Wilson, Debbie. Wilson’s Web site features articles on her human rights initiatives as well as reviews, inspirational messages, and updates on her writing projects.