G. Wright Doyle, Ph.D. Review of: A Stone Made Smooth, by Wong Ming-Dao. South Hampton, UK: Mayflower Christian Books, 1981.
This autobiographical account of the great Chinese pastor, Wong Ming-Dao, follows the first forty or so years of his life. The book demonstrates the deep and life-changing effects of Christianity on this man, as well as his distinctive Chineseness. Wong tells the story of his ministry, beginning in his early twenties and ending the account right before World War II.
Wong Ming-Dao’s early years show most strongly the depth to which his Chinese upbringing affected his life. His intense love for his mother is present from his earliest memories, as he fondly recalls the way she bought and then rented out rooms in their house to earn some income after her husband, Wong’s father, died. Wong remembers the feelings of fear he had when he lived at a school across town from his mother and never knew, until his weekly visits home, whether she was dead or alive.
As Wong got older, and then became a Christian, his love and sense of filial piety towards his mother did not decrease; in fact, his appreciation of her grew. His new God-centered beliefs, however, caused him to try to avoid having arguments with his mother out of respect for her opinions, but periodically he was forced to disagree out of a sense of conviction. These moments of tension increased for Wong after his marriage, since both his mother and older sister, for reasons not entirely apparent, were quite hostile to his wife. These interactions are a good look into the mind of a Chinese Christian.
The bulk of the story, though, takes us through Wong’s growing ministry, which began only in his very early twenties and continued to expand until the beginning of World War II, when the account ends. Many inspiring stories of faith are contained in this book, examples of how prayer and simple trust in God accomplished amazing things. Wong does an excellent job of intertwining the story of his own personal spiritual journey with the account of the growth of his ministry. It is clear that trials in faith greatly strengthened Wong’s walk with the Lord.
Specific chapters are devoted to various areas of Wong’s life, including his relationship with his wife, his work on the Spiritual Food Quarterly (a magazine of Bible teaching that eventually grew in circulation to around fifty thousand subscribers), and his memories of his mother. These chapters, however, are also filled with the story of Wong’s ministry experiences.
This book is an excellent resource for those seeking to better understand the Chinese psyche. The stories of Wong’s faith are inspiring, but the reader also comes away with a strong sense of what struggles Chinese pastors go through in all areas of life. Therefore, this book, if not the best account of a Chinese house-church leader in terms of its focus, is still a good all-around glimpse into the heart of a Chinese Christian.