Fierce Compassion By Kristin and Kathryn Wong

I was familiar with the horrors of Civil War slavery and the cruel mistreatment of Negros, as this is part of our U.S. History education. What I was not aware of was that Chinese immigrants in the latter part of the 1800’s and even into the early 20th century were also forced into slavery and abused.
How rare to find a well written, interesting book that also has something to teach. The Wong’s certainly changed my perceptions and opened my eyes to this other horrific time of human slavery and exploitation in our country. Fierce Compassion was several things rolled into one. It was a history lesson, a biography, and an inspiring Christian story.
In my mind, California’s Chinatown was a quaint gathering of Chinese establishing a home in America. This wasn’t the case at all. Chinatown was created in 1882 when Chinese, no longer needed for mining or railroad work, were looked upon as a threat to jobs for Americans. The Exclusion Act of 1882 crammed more than 70,000 Chinese in San Francisco into a 12 block area. If any dared leave the area, they would be harassed and attacked. With it being illegal for them to marry Americans and men could not bring wives and women from China legally. With these problems and the shortage of food and work, they turned on their own to survive. The area became a hot bed of crime, human slavery and a thriving sex slave trade at the expense of innocent and unknowing young girls. Chinese girls were purchased under the cover of giving them opportunities, while some were abducted then smuggled into the U.S. Here they were sold into a life of prostitution and treated like animals. The book begins with the heartbreaking story of one of these girls.
Donaldina Cameron was the perfect example of being a faithful Christian, minding her own business, making her plans and then God calling her, totally unexpectedly, to serve Him. A friend visits the family and shares about the Mission House in Chinatown and the great work being done there to rescue slave girls. She suggests Donaldina visit and serve as a sewing teacher to the girls; she agrees to go for 1 year. The visit became a calling and she became director of the Mission.
From that point on she gave her life to rescue and care for these young women. Her job was exhausting, extremely dangerous, and heartbreaking. Prostitution, venereal disease, and drug addiction are common knowledge due to our access to print and media information, but in that era Christian, upright people knew little of the details. You can imagine how shocking and even repulsive these things were to a gentile woman such as Donaldina who had lived such a sheltered life.
Not only did she face and deal with the things, she met them head on with compassion and faith in God, never thinking of herself. Her rescues and dealings with the Chinese criminals and gangs revealed in the book are astounding. She reminded me of Amy Carmichael who gave her life to rescuing the Temple children of India. Ms. Cameron gave her entire life to these scarred and hurting girls. Her story is nothing short of amazing.
I liked the pictures throughout the book of Ms. Cameron, the Mission and the children. These, and the rich details about the girls, their situations, challenges Donaldina faced, and the rescues, combined with the skilled writing of the Wong’s, truly brought this book to life! I know I have already said a lot but truly I am a loss of words to convey what a wonderful work this book is. You will definitely want to read it!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to write a positive review.

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