November 1, 2023
Asbury University Assistant Professor of History Dr. Alex Mayfield published a book that explores the development of Pentecostalism in Hong Kong between 1907 and 1942. Focusing primarily on Pentecostal missionaries and the Chinese leaders who worked alongside them, Mayfield analyzes how changes within the social structures and ideological frameworks of global Pentecostalism dramatically impacted the movement within the colony. “The Kaleidoscopic City: Hong Kong, Mission, and the Evolution of Global Pentecostalism” is available through Baylor University Press: https://www.baylorpress.com/9781481318976/the-kaleidoscopic-city/.
“Christianity is more global than it’s ever been,” Mayfield said. “My book is the first to really try and tell the story of modern Pentecostalism in China. By telling the story of these first few decades, I think it helps to understand both the spread of Pentecostalism in China and the evolution of global Pentecostalism in the first half of the twentieth century.”
Beyond the big picture, Mayfield’s book also highlights the significant role that female leaders played in China.
“Women were the backbone of the Chinese Pentecostal missionary effort,” he said. “At one time, there were only three Pentecostal missionary men in China. At that time, and beyond, women made up the clear majority of missionaries and Chinese workers, and they did the bulk of the work, serving as pastors and evangelists.”
Surprisingly, the book also highlighted how education was an important aspect of Pentecostal missions.
“In one chapter, I showcase the work of Anna M. Deane, a native Kentuckian and retired educator in New York,” Mayfield said. “She moved to Hong Kong and started schools for women and children. She believed education was a critical way to win souls for the Kingdom of God.”
To learn more about the book, listen to the Dr. Mayfield’s recent episode on the “This Is Asbury” podcast.
Currently, Mayfield serves as a co-investigator for the China Historical Christian Database, the largest dataset on historical Christianity in China: https://chcdatabase.com/. He also has a chapter in the upcoming book, “The Pandemic and the Holy Spirit: From Lament to Hope and Healing,” edited by Wonsuk Ma, Opoku Onyinah, and Rebekah Bled (Tulsa: Oral Roberts University Press). This book will be published in January 2024.
Beyond his own research, Mayfield also serves as a technical advisor to the Chinese Christian Posters projects and the Dictionary of African Christian Biography. Learn more: https://www.asbury.edu/about/directory/alex-mayfield/.
Mayfield received his M.Div. from Boston College and his Ph.D. in World Christian History from Boston University. His research utilizes digital methodologies that enable the reconstruction of historical networks and movements within global Christianity. His current research and teaching interests include global history, Pentecostal and charismatic movements, mission history in East Asia, and the history of colonial Latin America.
The Asbury University Social Science & History Department offers four majors (History, Political Science, Social Studies Grades 8-12, and Sociology) and three minors (History, Political Science, and Sociology). Learn more: https://www.asbury.edu/academics/departments/social-science-history/.