Will Kiehn considers himself “ordinary” and “unexceptional,” living a simple farming life with his family in early-1900s Oklahoma. But when a family friend comes through town talking about his experiences as a Mennonite missionary in China, Will feels drawn to follow him back to the North Plain. A small group goes with Edward, including his sister-in-law Katherine, a lovely young nurse Will can’t help but feel drawn to.
Two years later, Will and Katherine marry, and they move to Kuang P’ing Ch’eng, City of Tranquil Light, to set up their own mission station. Although they’ve already had some time to acclimate to China and its different language and culture, it’s yet another adjustment. But it’s where they stay for nearly 25 years, where they face great hardships, sorrows and joy. It becomes home to them both.
Will and Katherine make lifelong friends with the Chinese people in their village and see some success in bringing the people to Christ. They also are plunged into the middle of civil war, face bandits, and experience drought, floods and earthquakes. They weather all of this turmoil as well as personal heartbreak, yet they still consider China to be their home and only return to the United States when a variety of events lead them to that difficult decision.
City of Tranquil Light is a beautiful, inspiring book about love, dedication, friendship and faith. It’s a story based in part on the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents, and it rings true. It is not a religious book, but it will surely resonate with readers of faith. But even for those who don’t consider themselves religious, this is a lovely story.
Rated: Mild, for some brief scenes of violence.