Hudson Taylor as a younger manDo you ever feel overwhelmed by a faith-stretching undertaking to which you sense God is calling you? Here’s how Hudson Taylor worked through such a situation.

In the summer of 1860 Hudson and Maria Taylor returned from China to England so Hudson could recuperate his failing strength and health. In London Hudson was bluntly told by the physician who gave him a thorough medical examination, “You must never think of returning to China unless you wish to throw your life away.”

The young missionary couple, however, had no intention of giving up on their God-given call of service to China. They promptly set to work on producing a pair of much-needed works in the Ningpo dialect, a more accurate translation of the New Testament and a hymnbook. Hudson was also led of the Lord to renew and complete his course of medical studies at the London Hospital. In 1862 he became a member of England’s distinguished Royal College of Surgeons and completed another degree, the Royal College of Surgeons’ Licentiate in Midwifery.

Hudson & Maria TaylorAfter his medical studies were completed, Hudson commonly devoted ten or twelve hours per day, Sundays excepted, to revising the Ningpo New Testament. As he continued to work on that project, God laid an expanded vision on his heart. On the wall of the study where Hudson did his translation work hung a large map of the vast Chinese empire. As he contemplated the map, he came to be increasingly burdened for the whole of China.

Hudson later explained: “While on the field, the pressure of claims immediately around me was so great that I could not think much of the still greater need farther inland, and could do nothing to meet it. But detained for some years in England, daily viewing the whole country on the large map in my study, I was as near the vast regions of the interior as the smaller districts in which I had personally labored.”

Although mission work had made good progress in the seven coastal provinces of China during recent decades, eleven inland provinces (comprised of 200 million individuals) were without a single Christian witness. Hudson interviewed or corresponded with all of the main English missionary societies about the need to send workers to the unevangelized provinces of inland China. Repeatedly he was told that available funds were not equal to current demands, much less taking on new commitments.

Through the early months of 1865 Hudson sensed the Lord prompting him to establish a mission that would have as its objective the evangelization of the inland regions of China. Knowing the marked challenges, trials and responsibilities such an undertaking would entail, he hesitated. For weeks he wrestled with God about the decision.

“Suppose the workers are given and go to China,” he reasoned with himself. “Trials will come. Their faith may fail. Would they not reproach me for bringing them into such a plight? Have I the ability to cope with so painful a situation?”

China Inland Mission map, 1948

China Inland Mission map, 1948

At the same time he could not escape the persistent thought, which seemed burned into his very soul, that one million people each month were dying in China without God. For two or three months he hardly slept more than an hour at a time night or day and feared he might begin to lose his reason. Still he would not give in to the Lord’s leading.

Late in June he was invited to spend the weekend at the seaside home of a friend, George Pearse, in Brighton. On Sunday Hudson attended a large Presbyterian church where he heard a stirring message. But he could not bear the sight of a congregation of 1,000 Christian people rejoicing in their own security while millions were perishing in China for lack of knowledge. After the church service he wandered along the seashore in great spiritual agony.

Finally he prayed: “Divine Master, I surrender myself to You for this service. All the responsibility as to outcomes and consequences must rest with You. As Your servant it is mine to obey and to follow You. It is Yours to direct, to care for and to guide me and those who will labor with me.

“God, I ask You for twenty-four fellow workers, two for each of the eleven inland provinces which are without a missionary and two for Mongolia.” Opening his Bible, Hudson wrote in the margin above Job 18: “Prayed for 24 willing, skillful laborers, Brighton, June 25/65.”

The China Inland Mission's first group of missionaries

The China Inland Mission’s first group of missionaries

He afterward related: “The conflict ended, all was joy and peace. I felt as if I could fly up the hill to Mr. Pearse’s house. And how I did sleep that night! My dear wife thought Brighton had done wonders for me, and so it had.”

Two days later, accompanied by Pearse, Hudson went to the London and County Bank. There he opened an account under the name of The China Inland Mission with an initial deposit of ten pounds, the American equivalent of fifty dollars.

From that humble beginning, The China Inland Mission would grow into the largest, most fruitful missionary agency in China. In one of my future Perspectives, Lord willing, I’ll share a bit about the CIM’s remarkable growth and fruitfulness under Hudson Taylor by Vance ChristieHudson Taylor’s faith-filled leadership.

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You can learn much more about Hudson’s life of exceptional Christian faith and service in my book Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China. I think you’ll find (as I certainly have) his outstanding example both instructive and encouraging in your own relationship with and service for Christ.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

Maria Dyer

Maria Dyer

Here is the rest of the beautiful true story of Hudson Taylor and Maria Dyer’s God-honoring courtship. (You can read part 1 of their courtship story in my April 4, 2018, blog.) Hudson and Maria’s example of trustingly seeking God’s guidance and blessing in their relationship is worthy of consideration.

In June, 1857, Hudson Taylor returned to Ningpo, China, having fulfilled six months of ministry responsibility in Shanghai. He returned with his missionary colleagues, John and Mary Jones, who had encouraged Hudson to let Maria Dyer know of his romantic interest in her and to entrust the outcome to God. Hudson and the Joneses leased a property on Bridge Street, where they could actively carry out evangelistic ministry in a busy part of Ningpo.

Their ministry center was located about a mile from where Maria taught at a Protestant girls’ school under the supervision of the school’s founding director, Mary Ann Aldersey. The overbearing Miss Aldersey had not only discouraged but also forbidden the further cultivation of Hudson and Maria’s mutual interest in each other.

Bridge Street Chapel, Ningpo, China

Bridge Street Chapel, Ningpo, China

Not long after their return to Ningpo, Mary Jones invited Maria to join her in doing evangelistic work among the Chinese women and to visit with her in her own home. Miss Aldersey, not at all pleased that Maria might encounter Hudson at the Joneses’ house, angrily confronted Mary at a ladies’ prayer meeting.

“I feel I have good reason to be indignant,” Miss Aldersey exclaimed. “Miss Dyer belongs to a different social circle from that of Mr. Taylor. She has a small but reliable income of her own, unlike Mr. Taylor, who so far as I can see has no regular source of income with which to propose supporting a wife. Maria is educated, gifted, attractive, and has no lack of suitors who are far more eligible in my eyes. Now you must promise me that you will do nothing more to forward Mr. Taylor’s suit and that hereafter he will never be allowed to see or speak to Miss Dyer in your house.”

Mary, being careful to keep her own provoked temper in check, responded: “While I cannot commit myself as far as that, Miss Aldersey, I will refrain from throwing the couple together. And I’m completely confident that Mr. Taylor would not seek to take advantage of Miss Dyer’s visits by attempting to see her alone. At the same time, I feel compelled to say, Miss Aldersey, that it is a very serious matter for you to tamper with the affections of two young people.”

Young Hudson Taylor

Young Hudson Taylor

One afternoon in the middle of July, that same ladies’ prayer group met at Mary’s home. As the meeting drew to a close, a torrential downpour commenced. Most of the women were able to leave. But two of the missionaries, Maria Dyer and a Mrs. Bausum, were detained as they waited for coolies to come and carry them in sedans through the flooded streets.

As supper time neared, Hudson and John Jones arrived home from the Bridge Street chapel where they had been ministering. When they were told by a servant that Maria and Mrs. Bausum were still there, Hudson immediately wondered whether God had providentially arranged an opportunity for them to meet. “Go into my study,” John recommended, “and I will see if an interview can be arranged.”

When John suggested the meeting to Maria, she responded, “It is what I of all things wish.” In keeping with the conservative conventions of the day, she added, “I should like Mrs. Bausum to be present.”

Despite the fact that a third party heard everything that was said, Hudson could not help but fully and freely express his deep affection to Maria. Then he asked, “Might I write to your guardian, Mr. Tarn, seeking his permission to cultivate a permanent relationship with you?”

Maria readily gave her consent. She then further revealed: “Mr. Taylor, please know that you are just as dear to me as I apparently have become to you. I was compelled by another to reject your earlier proposals, but I have suffered great personal distress as a result.”

Hudson & Maria Taylor, several years after their marriage

Hudson & Maria Taylor, several years after their marriage

Hudson lost no time in writing to her uncle, Mr. Tarn, in Lincoln. Then there was nothing to do but patiently, prayerfully await the response by return mail in about four months. So as not to antagonize Miss Aldersey, the couple agreed not to visit or even write each other until a response was received from Maria’s guardian.

Maria felt obliged to inform Miss Aldersey of Hudson’s correspondence with her uncle. Thoroughly incensed, the matriarch fired off a letter of her own to Mr. Tarn in which she aired all her criticisms of Hudson. She represented him as being “recognized by no one as a minister of the Gospel, fanatical, undependable, diseased in body and mind, and totally worthless”!

At last, near the end of November, Hudson and Maria received the anxiously-awaited letters from Mr. Tarn. The guardian had made careful inquiry of the Chinese Evangelization Society as well as others in London who were acquainted with Hudson, and discovered that all had nothing but the highest commendation for the young missionary. “I cordially consent to my niece’s engagement,” Tarn wrote to Taylor. “My only request is that the marriage should be delayed until Maria comes of age in the New Year.”

So Hudson was able to formally propose to Maria, and she joyfully accepted. They were married on January 20, 1858, four days Hudson Taylor by Vance Christieafter Maria’s twenty-first birthday.

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You can learn much more about Hudson’s life of exceptional Christian faith and service in my book Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China. I think you’ll find (as I certainly have) his outstanding example both instructive and encouraging in your own relationship with and service for the Lord.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

Young Hudson Taylor

Young Hudson Taylor

The true story of Hudson Taylor and Maria Dyer’s God-honoring courtship is both beautiful and beneficial to consider. Their God-trusting example is inspiring and instructive.

In October, 1856, Hudson Taylor began ministering in Ningpo, China. By that time he was twenty-four years old and had served as a missionary in China for over two and a half years.

Near the center of Ningpo, about a mile from where Hudson settled, a forceful Englishwoman named Mary Ann Aldersey operated a Protestant girls’ school, the first of its kind in China. Miss Aldersey had been one of the first missionaries to arrive in Ningpo, having commenced her tireless labors there in 1843. She was so influential that some local Chinese residents believed that, just as England was ruled by a woman, Queen Victoria, so Miss Aldersey had been delegated to be the head of the British community in Ningpo.

Miss Aldersey was assisted in the work of her mission school by two attractive young ladies, Burella and Maria Dyer. Their parents had served as missionaries in China when they were young girls, so they grew up speaking fluent Chinese. Both their parents died before the girls became teenagers, and they were subsequently brought up under the guardianship of an uncle in London, spending most of their time at a Quaker boarding school in Darlington in northern England. Late in their teens, having received some training as teachers, they returned to China in response to an appeal that Miss Aldersey had made for assistance with her girls’ school.

Mary Ann Aldersey

Mary Ann Aldersey

Hudson Taylor’s ministry colleagues with the Chinese Evangelization Society in Ningpo were Dr. and Mrs. William Parker and Mr. and Mrs. John Jones. The Parkers, Joneses and Hudson were sometimes invited to dinner at Miss Aldersey’s home. Miss Aldersey generally disapproved of Hudson, viewing him as something of a renegade because of his lack of connection with a specific denomination and, especially, his decision to wear Chinese clothing and a native hairstyle. Nineteen-year-old Maria Dyer, on the other hand, found herself strongly attracted to the earnest young man. She told no one about this, but instead made it a matter of private prayer.

In the closing months of 1856 marked hostilities developed between China and England over trade issues. Foreigners living in certain parts of China came under grave danger. In January, 1857, a scheme was devised to destroy all the foreigners in Ningpo. The missionaries there decided to send their wives and children to Shanghai, where the securest British settlement was located. Because of Hudson’s extensive connections and experience in Shanghai, he was asked to help escort the missionary family members to that city and to remain there with them indefinitely.

Miss Aldersey's girls' school in Ningpo, China

Miss Aldersey’s girls’ school in Ningpo, China

Miss Aldersey opted to remain at her school in Ningpo, and the Dyer sisters, though encouraged to go to Shanghai, chose to stay and assist her. Hudson, for his part, was inwardly reluctant to leave Ningpo, having started to become romantically attracted to Maria Dyer. When the missionary party departed for Shanghai, Hudson and Maria were unaware of the feelings each had begun to privately cherish for the other.

As Hudson labored in Shanghai, Maria was very much in his thoughts. Eventually his feelings for Maria slipped out, quite unintentionally, to his good friends, John and Mary Jones, who had come with him to Shanghai. They heartily encouraged him to inform Maria of his true thoughts and to entrust the outcome to God.

On March 21 Hudson wrote Maria a letter in which he expressed his feelings about her and asked whether he might be allowed to become better acquainted with her with a view toward marriage. When she received the correspondence in early April, she was delighted and immediately divulged the news to her sister.

Together they went to inform Miss Aldersey, hoping she would approve of the relationship. Instead she responded indignantly, “Mr. Taylor! That young, poor, unconnected nobody. How dare he presume to think such a thing. Of course the proposal must be refused at once, and that finally!”

Maria Dyer

Maria Dyer

When Maria sought to express the mutual affection she had for Hudson, Miss Aldersey became more upset. She instructed Maria to write Taylor immediately, not only to close the whole affair, but also to request most definitely that it never be reopened. Miss Aldersey also insisted on reading the letter before it was mailed.

Bewildered and heartbroken, Maria sat down to her difficult task a week later after much prayer. She wrote a masterful letter with carefully chosen wording that might satisfy Miss Aldersey while at the same time hinting to Hudson of her true feelings in the matter.

Maria later testified of her own thoughts after Miss Aldersey had given her approval to the letter and it had been posted: “I felt that I could not wish one way or the other. I could only leave the matter in God’s hands, praying Him to do what He saw best.” She took comfort in the fact that absolutely nothing that was the Lord’s will would be too difficult for Him to accomplish. If He desired them to be engaged and married, He would bring it about.

When Hudson received Maria’s reply in early May, he read it repeatedly and carefully. He perceived a degree of ambiguity in her response and suspected that Miss Aldersey’s involvement might have had something to do with that. Privately he continued to make the whole affair a matter of fervent, ongoing prayer.

Hudson Taylor by Vance ChristieTo be continued in a future Perspective ….

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You can learn much more about Hudson’s life of exceptional Christian faith and service in my book Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China. I think you’ll find (as I certainly have) his outstanding example both instructive and encouraging in your own relationship with and service for the Lord.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

 

Young Hudson Taylor

Young Hudson Taylor

In September, 1855, after Hudson Taylor had served as a missionary in China for only eighteen months, he made a decision that was very radical for that era. Rather than living in a missionary compound in Shanghai and wearing European clothing, he decided to live right among the Chinese and to adopt their native dress and other amoral aspects of indigenous culture. He desired to do this in order to lessen cultural barriers to the dissemination of the Christian Gospel and to show his high regard for the native culture of those he was trying to reach.

He hired a barber to shave his head. A single shock of hair on the back of his head was preserved to be grown into a queue. This remaining hair was dyed black, and was plaited to a temporary queue of proper length.

Taylor adopted the attire of a native teacher. He put on thick calico socks, and his satin shoes had flat bottoms and curled up in front, squeezing his toes uncomfortably. The trousers, which were two feet too wide around the waist, he folded in front and kept in place with a strong girdle. The billowy legs of these breeches fell to just below the knees, and he tucked them into his socks.

A white jacket with wide sleeves took the place of a shirt. Over all that went a richly colored, heavy silk gown, with broad sleeves which reached a full foot past his fingertips. At that time of the year no cap was worn, which caused Taylor’s freshly bared head great discomfort in the intense sunlight.

He must have caused quite a stir when he made his first appearance to some of his missionary colleagues. Dr. William Parker, a Scottish missionary physician, looked him over and remarked good-naturedly of the voluminous trousers, “You could store a fortnight’s provisions in those!”

Members of the China Inland Mission in Chinese garb, Hudson Taylor is seated in middle of second row and wears a long white beard

Initially Taylor was not treated as respectfully by the Chinese as he would have been had he been dressed as a foreigner. But that always changed when he offered medical treatment to the people to whom he was seeking to minister. Women and children seemed more willing to come to him for medical treatment than they had before.

Hudson Taylor as an older man in Chinese garb

Hudson Taylor as an older man in Chinese garb

Taylor also noticed that, while ministering in inland cities, he attracted far fewer troublemakers by not dressing like a foreigner. If he needed to pass through a crowd quickly without causing a stir, he was able to do so. On the whole he concluded that adopting Chinese garb would greatly promote his evangelistic endeavors to China’s interior.

In Shanghai, however, he soon learned that his fellow Europeans did not approve of the step he had taken across cultural lines. Many merchants and government officials reacted to him with undisguised contempt. More difficult to bear was the obvious disapproval of his missionary associates.

But he bore that disapproval and contempt for the sake of advancing the Gospel and making his ministry more effective among the Chinese. In fact, Taylor continued to wear Chinese clothing throughout the remainder of his five-decade missionary career. After he established the China Inland Mission in 1865, all missionaries who served with the CIM adopted Chinese dress and other amoral features of native culture.

Hudson Taylor quote

Hudson Taylor mirrored the method and motive of the Apostle Paul who testified in 1 Corinthians 9:20-23: “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

Hudson Taylor by Vance Christie#          #          #

You can learn much more about Hudson’s life of exceptional Christian faith and service in my book Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China. I think you’ll find (as I certainly have) his outstanding example both instructive and encouraging in your own relationship with and service for the Lord.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

Billy Graham, the most prominent, influential and respected Christian evangelist in the world throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, went to his heavenly reward Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at the age of ninety-nine. As was the case throughout his fruitful sixty-year career as a public evangelist, so now in his death Graham is being highly honored by Christians and even many non-Christians for his life of dedicated service.

Billy Graham’s outstanding, long-term success was ultimately due to God sovereignly choosing to use, enable and bless him in the ways He did. In conjunction with that, many of the personal characteristics which Graham consistently manifested – integrity, sincerity, earnestness, humility, single-mindedness of purpose and purity of motives (to name but a few) – definitely contributed to his long-lasting ministry success. His example has much to teach us that will strengthen our own service for the Lord.

Graham may have faced stronger enticements to fame and fortune than any other Christian minister of the twentieth century. With wisdom, single-mindedness and resilience obviously of the Lord, he succumbed to none of those temptations.

Billy Graham as Youth for Christ evangelist

Billy Graham as Youth for Christ evangelist

During a press conference prior to his 1950 Boston crusade Graham was asked how much money he expected to make through the venture. He explained that his salary of $8,500 per year was paid by the Christian college of which he was president at the time, and that he would receive no income from the crusade. But the reporter kept pressing him to admit he expected to turn a large profit from the evangelistic campaign.

Just before the press conference began, Graham had been handed a telegram, which he read and placed in his pocket without observable reaction. Pulling the crumpled communiqué from his pocket, he responded, “Sir, if I were interested in making money, I would take advantage of something like this.”

Billy Graham praying during a public invitation

Billy Graham praying during a public invitation

It was an offer from a Hollywood studio of $250,000 to star in two Hollywood movies. As the reporters passed around the telegraph, their attitude toward the evangelist changed noticeably.

Though unsought by Graham, at the closing service of a series of meetings in Atlanta in 1951, the crusade committee had taken up a substantial love offering for the evangelist and his team. The next day the Atlanta Constitution ran a pair of pictures side by side: one of a group of ushers holding up four large sacks of money; the other of Graham waving and smiling broadly as he got into a car in front of the Biltmore Hotel just before leaving Atlanta. Graham was deeply troubled by the pictures, which appeared in newspapers across the country and which implied that he was serving both God and money.

Billy Graham preaching in mid life

Billy Graham preaching in mid life

As a result, and to avoid all such appearance of evil in the future, a system was immediately put in place whereby Graham and the members of his team received fixed salaries from their recently-formed evangelistic association. Graham’s salary was comparable to that received by prominent urban pastors but far less than he could have made from crusade love offerings. Never again did he or his team accept another honorarium for their crusade ministry.

Two years later Graham turned down an opportunity to play Billy Sunday in a feature film. And when NBC offered him one million dollars a year to host a regular television program, he declined that proposal as well, stating his unwillingness to trade places with the richest man on earth if it meant taking away from his evangelistic work.

Billy Graham Crusade in Seoul, Korea - 1973, attended by 3 million people in just five days

Billy Graham Crusade in Seoul, Korea – 1973, attended by 3 million people in just five days

Dallas oil billionaire H. L. Hunt offered Graham six million dollars to run for the U.S. Presidency against Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Hunt pledged to put that amount in Graham’s personal bank account if he allowed his name to be put in nomination at the Republican convention that summer. According to witnesses, Graham took no more than fifteen seconds to tell the tycoon he was flattered by the offer but had no interest in relinquishing a post he regarded as more important than the presidency.

Graham was a sterling example of 2 Corinthians 2:17: “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” All Christians, whether in prominent or obscure ministries, are called to represent Christ in these ways. As we do, His ongoing blessing will rest on our ministries, to His glory and for the good of those to whom we minister.

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Billy Graham is one of the individuals featured in my book Timeless Stories: God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. The examples from Graham’s ministry cited in this Perspective were gleaned from William Martin’s excellent biography, A Prophet with Honor, The Billy Graham Story.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

Young Hudson Taylor

Young Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor was twenty-one years old when he first sailed as a missionary to China. His mother Amelia came to see him off at the dock at Liverpool, England, on Monday, September 19, 1853. Neither mother nor son were at all sure they would see each other again in this life.

When the time came for the small ship Dumfries to edge away from the dock, the grieving mother sat down on the wharf and started to shake all over. Hudson put his arm around her and sought to console her: “Dear Mother, do not weep. It is but for a little while, and we shall meet again. Think of the glorious object I have in leaving you. It is not for wealth or fame, but to bring the Chinese to the knowledge of Jesus.”

Hudson boarded the ship. Amelia walked along beside the vessel until it passed through the gate at the end of the dock. Suddenly a piercing cry of anguish escaped from her aching heart. Of that cry Hudson later said: “It went through me like a knife. I never knew so fully, until then, what ‘God so loved the world’ meant. And I am quite sure my precious mother learned more of the love of God for the perishing in that one hour than in all her life before.”

Mother and sonAs the ship started out to sea, his mother stood on the dock waving her handkerchief. Climbing into the rigging, Hudson doffed his hat and energetically returned the farewell signal until her figure disappeared from sight.

When the Dumfries headed into the Irish Sea it encountered a westerly gale and made little progress for several days. By Sunday the gale had gained near-hurricane force. Struggling up to the deck from his cabin in the middle of the afternoon, Taylor was greeted by a scene he would never forget. The sea was white with foam and waves towered above the ship on either side, seeming about to swamp it. Despite the crew’s best efforts, the wind was rapidly carrying the vessel toward the rocky coast. “I’ve never seen a wilder sea,” Captain Morris shouted. “Unless God helps us, there’s no hope.”

Back in his cabin Taylor prayed: “God my Father, I commend my soul to You and my friends to Your care. If it be possible, may this cup pass from us. Lord, have mercy on us and spare us, for the sake of the unconverted crew members as well as Your own glory as the God who hears and answers prayer.”

Suddenly the words of Psalm 50:15 came to his mind: “And call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

“God, I plead with you to fulfill this promise in our behalf,” Taylor fervently prayed. “Nevertheless, Father, I submit myself to Your perfect will, whatever that may be.”

As night came on, a bright moon appeared but the gale-force wind continued. They could see the land toward which they were being relentlessly pushed. “Could the lifeboats survive a sea like this?” Taylor asked the captain. When Morris responded they could not, the missionary queried further: “Could we lash the loose masts and booms together to make some sort of raft?”

“We probably shouldn’t have time,” replied the captain. “We can’t live half an hour.” Then he asked the young missionary, “What of your call to work for God in China now?”

Ship on stormy sea“I wouldn’t wish to be in any other position,” Taylor responded truthfully. “I still expect to reach China. But if not, my Master will say it was well that I was found seeking to obey His command.”

With the treacherous shoreline looming before them, Captain Morris, at the risk of having the sea sweep the deck and wash everything overboard, gave the order to try to turn the ship back out to sea. When the first attempt failed, they tried in the opposite direction. Just then the wind shifted slightly in their favor, and they were able to head back out to sea. The ship cleared the threatening rocks by no more than twice her length.

Five months later, after further perils at sea, Hudson Taylor arrived safely in China and began his fifty year missionary career.

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You can learn much more about Hudson’s life of exceptional Christian faith and service in my book Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China. I think you’ll find (as I certainly have) his outstanding example both instructive and encouraging in your own relationship with and service for the Lord.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

Young Hudson Taylor

Young Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor’s entire career of five decades of missionary service in China was characterized by remarkable faith. In order to prepare Hudson for such faith-stretching service, God allowed him to face a number of faith-growing experiences during his years of preparation before going to the foreign mission field. To follow is one of those incidents.

As part of his training for serving as a medical missionary in China, Hudson lived for a time in Hull, England, where he attended lectures at the medical school and assisted one of the leading surgeons in the city, Dr. Robert Hardey. Once when the doctor was several days late in giving his assistant his quarterly paycheck, Hudson found himself in possession of only a single coin, a half-crown piece.

That Sunday he attended church in the morning and, as had become his custom, spent the afternoon and evening holding evangelistic services in the poorer sections of Hull. Just after he concluded the final service about ten o’clock that night, a man who was obviously very poor approached him and asked if he would come and pray for his dying wife. Taylor readily agreed, and the two set out for the man’s home.

Along the way, noting the man spoke with an Irish accent and supposing him to be a Roman Catholic, Taylor asked, “Why did you not send for the priest?”

“I did, but he refused to come without a payment. My family has no money even for food, so I couldn’t pay him.”

Taylor immediately thought of the single silver coin in his pocket. He also contemplated the fact that he had almost no food of his own back at his lodging. He had enough porridge left for supper that night and breakfast in the morning but nothing for dinner later on Monday.

Suddenly he started feeling anxious, then irritated with the man who had come to him for help. He actually started reproving the poor man: “It is very wrong for you to have allowed matters to get to this state. You should have sought assistance from the appropriate public official.”

“I did,” the man related meekly. “But I was told to come back at eleven tomorrow morning, and I fear my wife might not live through the night.”

They entered a particularly rough section of Hull where saloons and cheap lodging houses abounded. At one tenement they ascended a dilapidated flight of stairs and entered a wretched dwelling. There a scene of abject poverty and woeful misery confronted Taylor. Four or five children stood around the room, their cheeks and temples sunken from malnutrition. On a pallet in one corner lay the exhausted mother. Her tiny baby, only thirty-six hours old, moaned rather than cried at her side.

Taylor’s heart went out to the desperate family. He felt an inner impulse to help relieve their distress by giving them his lone coin but he resisted the prompting. Instead he tried to share words of comfort: “You must not be cast down because, though your circumstances are very distressing, there is a kind and loving Father in heaven who cares about your needs.”

“You hypocrite!” his conscience smote him, “telling these unconverted people about a kind and loving heavenly Father, and not prepared yourself to trust Him without half a crown.”

“If only I had two shillings and a sixpence instead of half a crown,” Taylor thought to himself, “how gladly would I give them the two shillings and keep the sixpence for myself.”

Feeling nearly choked and finding further attempts at verbal consolation impossible, he decided to pray instead. “You asked me to come and pray with your wife,” he said to the husband. “Let us pray.” Kneeling down, he began to recite the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven …” Such an inner conflict raged in Hudson’s heart he could barely get through the prayer. After he finished it he arose from his knees in great distress of mind.

As Hudson stood back up the poor husband and father implored him, “You see what a terrible state we are in, sir. If you can help us, for God’s sake, do!”

Christ’s instruction flashed into Hudson’s mind, “Give to him that asketh thee” (Matthew 5:42). Surrendering to the prompting of God’s Spirit, he put his hand into his pocket and slowly withdrew the single silver coin. Handing it to the poor man, he stated: “It might seem a small matter for me to relieve you, seeing that I am comparatively well off. But in parting with this coin I am giving you my all. Yet what I have been trying to tell you is indeed true—God really is a Father who can be trusted.”

Instantly joy flooded his heart. He could again freely express himself, and inwardly he felt the wonderful truths that he was verbalizing outwardly. Late that night, as he made his way through the deserted streets back to his lodging, his heart was so full that he spontaneously burst out in a hymn of praise to God.

After eating his next-to-last bowl of porridge as a late-night supper, Hudson knelt at his bedside and reminded God of the teaching of Proverbs 19:17: “Dear Father, Your Word promises that he who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord. Would you not allow my loan to be a long one? Otherwise I will have no dinner tomorrow.” Then, being completely at peace, he had a restful night of sleep.

The next morning, while eating his final bowl of porridge, he heard the postman’s knock at the door. A moment later his landlady came in with a small packet for him. Examining the little parcel as he took it, he did not recognize the handwriting. The postmark was blurred so he could not determine where the package had come from.

When he opened the envelope he found a pair of kid gloves folded inside a sheet of blank paper. As he removed these, a gold coin—half a sovereign, worth four times the amount he had given to the poor family the previous evening—fell to the floor.

“Praise the Lord!” he exclaimed as he picked it up. “Four hundred percent for twelve hours’ investment; that is good interest. How glad the merchants of Hull would be if they could lend their money at such a rate!”

God still grows the faith of Christians today by leading us through faith-stretching experiences. If you’ve had such an experience, Hudson Taylor by Vance ChristieI’d enjoy hearing about it if you’d care to share it.

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You can learn much more about Hudson’s life of exceptional Christian faith and service in my book Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China. I think you’ll find (as I certainly have) his outstanding example both instructive and encouraging in your own relationship with and service for the Lord.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

 

Young Hudson Taylor

Young Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor was the eminent nineteenth century pioneer missionary to inland China. The story of Hudson’s Christian conversion through the prayerful influence of his mother is somewhat well known and quite extraordinary. But that is only part of the story in a broader series of events that comprised God’s gracious and remarkable workings to draw Hudson Taylor to Jesus Christ as his Savior. Here’s the rest of the true story:

Hudson’s parents, James and Amelia Taylor, were devout Methodists in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England. James was an apothecary and an evangelistic preacher. James and Amelia provided their children with a sound homeschool education (which included the study of Latin and French) and were also diligent in teaching them about spiritual matters.

When Hudson was fifteen years old he started working as a junior clerk at one of Barnsley’s banks. The people he worked with were worldly in their outlook and skeptical toward spiritual things. They ridiculed his old-fashioned notions about God, which led him to question his conservative Christian upbringing. Adopting their perspective, he concluded he could live any way he chose, because there was no God to whom he must answer.

Young man readingAt that point, however, the Lord providentially allowed Hudson to develop an infection in his eyes which forced him to resign his position at the bank. He went to work for his father but now was unsettled and unhappy. James Taylor, not knowing about the spiritual struggle raging within Hudson, became irritated at his moodiness. Hudson’s mother, however, was more sensitive to her son’s struggles and began to pray more earnestly for his spiritual welfare.

Several months later, about a month after Hudson’s seventeenth birthday, he had an afternoon free from responsibility and found himself looking for something to read to pass the time. He spotted a small basket of pamphlets in the parlor and searched through them until he found a Gospel tract that looked interesting. Picking it up, he thought, “There will be a story at the beginning, and a sermon or moral at the close. I will take the former and leave the latter for those who like it.” He started reading with “an utterly unconcerned state of mind” about his spiritual condition or his relationship with the Lord.

A praying motherUnbeknown to him, at that very moment his mother was kneeling in prayer, pleading with God for his salvation. She had gone to visit her sister in Barton-upon-Humber, some fifty miles away, and that afternoon had found herself with little to do. After noon dinner she went to her room where she was determined to remain in prayer for Hudson’s conversion until she felt certain her request had been granted.

As she fervently prayed, Hudson read about a coal miner in Somerset who was dying of tuberculosis. Some Christians visited him and shared the Gospel through a series of Scripture verses. The miner was struck by the Bible’s teaching that Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the cross. When the dying man was told about Christ’s cry of “It is finished!” from the cross, he comprehended its significance with regard to the complete provision that had been made for his own salvation and that day prayed to become a Christian.

As Hudson further pondered that declaration of Jesus from the cross, he asked himself, “What was finished?” Immediately the answer to his own question leaped to mind: “A full and perfect atonement and satisfaction for sin. The debt was paid by the substitute. Christ died for my sins.” Then came the further thought, “If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?”

Hudson later wrote of that moment: “And with this dawned the joyful conviction, as light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit, that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on my knees, and accepting this Savior and His salvation, to praise Him evermore.” He immediately knelt down and asked Jesus to become his Savior.

Meanwhile an assurance came to the heart of Hudson’s mother that she no longer needed to continue praying. She began to praise God for the firm conviction, which she was sure was from the Holy Spirit, that her son had been converted. Two weeks later she returned home, and Hudson greeted her at the door, exclaiming, “Mother, I’ve such good news for you!”

“I know, my boy,” his smiling mother responded, throwing her arms around his neck. “I’ve been rejoicing in your news for a fortnight!” Seeing her son’s surprise and perplexity, she added: “It was not from any human source that I learned this. I know when you were converted, and it was in answer to my prayers.”

Hudson Taylor by Vance ChristieSome time later Hudson picked up and opened a notebook which he thought was his own but which actually belonged to his younger sister Amelia. His eye landed on a single sentence: “I will pray every day for Hudson’s conversion.” From the date that accompanied the journal entry, he realized his sister had been praying daily for his salvation for a month at the time he was converted.

God is still very much in the business of working – sometimes in quite unusual ways – to draw people to saving faith in Jesus. He even does so with some who are drifting from Him and seemingly little concerned about spiritual matters. May we be encouraged by this to redouble our efforts to pray for and witness to those who still need to come to know Christ as their Savior.

If you happen to be one of those individuals who need the Savior, may God graciously lead you to realize that Jesus accomplished everything on the cross to bring about our salvation. And may you trust wholly in Christ as your Savior.

 

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You can learn much more about Hudson’s life of exceptional Christian faith and service in my book Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China. I think you’ll find (as I certainly have) his outstanding example both instructive and encouraging in your own relationship with and service for the Lord.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie


The biblical Christmas narratives in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 show that the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed to various types of people – a young carpenter and his fiancé, an aging priest and his wife, common shepherds, wealthy and learned foreign magi, as well as two faithful senior saints eagerly awaiting the coming of Messiah.

The Angel and the ShepherdsWhen an angel of the Lord announced the birth of the Savior to the shepherds he proclaimed: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” This is good news of great joy for all the people because Jesus came to be the Savior of all types and classes of people. All who believe and receive Him as their Savior and Lord, regardless of their age or social status, are rescued from the penalty and power of sin and receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.

A Ragpicker

A Ragpicker

This truth is beautifully illustrated through a remarkable event in the ministry of G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945). Morgan, who has been called “the prince of Bible expositors,” twice pastored the prestigious Westminster Chapel in London. He once was conducting a series of evangelistic meetings in one of the Midlands towns of England when a poor ragpicker came into the inquiry room after the preaching service. According to Morgan the man had “grown hoary in the service of sin and Satan.” Morgan knelt by the ragpicker and used the Word of God to lead him to the Savior.

Presently someone touched Morgan’s shoulder and asked him to speak with another man who had come into the place of prayer seeking spiritual guidance. This second individual turned out to be the mayor of the town, and Morgan similarly pointed him to Jesus as his Savior.

G. Campbell Morgan as an older man

G. Campbell Morgan as an older man

After the mayor finished praying, he stood and went over to the ragpicker. Just a few weeks before the mayor had sentenced the ragpicker to a month of hard labor for one of his repeated infractions of the law. Now the mayor stated, “Well, the last time we met, it was not here.”

“No,” the ragpicker responded, “and we never shall meet where we met last time, thank God!”

Morgan’s comment on this unusual circumstance was that the same Gospel message was sufficient for both men.

This Christmas season may those of us who know Jesus as our Savior overflow with fresh praise and thanksgiving to Him for having come to earth to provide our salvation. If you have not yet done so, may God graciously draw you to place your faith in His Son as your Savior. If I may be of any assistance to you in that matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

A blessed and Christ-honoring Christmas to all!

Copyright 2017 by Vance E. Christie

John Calvin

John Calvin

John Calvin is commonly acknowledged as the Reformation’s supreme Bible teacher and the primary systematizer of Reformation theology. He also provides an outstanding example of embracing God’s call on one’s life, even when it involves personal sacrifice to do so, and as a result to be greatly used of the Lord.

Calvin was born on July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France. By age twenty-one he had earned the B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Paris. At his father’s wishes, he then studied law at the universities of Orleans and Bourges, earning the B.A. and licentiate in law at the former university. Following his father’s death in 1531, Calvin returned to Paris to study the classics, desiring to pursue the quiet career of a contemplative scholar.

In his early years of study he was “stubbornly tied to the superstitions of the papacy.” But over time he was exposed to early Reformation teachings that had reached France. This led to what he called his “unexpected conversion,” when he came to personally embrace such Protestant tenets as the ultimate authority of Scripture and justification through faith in Christ alone.

Early in 1535, after Protestants in France began to face persecution, Calvin sought refuge in the Protestant city of Basel, Switzerland. There he wrote the first edition of his highly influential work Institutes of the Christian Religion. Over the next twenty-five years Calvin issued several subsequent editions of that volume, expanding it each time. The final edition consisted of eighty chapters. Church historian Bruce Shelley calls Calvin’s Institutes “the clearest, most logical, and most readable exposition of Protestant doctrine that the Reformation age produced.” The work has been translated into numerous languages and continues to be read and studied with benefit to this day.

William Farel

William Farel

During the summer of 1536, at age twenty-seven, Calvin determined to move to Strasbourgh to continue his studies there. While taking a roundabout route in order to skirt a local war, he was providentially brought to Geneva. In recent years a fiery reformer named William Farel had been leading the Protestant cause there. Hearing that the scholarly young author of the Institutes was in town for the night, Farel went to convince him to stay on in Geneva to help out with the Reformation there. When Calvin demurred, Farel pronounced a divine curse on his intended life of quiet studies if he would not stay to help them with the Lord’s work there! Stunned and convicted, Calvin agreed to remain.

The city council offered Calvin a position as “Professor of Sacred Scriptures,” and he earnestly took up his new responsibilities. He prepared a confession of faith to be accepted by anyone who wished to be a citizen, promoted daily gatherings for psalm singing and expository preaching, and called for an autonomous church court for censuring or, if necessary, excommunicating (usually by exclusion from the Lord’s Supper) delinquent members.

Not surprisingly, influential families in Geneva’s high society (who ominously called themselves Libertines) opposed Calvin’s strict standards. In 1538 the city magistrates refused to accept Calvin’s contention that church leaders should be granted the authority to excommunicate unrepentant church members. Calvin was ordered to leave Geneva, and Farel chose to go with him, thus showing his support for his highly-capable young colleague.

Idelette Calvin, John Calvin's wife

Idelette Calvin, John Calvin’s wife

Calvin was able at last to make his way to Strasbourg. There he spent what may have been the three happiest years of his life. Martin Bucer, the highly respected and influential leader of the Reformation in Strasbourg, asked Calvin to pastor the French congregation that had formed there. Calvin produced a French liturgy and translated several Psalms and hymns into French for singing by the French exiles.

In 1540 Calvin married Idelette de Bure, a widow with two children. They were happily married, though only for nine years, as Idellete died of illness in 1549. Calvin called her “the best friend of my life.”

By 1541 Calvin’s supporters had again regained power in Geneva. They urged him to return to once again lead the Reformation there. Doubtless with a significant degree of trepidation he agreed to do so. [To be continued in a future Perspective.]

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Sources used: The Story of Christianity, The Early Church to the Present Day, Justo L. Gonzalez (Prince/Hendrickson, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 61-69; Church History in Plain Language, Bruce L. Shelley (Word, 1982), pp. 274-281; Great Leaders of the Christian Church, John D. Woodbridge, Ed., “John Calvin,” James I. Packer (Moody, 1988), pp. 206-215.

Copyright 2017 by Vance E. Christie