Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), the eminent pioneer missionary to inland China, was a man of outstanding and unshakable faith in God. He unfalteringly manifested strong faith in God throughout his five decades of demanding, fruitful missionary service. That faith was the key to his ability to overcome innumerable difficulties and was foundational to his tremendous ministry success. By considering Taylor’s exceptional example of faith, we can strengthen our own trust in the Lord in seeking to faithfully live for and serve Him.
While taking a medical course in Hull, England, as part of his preparation for missionary service, young Hudson Taylor once gave away his very last coin to aid a desperately poor family. Consequently, he did not know how his own food would be supplied the very next day. But within twelve hours the Lord provided him four times the amount he had given away through an anonymous source. That was one of several faith-building experiences Taylor had before he left England for China.
En route to China for the first time, the ship on which Taylor sailed was trapped in a calm and carried forty miles off course by a strong current. The helpless vessel was in imminent danger of running aground on a sunken reef off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. Taylor led the four known Christians aboard the ship in imploring God to rescue them by sending a wind. He then went on deck and recommended to the incredulous first officer that the listless mainsail be let down in anticipation of the immediate answer to their prayers! Presently a wind did spring up and within minutes the ship was sailing safely back out to sea. Throughout his ministry career Taylor had numerous other occasions to trust God for safety for himself, his family and his fellow missionaries, not only while traveling but also when encountering violent physical opposition from some Chinese toward the Christian message.
With the unclouded eye of faith Taylor followed the Lord’s leading in founding the China Inland Mission (CIM) to reach the vast, previously-neglected interior region of that country. (Before the founding of the CIM, missionaries had confined their ministries to China’s seven coastal provinces, leaving the eleven inland provinces, where fully half the country’s immense population resided, entirely unevangelized.) Taylor trusted God to raise up many missionaries and to supply them with the necessary finances and protection so they could spread the Gospel throughout inland China. As a result, by the time of Taylor’s death, 800 missionaries and more than 2,000 Chinese pastors and evangelists were serving at 1,000 CIM stations and outstations. In Taylor’s lifetime the equivalent of 7.5 million dollars had been given to support the CIM, and 30,000 Chinese had become Christians.
Prior to 1886, the most missionaries the CIM had ever added to its force in a relatively short period of time was seventy, from 1882 to 1884. Late in 1886 Taylor and other missionaries in China began praying, rather audaciously, that God would send 100 new missionaries to the field in just one year’s time, by the end of 1887! Everyone affiliated with the CIM was invited to pray for “The Hundred.”
A veteran missionary to Shanghai told Taylor, “I am delighted to hear that you are praying for large reinforcements. You will not get a hundred, of course, within the year; but you will get many more than if you did not ask for them.”
Taylor replied, “Thank you for your interest. We have the joy of knowing our prayers are answered now. And I feel sure that, if spared, you shall share that joy by welcoming the last of the hundred to China!”
That year an astounding 600 men and women offered themselves for service with the CIM in China. By the end of 1887, 102 new CIM missionaries had sailed for China.
These are just a few instances of the conspicuous faith that characterized Hudson Taylor’s life and ministry. His life story is peppered with literally scores of such faith-filled incidents.
Two of the books that I’ve had the privilege of writing, Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China (P&R, 2011), and Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians (Christian Focus, 2010), contain numerous true stories of Taylor’s outstanding faith. I think you’ll find, as I certainly have, encouragement and guidance for your own faith-walk with the Lord, through reading of Hudson Taylor’s life of remarkable faith.
Copyright 2013 by Vance E. Christie