Charles Spurgeon as a young man

Charles Spurgeon as a young man

Charles Spurgeon was one of the most prominent preachers and powerful heralds of the Christian Gospel in the history of the Church. The account of Spurgeon’s own conversion is both fascinating and instructive.

From the time he was just a child Charles Spurgeon was heavily burdened by an awareness of his own sinfulness.  Throughout several boyhood years he was constantly conscious that in both thoughts and actions he was unable to fulfill the requirements of God’s holy laws.  Though he knew Christ had died for the sins of human beings, he saw no application of that truth to himself.  He tried to pray, but the only complete request he could utter was, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Though he had never uttered a blasphemy, all manner of cursing God and man began to fill his mind.  Then followed severe temptations to deny the very existence of God as well as efforts to convince himself he was an atheist.  When all such futile thinking failed, he told himself that he must feel or do something to merit salvation.  He wished he might have his back scourged or that he could undergo some difficult pilgrimage to that end.

In 1849, at age fifteen, he entered a school in the town of Newmarket in Essex County, England, as both a student and a part-time teacher.  In Newmarket he attended services at one church after another, hoping he might hear something that would help remove his spiritual burden.  He later related that, while he heard pastors preach on a variety of themes, they did not address his basic spiritual question and need. “What I wanted to know was, ‘How can I get my sins forgiven?’, and they never told me that.”

That December an outbreak of fever temporarily closed the Newmarket school, and Spurgeon returned home to Colchester for the Christmas season.  One Sunday morning early in January he was making his way to one church when a fierce snow storm led him, instead, to enter the Primitive Methodist Chapel located closer to his home.  Only about a dozen people were there that morning, and he took a seat near the back, under the gallery.

The regular minister had not been able to make it due to the storm.  So when it was time for the sermon a thin man whom Spurgeon supposed to be a shoemaker or a tailor went up to the pulpit.  He announced and read the Scripture text for his impromptu sermon, Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”   The man obviously had little formal education, and he mispronounced some of his words.  But that did not matter to Spurgeon, for upon hearing the Bible verse he thought it contained a glimmer of hope for him.

The lay preacher began to deliver a homespun discourse in his broad Essex dialect: “This is a very simple text indeed.  It says, ‘Look.’  Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain.  It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just ‘Look.’  Well, a man needn’t go to college to learn to look.  You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look.  A man needn’t be worth a thousand pounds a year to look.  Anyone can look; even a child can look.

“But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay! many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there.  You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves.  Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by.  Jesus Christ says, “Look unto Me.”  Some on ye say, “We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.” You have no business with that just now.  Look to Christ.  The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ ”

Charles Spurgeon preaching as a young man

Charles Spurgeon preaching as a young man

Assuming the perspective of Jesus, the preacher continued: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross.  Look unto Me, I am dead and buried.  Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”

After he had spoken for about ten minutes, the layman apparently reached the end of his tether.  Then, fixing his eyes on Spurgeon, he startled him by saying, “Young man, you look very miserable.  And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text.  But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.”  Then raising his hands, he literally shouted: “Young man, look to Jesus Christ.  Look!  Look!  Look!  You have nothing to do but look and live!”

Far from taking offense at being singled out, Spurgeon at once saw the way of salvation.  He hardly noticed anything the lay exhorter said after that, so taken was he with that one thought: “I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word—‘Look!’—what a charming word it seemed to me. … There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun.  And I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.  Oh, that somebody had told me this before, ‘Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.’ ”

When Spurgeon arrived back home early that afternoon, his family immediately noticed the dramatic change that had come over him.  His despair was gone, and he was overflowing with joy.  “Something wonderful has happened to you!” they exclaimed.  And he was only too eager to tell them all about it.  “Oh! there was joy in the household that day,” he afterward reported, “when all heard that the eldest son had found the Savior and knew himself to be forgiven.”

If any readers of this simple blog post have not yet looked to Jesus for salvation from sin and God’s gift of spiritual and eternal life, my sincere hope is that they soon will. If I may be of further assistance to anyone in this vital matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

For those of us who have already looked to Jesus for salvation, may the example of the humble lay preacher remind us that we do not need to be highly educated or skilled in order to point people to Christ. We only need to clearly share what we already know about salvation through faith in Jesus. God can use our sincere (though perhaps imperfect) witness to play a part in drawing

Timeless Stories by Vance Christie

people to the Savior.

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You’ll find many other enjoyable and beneficial incidents from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. Two quality readable Spurgeon biographies are: Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon, A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1987); W. Y. Fullerton’s Charles H. Spurgeon, London’s Most Popular Preacher (Moody, 1980). The latter work is currently out of print but is well-worth purchasing through used book sources at a reasonable rate.

The China Inland Mission's first group of missionaries

The China Inland Mission’s first group of missionaries

When God calls us to carry out some faith-stretching ministry for Him, He supplies us with the faith to do so. And when we follow His lead with marked faith, He blesses in significant or even incredible ways. Hudson Taylor serves as a tremendous example of these principles.

When Hudson surrendered to God’s definite direction by establishing the China Inland Mission in faith (see my May 9, 2018, Perspective) there was immediate and immense interest in the new mission and its objectives. Speaking invitations from churches of several different denominations and requests for promotional literature flooded in. Within six months nearly thirty adults had applied to go as missionaries to the previously unreached inland provinces of China, and sixteen of those applicants were approved.

The cost of transporting and outfitting such a sizeable missionary party was enormous, more than 2,000 pounds (equaling 10,000 American dollars). But each day, over the noon hour, a prayer meeting was held at the Taylors’ home, and in answer to those earnest petitions the funds were fully supplied in timely fashion. When the CIM party sailed from England in May, 1866, just eleven months after the mission was founded, it was the largest delegation of missionaries sent out to China by any mission society to date.

China Inland Mission map, 1948

China Inland Mission map, 1948

Over the next seven and a half years the CIM established a number of mission stations in two of the eleven inland provinces of China. The number of CIM missionaries more than doubled. Those gains were made despite not a few marked personal trials and sometimes fierce opposition faced by missionaries and Chinese Christians alike. Hudson’s wife Maria and his eight-year-old daughter Grace both died of illness during those years.

Hudson’s heart remained burdened for the multiple millions of people in the nine inland provinces that did not yet have a single missionary or Chinese evangelist to share the Good News of salvation with them. On January 27, 1874, while ministering in Chekiang Province, he wrote in the back of his Bible: “Asked God for fifty or a hundred additional native evangelists and as many foreign superintendents [missionaries] as may be needed to open up the forty-eight counties still unoccupied in Chekiang, also for men to break into the nine unoccupied provinces. Asked in the name of Jesus. Give me all needed strength of body, wisdom of mind, grace of soul to do this Your great work.”

Instead of receiving additional strength, however, shortly thereafter Hudson fell seriously ill.  For weeks he was bedridden.  In addition, for several months funds had been so low and needs so great that he hardly knew how to distribute the little that came in.  There simply were no available funds for extending the mission work to new locations.  Still he wrote to CIM officials in London: “I do so hope to see some of the destitute provinces evangelized before long.  I long for it by day and pray for it by night. Can He care less?”

China Inland Mission prayer appeal for the Hundred Workers

China Inland Mission prayer appeal for the Hundred Workers

One day as he slowly recovered he received a letter that had been two months in arriving from England.  In it an unknown correspondent had written:  “My dear Sir, I bless God—in two months I hope to place at the disposal of your council, for further extension of the China Inland Mission work, 800 pounds [equaling 4,000 American dollars].  Please remember, for fresh provinces.” Hudson could hardly believe what he was reading.  The letter had actually been mailed before he had recorded his prayer in his Bible.  Now the correspondence had come as a wonderful confirmation of the faith-filled request God had placed in his heart.

The CIM missionary force continued to grow to just over 100 by its sixteenth anniversary in 1881. Then, in a huge step of faith, Hudson and his fellow missionaries sensed God leading them to pray for seventy new missionaries in the next three years (1882-1884). Within that period of time the additional missionaries were supplied.

Late in 1886 Hudson and other missionaries started 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.”          Hudson and his friends began to sing this prayer at every meal:

Oh send the Hundred workers, Lord,

Those of Thy heart and mind and choice,

To tell Thy love both far and wide—

So we shall praise Thee and rejoice:

And above the rest this note shall swell,

My Jesus hath done all things well.

 

A veteran missionary in Shanghai told Hudson, “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.”

Hudson Taylor quote 2Hudson 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!”

Hudson put legs to his prayers by returning to Britain, where he carried out an exhausting schedule of speaking engagements to promote interest and enlist potential recruits.  The response was overwhelming.  In all, 600 men and women offered themselves for service in China.  The London Council of the CIM refused to lower its standards, so five out of every six candidates were declined.  By the end of 1887, however, 102 new missionaries had been accepted and sailed for China.

Hudson Taylor by Vance ChristieAt the time of Hudson Taylor’s death in 1905, 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.

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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

 

 

 

 

When our three daughters were in elementary school they always participated in the summer reading program that our local public library sponsored. They had a bit more free time available, and they loved to fill some of it by reading a variety of good, entertaining books.

Not only young children, but also many teens and adults enjoy the opportunity to do some recreational reading in the summer. The schedule demands are not quite as relentless as they are during the schoolyear. The days seem longer with it staying light well into the evening. Leisurely visits to a park or the lake, restful Sunday afternoons, vacation time in the car or at a cabin, and other such summertime opportunities all seem like inviting occasions to enjoy a good book.

As part of your summertime reading this year I’d encourage you to read at least one quality Christian biography. And I hope you’ll encourage your kids at home or church to do the same. Perhaps you’ll want to read one such book with them. For a list of the benefits of this particular type of book, check out the very first Perspective I wrote for this website when I launched it five years ago – “Why Read Historic Christian Biography?”

Perhaps one of the biographies I’ve had the privilege of writing will be of interest to you:

There are lots of good historic Christian biographies that have been published for younger children and older youth. See Christian Focus Publication’s Trailblazer series (under its CF4Kids imprint), YWAM’s Christian Heroes Then & Now series, as well as similar series by other publishers.

Plenty of other great Christian biographies have been published for adults also. You may be interested in Tim Challies’ recently-published book, Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms (a collection of biographical vignettes on that theme, published by Cruciform Press). You may also want to peruse the outstanding biography offerings of Christian Focus Publications (including its History Makers series), EP Books (including its Bitesize Biographies), and Banner of Truth Trust. A number of other evangelical Christian publishers offer additional quality biographies.

So quick! – before any more relaxing reading time slips away this summer – order online, pick up at a local Christian bookstore or borrow from your church library a Christian biography that catches your interest and dive into it. You just may find it to be some of the most enjoyable and beneficial reading you’ll do all summer.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie

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