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.
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?”
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 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.
At 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