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

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

Many Christians wish they had greater abilities and success in their service of Christ. God wisely grants us a limited degree of both abilities and success for a variety of reasons: We’re helped to maintain a proper degree of humility rather than inappropriately swelling with pride; We’re led to ongoing dependence on the Lord rather than thinking that we can accomplish things on our own; We give God the glory for success rather than taking credit for it ourselves; We’re better able to process both the praise and the criticism we receive from others.

Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor, eminent founder of the China Inland Mission, models these principles. In the fall of 1888 Taylor was ministering in Canada. During the train trip to Montreal, Taylor’s traveling companion, Henry Frost, read a critical magazine article entitled “Hudson Taylor in Toronto.” Angered by the article’s contents, Frost tried to hide it under a stack of papers. Taylor, however, had heard about the article and, picking it up, read:

Hudson Taylor is rather disappointing. I had in my mind an idea of what great missionaries should look like. He being professedly one of the great missionaries of modern times must be such as they. But he is not. A stranger would never notice him on the street except, perhaps, to say that he is a good-natured looking Englishman. Nor is his voice in the least degree majestic. He displays little oratorical power. He elicits little applause … launches no thunderbolts. Even our [Jonathan] Goforth used to plead more eloquently for China’s millions, and apparently with more effect. It is quite possible that were Mr. Taylor, under another name, to preach as a candidate in our Ontario [pulpit] vacancies there are those who would begrudge him his probationer’s pay.

Taylor laid down the magazine and was quiet for a time. Then he smiled at Frost and said: “This is very just criticism, for it is all true. I have often thought that God made me little in order that He might show what a great God He is.”

Henry Frost

Henry Frost

Later that night when they retired to their sleeping berths, Frost lay in the darkness thinking about his remarkable traveling companion: “It is not hard for a little man to try to be great; but it is very hard for a great man to try to be little. Mr. Taylor, however, has entered into that humility which alone is found in the spirit of the lowly Nazarene.”

In August 1890 Taylor was invited to Australia to encourage Christians there to become actively involved in the evangelization of China. At a large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, the chairman introduced him as “our illustrious guest.” Taylor stepped to the podium where he stood silently a moment before beginning, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”

After the China Inland Mission had succeeded in spreading the Gospel throughout the provinces of China, a leader of the Church of Scotland once said to Hudson Taylor: “You must sometimes be tempted to be proud because of the wonderful way God has used you. I doubt if any man living has had greater honor.”

Taylor responded earnestly, “On the contrary, I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use, and that He found me.”

Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie

China Inland Mission missionaries in Chinese dress (1891). Hudson Taylor is seated in the middle of the second row with full gray beard.

China Inland Mission missionaries in Chinese dress (1891). Hudson Taylor is seated in the middle of the second row with full gray beard.

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.

China Inland Mission map showing China's provinces

China Inland Mission map showing China’s provinces

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