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J. Hudson Taylor (1832 – 1905): In China For God (Part 2)

     J. Hudson Taylor and his wife and children departed from Britain in May 1866 bound for China where they had previously served as missionaries for seven years.  Having returned to England because of his health, Mr. Taylor now felt the Lord calling him back to the work heavy on his heart of reaching the lost in China’s interior provinces.  Accompanying them were sixteen new missionaries recruited to serve with China Inland Mission in those provinces which were yet without any Christian witness.

Typhoon!

    The long voyage went fairly well until they neared the shores of China.  Then for fifteen days the little ship was buffeted by typhoons and they were driven off course.  Many of the sailors became ill.  The ship was weakened.  The missionaries were worn out with lack of rest due to the pitching of the ship, wet clothes, etc.  On the twelfth day, the storm worsened.  The mainsail was torn to shreds and the masts were torn away.  The ship was taking on water.  Even the captain despaired of saving the ship.  Throughout the storm, Mr. Taylor remained calm, relying on God who was his hope.  When the crisis was at its worst, he went to the captain and the despairing crew to reassure them.  He offered the help of the missionaries who began clearing away the wreckage and salvaging what they could.  Working together they pulled through the crisis that could easily have sent the ship to the bottom of the sea.

    The missionaries learned a lesson in the blessedness of trusting God in the hour of human helplessness and danger.  Of the ordeal Mrs. Taylor wrote: “But it was sweet to rejoice in God through all, to rest in past proofs of His love, independently of present circumstances; and I entered into Habakkuk’s song as never before, ‘Yet will I rejoice in the Lord: I will glory in the God of my salvation.’

Arrival in China

    At last the battered ship limped into Shanghai.  Miraculously, accommodations were found for all the party to be together where they could unpack and dry their sea-soaked baggage and make preparations for moving inland.  One of their party wrote, “We were of ourselves just helpless, but we knew that we were being led by the Hand that opens and no man shuts; the Hand that had prepared for us at Shanghai a hospitable roof and storage for our goods; so we prayed and moved forward, nothing doubting.”  Within six months of arrival, all the party of new missionaries had settled in the interior of China.  This was cause for great rejoicing and was recognized as a remarkable answer to prayer.

    Not only were the missionaries advancing on their knees in prayer, but also at home Mr. Berger, in charge of mission affairs there, was maintaining regular prayer meetings.  In addition a number of other prayer meetings had sprung up throughout Britain with the particular burden of praying for China Inland Mission.

    By the time the party had been in China for one year, they had increased the number of their stations until the farthest one inland was twenty-four days’ travel from the first station established.  They were the only missionaries in this vast area away from the coast.  This pioneering work was very hard and many of the missionaries were young.  The prayer meetings were vital to the mission.  The powers of darkness were real and prayer was the only way to overcome them.  Feeling greatly inadequate, the new missionaries constantly sought the Lord for His sufficiency and were greatly helped by the faith, steadfastness and holy boldness of the Taylors.

Our Weights Are but Feathers to God

    Mr. Taylor’s frequent travels to extend the work ever farther among the unreached inland Chinese often took him from home and family.  These partings were not easy to bear.  Once Mrs. Taylor was separated from her husband for a few weeks by his travels when the baby became seriously ill.  Mrs. Taylor was not well herself, but she could write to her husband: “Let us cast all our burdens, and they are many and weighty, upon our omnipotent, all-wise, loving Father.  They are but feathers to Him!”

    At another time, she had to make a journey to care for her husband who had become seriously ill.  The urgency of her journey caused the boatman to row ceaselessly until he dropped the oars from sheer exhaustion.  Taking up the oars while the boatman rested, Mrs. Taylor took turns with him paddling through heat and backache day and night to reach her husband and to provide the help he needed.  It was only faith and prayer that carried the frail little lady to the completion of her journey where she was able to nurse Mr. Taylor back to health.

Opposition

    Inspired by the powers of darkness, there were those who stirred up the Chinese people against these foreign people who had come to tell them of Jesus.  Friendly visitors were replaced by threatening groups who gathered around the missionary quarters.  A very critical time came when thousands of rioters gathered around the home of the Taylors and associated missionaries.  At first Mr. Taylor was able to appease them with his kind words, but eventually they broke into the grounds, looting the homes and burning some rooms.  Some missionaries were injured and all were left homeless and bereft of almost all possessions.  Mrs. Taylor wrote to a friend, “I do not know whether I shall be able to give you much idea…of the perils through which we have passed within the last forty-eight hours.  Our God has brought us through:  may it be to live henceforth more fully to His praise and glory.  We have had, so to speak, another typhoon...at least equally dangerous to our lives, and more terrible while it lasted….  I believe God will bring His own glory out of this; and I hope it will tend to the furtherance of the Gospel.”

    The missionaries had to leave this station for a time, but as soon as it seemed safe, they returned.  Chinese neighbors were impressed that the missionaries had escaped with their lives from the frightful mob, and that those injured recovered perfectly.  Now they dared to return with their children and minister lovingly again!

    Following the experience, Mr. Taylor wrote to Mr. Berger who was responsible for approving candidates applying to go to China:  “China is not to be won for Christ by self-seeking, ease-loving men and women.  Those not prepared for labor, self-denial and many discouragements will be poor helpers in the work....  The men and women we need are those who will put Jesus, China, souls first and foremost in everything and at all times:  life itself must be secondary – nay, even those more precious than life.  Of such men, and of such women, do not fear to send us too many.  Their price is far above rubies.”

    – Arranged from the book, Hudson Taylor And The China Inland Mission, The Growth Of A Work Of God, by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.

    (To be continued)

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