J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), In China For God (Part 1)
Arranged from the book, "Hudson Taylor And The China Inland Mission, The Growth Of A Work Of God" by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.
"It was Sunday, June 25, a quiet summer morning by the sea. Worn out and really ill, Hudson Taylor had gone to friends at Brighton [England] and…had wandered out alone upon the sands left by the receding tide. It was a peaceful scene about him, but inwardly he was in agony of spirit. A decision had to be made and he knew it, for the conflict could no longer be endured."
Hudson Taylor, now a man of twenty-nine years, already had seven years of missionary service in China behind him, having gone as a young man of 21 years. In China he had labored strenuously and had married a young lady who shared his love for the Lord and for the Chinese people. Together they had served until ill health forced him to return to his native England. There he had been advised that it would be like a death sentence to think of returning to China. He threw himself into the work of publishing a hymn book for the Chinese and a revision of the New Testament. He had also decided to complete his medical studies. Long hours were spent daily in earnest study.
As he diligently applied himself to these tasks, on the wall above him hung a map of China. Well he knew from his experience as a missionary in China, that missionary work was largely confined to the coastal area. As he daily studied the map, the burden of the countless millions of souls in inland China grew upon him. And the Word of God which was his constant companion fed his growing conviction that something must be done for the souls in inland China.
Words like those found in Ezekiel 3:18 burned their way into his heart: "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." Adding fuel to the burden was the fact that the number of missionaries in China was decreasing rather than increasing.
Work was laid aside time and again while he called his wife and two fellow workers for prayer. Together they beseeched God to send workers to all of China. Missionary societies were contacted and challenged. They sympathized with the burden, but where to secure the finances, and the men for the task, stopped them from taking any action.
The thought of a host of Chinese dying daily without Christ became an agony in the soul of Hudson Taylor. He knew God was saying to him that in answer to prayer, God would send the finances and the workers. Still, the thought of maintaining a force of missionaries in the rugged interior of China through the trials of faith that would surely come was almost overwhelming to him. Almost crushed by the burden, he contemplated what the blessed Gospel would do for the benighted Chinese millions – if there was faith to undertake the task.
This was the agony in his soul as he walked the shores on that quiet summer morning. Suddenly it came to him that if God was asking him to do this, then the responsibility was with God. "Thou, Lord," he cried with relief that was unutterable, "Thou shalt have all the burden! At Thy bidding, as Thy servant I go forward, leaving results with Thee."
Opening his Bible he wrote, "Prayed for twenty-four willing skilful labourers at Brighton, June 25, 1865." That was two evangelists for each of China’s interior provinces unreached as yet by missionaries. Joy and peace flooded his soul. He was apprehending that for which God had apprehended him!
The years of study he had just been through proved valuable training for what lay ahead. During that time Mr. Taylor looked to the Lord alone for provision of his daily needs and the needs of his family. He had also taken on support of a young couple who sailed for China to serve the Lord. The trial of his faith was severe as he sometimes was reduced to his last few pennies – but he was learning to trust wholly in the Lord.
"Nothing is more striking in the records of this period than Mr. Taylor’s dependence upon prayer, real dependence for every detail, every need. He leaned his whole weight on God, pleading the promises…. All was brought to the Heavenly Father with the directness of little children, and the conviction that He could and would undertake, direct, and provide. It was all so real, so practical! Equally characteristic was the faithfulness with which he followed when the Lord’s way was made plain…."
Within two days of his decision at Brighton, he had opened a bank account in the name of China Inland Mission and had made his first deposit, an amount of ten pounds. Matters began to move rapidly, proving that God was in this giant step. An experienced and successful businessman, Mr. Berger, was closely drawn to Mr. Taylor. He would represent the mission at home. Many doors opened for Mr. Taylor to present the need of inland China. Contributions began to come in for the work. Their home became a bustling place as a few candidates arrived and were outfitted to sail for China. Mrs. Taylor, now mothering four little children, became a mother to the young missionaries during their preparation.
But in the midst of the meetings and lively activity, Hudson Taylor was careful to spend time in quiet prayer and meditation. "Depend upon it," he said, "God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies." And so it was very important to learn and to follow God’s ways.
(To be continued)