J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), In China For God (Part 2)
Arranged from the book, "Hudson Taylor And The China Inland Mission, The Growth Of A Work Of God" by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.
Assured of God’s leading to him to return to China to open up the vast unreached interior to the Gospel, Hudson Taylor began without delay to make preparations. With the assistance of his wife, he prepared a booklet that was to have large circulation – China’s Spiritual Need and Claims. "Every sentence was steeped in prayer," he said. "It grew up while we were writing – I walking up and down the room and Maria seated at the table." In the booklet he brought out the fact that in the seven provinces of China in which there was already missionary work, there were still 185,000,000 to hear the Gospel. Furthermore, in the eleven provinces of China yet unreached by missionaries, there was another 200,000,000 with not a single witness for Christ among them. Taylor reminded the readers of Christ’s command to go into all the world with the Gospel. It was not only that there was staggering need in China; it was that God wanted them to have the Gospel.
There was one thing greater than this very great, immense need – and that was God – "His resources, purposes, faithfulness, His commands and promises." "All power is given unto Me...Go ye therefore..." it is written in God’s Word (Matt. 28:18-19). And here was a man willing to give his life to obtain from God what was needed for the staggering task of taking the Gospel into all of China. He was asking for twenty-four European missionaries and twenty-four native evangelists to plant the Gospel in the unreached provinces of China. He admitted that it would look very hazardous to some to send European missionaries to a distant land with no one but God to look to, but then he shared how in many circumstances of life he had already proved the great faithfulness of God in his eight and one-half years of service for God.
Mr. Taylor felt directed of the Lord to accept whatever willing, skillful workers presented themselves if they knew the Lord, regardless of what denomination they were affiliated with, and no matter what previous training they had or lacked. Their qualifications were to be that "they were wise to win souls, men and women who knew their God and could sink lesser differences in the one great bond of union." They must be those who would look to the Lord for supply of their needs, for Mr. Taylor could not promise them a salary. They must be prepared to trust God for "strength, grace, protection, enablement for every emergency, as well as daily bread."
It was recognized that China, especially inland China, might not be open to foreigners. There would be much hardship and danger. Traveling and living conditions were primitive. But there was the confidence that if the missionaries were faithful to God, He would be faithful to them. The Revival of 1859 had prepared many hearts to respond to such a challenge. There was a new devotion to God in the hearts of many, and a new love and zeal to win souls. There were those willing to go. There were those willing to pray. There were those willing to give.
Soon a party of ten or twelve was preparing to go to China. The home in which the Taylors lived became too small to accommodate the candidates and to outfit them. A next-door home was rented for the overflow.
At the meetings in which Mr. Taylor was increasingly asked to speak – he made it a policy not to ask for funds. He did not want to take from ministries that already existed. He looked to the Lord to touch hearts to send to China Inland Mission or to any other ministry to which God directed them.
To obtain workers he would obey Matthew 9:38: "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest." Rather than raise funds, he would set his face to do the work of God, and leave it to God to provide the means, in obedience to Matthew 6:33: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." He would seek to deepen the spiritual life of the Christians to whom he had opportunity to speak, for then they would be in better position to hear God speak and to obey in whatever part they were to take in the evangelization of China and the world.
A weekly prayer meeting held at their home was noted for its sincerity and its intensity. Daily noontime prayer meetings for the candidates and workers were direct and earnest also. At this time Mr. Taylor began a practice which he followed for many years – setting aside the last day of the year for fasting and prayer for the work.
Off to China!
May 1866 was the date set for departure. Mr. Taylor and his family would sail with as many missionaries as there were funds to take. There was a party of eighteen adults and four children ready to go. By May the funds had been provided for passage. But no ship going to China was found available until May 3. Immediately it was booked. On May 26 the little party set sail, amid the disapproval of many a less daring, less consecrated, less believing Christian who viewed the venture as foolhardy. It would be a four month trip to Shanghai.
The earnestness of the little group was observed as classes in Chinese taught by Mr. and Mrs. Taylor began soon after boarding ship. The sailors, at first askance at having to carry a whole load of missionaries, found their hearts drawn to these kindly, joyful, helpful people who were so often singing. Prayer had gone up before ever sailing for the crew that would carry them to China. Within a month of sailing, the zealous soul winners had their first convert to Christ. One after another of the crew was won to Christ. The joy of the missionaries was unbounded when the toughest man on the crew yielded himself to the Lord.
(To be continued)