J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), In China For God (Part 3)
Arranged from the book, "Hudson Taylor And The China Inland Mission, The Growth Of A Work Of God" by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.
J. Hudson Taylor and his wife and children departed from Britain in May 1866, bound for China, where Mr. and Mrs. Taylor had served as missionaries for one term. Accompanying them in this ship were sixteen new missionaries recruited to serve in China Inland Mission in provinces without any Christian witness. The trip went fairly well until they neared the shores of China. Then for fifteen days the little ship was buffeted by typhoons. They were driven off course. Many sailors became ill. The ship was weakened. The missionaries were worn out with lack of rest due to the pitching of the ship, wet clothing, etc. After twelve days of being tossed about, 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. When the crisis was at its worst, he went to the captain and the despairing crew and reassured them. He offered the help of the missionaries. Working together they pulled through the crises that could easily have sent the ship to the bottom. The missionaries had learned a lesson in the blessedness of trusting God in the hour of human helplessness and danger.
At last the battered ship limped into Shanghai. Miraculously, accommodations were found for all the party to locate together, where they could unpack and dry their sea-soaked baggage and make preparations for moving inland. 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, but 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 in 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 their stations until the farthest inland was twenty-four days’ travel from the first established. They were the only missionaries in this vast area away from the coast. This pioneering work was very hard. Many of the missionaries were young.
The noon hour prayer meetings were very vital times. Advances had to be carved out through prayer. The powers of darkness were real and prayer was the only way to overcome them. The young missionaries were greatly helped by the faith and steadfastness and holy boldness of the Taylors. They, on the other hand, felt great inadequacy and constantly sought the Lord for His sufficiency.
Our Weights but Feathers to God
Mr. Taylor’s frequent travelings 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. She was not well herself. But she could write to her absent 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!"
Then when the baby was well, 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 paddled through heat and backache 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 her husband back to health.
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 about the missionary quarters. A very critical time came when eight to ten thousand rioters gathered around the home of the Taylors and associated missionaries. At first Mr. Taylor was able to appease them with his kindly 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. They were able to rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake.
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 England to Mr. Berger who was responsible for approving the candidates who were applying to come to China: "China is not to be won for Christ by self-seeking, ease-loving men and women. Those not prepared for labour, 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."
The load was sometimes almost overwhelming for Mr. Taylor. Had he not been able to say, "The battle is the Lord’s" (1 Sam. 17:47), he might have broken under the load. George Müller in Britain was a loyal friend at a time when support of the missionaries fell off. Himself supporting several thousand orphans by faith, George Müller regularly sent to the missionaries toiling in China, and wrote them words of comfort and encouragement.
(To be continued)