J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), In China For God (Part 4)
Arranged from the book, "Hudson Taylor And The China Inland Mission. The Growth Of A Work Of God" by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.
In his missionary service in China, J. Hudson Taylor was initiating some new practices and procedures, some of which caused misunderstanding and even opposition. One such was that he and most of the missionaries of China Inland Mission dressed and wore their hair as the Chinese. They found this gave them rapport with those to whom they had come to minister.
And always there was the great conflict against the powers of dark heathenism. What great joy it was, however, to find those scattered persons who welcomed the Gospel and responded wholeheartedly to it. Mr. Taylor urged the missionaries to train as many Chinese converts as possible for responsibility.
"Not I but Christ"
About this time Mr. Taylor experienced great concern that his own spiritual life was not as deep and as vibrant and as holy as it ought to be. He fasted, prayed, strove, sought more time for reading the Bible and praying but could not seem to gain the victory he sought. He knew that in Christ was all he needed, but he could not see how to obtain it for himself. And then the blessed light broke in upon him – it was by faith!
With great joy he wrote to his sister, "As I thought of the Vine and the branches (John 15:1-11), what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in having wished to get the sap, the fullness out of Him! I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones (Eph. 5:30). The vine, now I see, is not the root merely, but all – root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit: and Jesus is not only that. He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! … It is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour, to be a member of Christ!"
This new life in Christ Jesus was evident in his very busy life. He made it a priority to first get blessing in his own soul and then give himself in the work in a most diligent way. Difficulties and problems increased, but still he was able to rest in the Lord and to be content because he believed that God orders all things. Story after story was told of the loving, self-sacrificing labors of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. Frequent journeys were undertaken, often at great cost to themselves in order to minister to sick missionaries, to strengthen, encourage, counsel, settle difficulties and to advance the work.
Mr. Taylor’s new spiritual life and rest were needed to bear him up above personal difficulties as well as mission responsibilities. Two of their five children died, and were buried in China, and then a newly born infant of one week. It seemed necessary to send three of the children back to England under the care of a devoted missionary lady who would "mother" them during the difficult separation. Then to Mr. Taylor’s great sorrow, his beloved wife Maria died quite unexpectedly, at the age of thirty-three. Still the satisfying new life he had found in Christ carried him through the loneliness, which was made all the more severe by physical infirmities.
He could write: "No language can ever express what [Christ] has been and is to me. Never does He leave me; constantly does He cheer me with His love. He who once wept at the grave of Lazarus often now weeps in and with me. He who once on earth rejoiced in spirit and said, ‘Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight,’ (Luke 10:21), daily, hourly rejoices in spirit in me, and says so still. His own rest, His own peace, His own joy He gives me. He kisses me with the kisses of His love, which are better than wine…."
About this time there was much unsettledness in the country. The situation for the missionaries was tense. There was threat of riot. Mr. Taylor urged the missionaries to look to God for their protection and not to their government, that a clear testimony might be given to the Chinese Christians. And so they were kept in calmness and joy in the midst of trouble, and the Chinese Christians were helped to look to God in faith to bear the persecutions that came upon them as friends of the foreigners and followers of Jesus.
At the end of almost six years of work in inland China, Hudson Taylor returned to England again. There were now thirteen mission stations with more than thirty foreign missionary and fifty Chinese workers. The stations were an average of one-hundred miles apart.
At this time it was necessary to accept the resignation of Mr. Berger who had so devotedly and capably handled home affairs. But Mr. Berger’s failing strength necessitated someone else taking up the editing of the paper, the testing and training of candidates, the correspondence and the many details involved in handling the home end of ministry. For the present the work had to be undertaken by Mr. Taylor himself. Prayer continued to be a vital part of the home responsibilities. Someone who attended one of the home prayer meetings led by Mr. Taylor recalled:
"I never heard anyone pray like he did. There was a simplicity, a tenderness, a boldness, a power that hushed and subdued one and made it clear that God had admitted him into the inner circle of His friendship. He spoke with God face to face, as a man talks with his friend. Such praying was evidently the outcome of long tarrying in the secret place, and was as a dew from the Lord. I have heard many men pray in public since then, but the prayers of Mr. Taylor and the prayers of Mr. Spurgeon stand all by themselves. Who that heard could ever forget them? To hear Mr. Taylor plead for China was to know something of what is meant by ‘the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man’ (Jas. 5:16)."
(To be continued)