The Example Of Hudson Taylor (1832 – 1905) Missionary To China
In their book, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor note that “Hudson Taylor had many secrets, for he was always going on with God, yet they were but one – the simple, profound secret of drawing for every need, temporal or spiritual, upon ‘the fathomless wealth of Christ.’” This certainly was central to Taylor’s great accomplishments and influence. He knew the Lord intimately and received life and strength from Him. Because of this close bond with the Lord, he learned to trust the Lord completely.
The real motivation for his work grew out of his love for the Lord. His ultimate concern was “the cause of Christ, not China.” He wrote that Christians should keep in mind “…the higher aspect of our work – that of obedience to God, to bringing glory to His name, of gladdening the heart of our God and Father by living and serving as His beloved children.”
Taylor’s trust in God’s care is what enabled him to overcome incredible hardship. He wrote that “the cold, and even the hunger, the watchings and sleeplessness nights of danger, and the feeling at times of utter isolation and helplessness, were well and wisely chosen, and tenderly and lovingly meted out....” He maintained that God often places “His people into difficulties on purpose that they may come to know Him as they could not otherwise do.” He said that “it doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is, it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord – then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.”
Devotion to Prayer
Prayer was foundational to Taylor’s life and work. Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor point out that “it was not easy for Mr. Taylor, in his changeful life, to make time for prayer and Bible study, but he knew that it was vital. ...From two to four a.m. was the time he usually gave to prayer; the time when he could be most sure of being undisturbed to wait upon God.” At an earlier point in his life he decided to not work as late at night so that he might be able to wake up at 5 a.m. and devote two hours to Bible study and prayer.
He believed that everything should be bathed in prayer. He maintained that it can be very dangerous to step out “in faith” before discerning God’s purposes through prayer.
For example, prayer was central in his approach toward the recruitment of workers. He wrote that “in the study of that Divine Word I learned that to obtain successful laborers, not elaborate appeals for help, but first earnest prayer to God to thrust forth laborers, and second, the deepening of the spiritual life of the church, so that men should be unable to stay at home were what was needed.” He also wrote: “Let us go to the right quarter for our missionaries. Not to the plough or to the anvil, not to the university or the forum, but to the great Head of the Church.”
The accounts of the answers to prayer that he (and China Inland Mission) received are numerous, miraculous, and inspirational. He testified that he had “seen God, in answer to prayer, quell the raging of the storm, alter the direction of the wind, give rain in the midst of prolonged drought, …stay the angry passions and murderous intentions of violent men, and bring the machinations of His people’s foes to nought, …raise the dying from the bed of death, when human aid was vain. …He has seen God, in answer to prayer, raising up laborers not a few for this vast mission field, supplying the means requisite for their outfit, passage, and support, and vouchsafing blessing on the efforts of many of them.”
Devotion to the Word of God
Hudson Taylor was also devoted to the Word of God. He loved to read it, study it, and teach from it. In a letter to his sister he shared, “I can seldom read Scripture now without tears of joy and gratitude.” By age seventy he had read the Bible through forty times. And he took the Bible at face value. He was convinced that “if we were to take the directions of our Master and the assurances He gave to His first disciples more fully as our guide, we should find them to be just as suited to our times as to those in which they were originally given.”