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Christian History Home > 131 Christians > Missionaries > Hudson Taylor


Hudson Taylor
Faith missionary to China
posted 8/08/2008 12:56PM

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Hudson Taylor
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"China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women … The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary."

In September 1853, a little three-masted clipper slipped quietly out of Liverpool harbor with Hudson Taylor, a gaunt and wild-eyed 21-year-old missionary, aboard. He was headed for a country that was just coming into the Christian West's consciousness; only a few dozen missionaries were stationed there. By the time Taylor died a half-century later, however, China was viewed as the most fertile and challenging of mission fields as thousands volunteered annually to serve there.

Radical missionary

Taylor was born to James and Amelia Taylor, a Methodist couple fascinated with the Far East who had prayed for their newborn, "Grant that he may work for you in China." Years later, a teenage Hudson experienced a spiritual birth during an intense time of prayer as he lay stretched, as he later put, "before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy." He spent the next years in frantic preparation, learning the rudiments of medicine, studying Mandarin, and immersing himself ever deeper into the Bible and prayer.

His ship arrived in Shanghai, one of five "treaty ports" China had opened to foreigners following its first Opium War with England. Almost immediately Taylor made a radical decision (as least for Protestant missionaries of the day): he decided to dress in Chinese clothes and grow a pigtail (as Chinese men did). His fellow Protestants were either incredulous or critical.

Taylor, for his part, was not happy with most missionaries he saw: he believed they were "worldly" and spent too much time with English businessmen and diplomats who needed their services as translators. Instead, Taylor wanted the Christian faith taken to the interior of China. So within months of arriving, and the native language still a challenge, Taylor, along with Joseph Edkins, set off for the interior, setting sail down the Huangpu River distributing Chinese Bibles and tracts.

When the Chinese Evangelization Society, which had sponsored Taylor, proved incapable of paying its missionaries in 1857, Taylor resigned and became an independent missionary; trusting God to meet his needs. The same year, he married Maria Dyer, daughter of missionaries stationed in China. He continued to pour himself into his work, and his small church in Ningpo grew to 21 members. But by 1861, he became seriously ill (probably with hepatitis) and was forced to return to England to recover.

Timeline

1780

Deutsche Christentumsgesellschaft Founded

1813

Russian Bible Society Formed

1818

Methodist Missionary Society Begins

1832

Hudson Taylor born

1905

Hudson Taylor dies

1914

World War I begins

In England, the restless Taylor continued translating the Bible into Chinese (a work he'd begun in China), studied to become a midwife, and recruited more missionaries. Troubled that people in England seemed to have little interest in China, he wrote China: Its Spiritual Need and Claims. In one passage, he scolded, "Can all the Christians in England sit still with folded arms while these multitudes [in China] are perishing—perishing for lack of knowledge—for lack of that knowledge which England possesses so richly?"

Taylor became convinced that a special organization was needed to evangelize the interior of China. He made plans to recruit 24 missionaries: two for each of the 11 unreached inland provinces and two for Mongolia. It was a visionary plan that would have left veteran recruiters breathless: it would increase the number of China missionaries by 25 percent.




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