‘Prayed for 24 Willing, Skillful Laborers’
Dear God, If you should give us a son, grant that he may work for you in China.”
Such was the 1832 prayer of James Taylor, a British man fascinated with the Chinese empire, kneeling in the back of his chemist shop alongside his wife. Several months later, James Hudson Taylor was born. Immersed in a Methodist family fascinated with China, the young Hudson sometimes blurted out, “When I am a man, I mean to be a missionary and go to China”—though he didn’t learn of their prayer for some years.
When he was 17 and experiencing “teenage restlessness and rebellion,” his mother locked herself in a room, moved to not only pray that Taylor would become a Christian, but also to stay in the room until she was sure her prayers had been answered. That same afternoon, Taylor later recalled, he picked up a gospel tract about the finished work of Christ and accepted “this Savior and this salvation.”
So began a single-minded life in Christ, devoted to bringing the gospel to the interior of China.
A Storm and a Pigtail
Within a few months of this “new birth,” as he called it, Taylor’s call to China was confirmed during a night of intense prayer when Taylor lay stretched “before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy.” He spent the next few years in frantic preparation: studying medicine and language, immersing himself in the Bible and prayer. Finally, at 21, he said an emotional farewell to his mother and boarded a ship in Liverpool harbor headed for China.
Off the Welsh coast, the ship ran into a severe storm. The captain described the sea as the “wildest he had ever seen.” Taylor alternated between dread and trust in God’s ...
Please log in or subscribe to continue reading
Christianity Today subscribers can log in below for full access. Not a subscriber? Subscribe and get complete access to The Behemoth and Christianity Today.
- Editors’ Note
Issue 25: The hopes and fears of invisibility, Hudson Taylor’s mission at 150, and the mystery of the world. /
- How to Become Invisible
Scientists are working harder than ever to help us disappear. But maybe Christians already have. /
- The Beginning of All Serious Thought
One’s every encounter with the world has always been an encounter with an enigma that no merely physical explanation can resolve. /
- Forty Years
‘That summer sojourn, / forty years gone’ /
- Wonder on the Web
Issue 25: Links to amazing stuff. /
Unlock This Article for a Friend
To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.