Pulling together an issue of Christian History is a combination of planning and, I trust, Providence. That each issue in the end resembles a unity is always a pleasant surprise.

We had set our sights on an issue that would examine both Hudson Taylor and modern missions to China. I thought we could cover Taylor in a couple of articles and have plenty of room for other topics. Like other well-known missionaries, such as Timothy Richard. Like the harrowing 1950s, when the communist government persecuted the church.

Not quite. The issue quickly got out of control as we discovered more and more fascinating aspects of Taylor's life and mission. For example, read about the extraordinary enthusiasm of his missionaries (see "The Extraordinary Cambridge Seven") and the results of Taylor's policy on female missionaries (see 'Unbecoming' Ladies of the China Inland Mission,").

We couldn't talk about Taylor, of course, without talking some about the missionaries who came before him. See both "Medieval Missionaries to China," and "The Gallery."

Then there is the infamous Boxer Rebellion: I had heard of it but had no idea of the gripping, and frankly bloody, details (see "Missionary Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion."

And we couldn't talk about the astounding development of the indigenous Chinese church. See "Getting Free of Missionaries," and "Miracles after Missions."

Suffice it to say, the place and the times, especially the last 200 years, make for some of the most fascinating stories in church history. And you're only getting a smattering. We've hardly done justice to Roman Catholic missions, or to the complex politics that made modern missions both a possibility and a problem, or to the millions of Chinese believers who contributed to the ...

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