Hudson Taylor & Missions to China: Did You Know?
Hudson Taylor popularized—in the face of severe criticism at first—the now commonplace idea that missionaries should live and dress like the people they seek to evangelize.
When Taylor arrived in China in 1854, many Protestant missionaries were content to minister in the coastal cities. Taylor's example of pushing into the vast interior was one reason other missionaries began doing so as well.
Taylor—contrary to the mission conventions of his day—believed that single women were fully capable of managing distant mission outposts without the help of male missionaries.
Taylor's China Inland Mission was founded in 1865 on the premise that it would never solicit funds from donors but simply trust God to supply its needs. Today, 131 years later, though the organization has changed its name (to Overseas Missionary Fellowship [International]), it has not changed this policy.
Taylor battled severe depression all his life, both from the way he drove himself and because of the immensity of the task. Even after thousands of conversions, there were still some 400 million Chinese to reach. At one point late in life, he sank towards black despair, and "the awful temptation," as an unpublished note in the Taylor papers runs, "even to end his own life."
A heretic by the name of Olepen was the first missionary to China in 635. Olepen was a follower of Nestorian Christianity (See "Trickle-Down Evangelism," in this issue).
Travel to China took immense patience and courage for European and Middle Eastern missionaries. A trip from Rome to London was considered long in its day: about 1,000 miles. From Persia, the base of the Nestorians, to Chang-An, the Tang dynasty capital (now Xi'an), the trip covered 5,000 miles. Taylor's first trip to China, by ...