Hudson Taylor – inspires us to make disciples of all nations for Christ whatever the cost
1832 – 1905
James Hudson Taylor is regarded as one of the most significant Christian missionaries of the modern era, spending 51 years in China and becoming an inspiration to missionaries and missionary organisations ever since.
Hudson Taylor, growing up in Barnsley, after initially walking away from the faith of his parents, became a Christian at 17. He soon decided to go to China as a missionary, though first he undertook medical training and began learning Mandarin, Greek, Hebrew and Latin!
He left for China in 1853, aged just 21. He adopted a traditional Chinese appearance and Chinese lifestyle, following the Apostle Paul’s principle, ‘I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some’ (1 Corinthians 9). He offered medical assistance wherever he went and preached and handed out Chinese Gospel tracts. In 1958 Taylor married another missionary in China, Maria, who was working at a girl’s school in Ningbo.
Taylor wrote to his sister in 1860: “If I had a thousand pounds China should have it—if I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No! Not China, but Christ. Can we do too much for Him? Can we do enough for such a precious Saviour?”
On 25 June 1865, back in England on Brighton beach, Taylor finally dedicated himself to God for the founding of a new society to undertake the evangelisation of the “unreached” inland provinces of China. It is often not realised that the last hurdle was not fear for himself but for those who would got to China with him. He wrote…“I feared that in the midst of the dangers, difficulties and trials which would necessarily be connected with such a work, some who were comparatively inexperienced Christians would break down, and bitterly reproach me for having encouraged them to undertake such an enterprise for which they were unequal………On Sunday, June 25th 1865, unable to bear the sight of a congregation of a thousand or more Christian people rejoicing in their own security, while millions were perishing for lack of knowledge, I wandered out on the sands alone, in great spiritual agony; and there the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself for this service. I told him that all the responsibility as to issues and consequences must rest with him, that as his servant, it was mine to obey and follow him – His to direct, to care for, and to guide me and those who might labour with me”.
CIM became the largest Protestant missionary agency in the world, and Hudson Taylor himself made 11 trips to China, each return forced due to health difficulties and the tragic deaths of his first and then second wife and numerous children. He reminds us of our saviour Jesus, who ‘made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant’ (Philippians 2).