And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15 NAS)
Even before he was born, the parents of James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) had prayed about their son going to China someday. But at age 15, Hudson Taylor was skeptical of Christianity and turned off “by the inconsistencies of Christian people” who claimed to believe the Bible but “were yet content to live just as they would if there were no such book.” He decided then to pursue a secular life and to live for his life only. His mother and sister, however, persisted in praying for him.
In June 1849, Taylor had a change of heart after reading a gospel tract he picked up from his father’s library. In it he came to understand the finished work of Christ and of His perfect atonement and satisfaction for sin. Salvation was apprehended in that moment as Hudson Taylor fell on his knees and accepted Christ as his Savior.
The next years saw Taylor learning the rudiments of medicine, studying Mandarin, and immersing himself deeper into the Bible and prayer. His heart was to have the Christian faith taken to the interior of China. Taylor was unhappy with the missionaries he saw who had adopted rich lifestyles and neglected going further inland to the rural and poorer areas.
“China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women,” said Hudson Taylor. “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.”
Within months after arriving Shanghai on March 1, 1854, Hudson Taylor along with Joseph Edkins set off for the interior, setting sail down the Huangpu River distributing Chinese Bibles and tracts.
Before long, Taylor was convinced that a special organization was needed to evangelize the interior of China, but he was wracked with doubt. He was worried about sending men and women unprotected into the interior, and at the same time despaired for the millions of Chinese who were dying without the hope of the gospel.
In 1865, Taylor wrote in his diary, “For two or three months, intense conflict … Thought I should lose my mind.” Then there was a break in his journal for seven weeks. Worn out and ill, Hudson Taylor had gone to friends for rest. While walking along the beach at the south coast of England in Brighton, Taylor’s gloom lifted.
“There the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. I told Him that all responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with Him; that as His servant it was mine to obey and to follow Him.”
With absolute trust in God, Taylor’s new mission which he called China Inland Mission (CIM) grew and prospered. Thousands were inspired by him to forsake the comforts of the West to bring the gospel message to the vast and unknown interior of China. Today, the mission of CIM is continued under the name, Overseas Missionary Fellowship (International), to evangelize to the world.
The life and story of James Hudson Taylor is documented in many places on the worldwide web. Many like him had passed on and accomplished great tasks following the will of God. As followers of the Lord, we have also been called to the great commission, but few are convinced to live beyond the mundane when it comes to reaching out to others because of inconveniences and unpopularity.
Unlike many of us, Hudson Taylor was willing to become a laughing stock to both foreign and Chinese onlookers just in order to help people see what he preached was not such a foreign message after all. He chose to wear the clothes of the common Chinese so as not to be seen as an outsider.
Hudson Taylor died on June 3, 1905 and was buried in Changsha, Hunan. During his 51 years of service there, CIM established 20 mission stations, brought 849 missionaries to the field, trained some 700 Chinese workers, raised four million dollars by faith, and developed a witnessing Chinese church of 125,000.
Dear Lord, thank You for the example set by J. Hudson Taylor to teach us not to neglect those who are yet unsaved, simply because of inconveniences or fear of being ridiculed. Help us to be always ready to do Your work and to surrender ourselves for Your service.