Hudson Taylor

James Hudson Taylor (1832 – 1905)

Best known as Missionary to China. Made 11 trips to China, spent 51 years there and died there. Founder of the China Inland Mission.

Born 21st May 1832 in Barnsley. Father James owned a chemist shop, and was a Methodist lay preacher. As a teenager, he grew to hate his parents religion and only went to church with them out of duty. His father, mother and sister were still all praying for him.

In 1849, he picked up a tract lying in the house, and was converted through reading it. Suddenly he realised that what he'd heard from his childhood about God was all true. Within months he realised the Lord was calling him to China. He began preparing straight away. He swapped his feather mattress for a hard one, he started distributing tracts around the town and holding meetings. He got hold of a gospel of Luke in Chinese, and began learning the language.

In 1851 he moved to Hull to be medical assistant to Dr Robert Hardey. Here, he deliberately forsook all the comforts of home to get used to loneliness and hardship. This is where he began preparing himself for a life of “living by faith.” In 1852, the Chinese Evangelisation Society paid for his training to study medicine at the London Hospital, Whitechapel. He didn't finish his training and left for China in 1853.

When he arrived in Shanghai, there was civil war. He tried to evangelise the locals wherever he could, but eventually had to retreat to the “treaty port” area. He was also shocked by the way the other missionaries were living. They spent all their time in the treaty ports living idle lives, never venturing out to the Chinese villages. As he had opportunity to go upstream, he originally had a poor reception. After deciding to dress like the locals, shave his head and grow a pigtail, he had a far better reception. This was considered odd by the other missionaries.

In 1857 he resigned from the Chinese Evangelisation Society. He thought about joining another Missionary Society, but after receiving a letter from George Muller encouraging him to live by faith, he decided to do just that. In 1858 he moved to Ningbo and married Maria Dyer, daughter of a missionary, who worked in a school there. In 1859 she gave birth to Grace, the first of eight children, four of which died in infancy.

In 1860 Hudson Taylor became very ill and returned to live in London. Whilst he was there he completed his medical studies, translated the New Testament into the Ningbo dialect and became friends with CH Spurgeon. In 1865 as he was walking on Brighton beach, he prayed for missionaries to go to China. He asked the Lord for 24 missionaries, 2 for each province at the time. This was the start of the China Inland Mission. In 1866 the family went back to China. They continued their journeys inland and ended up settling in Yangzhou. There were problems here, the mission station was attacked several times, but eventually many came to the Lord.

Hudson Taylor became very exhausted and depressed at this point. Maria became ill. In 1870 they decided to send their four eldest children back home. Four months later Maria died of cholera. In 1871 Hudson Taylor himself was ill, came back to England and had a breakdown. He soon remarried Jane, a fellow missionary, with which he had two more children. In 1872 they returned to China but left his children behind. In 1900 he was very ill and went into semi-retirement in Switzerland.

His second wife died in Switzerland in 1904. He returned to China for the last time alone in March 1905, dying in Changsha a few months later. He is buried in Zhenjiang (near Yangzhou) next to his first wife. By the time of his death, the CIM had become the largest missionary society in the world, with over 800 missionaries, 125 schools, and 300 mission stations in every province of China.



God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies.

I have found there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.

I am so weak that I can hardly write, I cannot read my Bible, I cannot even pray, I can only lie still in God's arms like a little child, and trust.

There are three indispensable requirements for a missionary: 1. Patience 2. Patience 3. Patience.

It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.

Do not work so hard for Christ that you have no strength to pray, for prayer requires strength.

Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him

It is not so much the greatness of our troubles, as the littleness of our spirit, which makes us complain.

[God] wants you to have something far better than riches and gold, and that is helpless dependence upon Him

Let us give up our work, our thoughts, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into His hand, and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about, or to make trouble about.

The inconsistencies of Christian people, who while professing to believe their Bibles were yet content to live just as they would if there were no such book, had been one of the strongest arguments of my sceptical companions

To me it seemed that the teaching of God's Word was unmistakably clear: "Owe no man any thing." To borrow money implied, to my mind, a contradiction of Scripture-a confession that God had withheld some good thing, and a determination to get for ourselves what He had not given. If there were lack of funds to carry on work, then to that degree, in that special development, or at that time, it could not be the work of God.


Discussion Topics

The Modern Missionary Movement

                Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 9:37-38

 The Faith Mission Principle

                Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 10:9-15

Adopting Local Customs

                1 Corinthians 9:19-23