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[Above: Rev. J. Hudson Taylor (left) with missionaries Dr. John and Dr. W.A.P. Martin. Courtesy of New York Public Library. Public domain.]

ON THIS DAY, 19 SEPTEMBER 1853, the Dumfries, a small sailing ship, left Liverpool. Aboard was one passenger—James Hudson Taylor, bound for China. His mother came to see him off, knowing it would be years before she would see him again—if ever. 

Never shall I forget the cry of anguish wrung from [my] mother’s heart. It went through me like a knife. I never knew so fully until then, what “God so loved the world” meant. And I am quite sure my precious mother learned more of the love of God for the perishing in that one hour than in all her life before.

Five and a half months passed before Dumfries finally docked in Shanghai. In those months, the little ship nearly wrecked at least twice. The second time, when currents drove it toward a reef during a calm, Taylor and three other Christians prayed. Two of those praying Christians had been won by Taylor’s persistent witness. Taylor went on deck and asked the godless mate to unfurl sail, saying wind was coming and he needed to be prepared. The mate cursed, but a puff came at that moment, and they soon had enough wind to clear the danger. 

Taylor’s subsequent story is well-known. After a rough start, he mastered Mandarin and began to preach. When he was unable to make his mission board in England understand the situation and needs in China, he graciously withdrew and formed the China Inland Mission, a work based entirely on faith. He adopted Chinese dress so that western costume would not impede his work. And knowing that the Chinese resented foreigners, he aimed from the start to create a Chinese church run by the Chinese. He had moments of despondency and once even came close to despair, but persisted and saw an increase in workers and in fruit.

Many predicted disaster when he sent single women in pairs to work in distant provinces. They succeeded beyond expectation and without disaster. By his death, the mission had thousands of converts and two hundred and five missionaries. 

According to Leslie T. Lyall, the secret of Hudson Taylor’s life and ministry could be summed up in four simple propositions: “There is a living God. He has spoken in His Word. He means what he says. And He is willing and able to perform what He has promised.”

Dan Graves

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For a documentary featuring Taylor's life and work, watch Hudson Taylor: Into the Heart of the Dragon at RedeemTV

Into the Heart of the Dragon is available for purchase at Vision Video as is Ken Anderson's film Hudson Taylor

CHI devoted a full issue to Hudson Taylor, Christian History #52, Hudson Taylor & Missions to China

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