I returned two weeks ago from a wonderful week visiting my daughter, grandson, and son-in-law in Mexico. It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to them after sharing a week with them, but also very encouraging to see all that is happening in their lives, both personally and spiritually.
I took two books with me to read during my flight/layover time and free time while in Mexico. I read one of the books on the flight down, and finished the next a couple of days after my arrival, so I was looking for something else to read among Hannah and Ethan’s bookshelves. I came across a title I had purchased a few months earlier but had not had the chance to start reading, so I borrowed their copy from them. The book is a biography of the missionary Hudson Taylor written by his son entitled Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Within the first 100 pages the book became a top-five missionary biography for me…and I’ve read quite a few missionary biographies.
This book has literally been life changing for me. I’ll follow up this week’s article with one next week including some of my favorite quotes, but as a way of background for you if you are unfamiliar with Hudson Taylor, here is a brief bio:
Taylor was born in England in 1832. He was converted to Christ as a young man while reading a random book he had picked out from his father’s library when he was bored on a rainy afternoon, and soon found himself with an almost unquenchable desire to reach the lost in China. What he did not know at that time is that his father and mother, while she was pregnant, had asked God to give them a son with a heart for the land of China. He also found a few months after his conversion, in a notebook he mistook for his own, an entry from his sister indicating that she would pray daily for her only brother’s conversion until God had answered the prayer. God was at work in Hudson Taylor’s life long before Taylor found the book on his father’s shelf that would lead him to Christ.
Taylor eventually applied for medical school. While away from home he began to devote his time and limited financial resources to care for the poor in the areas surrounding the doctor’s home to which he was assigned as an assistant. He gave up going to church on Sunday evenings in order to lead Bible studies in the homes of low-income families. He began to exercise more to prepare his body for the physical strains of travel and missions work. He wanted to learn Chinese, but did not have the money necessary to purchase a dictionary. Therefore, he found a copy of the New Testament in Chinese, and by patiently comparing brief verses with their equivalent in the English Bible, learned the meaning of more than six hundred characters. These he placed in his own homemade dictionary, using it to carry on his language studies while he completed his medical schooling.
Taylor eventually went to China and there served for over 40 years in missions, seeing the conversion of literally thousands of Chinese to Christ, establishing the China Inland Mission, and losing a wife and two children on the field. He was the first English missionary to take on the Chinese way of life and dress. He made countless journeys to the inlands of China, and helped establish over 100 mission stations. Through it all he never once made a plea for funding, trusting in God to provide funds as he saw fit. An entire mission agency supporting over 1,000 missionaries was developed under Taylor’s leadership before his death in 1902, without ever making one single plea for funding - without a single support letter ever being written!
But that is not what amazes me the most about this brother. What amazes me most was his complete and joyful surrender to Jesus Christ’s Lordship in his life. Taylor was in a continual love relationship with God, and he was continually seeking to know him better and to serve him more faithfully. This translated, for him at least, into a complete love for people, especially, but not limited to, the people of China. His singular desire in life was to see people come to know the God that had changed his own life so completely. His journal entries tell the story of a man consumed by a joy for life, a willingness to suffer any loss for the sake of the gospel, and a commitment to work tirelessly for little or no compensation in order to bring the life-saving truth of the gospel to people who had never heard. He was the real deal. He didn’t just talk about his faith, he lived it out every single day of his life. His story is amazing because the God he served is amazing, and Taylor was willing to do whatever he believed God wanted him to do.
I want to be more like Jesus. While I am working in that direction, I want to take baby steps that will lead me to be more like Hudson Taylor. To be so will not be the end of the journey, but it will help me keep my eyes on the ultimate prize.
Check back next week for some of my favorite Hudson Taylor quotes.
Grace and peace,