Hudson Taylor was a man after God’s own heart. His primary goal was to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to China regardless of the trials he faced with his own family and the opposition from the native people. The story of Taylor is encouraging to me because he was obedient to where God placed him, was confident in prayer, and had an unwavering commitment to share the good news to lost sinners. In his biography, there were two aspects that I found interesting about his character.
First, he broke with the tradition of most missionaries and adopted Chinese culture. When he visited Zhangjiasi, a city where no foreigner had ever been seen before, the people were astonished that Taylor had learned the language. Some were still skeptical because he had a watch that they considered a devilish telescope. Taylor realized his western attire was a stumbling block so he embraced traditional Chinese outfits. In the end, Taylor conformed to Chinese customs without surrendering his convictions. He became all things to all people, finding common ground so that some might be saved through his ministry (1 Cor. 9:22).
Second, Hudson Taylor patiently endured the most difficult trials any human could face. When he was in Yangzhou, a riot broke out, and his team was attacked and their facilities were burned. In 1868, the Taylor family decided to send their three oldest children back to England because of the dangers they faced. Around the same time, another child was born, but he died of malnutrition. During the same year, Taylor’s wife Maria died of cholera. In 1878, Taylor was almost paralyzed because of a fall he had taken on a river boat in China. When he left China to go to Switzerland for retirement, his second wife Jennie died of cancer. Despite all these trials, Hudson Taylor returned to China for the eleventh and final time. Throughout his life, he was inflicted with bad health and lost many of his closest family members, but miraculously continued to persevere through his trials for the sake of the gospel. He was a man who knew that his present sufferings were unworthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed at the end of the age (Rom. 8:11).
Hudson Taylor’s ability to integrate with Chinese culture is convicting and it should be for Americans. In the United States, where cultural diversity is commonplace, there is still racial segregation in churches. According to the Pew Center, only 7 percent of American churches are racially integrated. This is contrary to the Word of God, which tells us that every tribe, tongue, and nation will glorify God (Rev. 7:9). If we are worshipping the same God, then why is there still segregation in our churches? Let’s be like Hudson Taylor, who embraced cultural diversity and wasn’t prejudice because he rightly understood that “all men and women are created equal by their Creator.”
Taylor’s unwavering faith and commitment to the Lord was encouraging. Despite all the trials, he continued to persevere through affliction for the sake of the gospel. It was not by his strength, but the Holy Spirit working in Taylor to bring the good news to the unreached territory of China. The early church Father Tertullian said “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Because of Taylor and other missionaries to China who risked their lives, the church growth in China is exponential today. Pastor Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council said: “One of the greatest challenges facing churches in China is training enough pastors to keep up with the booming Christian population.” Jesus told us that “this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt. 24:14). I want to encourage you to make every effort to spread the gospel and be the light to our dark world.