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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...



 
AGTV video
Connections: James Hudson Taylor IV

A Legacy of Missions

More than 150 years ago Hudson Taylor of England answered the call to be a missionary to China. Today, his great-great-grandson, James Hudson Taylor IV, serves as the Executive Consultant for Chinese Ministries for OMF International, the organization founded by Hudson Taylor as China Inland Mission. Recently Editor Ken Horn and Dr. James O. Davis, founder of Cutting Edge International and co-founder of Billion Soul Network, spoke with Taylor.

evangel: Tell us about your great-great-grandfather, J. Hudson Taylor.

TAYLOR: He was born and raised in England, and at the age of 21, in 1853, he left England, his family, his parents and other siblings and traveled to China. Back then it was about a six-month journey by boat around the horn of Africa and then to Shanghai. So he arrived on March 1, 1854, and began his missionary career in China, which eventually spanned over 50 years.

Later, he felt God’s call on his life to mobilize Christian workers, missionaries, and to go to the inland parts of China. At that point, many other mission organizations were not prepared to do that because of the political climate of the day. But Hudson Taylor felt very strongly God was calling him to raise up a new generation of missionaries who would be willing to go to the inland parts of China.

So on June 25, 1865, he dedicated his life to the Lord to begin a new mission organization called the China Inland Mission. The next day he went to the bank with 10 British pounds and registered a bank account under the name China Inland Mission. Eventually, in the 1920s, China Inland Mission had about 1,300 missionaries scattered across China.


evangel: I understand his parents actually prayed for him to go to China.

TAYLOR: That is correct. Both his parents were very missions-minded. Hudson’s father was actually a Methodist lay preacher in England.

His parents felt God lead them to dedicate their firstborn to be a missionary to China and actually dedicated him to this before he was born. They did not tell Hudson Taylor, though, until after he had gone to China to serve.


evangel: Hudson Taylor was very much viewed as a groundbreaker, a nonconformist.

TAYLOR: It wasn’t an easy thing. In terms of Chinese dress, he was influenced in part by an earlier missionary to China, Charles Gutzlaff, who found wearing Chinese clothes enabled him to get closer to the people. When Hudson Taylor first went to China, he realized very quickly that his Western clothes were an inhibiting factor to sharing the gospel with the Chinese. So he took off his Western clothes, put on Chinese clothing, and grew a queue [braid of hair].

He saw something of the necessity of missionaries adapting to national customs as a means of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ within the context of the Chinese culture and society. At that point in time, he wasn’t looked upon very favorably by the wider missionary community. They gave the CIM the nickname “the pigtail mission” because all the CIM male missionaries had to grow pigtails.


evangel: Hudson was quite young when he left England. In fact he married while in China. Tell us about that.

TAYLOR: He met his wife, Maria, in China. Her parents, Samuel and Maria Dyer, were missionaries with the London Missionary Society. In the early 1800s China was not open to missionaries, so the London Missionary Society sent the Dyers to Malaysia to work among overseas Chinese in Penang and Malacca and all the way down to Singapore.

Maria was born and raised in Penang, and then at a very young age, about 18 or 19, went to Ningbo, which is just south of Shanghai, where she and Hudson Taylor eventually met.

Actually when Hudson Taylor left England, he paid a huge emotional cost because the father of the lady he was courting told him, “If you go to China, I will not let you marry my daughter.” But Hudson Taylor felt very strongly that God was calling him to China, and by making that decision, he in essence broke off that relationship.

So he went to China a lonely bachelor, and it was a difficult time. But the Lord was sovereign, and God’s hand was in that. And, of course, he eventually met and married Maria Dyer in China, and they began serving together.


evangel: All these generations after Hudson Taylor, we still find his descendents with a passion for China. Could you talk about your legacy and how that vision has continued to be passed down in your family?

TAYLOR: I’m very conscious of the fact that it’s by God’s grace and His grace alone. The stories I heard growing up of Hudson Taylor and his children — my great-grandfather — of my grandparents as they served in China during the Sino-Japanese War, and even what I saw from my parents — all of that has greatly impacted my life. My Chinese name and my English name represented my parents’ desire for their children, or for their son, to be faithful in my generation to whatever God called me to be. I don’t ever remember my parents saying to me, “I want you to be a missionary.” But I know that was their prayer and hearts’ desire.

It was God’s grace and God’s working in and through circumstances, in and through the lives of people whom He brought into my life, as well as through His Word. After I graduated from college I very clearly sensed God’s calling on my life. Not because I was the fourth Hudson Taylor and thus had to be a missionary, but rather in my generation God was calling me to serve Him among the Chinese.

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