"Hudson Taylor did not start out to impact "millions." He started out to love God, to honor Him, and to share His love with individual sinners who needed so desperately to know Him. Jesus called Taylor (and us) to be 'faithful,' not 'successful.' And God added the increase."
This book was written by Taylor's son Howard and his wife. Ironically, James Hudson Taylor was the founder of CIM, the same society that turned Gladys Aylward away. Like Aylward, Hudson Taylor deeply sensed God's call and a desire to serve Him from the time of his conversion as a teenager. Early on he believed it was China that God would have him go, and immediately he began to prepare himself for this purpose. Much like Jim Elliot, Taylor prepared himself physically by engaging in outdoor exercise and by minimizing the comforts of life. He dedicated more time to prayer and Bible study, and began evangelizing and learning the Chinese language. He also study medicine and received medical training so he would have a useful skill to offer the Chinese people. And he subjected himself to long hours, meager meals, and small, simple living quarters.
Hudson Taylor arrived in Shanghai during the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864). At the time of his arrival in 1854, there were only five port cities in China in which foreigners were allowed to reside. It soon became Taylor's desire and goal to penetrate the interior with the Gospel. Before the end of his second year, he had taken ten evangelistic trips inland, traveling by junk, preaching and distributing New Testaments and other literature. He was very moved at the suffering he saw all around him.
"What it means to be so far from home, at the seat of war and not able to understand or be understood by the people was fully realized. Their utter wretchedness and misery and my inability to help them or even point them to Jesus powerfully affected me. Satan came in as a flood, but there was One who lifted up a standard against him. Jesus is here, and though unknown to the majority and uncared-for by many who might know Him, He is present and precious to His own."
Sometime during that second year, Taylor decided to conform to the Chinese style of dress because he found his European look was a distraction to his hearers.
"Wearing Chinese dress in those days involved shaving the front part of the head and letting the hair grow long for the regulation queue [braid] No missionary or other foreigner conformed to such a custom...But it was access to the people he desired...he took the step which was to have so great an influence on the evangelization of inland China!"
Hudson Taylor married 21-year-old Maria Dyer, with whom he had seven children. Due to his poor health, they returned to England for five years. While there he spent his time preaching, working on a Chinese translation of the New Testament, and promoting the work of missions in China. He began praying to God to supply workers and finances to take the gospel to China, and he wrote a pamphlet describing the spiritual needs in China, but he was determined to seek and trust God alone, and not to directly solicit individuals, an approach known as "faith missions." He truly believed that "God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supplies." This was the beginning of the missionary organization he called China Inland Mission (CIM), whose name would later be changed to Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1953 in order to avoid suspicion when Communist China became closed to missionary efforts.
In 1866, the Taylors returned to China with their four children and 16 young missionaries. The Taylors endured many hardships including threats by civil violence and political unrest, physical discomforts, ill health, and limited resources, but none of this was important to Hudson and his wife. He wrote,
"We heed these things very little. Around us are poor, dark heathen - large cities without any missionary, populous towns without any missionary, villages without number, all without the means of grace. I do not envy the state of mind that would forget these, or leave them to perish, for fear of a little discomfort. May God make us faithful to Him and to our work."
Along with these troubles, Taylor suffered the death of three of his young children, the third dying at one week old, followed shortly by his wife in 1870. But Hudson Taylor's faith and complete surrender to God, his "spiritual secret," sustained him with the joy and peace of God that surpasses all human understanding. In 1869, Taylor wrote,
"I now think that this striving, longing, hoping for better days to come is not the true way to holiness, happiness or usefulness... He is most holy who has most of Christ within, and joys most fully in the finished work...To let my loving Saviour work in me His will, my sanctification, is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling...Not a striving to have faith, but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity."
Two years after the death of his first wife, Taylor remarried, and he and his wife continued to work for the cause of missions in China for the next thirty years. The Inland China Mission continued to expand and to send missionaries into the different provinces of China, with the exception of a few brief periods of time when they went back to England or visited other countries. However the last year of his life was spent in China, where he died in 1905. When he retired as the director of CIM in 1900, the mission society had 750 missionaries; OMF currently has 1600 workers.
This book includes some helpful additions, such as a map of China and a chronology of Taylor's life with dates. Reading about Hudson Taylor's life and ministry in China was interesting, but the best parts of this book were the excerpts from his own letters through which we gain a glimpse into the heart and spiritual life of Taylor and his relationship with his Lord. Here is another favorite quote of mine by Taylor:
"It doesn't matter, really, how great the pressure is, it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord -- then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast."
Apparently Hudson Taylor's view of "resting in Christ" has been associated with what is known as Keswick or Higher Life view of sanctification. This view can be summed up by the statement, "Let go and let God," but there is a fine balance that needs to be kept in mind. Yes, God is working in us to sanctify us, but there is some responsibility on our part as well to be obedient, to "pursue holiness," and to "work out our salvation"(Phil. 2:12-13). Some in this movement also taught that a believer could experience a "second blessing" or special empowering of the Holy Spirit that would enable the believer to have greater victory over sin - thus elevating him to a "higher life." I don't see how anyone could say that Taylor was passive in his approach to sanctification, and it didn't sound to me like he believed in a second blessing or that we could eventually totally overcome the power of sin in our life.
"He was a physician...full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, of entire surrender to God and His call, of great self-denial, heartfelt compassion, rare power in prayer, marvelous organizing faculty, energetic initiative, indefatigable perseverance, and of astonishing influence with men, and withal of childlike humility."