by Preston Rhodes, Resonate Moscow student leader
“The blazes of movement start with the spark of a few crazy people who say yes.” - Jacob Dahl
Wide-eyed and haggard on a cold September morning in 1853, a young man boarded the last clipper leaving the harbor at Liverpool. His destination rested that day far more as a fabled land in the Western conscience than a fruitful mission field warranting legitimate dedication. 52 years later, Hudson would board a ship in the same harbor on his last voyage to China, assured that God’s work through him the last half-century had helped cultivate the most fertile missionary ground in the world.
Hudson Taylor was born on May 21, 1832 in the UK. At 17 he put his faith in Christ, and immediately began an education in the medical field. Only four short years later, he bade farewell to all those he knew and stepped aboard the Dumfries as the first missionary of the Chinese Evangelisation Society (CES). Five treacherous months later, Hudson arrived in Shanghai.
Upon his conversion, Taylor developed a holy ambition that would drive him all the days of his life. He stood with the apostle Paul in Romans 15, proclaiming “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.”
This ambition led to a holy discontentment in Taylor. He became restless as he heard of unreached millions in the Chinese interior who had never heard the name of Christ. His pleas with the CES fell on deaf ears, as they were more interested in maintaining Western ties and focusing on coastal regions. Finally, Taylor resigned from the CES and independently moved inland.
“China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women … The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, and souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.” -Hudson Taylor
In 1865, Taylor realized his need for missionary help as the 12 known provinces of China and Mongolia were far too vast for him alone to evangelize. He felt that he lacked the experience to lead a team of missionaries, but he stepped out in faith and asked God for 24 fellow workers. With that decision, Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission, and within 15 years there were over 100 missionaries working for the CIM.
“All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.” -Hudson Taylor
Taylor suffered greatly in the remaining years of his life, losing four children and one wife to sickness and malnutrition. In 1900, the Boxer Rebellion targeted Christians in his area, killing 58 CIM missionaries and 21 of their children, as well as over 30,000 Chinese Christians.
“God wants you to have something far better than riches and gold, and that is helpless dependence upon Him.” -Hudson Taylor
Hudson Taylor died in June of 1905 at 73 years old, shortly after the death of his second wife. Throughout these trials, Taylor held firmly to the belief that God would provide all that he could ever need, and God protected him. He protected him from unbelief, from cowardice, from unfruitfulness, from disobedience, from becoming a doctor and buying a house in the suburbs of Yorkshire and saying “someone else will reach the Chinese”.
At the time of his death there were 825 missionaries working with CIM, and approximately 100,000 Christians in China. Today, the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly CIM) has over 1600 missionaries in China, and the Chinese church boasts 150 million believers. Hudson Taylor, a 21 year old kid with little education, sparked a movement in China that has yet to cease simply by trusting in God for big things and refusing to rest until he had spent his all in the completion of the Great Commission.
“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” -Hudson Taylor
Taylor would implore you, young college student, not to passively become a casualty to the American dream. He would plead against you striving for the nice house, nice car, nice job, nice family, nice retirement; relaxing in leisure as your last act before standing in the presence of God, while untold millions perish eternally for lack of knowledge that you so abundantly possess. When He returns, even our most legitimate excuses will be wholly worthy of shame.
There will never be a better time in your life to write yourself as a blank check given to the purposes of God. Give your life to the evangelizing, equipping, training, and sending of college students to the nations, that we may obey the command God has placed on our lives. Might God be calling you to join in the sufferings of Christ, to fall like a grain of wheat into some distant ground and die, to hate your life in this world and so keep it forever and bear much fruit? Make your life’s purpose the fulfillment of the Great Commission within our lifetime. There is no greater purpose.