Hudson Taylor is one of the most famous missionaries of the modern era––and for good reason. By the end of Hudson’s life, countless Chinese Christians owed their spiritual salvation to God working through Hudson Taylor’s willingness to venture where few would dare.
Born to a Christian family, Hudson’s father had a strong desire to evangelize China but was unable to due to life circumstances. So his father did the next best thing, he prayed and asked God that if the family had a son that he would be a missionary to China. Though Hudson didn’t learn of this story until several years on the mission field, God still answered this prayer mightily in making Hudson the most influential missionary to ever evangelize China.
Hudson’s spiritual legacy wasn’t limited to his father. His mother and sister both set out to pray for Hudson’s salvation while, as a young man, he ran with “infidels.” One day his sister entered in her diary that she would pray for Hudson every day until he was saved. A month later, Hudson’s mother was on an extended trip when she fel the uncontrollable urge to leave the dinner table and pray for Hudson until he was saved.
Mrs. Taylor poured out her soul for hours before God until, just as her last bit of energy was sapped, she felt the Spirit tell her he was indeed saved. At that same hour, Hudson felt the pull to read a tract in his father’s study which convicted him of the truth of the Gospel.
Hudson later wrote that the unbelievers he hung around used to say that the Christians they knew said they believed the Bible but didn’t live like it was true. When Hudson was saved, this notion stuck with Hudson and made him resolve to live like the Bible was true.
This started with training himself for the mission field by living on as little as possible as well as living by faith. Sometimes he would just sell off anything he owned that he felt he’d feel ashamed to give an account to Jesus about if the Lord were to come back in that moment. Other times, he’d do things like purposely neglect to tell his boss when his paycheck was long pass due. He opted instead to let God remind the absent-minded supervisor, which God always did, but at the last possible second so as to underscore the miraculous nature of the situation.
After many experiences like this, Hudson set out to China on a miraculous voyage where, had it not been for God responding to the prayers of the few believers on the ship, they would have died on multiple occasions.
In China, Hudson had many more miraculous adventures in the early years until he was finally led to start the China Inland Mission. Listen to this week’s episode (audio above) to hear many of the miraculous stories from Hudson’s missionary life.
- When Hudson arrived in China, he found himself in the middle of a war with little to no contacts. At several points, Hudson or a fellow missionary narrowly missed by bullets or canon balls.
- Just before the Boxer Rebellion, which targeted Christians, and after long decades of Taylor's service, the China Inland Mission boasted 811 missionaries, 171 stations, 223 out-stations, 387 chapels; 581 paid native helpers, 193 unpaid native helpers, 12,964 total baptisms; as well as, 266 churches, 788 boarding scholars, 1382 day schools, 6 hospitals and 46 opium refuges.
- It is estimated that roughly 1/10 of China's 1 billion population is Christian.
- Today, many Chinese Christians take a spiritual pilgrimage to Hudson's hometown in England to see where their spiritual heritage began.