One June day in 1849, a seventeen-year old boy found himself bored, with nothing to do. He picked up a gospel tract to read, thinking, “There will be a story at the beginning and a sermon or moral at the close. I will take the former and leave the latter for those who like it." But, as he read, he felt God’s Spirit tugging at his heart. After reading the tract, he chose to trust Christ as his personal Saviour. When his mother and sister heard the news, they rejoiced to see the answer to their prayers.
Soon after his conversion, Hudson surrendered his life’s plans to the Lord, asking for direction. God said, “Then go for Me to China.” The young man gladly agreed and threw himself wholeheartedly into preparation. His Sunday School teacher gave him the book of Luke in a Chinese dialect to study.
To prepare himself for the rigors of missionary life, Hudson gave up his feather bed and other small comforts of European life. He went to board with a poor family, ate simple food like oatmeal and rice, and visited the sick. Hudson also taught Sunday School, gave out gospel tracts, studied medicine, and served God with every possible opportunity. At the local church’s prison ministry, we want to serve God by serving others, too.
One of the most important lessons that God taught Hudson during this time was how to depend on Him alone. On one occasion, he helped dissect a corpse that was infected with a dangerous pathogen. Through contact, Hudson contracted a serious illness. The supervising surgeon told him to go home and arrange his affairs, for he would soon die. Hudson told the surgeon, “I do not think I shall die, for unless I am much mistaken I have work to do in China; and if so, however severe the struggle, I must be brought through.”
Days later, when he had almost recovered, he heard that two fellow students who had worked on the same corpse had died. God had miraculously spared Hudson’s life, for he did indeed have work to do.
At last, Hudson sailed for the Orient on September 19, 1853, and he landed in China on March 1, 1854. In addition to furloughs, he would serve the Lord there for the rest of his life. Breaking tradition, Hudson wore the traditional dress of Chinese men and grew his hair into a long ponytail. He believed this would help him reach more souls for Christ.
Over the years, Hudson taught school, managed a hospital, and preached the Gospel at every possible opportunity. In January 1858, he married a missionary’s daughter named Maria Dyer. They went on to have eight children together.
By God’s grace, Hudson was able to recruit many more missionaries for China. While on furlough in 1865, he founded the China Inland Mission. And he and his wife returned to China with 16 new missionaries in 1866. Eighteen more came in 1870, and a staggering 102 missionaries set sail by the end of 1887. Through these missionaries, countless souls were saved, and many local churches were planted.
On June 3, 1905, Hudson Taylor was called Home. His fellow Chinese Christians bought the best coffin they could find to honour the man who had given them so much. “All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them,” Hudson Taylor wrote. His life certainly proved this to be true. At the local church’s prison ministry, we, too, want to depend on God and see Him do great things. Will you join us?
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