Who was Hudson Taylor?
James Hudson Taylor (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905), was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China, and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM) (now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China.
The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in all eighteen provinces.
Taylor was known for his sensitivity to Chinese culture and zeal for evangelism. He adopted wearing native Chinese clothing even though this was rare among missionaries of that time. Under his leadership, the CIM was singularly non-denominational in practice and accepted members from all Protestant groups, including individuals from the working class and single women as well as multinational recruits.
Primarily because of the CIM's campaign against the Opium trade, Taylor has been referred to as one of the most significant Europeans to visit China in the 19th Century. Taylor was able to preach in several varieties of Chinese, including Mandarin, Chaozhou, and the Wu dialects of Shanghai and Ningbo. The last of these he knew well enough to help prepare a colloquial edition of the New Testament written in it.
Youth and early work
Taylor was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, on 21 May 1832 the son of a chemist (pharmacist) and Methodist lay preacher James Taylor and his wife, Amelia (Hudson), but as a young man he moved away from the Christian beliefs of his parents. At seventeen, after reading an evangelistic tract pamphlet entitled "Poor Richard", he professed faith in Christ, and in December 1849, he committed himself to going to China as a missionary.
At this time he came into contact with Dr Edward Cronin of Kensington—one of the members of the first missionary party of the Plymouth Brethren to Baghdad. It is believed that Taylor learned his faith mission principles from his contact with the Brethren.
Taylor was able to borrow a copy of China: Its State and Prospects by Walter Henry Medhurst, which he quickly read. About this time, he began studying the languages of Mandarin, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.
In 1851, he moved to a poor neighbourhood in Kingston upon Hull to be a medical assistant with Dr. Robert Hardey, and began preparing himself for a life of faith and service, devoting himself to the poor and exercising faith that God would provide for his needs. He practised distributing gospel tracts and open-air preaching among the poor. He was baptised by Andrew John Jukes of the Plymouth Brethren in the Hull Brethren Assembly in 1852, and convinced his sister Amelia to also take adult baptism.
In 1852 he began studying medicine at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London, as preparation for working in China. The great interest awakened in England about China through the civil war, which was then erroneously supposed to be a mass movement toward Christianity, together with the glowing but exaggerated reports made by Karl Gützlaff concerning China's accessibility, led to the founding of the Chinese Evangelisation Society, to the service of which Hudson Taylor offered himself as their first missionary.
First visit to China
Taylor left England on 19 September 1853 before completing his medical studies, arriving in Shanghai, China, on 1 March 1854. The nearly disastrous voyage aboard the clipper Dumfries through an Easterly passage near Buru Island lasted about five months. In China, he was immediately faced with civil war, throwing his first year there into turmoil.
Taylor made 18 preaching tours in the vicinity of Shanghai starting in 1855, and was often poorly received by the people, even though he brought with him medical supplies and skills. He made a decision to adopt the native Chinese clothes and queue (pigtail) with shaven forehead, however, and was then able to gain an audience without creating a disturbance.
Previous to this, Taylor realised that wherever he went he was being referred to as a "black devil" because of the overcoat he wore. He distributed thousands of Chinese Gospel tracts and portions of Scripture in and around Shanghai. During his stay in Shanghai, he also adopted and cared for a Chinese boy named Hanban.
Scottish evangelist, William Chalmers Burns, of the English Presbyterian Mission began work in Shantou, and for a period Taylor joined him there. After leaving he later found that all of his medical supplies, being stored in Shanghai, had been destroyed by a fire. Then in October 1856, while travelling across China he was robbed of nearly everything he owned.
Relocated in Ningbo by 1857, Taylor received a letter from a supportive George Müller which led to Taylor and his co-worker John Jones deciding to resign from the problematic mission board which had sent them, and instead work independently in what came to be called the "Ningpo Mission". Four Chinese men joined them in their work: Ni Yongfa, Feng Ninggui, Wang Laijun, and Qiu Guogui.
In 1858, Taylor married Maria Jane Dyer, the orphaned daughter of the Rev. Samuel Dyer of the London Missionary Society, who had been a pioneer missionary to the Chinese in Penang, Malaysia. Hudson met Maria in Ningbo where she lived and worked at a school for girls which was run by one of the first female missionaries to the Chinese, Mary Ann Aldersey.
As a married couple the Taylors took care of an adopted boy named Tianxi while living in Ningbo. They had a baby of their own that died late in 1858. Their first surviving child, Grace, was born in 1859. Shortly after she was born, the Taylors took over all of the operations at the hospital in Ningbo that had been run by Dr. William Parker.
Because of health problems, in 1860 Taylor decided to return to England for a furlough with his family. The Taylors sailed back to England aboard the tea clipper Jubilee along with their daughter, Grace and a young man, Wang Laijun, from the Bridge Street church in Ningbo, who would help with the Bible translation work that would continue in England.
Family and China Inland Mission
Taylor used his time in England to continue his work, in company with Frederick Foster Gough of the Church Missionary Society translating the New Testament into a Romanised Ningbo dialect for the British and Foreign Bible Society.
He completed his diploma (and a course in midwifery) at the Royal London Hospital with the Royal College of Surgeons in 1862, and with Maria's help, wrote a book called China's Spiritual Need and Claims in 1865 which was instrumental in generating sympathy for China and volunteers for the mission field, who began to go out in 1862, the first being James Joseph Meadows.
He travelled extensively around the British Isles speaking at churches and promoting the needs of China. At home in the East End of London he also ministered at Newgate Prison. During this time he became friends with Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who pastored the Metropolitan Tabernacle and became a lifelong supporter of Taylor. Also, the Taylors hosted the young Thomas John Barnardo at their house as a potential missionary candidate between 1865–1866.
Their second child, Herbert, was born in London in 1861. More children were born to the Taylors, in 1862 Frederick, in 1864 Samuel, and in 1865 Jane, who died at birth.
On 25 June 1865, at Brighton, Taylor definitely dedicated himself to God for the founding of a new society to undertake the evangelisation of the "unreached" inland provinces of China. He founded the China Inland Mission together with William Thomas Berger shortly thereafter. In less than one year, they had accepted 21 missionaries and raised over £2,000 (about £130,000 in 2007 terms). In early 1866 Taylor published the first edition of the Occasional Paper of the China Inland Mission which later became China's Millions.
Return to China
The arrival of the largest party of missionaries ever sent to China—as well as their intent to be dressed in native clothing—gave the foreign settlement in Shanghai much to talk about and some criticism began for the young China Inland Mission. The party donned Chinese clothing, notwithstanding—even the women missionaries—which was deemed semi-scandalous at the time.
When other missionaries sought to preserve their British ways, Taylor was convinced that the Gospel would only take root on Chinese soil if missionaries were willing to affirm the culture of the people they were seeking to reach. He argued, from the example of the Apostle Paul, “Let us in everything not sinful become like the Chinese, that by all means we may save some.”
They travelled down the Grand Canal of China to make the first settlement in the war-torn city of Hangzhou. Another daughter was born to them in China (Maria Hudson Taylor). Taylor began practising much sought-after medical work and preaching every day under an exhausting schedule. Hundreds came to hear and be treated.
Conflicts within the Lammermuir team limited their effectiveness, but when Taylor's daughter Grace died of meningitis in 1867, they united for a time and sorted out their discord after witnessing Taylor place the cares of his fellow missionaries above even the concern that he had for his ailing daughter.
Riot in Yangzhou
In 1868 the Taylors took a party of missionaries up to Yangzhou to start a new work. But problems continued in 1868, when their mission premises were attacked, looted and burned during the Yangzhou riot. Despite the violence and injuries, no one was killed. Unfortunately, the international outrage at the Chinese for the attack on these British nationals (and the subsequent arrival of the Royal Navy) caused also the China Inland Mission and Taylor to be criticized in the British press for almost starting a war.
Taylor never requested military intervention, but some voices in the British Parliament called for "the withdrawal of all missionaries from China". However, the Taylors returned to Yangzhou later that year, to continue in the work and many converts to Christianity were made.
In 1869 Hudson was influenced by a passage on personal holiness from a book called "Christ Is All" by Henry Law that was sent to him by a fellow missionary, John McCarthy. "The Lord Jesus received is holiness begun; the Lord Jesus cherished is holiness advancing; the Lord Jesus counted upon as never absent would be holiness complete."
This new understanding of continually abiding in Christ endured for the rest of his life. At the time, he was quoted by fellow missionary Charles Henry Judd as saying: ”Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man!”.
Loss of Maria
In 1868 another child, Charles, was born into the Taylor family, and in 1870, Taylor and his wife made the difficult decision to send their older three surviving children (Bertie, Freddie, and Maria—Samuel died earlier that year) home to England with Miss Emily Blatchley. In July, Noel was born, though he died of malnutrition and deprivation two weeks later due to Maria's inability to nurse him.
Maria herself died several days later, with the official cause of death being cholera. Her death shook Taylor deeply, and in 1871, his own health began deteriorating further, leading to his return to England later that year to recuperate and take care of business items.
Back in England, Taylor was married to Jane Elizabeth Faulding who had been a fellow missionary since 1866. Hudson and "Jennie" returned to China in late 1872 aboard the MM Tigre. They were in Nanjing when Jennie gave birth to stillborn twins—a boy and a girl in 1873. Two years later, the Taylors were forced to return once again to England because of the death of the mission secretary and their children's caretaker, Emily Blatchley.
During the winter of 1874 and 1875 Taylor was practically paralysed from a fall he had taken on a river boat while in China. In this state of crippling physical hindrance, Taylor confidently published an appeal for 18 new workers to join the work.
When he did recover his strength, Jennie remained with the children, (including a new son and daughter, Ernest and Amy, as well as the orphaned daughter of fellow missionary George Duncan) and in 1876 Hudson Taylor returned to China and the 18 requested missionaries followed him. Meanwhile, in England, the work of General Secretary of the China Inland Mission was done by Benjamin Broomhall, who had married Hudson's sister, Amelia.
It was at this time that Hudson's evangelical work in England profoundly affected various members of the famous cricketing Studd family, resulting in three of the brothers converting and becoming deeply religious themselves; one of them, cricketer Charles Studd, became a missionary to China along with fellow Cambridge University converts, known as the Cambridge Seven.
From 1876–1877 Taylor travelled throughout inland China, opening missions stations. This was made possible by the signing on 13 September 1876 of the Chefoo Convention, a settlement between Britain and China that made it possible for missionary work to take place legally in inland China. In 1878, Jennie returned to China and began working to promote female missionary service there. By 1881 there were 100 missionaries in the CIM.
Taylor returned to England in 1883 to recruit more missionaries speaking of China's needs, and returned to China, working now with a total of 225 missionaries and 59 churches. In 1887 their numbers increased by another 102 with The Hundred missionaries, and in 1888, Taylor brought 14 missionaries from the United States. In the US he travelled and spoke at many places, including the Niagara Bible Conference where he befriended Cyrus Scofield and later Taylor filled the pulpit of Dwight Lyman Moody as a guest in Chicago. Moody and Scofield thereafter actively supported the work of the China Inland Mission of North America.
In 1897 Hudson and Maria's only surviving daughter, Maria died in Wenzhou, leaving four little children and her missionary husband, John Joseph Coulthard . She had been instrumental in leading many Chinese women to Christianity during her short life.
News of the Boxer Rebellion and the resulting disruption of missionary work in 1900 distressed Taylor, even though it led to further interest in missions in the area and additional growth of his China Inland Mission. Though the CIM suffered more than any other mission in China (58 missionaries, 21 children were killed), Taylor refused to accept payment for loss of property or life, to show the ‘meekness and gentleness of Christ’.
He was criticised by some but was commended by the British Foreign Office, whose minister in Beijing donated £200 to the CIM, expressing his ‘admiration’ and sympathy. The Chinese were also touched by Taylor's attitude.
Due to health issues, Taylor remained in Switzerland, semi-retired with his wife. In 1900, Dixon Edward Hoste was appointed the Acting General Director of the CIM, and in 1902, Taylor formally resigned. His wife, Jennie, died of cancer in 1904 in Les Chevalleyres, Switzerland, and in 1905, Taylor returned to China for the eleventh and final time. There he visited Yangzhou and Zhenjiang and other cities, before dying suddenly while reading at home in Changsha. He was buried next to his first wife, Maria in Zhenjiang near the Yangtze River.
- "Hudson Taylor" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.