“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud
of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews 12:1, NIV
The first person I’d like to introduce is Hudson Taylor. He lived in the 1800’s and became a Christian as a teenager. Almost immediately God called him to China as a missionary. From that moment, he focused all his energy, education, and thoughts toward that goal. He learned the language, went to medical school, and spent his evenings helping the needy and telling them about Jesus. He deprived himself of money, food, normal comforts, and anything but the barest necessities, so he would be ready for whatever came in China.
It was a good thing he did. Taylor experienced loneliness, lack of adequate support and provisions, riots, persecution, death of loved ones, and sickness. Yet, he was willing to do whatever it took to be faithful. Taylor said, “I do not envy the state of mind that would forget these (dying without Christ), or leave them to perish, for fear of a little discomfort. May God make us faithful to Him and to our work.”*
His constant and intimate reliance on God sustained him. My favorite quote from Hudson Taylor is: “It doesn’t really matter 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.” Taylor demonstrated this with every breath.
The joy came when people in the heart of China, who had never heard about Jesus, before, began to find hope for eternity. Ni, an ex-Buddhist leader, who became one of the leaders of the new Chinese church, said this:
“I have long sought the Truth, but without finding it. I have traveled far and near, but have never searched it out. In Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, I have found no rest. But I find rest in what we have heard tonight. Henceforth, I am a believer in Jesus.”
I’m challenged by Hudson Taylor’s story, but one thing stood out more than anything else - his willingness to think outside the established methods of evangelism. Hudson didn’t want anything to distract people from hearing about Christ. That’s why he chose to get rid of his English clothes and dress like a China man. He even had his head shaved and wore a Chinese pigtail called a queue.
Most living in inland China had never seen white people, but rumors of “foreign devils” stealing Chinese children to cast spells on, or eat them, were rampant. He was willing to be laughed at and misunderstood by his own countrymen, because he cared more about serving God than the approval of others. And it worked, as soon as he looked like one of them, the barriers came down and people gathered to listen.
He and his beloved wife established the China Inland Mission, which is still going strong after 150 years. He remained true to his mission to win the lost. His son and daughter-in-law admit he may have had it difficult, but his priorities were right:
“We have more wealth in these days, better education, greater comfort in traveling
and in our surroundings even as missionaries,
but have we the spirit of urgency, the deep, inward convictions
that moved those who went before us;
have we the same passion of love, personal love for the Lord Jesus Christ?
If these are lacking, it is a loss
for which nothing can compensate.”
Hudson Taylor was only a man, but he knew where his strength came from, and his story gives me courage: “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will conquer. We may fail – do fail continually – but He never fails.”
*All quotes from Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor