Hudson Taylor: Fit to Serve

Hudson Taylor: Fit to Serve

Bump! Bump! Thump!

Fourteen-year old Amelia Taylor ran to the stairs to see what was causing all the commotion. "Hudson! What in the world are you doing with your feather bed?"

Amelia's seventeen-year-old brother looked down the stairs with a smile. "I'm getting rid of it--they don't have comfortable mattresses in China, you know!"

"Getting rid of it? Mother is not going to like this!"

"Oh, she'll come 'round. Remember, China was Mother and Father's idea in the first place! People there don't have it as good as we do--sleeping on hard boards ought to toughen me up."

Amelia jumped aside as the heavy mattress landed on the kitchen floor. "I'll help you drag it outside," she said. "Let's store it in the shed in case you change your mind. Those hard boards are going to be awfully uncomfortable!"

When he was born, Hudson Taylor's parents had dedicated him to serve God in China. At age eighteen, Hudson felt the call to China and began preparing in earnest. Now that Hudson was doing all he could to get ready for China, Mrs. Taylor grew concerned. Getting up extra early every day to study was one thing, but going out into the cold for rigorous exercise was another matter. "Hudson, you'll catch your death of pneumonia! Come in and sit by the fire," she begged. Hudson had been a sickly and weak child, so Mrs. Taylor had pampered him for many years.

"Now Mother, don't worry," Hudson replied. "I'm feeling stronger already! The crisp air and hard work are just what I need."

Reluctantly, Mrs. Taylor allowed Hudson to follow his plans. He rose early to study languages; he exercised in the crisp cool air; and he learned to live with few comforts. God even provided Hudson with a way to learn medicine so he'd be better able to minister to the people in China. But there were some lessons that only life's trials could teach the young man. Hudson wanted to learn to trust God and follow His voice before heading to China. This would take some practice.

His Last Coin
Twenty-year-old Hudson pulled his coat tighter around his shrinking frame as he walked through a dirty, crowded street in the town of Hull, England. Reaching into his pocket, he felt his last coin. "Lord, please remind Dr. Hardey to pay me. My rent is due soon and I've only a bit of food. This coin won't last but a few days. Help me to trust in you, Lord."

Hudson walked on deep in thought when a man who recognized him as the doctor's assistant grabbed his arm. "My wife's in there an' she needs help." Hudson was quick to respond. His heart went out to people in need, and this man's need was obvious.

When they came to the grimy door, a boy opened it a crack, his hollow eyes staring into Hudson's. He'd seen that hopeless look far too many times before. "Yes, sir?"

"I'm studying to be a doctor," he said. "Your father brought me to see your mother." The boy swung the door open and stepped back to let Hudson and his dad pass.

The smells of unwashed bodies and tobacco smoke rose to meet him. The apartment was completely cheerless, with crumbling walls and filthy flooring. He walked across the single room to a cot on which the mother lay. The sheets hadn't been washed in far too long. Four other children huddled in the shadows, dressed in tattered clothes, too hungry to move. A newborn baby lay next to the poor mother. It didn't take Hudson long to realize there was no hope for the woman. He hung his head, knowing there was nothing medicine could do.

"Please, won't you pray for her?" The husband's voice came from the doorway.

"Yes, of course," Hudson replied. Even as he asked the Lord to send them food and heal the mother, he became aware of the coin in his pocket. He knew he should give it to her so that she could get something to eat, but it was his very last money and he would soon be hungry, too! Inside, a battle raged. Hudson knew that he should give them some of his clothes and money, but then where would he be? Could he trust God to take care of his needs if he gave his belongings to others? He felt no peace until he stopped arguing with himself, took off his coat and sweater, and handed them over to the mother, along with the coin.

"God bless you," she whispered, eyes filling with tears. And He did. Hudson left with only a song in his heart to keep him warm.

The next day the mailman handed him a letter. When he opened it, the envelope contained four times as much money as he had given that family! He learned a lesson that would help him again and again in his work in China--as he cared for others in Christ's name, he could trust God's provision! Hudson would trust in this principle during the years to come.

The English Chinaman
The town of Hangzhou, China was bustling for the Chinese New Year in 1867. A new missionary family was just arriving to serve with the China Inland Mission. As they made their way among the noisy street vendors, they saw a strange sight ahead. An Englishman wearing Chinese clothing and a long Chinese pigtail stood on a table outside the mission clinic. It was Hudson Taylor preaching to a gathering of Chinese people.

Hudson had first arrived in China 13 years before, in 1854. He had shaken up the established missionaries with his decision to dress like the Chinese, but he had caused an even bigger raucous when he decided to give up the comfort of living in the cities in order to reach the poorest people in the middle of China. His new mission organization, the China Inland Mission, was serving the people's physical, medical, and spiritual needs.

Hudson paused from his preaching just long enough to wave and smile at the new missionaries. He'd been expecting them, for he had prayed for 24 new workers, and he knew God answers prayer! These new recruits would be joining the others in making great personal sacrifice to further the Gospel. Yet as Hudson Taylor continued to pray over the years, more and more missionaries came to serve.

Hudson ministered in China for 51 years, and eventually there were enough missionaries to realize his goal of reaching all 18 provinces of China. Now that's answered prayer!

Make It Real! Questions to make you dig a little deeper and think a little harder.

  1. What types of preparations did Hudson Taylor do to get ready for his work in China?
  2. Do you think God wants Christians to have easy lives? Why or why not?
  3. What kinds of training do you think missionaries have today before they head to another country?
  4. Hudson Taylor's organization, the China Inland Mission, is now known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. What does their new name say about their focus? Check out their website at

  1. Suggested reading:
    • Shanghaied to China by Dave and Neta Jackson (Trailblazer series), Bethany.
    • Hudson Taylor by Janet & Geoff Benge (Christian Heroes: Then and Now series), YWAM