Acts America

New Covenant Youth Ministry

Hudson Taylor

"When I am a man, I mean to be a missionary and go to China," said a little boy many, many years ago. And that is exactly what came to pass.

This little boy was James Hudson Taylor, who was born in Barnsley, England on May 1832. His father Jamehudson taylors Taylor, who was the son and the grandson of preachers, was a local preacher himself. He loved God and served Him so faithfully that every one knew he was a Christian. And his wife, Amelia Hudson Taylor, was as good and as true to God as he was. No boy could have had better parents than little Hudson had.

As a baby, he was sweet and bright, but not very strong. It would have been easy to spoil him. But his father and mother knew he must be taught obedience and self-control; and they agreed to teach him these lessons, even though he was a frail child.

When he was just a little fellow of two or three, he went with his father and mother to church. If he was good all through the long service, after the benediction was pronounced, they would hand him back to his grandfather, who sat in the pew behind them. This was something he remembered all through his life.

One of the things he enjoyed as a little boy was playing meeting with his little brother. When his little sister Amelia was big enough to walk, it was Hudson who taught her how to take the first little steps. When his two little brothers died, Hudson learned that sorrow, as well as joy, is a part of this life.

One day, there was a fair in town. One great attraction for Hudson was a collection of stuffed birds and animals, for he loved the things of nature. To his dismay, he found that they were enclosed within a high board fence. In his hand was a hard-earned penny which he offered to the man at the entrance, only to be told that the admittance fee was "tuppence" [twopence]. "But I haven't got another penny, and don't you see that it would be better to have one penny than none at all?" he reasoned. The argument was logical, but the gate-keeper remained firm, and little Hudson went away to tell his troubles to his mother. She explained that it was the man's duty to charge two pennies for admission, and then she found a very satisfactory way of solving the problem. She said that he had been so good and worked so well in the past days that she would give him another penny for his work, and off he ran with a glad heart.

The Taylor children were taught that it was just as important to keep themselves neat, with hands and faces clean, shoes polished, and nails well kept, when at home as when in company.

Punctuality was another valuable lesson they learned. Each child was expected to be on time at meals and for every other appointment. Mr. Taylor said, "If there are five people, and they are kept waiting one minute, do you not see that five minutes are lost, which can never be found again?" He had not much to give his children in the way of wealth or worldly advantage, but he bequeathed to them something far better — a simple strong faith in God and reverence for His Word.

Not being strong enough to go to school when he was small, Hudson's education was mostly gained at home; and from his sensible and wise parents he learned more valuable lessons than he would have learned at school.

Mr. Taylor was interested in foreign missionary work, and he was especially interested in China. The children shared his interest, and a little book, Peter Parley was read and reread. Both Hudson and his sister Amelia declared that they intended to go to that country some day.

Hudson's schooldays began when he was eleven. It was a help to him to be in the company of other boys; yet, these were not especially happy days for him. He lost the simple faith of his younger days, and it was a number of years before he yielded himself fully to God.

At the age of fifteen, he began working as a clerk in a bank. His old-fashioned ideas were laughed at by an older clerk, and when he returned home after nine months, he was further away from God than ever before.

His mother and father were burdened for the salvation of their boy. His sister Amelia made up her mind that she would go alone three times a day to pray for him. It was not long before those prayers were answered!

One day when he had nothing in particular to do, his eyes fell on a tract. "There will be a story at the beginning and a sermon or moral at the close," he said to himself; "I will take the former and leave the latter for those who like it." But as he read, conviction seized him and he gave himself to God. Since his mother was away from home, Amelia was the first to hear the joyful news. Upon her return, he greeted her gladly, eager to tell her about his conversion. "I know, my boy," she said, "I have been rejoicing a fortnight in the glad tidings you have to tell."

"Why, has Amelia broken her promise?" he asked. "She said she would tell no one."

"Ah, my son," was the answer, "no one has told me. But my heart became so burdened for you a fortnight ago that I determined not to arise from prayer until the assurance of your salvation came. So clearly did it come that I have been praising God ever since.”

There was peace and joy in Hudson's heart, and in his gratitude he offered himself to God, to work wherever He might call him. "Then go for Me to China," God said. The call seemed as clear as if God had spoken in an audible voice, and the young man did not hesitate.

He told his Sunday-school teacher of his call, and was encouraged and given a copy of the gospel of Luke in a Chinese dialect. He tried to prepare himself in every possible way for the life of a missionary. He gave up his feather bed and other things he had enjoyed, so that he would be used to a rugged life. Plenty of outdoor exercise made him stronger in body and Christian work strengthened his soul. He felt that if he wanted to win souls in China, he must begin at home; so he distributed tracts, taught a Sunday-school class, called on the sick and the poor, and did everything he could find to do for God.

Then he began studying the meaning of the Chinese letters in the little book his Sunday-school superintendent had given him. Because he knew that it would not be an easy task to learn the Chinese language, he wanted to begin as soon as possible. Some one had said that those who learned it needed "bodies of iron, lungs of brass, heads of oak, hands of spring steel, eyes of eagles, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah." Though far from possessing all these qualifications, Hudson went at it courageously and made good progress.

The next definite step in his preparation was to become the assistant of Doctor Hardey. He knew that if he could become skilful in caring for sick bodies, it would give him a good chance to help souls. At first, he lived in Doctor Hardey's home, which was very comfortable and pleasant, but not the best preparation for a missionary's life. The next move was to his aunt's home, which was less luxurious than the doctor's. Still he felt there was much more chance for self-denial, and it was not long until he found just the kind of place he felt he needed.

About this time, Hudson met a German missionary who had come back from China. When this man noticed the light hair and eyes of the younger one he said, "Why, you would never do for China. They call me 'red-haired devil,' and they would run from you in terror! You could never get them to listen at all." This might have discouraged some, but Hudson only replied quietly, "And yet it is God who has called me and He knows all about the color of my hair and eyes."

Hudson Taylor's next abode — and the one where he felt that he could get real training for China — was in a very undesirable portion of the city of Hull. Two rows of poor little cottages faced each other, and between them was a ditch where rubbish was thrown. The neighborhood was called "Drainside." When the tide rose high enough the rubbish was carried away. Unattractive as this was, Hudson Taylor selected one of these cottages as his dwelling-place. A room less than twelve feet square was his. His landlady, Mrs. Finch, with her children, occupied the upstairs room and the kitchen. Mr. Finch was away at sea most of the time, and his wife was glad of the three shillings a week paid her by Hudson Taylor.

He boarded himself and lived mostly on oatmeal, rice, and brown bread. He found it a pleasure to deny himself in order that he might have money with which to help others. At the close of his day's work, he would take his lonely walk to his comfortless room; and on Sundays, he visited the sick and helped the poor. It was not the kind of life one would be apt to choose, but God's blessing was upon him, and that is more than all the world has to offer.

There was one lesson that young Mr. Taylor knew he must learn, if he wanted to be a successful missionary in China, and that was the lesson of faith. He knew there would be many times in that far-away country when he would have no one to depend upon but God, and he must know how to get his prayers through and receive an answer. He wanted to know how to pray alone."

Dr. Hardey had told Hudson Taylor to remind him when it was time for his salary to be paid, as he was a very busy man, and probably rather forgetful. But Hudson made up his mind that he would do nothing except to pray about it. He felt that God could remind Dr. Hardey in answer to his prayers, and this would strengthen his faith.

One time, the day drew near and passed by, and the salary was not paid. At the end of the week, he found he had just a half-crown left. Still he said nothing, except to God. Sunday night, after a meeting with the poor people to whom he often preached, a man asked him to come and pray for his wife, who seemed to be dying. He had asked the priest to come, but he was too poor to pay the eighteen pence which the priest asked. His family was starving and the poor man was discouraged. Taylor knew they needed food and he thought, "Ah, if I only had two shillings and sixpence instead of this half-crown, how gladly would I give these poor people a shilling." He had something at home for supper that night and for breakfast the next morning, but nothing more than that. Could he give up all he had and trust God to supply his need?

Through a dark court they went, then up some rickety stairs, and reached the poor room where the man's wife lay with a baby thirty-six hours old, moaning at her side. Four or five hungry children stood about the room. When Taylor saw this scene of poverty, he thought he would like to give them a shilling and a half, but had not made up his mind to give up the whole coin. He tried to tell them of a loving heavenly Father who would care for them, but he could not say very much. Then he knelt to pray, but his conscience troubled him. How could he pray when he was not willing to give to these poor people who needed help so desperately? "You see what a terrible state we are in, sir; if you can help us, for God's sake do!" the poor man said. Taylor remembered that Jesus said, "Give to him that asketh thee," and he obeyed the command. He gave up his all, and in doing that he not only helped the poor people in their distress, but he won a victory and was happy.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you," the Bible says, "good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over." Early the next morning, the mailman left an envelop containing no letter, nor even the name of the sender, but a pair of new kid gloves and a half-sovereign coin. This was five times as much as he had given away, and he felt that God had paid him good interest.

Two weeks more passed by and still the salary was unpaid. His room rent would be due on Saturday night and his landlady really needed the money. But he had made up his mind not to say anything to the doctor about it, and he adhered to his purpose.

Late Saturday afternoon Dr. Hardey suddenly asked, "By the way, Taylor, is not your salary due?" Quietly the young man replied, "It is overdue some little time."

"Oh, I am sorry you didn't remind me," the doctor said. "You know how busy I am. Wish I had thought a little sooner, for only this afternoon I sent all the money I had to the bank. Otherwise I would pay you at once."

This was a test of the young man's faith, indeed, but as soon as he could, he found a quiet place to pray, and God assured him that everything would work out all right. That evening, he prepared for Sunday's meetings among the poor people, and was just ready to go home, when the doctor appeared on the scene, laughing. "Such a funny thing has just happened," he said. "One of my wealthiest patients has just come at this late hour to pay his doctor bill. Look up the ledger, Taylor, and see how much it is. Strange, isn't it, that he should come at this hour of the night, when he could write a check any day?" The bill was paid and the money turned over to Taylor. He was very happy, for several reasons. His needs were supplied, and more than that, his landlady could be paid. But the greatest reason of all for his happiness was that prayer was answered. Dr. Hardey had been "moved, through God, by prayer alone." It was a big step in his preparation for a missionary's life."