Hudson Taylor

1832-1905. Missionary pioneer. Born in Yorkshire, the son of a Methodist chemist, he underwent at seventeen a deep conversion and soon felt a strong call to the almost closed empire of China.* He landed at Shanghai in 1854, after part-medical training, as agent of the short-lived Chinese Evangelization Society. The inefficiency of its home base threw him back on faith and prayer for his support, and a succession of providences caused him to sever connection. He made several evangelistic forays into the closed interior, and adopted Chinese dress. In 1858 he married Maria Dyer in Ningpo despite the opposition of other missionaries who viewed him as a “poor, unconnected Nobody.” Invalided back to England, he bore a burden for inland China and the millions without Christ which grew even stronger. On the opening of the empire to Westerners, he could find no mission willing to back him, so he founded the interdenominational China Inland Mission (1865), asking God to send “24 willing, skillful laborers,” two for each unreached province. They sailed in 1866. Maria died four years later.

Despite opposition from missionaries and mandarins, some internal dissension, and several riots, the CIM established itself as the “shock troops” of Protestant advance. Taylor's aim was to bring the Gospel to every creature: he was happy for others to reap where his pioneers had sown, although many CIM stations became permanent. By 1895 he led 641 missionaries, about half the entire Protestant force in China. His great spiritual qualities and the caliber of the CIM, together with his writings and world travels, gave him an influence far beyond China, and led to similar faith-missions being founded. Among his chief emphases were: identification with the people (e.g., all to wear Chinese dress), the direction of the mission to be on the field, not from the home base; dependence on God alone for supplies, with scrupulous efficiency in administration; the deepening of Christian life in the home churches as a sure means of encouraging missionary vocations. Taylor retired in 1901 and died four years later at Changsha, capital of the last province to open.

H. and G. Taylor, Hudson Taylor in Early Years (1911) and Hudson Taylor and the CIM (1918; one- volume ed., 1965); J.C. Pollock, Hudson Taylor and Maria (1962).