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Missionary dressed to impress

Christians who made a difference by Rosemary Dawson: James Hudson Taylor (1832–1905)

He was certain that God would never fail those who trusted him

MOTIVATED by his faith, James Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission, now known as OMF International, one of the largest Christian movements in the world.

The son of a pharmacist and lay preacher, he grew up in Barnsley. Despite poor health, he believed that God wanted him to be a mis­sionary in China, and he studied medicine at a London hospital. Hudson Taylor was certain that God would never fail those who trusted him, and he believed in the power of prayer.

He arrived in Shanghai during a civil war in 1854 and spent the next few years travel­ling, preaching and providing medical care. To overcome social barriers, he adopted the local dress and wore his hair in the same style as Chinese men.

After returning to England in 1865, he founded the China Inland Mission with only £10 in the bank. The following year he set sail for China with his wife, four children and 16 missionaries. Sadly, his daughter died of meningitis in 1867, his baby son of malnutrition in 1870 and his wife of cholera a few days later.

Although there were many mission­aries in coastal cities, few had ventured inland. Hudson Taylor wanted to reach the millions living there, and – despite suspi­cion and often violence from some people – set up mission stations and hospitals in places where no western missionary had been before.

His missionaries came from all Christian churches. He wanted intelligent, educated men and women, but the candidate’s spiri­tual qualities mattered most. Salaries were not guaranteed. He also recognised the value of women, who could often reach places for­bidden to male missionaries.

During his years in China, Hudson Taylor suffered hardship, poor health and perse­cution but kept his belief in God and in the power of prayer. He is widely regarded as the father of the Chinese Christian movement.

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