Hudson Taylor: A Life of Faith

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” While ultimately our goal is to be like Christ, we can receive great challenges from watching and hearing about other people who walk with Him and serve Him. Obviously, the glory for all of this goes completely to God, and it is such an encouragement to hear about how He has worked through lives in amazing ways.

Our God is so powerful and so merciful.

Here is a little of how He showed that to a man named Hudson Taylor (1832-1905).

Hudson Taylor

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“Please, Lord, show my son that he needs You. I beg that you would bring him to know You.”

70 miles from home, Mrs. Taylor was on her knees, pleading with her Heavenly Father for her son. That 15 year old boy wanted nothing to do with Jesus and had even said that, “if there were any salvation it was not for me”. Talk about breaking a mother’s heart!

Mrs. Taylor kneeled there and prayed until she couldn’t pray any more, but as she sleepily mumbled her “amen,” the strangest feeling came over her. A seed of joy had been mysteriously planted in her heart, and it was bursting, growing, pushing at her.

And suddenly, she knew. She knew what God was trying to tell her. Her son had accepted Christ!

At home, her son, Hudson, had been flipping through some pamphlets in his father’s library and had absentmindedly picked up a tract explaining the gospel. Well, it will probably have a pretty good story at the beginning, he thought. He promised himself he would put it down as soon as it got too “prosy” and sat down to read. As he read, though, he was captured by the words “the finished work of Christ.” Not words like atoning, propitiation, or any of the other high and mighty words he had usually heard. Just “the finished work.” What was it that was finished?

Of course… It was the payment and judgment for his sin. For the first time, Hudson realized that Jesus had truly already paid for everything he had ever done. There was nothing left for him to do! And it was at that moment that he realized his sin and the truth of the Savior.

Can you just imagine the joyful reunion between Mrs. Taylor and Hudson, and how shocked Hudson must have been when he found out that his mother had already known?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” As Hudson Taylor grew in his faith, he came to know the truth of those verses more and more. He knew the Christian life was solely about glorifying the Lord, and he wanted to know how to do that. One afternoon, feeling overwhelmed again at all that God had done for him, he humbly laid himself out flat on the ground and begged God to give him something to do for Him. God answered that prayer with a life changing command to go. Where, Hudson had no idea, but eventually he learned he was to go to China.

Missions work in China would be nothing like life as he knew it. He would be giving up every comfort and every person that he knew. In preparation for that huge life change, Hudson not only began studying medicine (he knew there was a need for medical missionaries in China at the time), but he started giving up anything he could think of that he would soon have to do without.

Hudson gave up comfortable rooms, his bed, nice clothes, even food beyond the barest possible necessity. He wanted to focus on serving God and wanted to give every resource he could get his hands on to God’s service. In his words, “If the whole resources of the Church of God were well utilised, how much more might be accomplished!”

He worked to support himself, and earned very little. During this time, he learned over and over again that he needed to be totally dependent on God and that God does indeed provide.

Finally, on September 19, 1853, Hudson Taylor set off for China.

Once there, Hudson worked in hospitals with no mission board support. Day by day he was looking to God to meet the basic needs for himself and the hospital, as well as the far more important spiritual needs. Thinking about this situation, he later said, ”I could look right up into my Father’s face with a satisfied heart, ready, by His grace, to do the next thing as He might teach me, and feeling very sure of His loving care.”

As years went on, Hudson Taylor eventually started the China Inland Mission, an organization that inspired many more to go and serve God overseas and which helped teach countless Chinese people about Jesus. Millions of people in China are now Christians partly through ministries begun by Hudson Taylor. Talk about a legacy!

Now, people like us now point to his life and say, “See, that is what a life of faith looks like,” yet not once do you see Hudson Taylor taking credit for anything that happened to him. Not once did he say that it had anything to do with him that the people he reached in China came to know their Savior. Hudson Taylor knew that, “neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

He had a right perspective on what doing work for God meant. Read these words carefully.

“It is always helpful to us to fix our attention on the God-ward aspect of Christian work; to realize that the work of God does not mean so much man’s work for God, as God’s own work through man. Furthermore, in our privileged position of fellow-workers with Him, while fully recognizing all the benefits and blessings to be bestowed on a sin-stricken world through the proclamation of the Gospel and spread of the Truth, we should never lose sight of the higher aspect of our work- that of obedience to God, of bringing glory to His Name, of gladdening the heart of our God and Father by living and serving as His beloved children.” -Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor’s life can now serve as a challenge and a reminder. First, there is the challenge that asks how much are we willing to give up in service of God? How far are we willing to trust Him when everything else we could rely on is totally stripped away?

Secondly, the reminder is that if we go out on faith and do what God asks, He can do amazing things with our lives.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16


  1. Beth

    Hudson Taylor is one of my favourite mission heros. One of the exciting things is to realise that the organization he began just celebrated 150 years of work in East Asia.

    • Oh, wow! It is amazing how God works and that He is still working through something that this man began 150 years ago. That is very exciting, thanks for sharing that : )

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