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J. Hudson Taylor, Founder of the China Inland Mission

by Thomas John Bach

Hudson TaylorIt has been well said that Christ's command, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), can be carried out only by those followers of Christ who are willing to spend and be spent for souls and who serve in Pentecostal power. J. Hudson Taylor was such a man. It seems unfair to write in ink, and in just a few paragraphs, the history of that man of God who did more than any other man to get the gospel of Christ preached to every creature in China.

During the last half century, the church of Christ in China has contributed many glorious chapters to the history of missions in spite of many opposing forces from within and without. It is a history that can be written with the blood of martyrs. Doubtless, the greatest of these chapters is that which, by the grace of God, was written by the China Inland Mission, of which J. Hudson Taylor was the founder.

James Hudson Taylor was born in Barsley, England, on May 21, 1832. His parents were devoted Christians who worshiped in a local Wesleyan chapel. He was dedicated to the Lord before he was born. From childhood he was delicate in health.

When Hudson Taylor was seventeen years old, he accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. Shortly thereafter, he was constrained by a firm conviction that he should go to China as a missionary, not merely to seaports where treaties had been established, but also to the interior of China. That was about the year 1850.

The Wesleyan Church had not as yet begun to send missionaries to China, but the Chinese Evangelization Society had done so. To that society Hudson Taylor applied. While waiting to go to China, he studied medicine at the London hospital and was active in visiting the poor and preaching the gospel. He disciplined himself to live economically and to submit to a strenuous program, trusting God in the smallest details for his daily needs.

In 1853, at the age of 21, Taylor sailed for China, commissioned by the Chinese Evangelization Society. He landed in Shanghai and began to study the language. A missionary of the Presbyterian mission, W. C. Burns, a man of kindred spirit, became his intimate friend. They itinerated together. Later, during the year 1856, Taylor moved to Ningpo.

Trust and Obey

At that time, a crisis arose concerning finances, his society being continually in debt. Hudson Taylor considered debts to be contrary to the instruction of the Word of God, "Owe no man any thing" (Rom. 13:8). He resigned from the organization and adopted the watchword "Jehovah Jireh—the Lord will provide."

Taylor's health failed in 1860, and he was obliged to return to England. That would have been the closing chapter for many, humanly speaking, but not for Hudson Taylor. He continued his medical studies and, in 1862, received his degree. He was constantly under the burden for China.

While still in China, January 20, 1858, he had married Miss Maria Dyer, daughter of Samuel Dyer of the London Missionary Society. Now together they wrote a small booklet entitled "China's Spiritual Need and Claims," which was greatly used to stir up interest in China.

In 1865, after a great mental and spiritual struggle, Hudson Taylor organized the China Inland Mission. He left for China the following year with a party of fifteen fellow missionaries. Ningpo became the center.

By 1870, there were thirty-three missionaries. When Taylor prayed for reinforcements, he was definite in the number that he requested. In 1875, he prayed for eighteen; in 1881, he prayed for seventy more; and in 1886 he claimed one hundred new missionaries through prayer. With few exceptions, the complete number was realized in each case. Many other missions and societies became affiliated with the China Inland Mission when they subscribed to its principles and practices.

Hudson Taylor was a man of God with a deep desire to do God's work in God's appointed place, in God's power, and for God's glory. He was a man with firm convictions and unwavering faith in God. He was courageous, self-denying, an outstanding administrator, and a man of prayer.

He died in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, China, in May, 1905.


"God gives His Spirit not to those who long for Him, nor to those who pray for Him, nor to those who desire to be filled always, but He does give His Holy Spirit to them that obey Him."—Taylor.


"Let us see that we keep God before our eyes; that we walk in His ways and seek to please and glorify Him in everything, great and small. Depend upon it, God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supplies."—Taylor.


"Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him."—Taylor.

From Pioneer Missionaries for Christ and His Church by Thomas John Bach. Wheaton, Ill.: Van Kampen Press, ©1955.

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