James Hudson Taylor
James Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM, now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China. The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who started 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in all eighteen provinces.
Taylor was known for his sensitivity to Chinese culture and zeal for evangelism. He adopted wearing native Chinese clothing even though this was rare among missionaries of that time. Under his leadership, the CIM was singularly non-denominational in practice and accepted members from all Protestant groups, including individuals from the working class, and single women as well as multinational recruits. Primarily because of the CIM's campaign against the opium trade, Taylor has been referred to as one of the most significant Europeans to visit China in the 19th century.
Taylor was born on 21 May 1832 in Barnsley, Yorkshire, the son of a chemist (pharmacist) and Methodist lay preacher James Taylor and his wife, Amelia (Hudson), but as a young man he ran away from the Christian beliefs of his parents. At the age of 15, after reading an evangelistic tract pamphlet entitled "Poor Richard", he professed faith in Christ, and in December 1849, he committed himself to going to China as a missionary. At this time he came into contact with Edward Cronin of Kensington—one of the members of the first missionary party of the Plymouth Brethren to Baghdad. It is believed that Taylor learned his faith mission principles from his contact with the Brethren. Taylor was able to borrow a copy of China: Its State and Prospects by Walter Henry Medhurst, which he quickly read. About this time, he began studying the languages of Mandarin, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.
In 1851, he moved to a poor neighborhood in Kingston upon Hull to be a medical assistant with Robert Hardey, and began preparing himself for a life of faith and service, devoting himself to the poor and exercising faith that God would provide for his needs. He practiced distributing gospel tracts and open-air preaching among the poor. He was baptized by Andrew John Jukes of the Plymouth Brethren in the Hull Brethren Assembly in 1852, and convinced his sister Amelia to also take adult baptism.
Due to health issues, Taylor remained in Switzerland, semi-retired with his wife. In 1900, Dixon Edward Hoste was appointed the Acting General Director of the CIM, and in 1902, Taylor formally resigned. His wife, Jennie, died of cancer in 1904 in Les Chevalleyres, Switzerland, and in 1905, Taylor returned to China for the eleventh and final time. There he visited Yangzhou and Zhenjiang and other cities, before dying suddenly while reading at home in Changsha. He was buried next to his first wife, Maria, in Zhenjiang, in the small English Cemetery near the Yangtze River.
The small cemetery was built over with industrial buildings in the 1960s and the grave markers were destroyed. However, the marker for Hudson Taylor was stored away in a local museum for years. His great-grandson, James Hudson Taylor III, found the marker and was able to help a local Chinese church re-erect it within their building in 1999.
Books by James Hudson Taylor
A delightful little devotional going through the Song of Solomon.
A young man with a dream to reach the unreached. J. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China who founded the China Inland Mission. He is considered one of the most influential missionaries in history. In his book A Retrospect, Taylor shares his perso...