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Glorious Things to Learn from Hudson Taylor


At the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis last week, conference host John Piper spoke on the life of Hudson Taylor in a message titled, "The Ministry of Hudson Taylor as Life in Christ."

In the introduction he reminds us that "there are glorious things to see in the life of Hudson Taylor, and wonderful lessons to be learned about abiding in Christ and about faith and prayer and obedience and suffering."

Piper presents three specific prayers, or aims that he has for the message:

The link between Hudson Taylor's pursuit of this fullness and the legacy of the China Inland Mission is enormously instructive. It is relevant for everyone who wants to experience the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:8), and wants to see your life bear fruit all out of proportion to your limitations. And that is what I hope God does with this message: Lead you into a deeper experience of union with Christ and inspire you to venture more for his glory than you ever have.

When Hudson Taylor wrote one of his most famous sayings, "Depend upon it, GOD'S work done in GOD'S way will never lack GOD'S supplies,"1 he meant every kind of needed supply, both money and health and faith and peace and strength. And that is my prayer: That you will see and experience new possibilities for your life: More faith, more joy, more peace, more love, and all the money you need to do his will which may be none.

And all of that because of your union with Christ, as it says in one of Taylor's favorite texts, "My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." And then, because of all that, I pray you will launch into some venture, some dream, of ministry beyond all your inadequacies for the glory of Christ. Abiding in Christ produced in Hudson Taylor's life great action and risk and discipline and self-denial all of it sustained by great peace and great joy. That's what I pray for us.

He goes on to relate the story of Taylor's life, noting that,

In his lifetime, Hudson Taylor made ten voyages to China, which means, as I calculate it that he spent between four and five years on the water in transit (just in case you have a two hour delay at the airport) a good reminder, I suppose, that he was [a] pilgrim here.

He also unpacks the "crisis" that let to his "fullness" experience, and asks why it was that this experience bore such lasting fruit in his life and offers three reasons:

    1. He was saturated with the Bible and submissive to the Bible.
    2. He saw suffering as God's way of deepening and sweetening his experience of union with Christ.
    3. He embraced the absolute goodness and sovereignty of God over his suffering and his union with Christ.

His conclusion is a promise and challenge to all of us:

Whether God gives you a crisis moment of this realization that lasts a lifetime, as he did Hudson Taylor, or whether he leads you deeper overtime, don't settle for anything less than the murmur-free contentment (Philippians 2:15; 4:1114) Paul experienced in Philippians 4, and what he prayed for in Ephesians 3:19 "that you might be filled with all the fullness of God." Don't stop wanting it and pursuing it. And if Taylor were here, he would say: It is yours. Possess it. Enjoy it. Then dream your Christ-exalting dream, and venture everything.

You can watch or download the video and/or text of the message on the Desiring God website.

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1Taylor, F. H., & Taylor, G. (1995). Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God (p. 42). Littleton, CO; Mississauga, ON; Kent, TN: OMF Book.

Image credit: Becky Patterson, via Twitter

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio