The parents saw little evidence their prayer had any effect on their son’s life as he grew up in Yorkshire, England. In fact, he became a skeptic and wandered far from his Methodist upbringing. But when Taylor reached his teenage years, God grabbed his heart while he read a Christian tract in his father’s apothecary shop. A short time later, Taylor felt God had called him to be a missionary to China.
Then, Hudson Taylor’s training began in earnest.
Taylor read George Mueller’s newsletter and believed he needed strong faith and a prayer life like Mueller’s to succeed in China. To accomplish this, Taylor moved miles away from home to live in a poor area. He vowed to never ask people for help, but instead, like Mueller, he prayed, asking God to meet his needs. An absent-minded employer and sickness brought him close to starvation and death, yet God proved Himself faithful, delivering and healing him.
In 1853, Taylor sailed as a missionary for a new missionary society to Shanghai, China. The society seldom sent funds and Taylor refused to ask for help. “Depend upon it. God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack for supplies,” he proclaimed.
After seven years of hard work, he built a church of only 21 believers in an inland city. But because of illness, he and his wife returned to England. It was during his stay in England, when he felt defeated and depressed, that God gave him a vision for a new missionary society for China. Struggling with the vision and his lack of faith for it, Hudson Taylor eventually told God: “All responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with You. I am Your servant and I will obey and follow You.”
From this point forward, Hudson Taylor began praying for missionaries to join his missionary society: China Inland Mission. By 1895, 641 missionaries and 462 Chinese helpers at 260 missionary stations were the results of his prayers, more than half of all Protestant missionaries in the nation.
Missiologists and historians refer to Taylor as ‘one of the profoundest Christian thinkers of all time’, ‘a visionary pioneer’ and ‘one of the four or five most influential foreigners in 19th century China’.