Book Review – Hudson Taylor (Vance Christie)

Its been some time since I read a biography, and though I have heard plenty of anecdotes about Hudson Taylor, I have never read a complete account of his life. There are, I think, several biographies available and I am not sure whether this is the best available. This one has 19 relatively short chapters, and seems to have been written with younger readers in mind.

But whatever shortcomings the book may have, the life story of Hudson Taylor is a remarkable and fascinating one. What first impacted me was his incredible devotion to his life’s calling, and his willingness to make great sacrifices in order to do what God had called him to do.

His passion to see China evangelised saw him take remarkable steps to prepare himself as he lived in self-imposed frugality, and tried to teach himself to trust God rather than taking his own initiative. Some of this methods might seem unwise or at least a little quaint to our more sophisticated modern ideas about evangelism, and yet his unwavering simple faith in God is a sobering challenge.

The story of his life in China is a humbling tale of perseverance and endurance through much suffering and adversity. Many of his family members and missionary colleagues died of various illnesses, he was often in great danger through persecution, and money was in extremely short supply. It would have been quite understandable if he had given up at any point. Yet he remained single-mindedly devoted to reaching the lost millions of China.

It is interesting to read of a spiritual breakthrough he had in 1869, 15 years after he had first visited China, where he grasps the gospel in greater depth, and learned to rest in Jesus, rather than striving and toiling to be accepted by him. And yet, there was no let-up in his diligence as a result of this. He learned to refresh his own soul in prayer, so he could continue to give of himself to others.

The book is honest about the criticisms he faced, as well as the internal conflicts within the mission society CIM that he founded. It seems to me that a love for God, and a love for the people of China were the prime motivators that enabled him to lose so much and yet still persevere joyfully.

I recommend that anyone who has not read a biography of Hudson Taylor get hold of a copy and allow yourself to be provoked by his example. Let me know in the comments if you know of a particularly good biography, as I suspect that some of the others might be better than this one.