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James Hudson Taylor

1832 ~ 1905

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Born at Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, James Hudson Taylor sensed by the time he was 17 that God was calling him to China. He prepared himself by reading books on China, analyzing the Chinese Gospel of Luke, and studying medicine. Four years of his first term of service (1853-1860) in southeast China was under a Chinese evangelization society, founded under the inspiration of [KarlGutzlaff|Karl Gutzlaff]. In 1858 in Ningpo (Ningbo) he married Maria Dyer, who was a faithful helpmate until her death in 1870.

Although forced to return to England in 1860 because of poor health, Taylor had a continuing concern for the millions of Chinese living in provinces where no missionary had ever gone. In 1865 he summed up his growing vision in China's Spiritual Need and Claims. The same year, with great faith but limited financial resources, he founded the China Inland Mission. Its goal was to present the gospel to all the provinces of China. Beginning in 1866 with a group of twenty-two missionaries, including the Taylors, the mission grew rapidly in numbers and outreach. By the time of Taylor's death in 1905, the CIM was an international body with 825 missionaries living in all eighteen provinces of China, more than 300 stations of work, more than 500 local Chinese helpers, and 25,000 Christian converts. Taylor stamped his own philosophy of life and work on the CIM: sole dependence on God financially with no guaranteed salary; close identification with the Chinese in their way of life; administration based in China itself rather than in Great Britain; an evangelical, nondenominational faith; and an emphasis upon diffusing the gospel as widely as possible throughout all of China. The last led him to encourage single women to live in the interior of China, a step widely criticized by other mission societies.

With heavy administrative responsibilities, Taylor spent as much time out of China as in, traveling to many countries to make China's needs known and to recruit new missionaries. Although often absent from China, Taylor kept in close touch with his many missionaries, and where possible, continued to engage in missionary activity. He played a prominent part at the General Missionary Conferences in Shanghai in 1877 and 1890. He retired from admninistration in 1901, died in Changsha, Hunan, in 1905, and was buried in Chen-chiang (Zhenjiang), Kiangsu (Jiangsu).

About the Author

By Ralph R. Covell

Formerly Professor of World Christianity and Academic Dean, Denver Seminary, Denver, Colorado, USA

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