Did You Know: This Month in 1857

A little over three years after Hudson Taylor’s arrival in China as the first missionary sent by the Chinese Evangelisation Society, Taylor resigned from the Society. He had known for some time that the Society was running a debt of more than £1000 pounds (the equivalent of USD$215,000 today). Remittances for Taylor’s work in China were sent to him on borrowed money.

This troubled Taylor so much, he had to resign in May 1857. “Personally, I had always avoided debt, and kept within my salary, though at times only by very careful economy…. If the Word taught me anything, it taught me to have no connection with debt. I could not think that God was poor, that He was short of resources, or unwilling to supply any want of whatever work was really His. It seemed to me that if there were lack of funds to carry on work, then to that degree, in that special development, or at that time, it could not be the work of God.”

It was an encouragement that Taylor’s friend and colleague John Jones felt led to resign from the Society at the same time. Unsurprisingly, as Taylor told us, the resignation was “trying to faith…I was not at all sure what God would have me do, or whether He would so meet my need as to enable me to continue working [in China] as before…”.

Perhaps we can relate with Taylor who shared honestly that his faith “often, often failed” then. “I was so sorry and ashamed of the failure to trust such a Father. But oh! I was learning to know Him. …He became so near, so real, so intimate. The occasional difficulty about funds never came from an insufficient supply for personal needs, but in consequence of ministering to the wants of scores of the hungry and, dying around us… when we fail to trust fully He still remains unchangingly faithful. He is wholly true whether we trust or not.” 

Adapted from Hudson Taylor: In the Early Years— The Growth of a Soul by Dr and Mrs Howard Taylor, 1912.

Figure: After Hudson Taylor and John Jones resigned from the Chinese Evangelization Society, they displayed in their meeting hall a couplet: Jehovah Jireh meaning ‘The Lord will provide’ and Ebenezer meaning ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.’ With this testimony their new work has launched. In this picture, the couplet appeared on the first issue of Occasional Paper that was published to report on CIM’s progress.

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