BREAKTHROUGH, LEGACY, RESPONSE: REFOCUSING ON HUDSON TAYLOR
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From Movie to Movement – The Hudson Taylor Movie Project

BY Dr. Jennie Fung
Half Crown Media Board Chairperson

From Movie to Movement – The Hudson Taylor Movie Project

BY Dr. Jennie Fung
Half Crown Media Board Chairperson

190 years ago in Barnsley, a mining town in Yorkshire, England, lived a young couple, James and Amelia Taylor. James was a local Methodist preacher, who also ran a pharmacy in the market. Amelia was a schoolteacher. Together, the couple read books about China, including Narrative of a Voyage by Captain Basil Hail, which awakened their passion for China. They promised God that if He gave them a son, they would dedicate him to His service. God responded in turn, blessing them with a son: James Hudson Taylor.

From his earliest days, Hudson Taylor’s heart and imagination was enraptured by Peter Parley’s China and Chinese. It so moved him, that at the tender age of seven, he decided to share the gospel in China. However, during his teenage years, his faith went through a time of testing. His heart was full of unbelief and rebellion. His mother and sister prayed earnestly that he might return to the faith. When Hudson was seventeen, he read a gospel tract, ‘The Finished Work of Christ’, through which God answered his family’s prayers. With the joyful conviction that there was nothing else in the world to be done, Hudson fell on his knees, and accepted Jesus and His salvation.

Street scene in Barnsley. Courtesy of www.oldbarnsley.co.uk

God used the printed word to change the lives of both James and Hudson Taylor. Through them, He transformed the lives of countless Chinese people. God has also used Hudson Taylor’s story, recorded in numerous books, to inspire thousands to commit their lives to cross-cultural missions.

Stories, be they spoken, written, photos or film, are powerful. They can touch our hearts and souls, and move people into action.

In 2012, as OMF International was preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the China Inland Mission (now OMF), someone suggested that we should make a new film about the life of Hudson Taylor. Not to lift up our founder, but to show how God achieves His mighty work through ordinary lives yielded to Him. We want to see young people inspired to trust God, fully yielded to serve Him whether in the work place, in the church and in missions.

After much deliberation and prayer, the OMF leaders agreed that this was a worthy cause. However, OMF is not a movie making organization. God’s call—to share the the good news of Jesus Christ in all its fullness with East Asia's peoples—should not be cast aside to make a movie. Thus, OMF set up Half Crown Media (HCM), a non-profit organization focusing on the planning, production, and distribution of the Hudson Taylor Movie.

Peter Parley’s book, China and Chinese

HCM’s first task was to develop a screenplay that presents an authentic portrayal of Hudson Taylor, and the God he loved, trusted, and served. After multiple attempts by 5 screenplay writers, we finally reached this milestone at the end of 2020.

Over the past 10 years, again and again, after labouring for 6 months to a year, we would be left with a screenplay that did not portray the true Hudson Taylor. It would fail to show his weakness and struggles, his love and dependence on God, or the Lord of his life that was so important and precious to him. Every time, we had no choice but to reject such a screenplay, and return to God crying out, “What now, Lord?”

Yet each time without fail, God showed us a glimpse of His goodness. He opened a new window, sent us a gift, a film professional, a new approach to writing. He showed us at each turn that He was still leading the project forward. So, we followed.

Two years ago, God led a talented and experienced Christian movie producer, Aaron Burns, to help us complete the development phase of the movie. With his help, we found a gifted storyteller, who has a similar passion and experience as Hudson Taylor, Matt Mikalatos. He wrote for us an engaging screenplay depicting the love between Hudson and Maria Taylor, the love they experienced from their Chinese friends, and the unfailing love of God for them and the Chinese people.

This project does not seek merely to produce a ‘moving’ movie. Our goal is to change the lives of our viewers. We want to see unbelievers seek after the life-changing God, and to see believers seek God’s purpose for their own lives and, like Hudson and Maria, committed fully to serve people near and far.

Aaron Burns exploring how historical events align with the story structure.

“One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”
Psalms 145:4

Each generation experiences God’s mighty work. Hudson Taylor, D.E. Hoste, Billy Graham, John Sung, Wang Ming Dao, and numerous unnamed evangelists from the four corners of the Earth; from now and ancient past; missionaries, preachers, or lay Christians; each and every believer of the living God has experienced His mighty work. God calls us to share those stories with one another, from one generation to another, inviting others to experience God and to follow Him as disciples with mission perspectives.

The Hudson Taylor movie is just one part of God’s story. Church leaders can tell young members the story of their church, and of their personal lives. They can also listen to the stories of the younger generation, encouraging them to share their stories with others, young and old alike spurring one another on, in service of the mighty God.

To allow the movie to impact the world widely, we seek to distribute it globally, in multiple languages, through various platforms. We intend to make it accessible to viewers in cinemas, churches, and at home through streaming platforms. We are also building a global network of churches and Christian agencies to help viewers respond to God’s movement in their hearts. We seek to provide materials, resources and courses for people searching for God, as well as those wanting to receive training for ministry, or seeking opportunities to serve, whether in their workplace, church, or mission ministry. We hope to see each of these viewers connected with someone in their context and heart language to explore God’s purpose for their lives.

In line with the ethos Hudson Taylor left with CIM/OMF, we prayerfully look to God to provide all the resources we need, including the 7 million USD production cost. To ensure the integrity of the story, we are raising the funds through donations and not investment. If God would provide the needed production funds by mid-2023, we anticipate the movie to be in theatres throughout the world by the first half of 2025.

Please pray with us and share this vision with others. We need many more to join us both in prayer and action to see this project realised. As Hudson Taylor once said, “There are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is IMPOSSIBLE, then it is DIFFICULT, then it is DONE.” May we stand together to witness this project be DONE!

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