There were the words of Samuel Dyer (Hudson Taylor’s father-in-law), uttered upon his death bed in Macao in 1843. The Dyers served for 17 years among the overseas Chinese in what is now known as Malaysia and Singapore. Following missionary meetings in Hong Kong, Dyer contracted malignant fever and passed away in Macao in October 1843. To his dying breath, what was foremost on his heart was the evangelization of China.
Dyer’s dying words immediately came to mind when we received news of the finding of the graves of Hudson and Maria Taylor in Zhenjiang China. The Taylors, much like the Dyers, had a heart for the Chinese and was deeply burdened for the “million a month” dying without ever hearing the Good News. Following Maria’s death in 1870, Taylor continued to serve China for another 35 years. On June 3, 1905, after a six-weeks inland journey, Taylor “went from the heart of China to the heart of God” and was buried alongside Maria in Zhenjiang.
The search for Hudson and Maria Taylor’s tombs began in 1983. As both had passed away so long ago, the Public Security Bureau directed the 11 members of the Taylor’s family to the local museum. Through leaving the Taylor’s biography, pictures of the tombs, and the indefatigable efforts of the local pastor, we miraculously discovered the six pieces of Hudson Taylor’s tombstone three years later! The local Gospel Church took care of the tombstone and welcomed many Chinese Christians and visitors from Korea, Malaysia, and North America.
Then in 2012, the lower portion of Maria’s tombstone was discovered by a Taiwan businessman in an antique shop in Yangzhou (on the other side of the Yangtze River). Mr Huang was soon to determine the identity of the names engraved on the gravestone through a simple search on the internet. He contacted the Taylors and graciously donated Maria’s tombstone to be placed alongside Hudson’s.
Just about a year later, beyond our wildest dreams, we received a call from the local Zhenjiang authorities, indicating that land developers had both unearthed a Chinese tombstone (erected in the 1930s to mark the Taylor’s burial site), and possibly their actual graves. Following further archeological surveys, we were able to confirm the finding of the actual tombs of Hudson and Maria!
Now, what should we do? Following lengthy discussions with local officials and pastors, it was decided that the remains of Hudson and Maria, coupled with their tombstones, would be relocated to Xuan-De Church, a 3,000-seat capacity building recently built (2012) in Zhenjiang. When the Taylor family was honored to be invited to name the church, we immediately thought of 1 Peter 2:9-10. The architect’s original design of the sixty-meter bell tower was re-drawn as the resting place for the Taylors and the site of the J Hudson Taylor Memorial (HTM). The new blueprints include a basement crypt room, the exhibition hall recounting Hudson and Maria’s life story, the CIM ministry, and local church history.
Such a memorial is truly amazing and almost unprecedented in contemporary China. The HTM shall serve as a challenging reminder of “The Unfinished Task” and an invitation for Jesus’ followers to take up the missional baton with renewed consecration and dedication. As Hudson Taylor once said, “Can we do too much for Him? Can we do enough for such a Saviour?”
Hudson and Maria's tombstones in Xuan-De Church
3 generations at Hudson Taylor’s tombstone, Zhenjiang