Post 31 / The Next Language
December 7, 2020
Father of Faith Missions
Quite unintentionally I stumbled on a fairly new book about Hudson Taylor- The Ultimate Conquest by Dalton Thomas.
I was researching a relatively young startup mission focused on the most unreached peoples of the Middle East when I noticed that they had modeled much of their organization on the practices of the China Inland Mission. They even adopted the practice of not making their financial needs known and freely distributing their resources. It was refreshing to see new leaders in their thirties willing to go back to principles that many in today’s mission circles consider archaic. We are told that people and churches do not respond today like they did a hundred and fifty years ago. What they ignore is that for Hudson Taylor the primary factor in the formula for supplied needs was God- alone. Has God changed? Hudson was very aware of the proven methods of missions of his day but he adopted a practice of taking it to God and waiting.
Before ever being a missionary and (I believe) while he was still a medical student, he took a job where the single condition for getting paid was that he was supposed to remind the employer. Hudson elected to leave that to God in simple faith and a verbal prayer. In one test God prompted Hudson to give the last money in his pocket to a family in need. He knew that represented his food for the next day. The next day he was personally delivered a letter with no return address with a pair of leather gloves and a coin that was worth much more than the money he had reluctantly but obediently parted with the day before.
I learned in this book the strong connection between Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, Charles Spurgeon, and A T Pierson. They shared the same values and vision for the unreached.
Hudson’s discovery of a practical faith rest that lifted him out of a depressing whirlwind of conflicting and overwhelming administrative responsibilities became a virtual reality to me in my recording activities in Colombia over fifty years ago. I believe it was Hudson Taylor that said it was almost unimaginable what the Spirit-energized human is capable of when starting from a simple position of faith rest in the finished work of Christ.
Let me share part of this letter to Taylor’s sister in 1869. (All the following quotes are from J. Hudson Taylor, Personal correspondence as shared in The Ultimate Conques, beginning p. 148.)
Well, dearie, my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally, and for our Mission, of more holiness, life, power in our souls. But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for retirement, and meditation—but all was without effect. Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me. I knew that if I could only abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not. I began the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye from Him for a moment; but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, constant interruptions, apt to be so wearing, often caused me to forget Him. Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts, and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control. Each day brought its register of sin and failure, lack of power. To will was indeed present with me, but how to perform I found not.
All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was how to get it out. He was rich, truly, but I was poor; He strong, but I weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness; but how to get it into my puny little branch was the questions. As gradually the light was dawning on me, I saw that faith was the only prerequisite, [I just] had to lay hold on His fullness and make it my own. But I had not this faith. I strove for it, but it would not come; tried to exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Savior, my helplessness and guilt seemed to increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His word, but rather made Him a liar! Unbelief was, I felt, the damning sin of the world—yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith, but it came not. What was I to do?
As I read I saw it all! ‘If we believe not, He abideth faithful.’ I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, ‘I will never leave you.’ Ah, there is rest!
I thought. ‘I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me—never to leave me, never to fail me?’ And dearie, He never will!
But this was not all He showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in having wished to get the sap, the fullness out of Him. I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine, now I see, is not the root merely, but all—root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit: and Jesus is not only that: He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth!
I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.
Reading The Ultimate Conquest has brought back a flood of memories and convictions that had already been planted in my value system through other books about Hudson Taylor and from my own grandfather’s life of faith in ministry.
Targeting the last unrecorded languages of the earth is not that different from Hudson Taylor’s tenacious focus on the interior of China.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA
P. S. As a “thank you” for your continued support of the ministry of Global Recordings Network USA, and in celebration of over 80 years of God’s faithfulness, we have compiled a collection of 80 daily devotions written by GRN founder, Joy Ridderhof. You may read or download your copy of Rejoice Always – 80 Devotions with Joy Ridderhof here.