PHILADELPHIA (BRN) – Everyone has a particular hero of faith they look up to. Someone not in the Bible, yet someone who has lived a life of faith and surrender to God. Personally, I really look up to nineteenth century missionary Hudson Taylor. I want to spend this article encouraging you from his life.  

Taylor heard the Lord call him to go to China as a teenager, and spent years readying himself for the task. He painstakingly learned Chinese word by word, he exercised and disciplined his body to help him survive the harsh living conditions of China, he committed to only asking the Lord for money, he learned how to practice medicine and much more. 

When he first arrived in China, he had no plan, no strategy and entered into the middle of a Chinese civil war. But what he did have was faith in the Lord, and a reliance on the Holy Spirit to equip and empower him. For years, he toiled and labored to reach more and more Chinese.  

After years of this faithful work, he fell deathly ill, and was ordered to go back to England. In the midst of his failing health, the Lord called him to start the China Inland Mission (CIM), which focused on bringing the gospel to the interior of China – rather than the coast, where there already were many missionaries. He recruited, trained and went back to China with many other missionaries of the new China Inland Mission. 

Unlike other missionaries in China, CIM missionaries focused on seeing the Chinese become believers, rather than Chinese people become English believers. For many more years, Taylor led the CIM, and labored among the Chinese people, until he died and was buried there.   

So many things inspire me from Taylor’s life, but the biggest thing is his faith in God. Recently, there has been a huge push in missions to focus on strategy. Conferences, trainings and workshops focus almost entirely on strategy. There’s nothing wrong with strategy, but it must be in its proper place. Strategy must be secondary to prayer and an abiding faith and hope in God. When we elevate strategy over prayer and personal closeness with God, we risk stealing glory from the Lord, which is a great sin.   

I used to think Taylor was foolish to go to China with practically zero plan for how he would reach the Chinese people. I thought, “wow, see how far we have come in missions… now we have research and all this strategy for how to effectively reach people.” I see my error now. 

Taylor was not foolish or misguided, he was full of faith and rooted in the confidence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, he was so confident in the Lord’s continual guidance and direction that he went to a country and culture he barely knew. He blindly stepped out in faith and obedience, knowing that whatever he lacked, the Lord would provide. 

I believe the Lord is looking for more people like Hudson Taylor. He wants more of us to step into His plan and lean entirely on Him. Jesus is asking us to serve Him how He wants us to, and not how we want to. 

Like Taylor, let us step blindly, yet with confidence into the Chinas of the world, knowing the promise of our Lord Jesus, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b ESV).     

Inspiring quotes from Hudson Taylor:

  • “God is not looking for men of great faith, He is looking for common men to trust His great faithfulness.”
  • “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered, it is a command to be obeyed.”
  • “The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will.”
  • “Dream a dream so big that unless God intervenes, it will fail.”
  • “There are three stages in the work of God: impossible, difficult, done.”
  • “Carrying the cross means following in Jesus’ footsteps. And in His footsteps are rejection, brokenheartedness, persecution and death. There are not two Christs – an easy going one for easy going Christians, and a suffering one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are we willing to follow His lead?”

“Missions Minded” is a new monthly column written by Jack Elliot, Missions Mobilizer for Nehemiah Teams. Each month, Jack will explore a different topic or spiritual discipline and relate it to the field of missions – a field close to his heart! For any questions or more information about how you and your church can get involved in impacting the nations, please feel free to contact Jack at