Monday, July 23, 2012

Hudson Taylor-Trouble in Shanghai

By Mary Vee

Hudson Taylor's Journal

After five months of sailing, we finally docked in Shanghai.

Absolutely nothing seemed familiar to me. I could have stepped onto another planet and felt the same amount of familiarity. 

In a way I expected this, even spent years preparing for the differences in climate, terrain, buildings, plants, customs, and food in China. I quickly learned reading about a country is a whole lot different than going there.

But maybe I could find a way to help you understand. 

Think of the foods you usually eat. Now, pretend you're standing in your kitchen in December. Close your eyes. Can you smell the foods normally cooking at that time? Perhaps you can see the fire in the fireplace, feel the warmth from a furnace, smell a Christmas tree, see presents under a tree in your mind. Maybe you see a manorrah, and a dreidel for Hanakkuk or something else. The pictures you see, the smells floating through your mind, the feelings you feel represent December for you. 

Now picture a feast welcoming you to Mars, or under the ocean, or the desert, or some place you haven't a clue what it really is like because you've only read about it. What would the food smell like? In the desert you might find Bedouin people and a camel, in the ocean you might find divers, on Mars, who knows? What would you eat? What would you say to the people who live there?

The point is, we can read about people who live in a place we have never been, but until we find a real connection, it is very hard to understand what life is like where they live. 

I met an English missionary who went to China. He told me what he saw. I didn't meet any Chinese people who grew up in China and then moved to England.

What I thought would be in Shanghai, and what I saw were two different things.

When the Dumfries docked at Shanghai I felt lost. I looked different than the people, I couldn't understand what they said, the food smelled different, nothing looked like England.

This seemed pretty bad until an Englishman met our ship and report trouble. He said a rebellion had risen against the government. Thousands of Imperial army soldiers were sent to fight the rebellion. They had surrounded Shanghai and had it under siege which meant people couldn't escape to get supplies. 

He said most of the housing had been taken by the rebellion. The few places left cost a fortune, money I didn't have. There was little food left in the city.

I didn't know what to do. I had three letters to introduce me to people who could help me find a place to rest. I went to the British Consul and learned the first man, the one I trusted most, had died only days before. The second man fled to America. The third man, I hardly knew. He was my last choice to use only in case of emergency. 

I had to find the third man, or . . . or I wasn't sure what I would do.

J. Hudson Taylor

Do you have any questions?

Photo courtesy of

Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor.

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