From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes
The saying, when in Rome, do as the Romans do had not yet become a part of my missionary work, yet. I learned there was a reason such phrases become popular.
My friend and missionary partner, Joseph Edkins, and I had stopped at a monastery to share the Gospel with the Buddhist priests. After a two-day visit, we walked back toward the wharf where our ship had been docked.
Edkins and I had dressed in typical European fashion. Pants, button down shirt, dress shoes and our hair cut short. We did not look Chinese at all. We may as well have been wearing tuxedos to a pizza party. That's how different we looked.
The Chinese typically wore tunics, long braids of black hair down their backs, and sandals. Their skin color had a yellow tinge and many men were shorter than us.
Walking down the street dressed like Europeans raised the curiosity of the villagers. We had been called foreign devils, yet we brought books to give and told stories. The Chinese couldn't understand why men who dressed and looked so different would want to spend time with them and give them gifts.
A large group of teenagers came close, surrounding us and making loud noises. I couldn't understand what they said but their conversation and body movements told me they wanted to cause trouble. Maybe hurt us.
The teens picked at our clothing and drew close to our faces. They laughed and jeered at us. The more they did the bigger the crowd grew. Edkins and I tried to keep steady faces and walk as if we did not feel bothered. On the inside, I felt scared and concerned for our safety. If the teens squeezed any closer they could knock us down and beat us up.
We saw some gates to the side and slipped through them, hoping to escape the crowd. Unfortunately we stepped onto private property. So that was why the teens didn't follow us. The owner ran out of his home screaming and yelling something about foreign devils trespassing on his property. In my mind I saw a jail scene. It didn't look pretty.
We ran to the river and tried to flag down a passing ship. "Help us, please, help!" The sailors ignored our cry. In the meantime, the landowner had called for the police. We needed to leave, quick, but where should we go? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a junk close to the shore. I hopped on board and asked the crew to move the ship close enough for my friend to board.
I paid the crew to take us farther up the river and collapsed on the deck. The captain took us about a mile and dropped us off. From there we walked back toward our ship.
What an adventure. I learned a few lessons and thanked God for delivering us safe. In a short distance we would be safe on our ship.
But our trouble hadn't ended.
A few of the same teens saw us as we walked the last street toward the wharf. They gathered their friends and marched toward us. God have mercy. We need your help.
Around the corner came a local teacher. One I recognized. He had given me Chinese lessons when I first came. He stepped in between the teens and us, held out his arms and ordered them to leave us alone. He continued to tell the teens, "These are missionaries, they bring you books and want to tell you about Jesus, the God who loves you."
Thanks to God sending the teacher at the time of need, we safely walked back to our boat. Thank you God. I sighed. Thank you.
J. Hudson Taylor
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Photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
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.