From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes
What a journey full of challenges.
Last time, you may recall, I tried to sail up to Ningbo where my missionary friend, Dr. Parker is working to purchase medical supplies at a cheaper price, (my supplies had been lost in a fire). The river waters could not carry the boat due to a draught. I had to get off at the last port, hire workers to carry my things (bed, and other large items) to the next port. I walked ahead of them but then waited at a village along the road. Without my seeing, the workers passed the village and went on to the next port.
Darkness settled and made walking unsafe. I stayed the night where I stopped but rose early the next morning. I walked to the port city of Haining, arriving late in the afternoon and asked if anyone had seen workers carrying a bed. A few said, "Yes we saw such workers and believe they walked toward the East Gate where people go to trade items.
Oh dear. I prayed, "Lord, please let this not be so. Perhaps they are mistaken." I asked a few other people. None had seen the workers.
I had no other choice than to stay in the city and search for the workers in the morning. With all the excitement, I felt quite tired and wanted to have supper. But each Inn I stopped at refused to let me rent a room. Even though I dressed Chinese, they still yelled at me and called me a foreign devil.
At midnight I could no longer hold my eyes open. I plopped down on the front stone steps of the temple and leaned against the steps. So caught up in the day, my eyes didn't close right away. This, I truly thank the Lord.
In the shadows a person crept toward me. They must have thought I had fallen asleep. He moved closer until he felt my coat, searching for a pocket. "What do you want?" I said. Hah. The man's eyes popped wide and he ran away.
A while later, though, the same man returned, this time with a friend. They must have thought I fell into a deep sleep because they lifted my head, no doubt searching for my money. Again I said, "What are you doing?" and used a demanding tone this time.
"Nothing." One replied. "Like you, we plan to stay the night."
I wanted to sleep. "Than go on the other side of the steps. This is my spot."
But the men refused to leave. I sat up and huffed. One man said, "You better sleep. You will be too tired to walk tomorrow. Don't be afraid. We will protect you."
I rubbed my eyes and yawned. "Thank you very much for your kind offer, but I don't need any protection." He yawned again. "I am not Chinese. I don't worship the meaningless idols you do. I am a Christian and worship the living God, He is my Father. I know who you are and what you want. I will remain awake all night and keep my eyes on you. Trust me. I will do as I have said."
My threat didn't work. One of the men left and the other watched me. Not much later the one man returned with a friend. Now there were three watching me and I had trouble staying awake.
I sang Christian hymns, quoted Scriptures, prayed all to stay awake. My companions became very angry with me. They did not want to hear my words. I spoke in Chinese and English, which annoyed them even more. Shortly before dawn the men left for good allowing me a short time to sleep.
I set out in search of the workers and my belongings the next morning, but realized I needed to return to Shanghai. While I walked, I realized I had not prayed for good lodging in Haining. "Oh yes, Lord. Forgive me. I should have asked your help." A moment later another thought came to me. I had focused all my thoughts on finding my belongings instead of telling those around me about the God who loves them. I have been so selfish.
I stopped at a Changwan and ate a good meal. Found a place to nap. When I woke I continued walking to my destination. I prayed with each step I took. I prayed for my friends in England, for my missionary friends, Parker and Burns, I prayed for the lost souls I would meet. And as I prayed, I felt refreshed, tears of joy. Although I had little sleep, walked a long ways, and ate little food, I felt surprisingly refreshed as I arrived at my destination.
I stopped at the city gate and prayed. "Lord. I need a place to sleep. One with safety, one that will allow a foreigner to rest." I did not find an inn that night.
Instead a nice family invited me to sleep on their riverboat. What a delightful rest I had.
Truly God takes care of His own. I plan to continue to the port in Shihmenwan where I left a few days ago. I'll buy a ticket and sail back to Shanghai. This did not turn out to be a useless trip. This time the lesson was for me.
Please pray that I will receive the support I need to continue this work and find my belongings.
J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China
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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.