From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes
Like you, I often wonder where my next step should be. I thought I should take my belongings to Ningbo and purchase medical supplies but the low river waters prevented the ship from getting me there. During that journey, thieves took all my belongings. Only God could and did provide a way back to Shanghai.
I felt defeated. Time wasted.
But, in hindsight, seeing what happened next I am again reminded that trials are truly a tool, a means of direction or lesson for us. When I reached Shanghai I learned I had mail from England containing substantially more funds than the value of my stolen belongings. And with this money I could purchase more medical supplies and transportation to show the Chinese the love of God than I first thought.
Praise the Almighty God who knows all things.
Now that I had money in hand, I needed to know what to do. I could return to Swatow and continue the work with my friend Burns. No, that would be foolish because I still needed to purchase the medical supplies. Right. That settled it. I would sail back up the river to Ningbo and buy medical supplies from my missionary friend Dr. Parker.
Two weeks passed before the river waters had risen allowing ships to sail up the river again. I boarded a ship and journeyed to Ningbo. A Chinese man named Peter boarded the ship with me. Apparently he had written Dr. Parker and asked him to come work with him. My friend agreed.
As I spoke with Peter on the ship's deck, I realized the man had not accepted Jesus as his savior. We spent the first day talking. I told him what Jesus had done for him and he seemed to understand but never made an outward sign of believing in God.
The next day I spent my usual morning time in my cabin studying the Word and praying. My time, however, was interrupted by a loud splash and a loud cry for help. I hurried up the ladder and crossed the deck to the position.
Workers from the ship leaned over the boat rail and helplessly turned to each other.
"Peter!" I pushed through the gathered men and leaned over the side. Peter had fallen overboard and disappeared in the water. A strong wind shoved our boat away from Peter's position. Something had to be done quickly. I lowered the sail to slow the boat and leaped into the freezing waters.
"Peter! Peter!" I searched the waters plunging into the muddy river and surfacing for quick breaths before diving again. I couldn't find him. When I surfaced, I saw a fishing boat with a dragnet. It could be used to find Peter.
"Please," I called. "Please drag your net over this spot to save a man. He's drowning!"
The fishermen looked at me as though I asked for a million dollars. "We can't. If we stop we will lose money."
I waved my arms at them and frantically pleaded. "Please. You can save his life. I can pay you more money than you will make fishing. Please, help me."
"How much will you pay?"
We haggled back and forth, wasting precious time. At last they agreed to help. They paddled their boat ever so slowly to my position. Nothing I said made them go faster. They let down their nets and in less than one minute Peter's body rose to the surface.
His lifeless body lay covered in muck. It may not be too late. I swam to the net and immediately tried to resuscitate him. My heart pounded, I worked fast and used all the medical training I knew, but nothing helped. Peter . . . was gone.
I gave the fishermen their money. Later I thought about the whole incident. Those fishermen alone had the guilt for Peter's death. Had they come sooner, he could have been saved.
And then I thought of us who choose not to go here or go there to tell others about the saving power of Jesus Christ because it isn't convenient. How my heart ached.
Late in October, 1856, I arrived in Ningbo. Broken, yet willing to serve God alongside my friend Dr. Parker.
J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China
Blessed by God
Do you have any questions?
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.