Monday, July 15, 2013

Hudson Taylor-Rolling Seas and Angry Captains

By Mary Vee
Year: July, 1860 
Hudson Taylor: age 28

From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes

I don't suppose I'ld ever make a good sailor. How can a person live his or her life on a ship with all the rocking and storms and rats and other problems? A ship life is not for me.

Maria, baby Grace, my Chinese friend, Wang Laedjun and I have been aboard the Jubilee for one month, now. We have three more months before docking in England. 

Dear sweet Grace was cutting her first teeth and having a difficult time. She cried, wailing at times. Captain Jones saw her on deck and ordered us to keep her quiet. Poor Maria was forced to stay with our little girl below deck.

Sleeping in a room with bed bugs didn't help us endure the journey. The tiny creatures make terrible guests.

It wasn't long before Maria became ill with dysentery. Between her illness and mine, Wang had to care for baby Grace. I'd learned a special remedy to ease this disease from Dr. Parker. It required a special food in our diet, but Captain Jones gruffly told me to leave him alone.

I took a candle and a tin cup to cook arrowroot in our cabin. Sometimes the candle didn't heat the water hot enough. When this happened, I wadded little pieces of paper in the lamp and set the tin cup over the flame. The arrowroot tea worked wonders for Maria, in time.

The captain had a grumpy personality. He probably didn't like having passengers on his ship, but needed to put up with the inconvenience to pay his bills. His poor wife stayed in the cabin near us and visited often. The captain never had a moment to share with her.  

I spoke with the first mate and immediately saw his strong faith in Christ. He knew how to get along with the captain, which worked out well for us. When I asked him for permission to hold church services on Sunday, quite surprisingly, he gave me approval. 

My Sundays have long been spent totally devoted to God. After each church service I typically spent time studying the Scriptures, singing hymns, and praising God for all He has done. 

Shortly after we set sail away from China, a Chinese boat pulled near to our ship offering to sell fresh apples. The captain asked me to translate. "I'm sorry, captain, but I cannot. This is Sunday, a day I devote to praise and worship."

"But can't you take a few moments to translate?"

"No. I am sorry. I have never broken this commitment to God." The captain never forgave me for this and reminded me with his gruff treatment for the rest of the journey.

There was one other passenger on board. A lady who'd lost her mind had been tied to the mast on several occassions. Without any obvious cause the captain ordered her to be beaten. There was nothing anyone could do to help this woman. 

The days on a ship blended into one another, I don't know how the sailors kept the calendar in their mind. During free time, I spoke with the crew sharing and studying the Scriptures or translating hymns with Wang. 

One day as Wang sat next to me translating hymns an idea came to me. We could work together to translate the New Testament into the Ningbo language.

To help Maria with her illness she and I often spoke of landing in England and seeing our families. The hope of a family celebration helped us survive the long four months on the sea.

November 20th didn't seem as cold and rainy as I remembered when I left England. The ship docked on English soil and our baggage delivered to the dock. I helped Maria, who had fully recovered from her illness, baby Grace, and Wang down the plank and headed for the train. Our excitement strengthened us for the last part of the journey home.

We discovered exciting news just after landing. Maria was pregnant! The Lord will bless us with a second child.

Wang, Maria, and I spent long hours praying, asking God to send five new missionaries to replace me in Ningbo. Not that I did the work of five, but there is plenty of work for five and even five additional workers. Will you pray too?\

J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China heading home to England
Blessed by God

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. &and Mrs. Howard Taylor.


  1. Hi Mary, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

    1. Thank you, Chris it was fun meeting you here.
      I stopped by your blog and enjoyed it as well.
      I look forward to seeing you again.


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