By Mary Vee
Year: May, 1866
Hudson Taylor: age 34
From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes
I must confess, while journeying to China I'd often wished the trip could be done in a faster way. I wasn't put out by the three months sailing through storms and a diet of bread and water as much as I wanted to return to the Chinese people and tell them about the God who loves them as soon as possible.
Eighteen missionaries, four children, and a thirty-four member crew set sail from England on May 26, 1866.
The missionaries immediately set a schedule of studying Chinese, the Word of God, and praying. We became close friends, sharing our concerns and joys.
On Sundays we received permission from the captain to hold services on deck, inviting the crew. The missionaries formed small groups and held Bible studies with crew members who were interested.
The ship had become a school and church with several crew members asking Jesus to be their Savior.
The winds blew us across the seas toward China at the expected speed and we had little trouble with storms until reaching the coast of Taiwan.
A fierce storm brewed in the skies. "Foaming waves washed over both sides of the ship. Massive masts and booms swung about wildly on wire ropes, threatening to crash onto the deck at any moment. Floating timbers and casks banged around the deck. Loose chains clanged and torn sails slapped loudly in the howling winds."
The crew became frightened and ran below, hiding in their quarters. It seemed the ship would surely sink in the typhoon before we could find a harbor.
The missionaries gathered and prayed for God's hand to still the storm or in some was spare the ship.
Soon the captain came below. "Put on your lifebelts. The ship won't last much longer." He held a club in his hand.
I could tell his intent by the look on his face. "Please don't beat the sailors until every other means has been tried."
I kissed my four children and gave them a strong hug then called all male missionaries to join me on deck. The ship would indeed suffer if the work wasn't done. We climbed the ladder and braced ourselves for the pelting rain. Together we gathered loose objects floating on deck and tied them down.
We worked for several hours before going below and asking the crew to join us. Gradually, they joined our efforts to secure the mast, ropes and dangling sails. We worked for many more hours, stopping only to eat a piece of bread to keep up our strength.
The women helped man the pumps to keep the water from overtaking the ship. Crew and missionaries worked together to do what we could to keep the ship afloat. Of course we missionaries prayed as worked.
The following Sunday, our ship limped into the harbor at Shanghai, China. Not one person perished in the storm. We didn't fully understand God's protective hand on our ship until the next ship pulled into the harbor. Sixteen of its twenty-two people died in the storm.
The spirit of God led us to begin our trip with study, fellowship, prayer, and worship. Clearly this was not enough. He also gave us opportunity to work. Work with our hands. Prove that time on our knees, and study for our minds, is a strong foundation for work with our hands. The work God calls us to do.
We stepped off the ship, with our luggage, ready to do the work God had for us in China.
Please pray for all missionaries and for those who don't know they will be missionaries in the future that God will bless, strengthen to carry out the work God has called them to do.
J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China--preparing to leave for my beloved China
Blessed by God
Photo courtesy of morguefile.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. &and Mrs. Howard Taylor.