What I’m Reading: Hudson Taylor and Maria

Hudson Taylor and MariaI mentioned in a recent post that my reading of missionary biographies has been lacking. I’m trying to correct that, and a number of the books recommended in the previous thread should arrive any day now.

While waiting for them, I’ve been reading John Pollock’s little book entitled Hudson Taylor and Maria. It hadn’t been recommended by anyone, but “it was there” on my shelf (part of my wife’s dowry, turns out), so I began reading it. It’s manageable—under 200 pages. My response?

You need to read this book.

Pollock is a gifted story teller and renowned biographer, and the Taylors’ is a tremendous story—one two counts. First, the romance story of their coming together is fascinating. Parts of the book (like Hudson’s two failed romances before his pursuit of Maria, the Victorian snobbery that followed their English co-workers all the way to China, the insistence on marrying at one’s own social level, and the Herculean efforts to split the pair by a 60-year-old guardian and her co-conspiring preacher) read like a Jane Austen novel. That’s no exaggeration. It’s riveting and would be comical if it weren’t true. (Obviously, they persevered. Here’s a great picture.) But the heartbeat of the book is the Taylors’ passion to see Christ brought to the Chinese, whatever the cost. And often, the cost was great.

Most convicting has been Hudson Taylor’s willingness to live in squalor and poverty for the gospel’s sake and his burden to see God awaken the hearts of the English to join him in the seeking of Chinese worshippers of Christ. Upon his return to England to regain his health (and finish his medical training, and revise a Chinese NT, etc.) at age 29, Taylor lamented,

“The Church is asleep; and armchairs and sofas and English comforts possess more attractions that perishing souls; besides which [the Chinese] are ‘half savages.'”

Though written in another century and of another people, his words should pierce our consciences as American believers today. Hudson would pray for the Lord to rouse Christians and send forth laborers into the harvest fields, and the Lord answered in a big way. May he do so today, as well.

Read this little book about a little man and his big God. (Non-history readers, don’t worry; it’s engaging, not dry; you won’t be able to put it down.) And while you’re ordering it, get a few extras to give out as gifts (as I suggested here, as well). Maybe the Lord will use it to awaken an unsuspecting reader. Soul-stirring stuff.


4 Responses

  1. I know this story as I read about it in “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret” Written by his son or grandson. Another book that goes into depth about this man of God who opened up China for God.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. He practiced self-denial as a youth to prepare himself to live “in squalor and poverty for the gospel’s sake.” I carry this in the bookstore.

  3. […] England to follow Hudson Taylor to China with the China Inland Mission. (Pollock’s biography of Hudson Taylor is worth reading, as well.) It’s an edifying, challenging read. I was struck by many […]

  4. […] George Whitefield by John Pollock. I love Pollock’s biographies (like Hudson Taylor and Maria and The Cambridge Seven), and I’m eager to learn more about this man who had such a sweeping […]

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