Get the right perspective on world missions

July 30, 2010

Hudson Taylor believed God was calling him to China as a missionary in 1853. A Congregational minister in his hometown asked Taylor how he planned to get to China. “I don’t know,” Taylor replied, “It seems probable to do as the Twelve or the 70 had done in Judea — go without purse or scrip.” The old gentleman kindly placed his hand on Taylor’s shoulder and said, “Ah, my boy, as you grow older you will get wiser than that. Such an idea would do very well in the days when Christ Himself was on earth, but not now.” My response when I read that? “O, God, help me never to grow that old or that wise.”
In 1853, Taylor sailed for China. But he was never happy among the missions community. He noticed that the people were more interested in the way he dressed and the way he lived than they were in the things he spoke about. I have had some similar experiences on the mission field. On one of my first trips to Haiti in the 1980s a well-meaning pastor told me that unless I wore a tie, I could not preach. I found one.
Hudson Taylor dyed his hair black, grew it out and wore it in a pigtail and began to wear Chinese clothes. The rest of the missionaries thought of him as an embarrassment. Hudson Taylor ignored their snickers, put his head down, and plowed into the work God had given him to do. It reminds me of a story that C.T. Studd, missionary to China, India and Africa for more than 50 years, used to tell. “Remember the miller’s donkey … the miller, son and donkey went to the market. The miller rode the donkey all the way and the people exclaimed, ‘Cruel man, riding himself and making his son walk.’ So he got down and his son rode; then people said, ‘What a lazy son for riding while poor old father walks.’ Then both father and son rode and people then said, ‘Cruelty to animals, poor donkey.’ So they got down and carried the donkey on a pole, but folks said, ‘Here are two asses carrying another ass.’ Then all three walked and people said, ‘What fools to have a donkey and not ride it.’”
C.T. Studd would tell that story, wink at his congregation and add, “So let’s go ahead with our work for God and not care what folks say.”
Hudson Taylor learned early on that if he was going to make it in China he would have to totally rely on God, and thus his motto: “To move man, through God, by prayer alone.”
If these stories intrigue you, I invite you to consider the “Perspectives” class that will be held at Burlington Christian Academy on Tuesday nights beginning August 31. You will learn about the missionary heart of God and see the golden thread of missions all through the Bible. This course is for anyone who wants a closer walk with the Lord, and who is serious about gaining a deeper understanding of his ultimate purpose in the world. It’s for anyone who wants to learn how to strategically invest their lives in seeing God glorified, and for anyone who wants to gain insight and direction that will help them to impact their generation.
Interested? Go to www., click on “Find a Class.” Or you can e-mail Matt Smith,
I took the course several years ago, and will be one of the teachers for this one and I promise you, it is well worth every minute and every penny.