Archbishop of Canterbury and James Hudson Taylor

Posted in Blog, Christianity, Hudson Taylor

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, visited this year’s Soul Survivor – an annual major Christian youth event in Britain. He was interviewed while there and the interview is available on U-Tube. At the end of the interview he was asked which four figures from history he would like to spend an evening with. Caught on the hop, he replied St Benedict (‘He changed the course of western civilisation’), Admiral Nelson (to talk about his leadership skills), the missionary to China James Hudson Taylor (‘I would love to hear him talk about Jesus’) and Winston Churchill (his leadership skills).

A major new film about Hudson Taylor is being produced by Half Crown Media in Littleton, Colorado, and I was privileged to visit the team in May this year.

One of my favourite stories about Hudson Taylor takes us to Queensland, Australia, in August 1890. Hudson Taylor had been invited to stay with the Rev John Southey and his wife at their home near Brisbane. Southey was an English clergyman who had come to Australia on his doctor’s advice following an illness. As he waited at the station for Taylor’s train, Southey joined the ranks of those before him who had expected Taylor to be striking to look at. The actual meeting was a disappointment, as he confided to his wife when he arrived home with their visitor.

‘But’ he added, ‘I’m sure he’s a good man.’

After a short conversation with Hudson, Mrs Southey snatched a confidential word with her husband.

‘Look at the light in his face!’

John Southey came to agree about this and reflected on the reason. ‘So constantly did he look to God, and so deep was his communion with God, that his face seemed to have upon it a heavenly light. He had not been many hours in the house before the sense of disappointment gave place to a deep reverence and love, and I realised as never before what the grace of God could do … In the house he was all that a guest could be, kind, courteous, considerate, gracious … We could not help noticing the utter lack of self assertion about him, and his true but unconscious humility.’

I believe that, in his middle and later years, Hudson Taylor grew into one of the profoundest Christian thinkers of all time; and his thought has added weight because it arose out of a life of action, forged on the anvil of suffering. I am not surprised that Archbishop Welby would have loved to meet him. Details of three books I have written about Hudson Taylor are given on this website or may be obtained by visiting Amazon, Authentic Publishers,  Just10 books, or OMF Books.