China: a crunch question

Posted in Blog, Christianity

Today, as I write this, the headline in a daily political podcast is: ‘The crunch China question. Should Britain turn to megaphone diplomacy and economic disengagement?’ Apparently Rishi Sunak believes not. In September 1853, at the age of just 21, a Yorkshireman named Hudson Taylor had a different question on his mind. How were the Chinese to hear the Christian gospel? His answer was to sail to China to be a missionary. He settled in Shanghai and made his first Chinese convert two years later.

After working in China for 35 years and founding the China Inland Mission (now OMF International), he visited Queensland, Australia, where he 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 expected the now famous missionary 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 very 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. He at once fell into the routine of the household, was punctual at the meal table, studied to give the minimum of trouble, and was swift to notice and to express his thanks for every little service rendered. We could not help noticing the utter lack of self-assertion about him, and his true because unconscious humility.’

Amid all the political focus on China, my question is: Do you think there is still a need for Christians to travel to China as missionaries? I should love to know what you think.