When people ask what we’re naming our baby (who is due today!), we proudly announce, “Hudson James!” If the inquirer is familiar with the history of missions, they’ll sometimes say, “As in Hudson Taylor?” And we emphatically affirm their suspicions. Others will ask, “Oh, is that a family name?” and we get the privilege of telling them about that great missionary of old.
I read Hudson Taylor’s biography (yes, the children’s version) a few years ago and I was blown away by his faith, steadfastness, and courage to try new things in the world of missions in China.
After (finally and after great hardship) landing in China in the mid-1800s, Hudson (whose real name, ironically, is James Hudson Taylor) found many missionaries focused on coastal missions… and as such, millions of Chinese people living in the interior were dying without the hope of the Gospel.
So he chose to travel inland, adopting the common Chinese dress, hairstyles, and customs. By adopting the culture and making it his own, Hudson was able to connect with the Chinese people and more effectively share the Gospel with them. As a medical doctor, Hudson routinely put himself in danger to acquire supplies and assist those who needed care.
During his 50+ tenure in China, Hudson led thousands to Christ and opened about 125 schools. At one point, while recruiting missionaries to serve in China, he said,
We wish to see Christian [Chinese] – true Christians, but withal true Chinese in every sense of the word. We wish to see churches and Christian Chinese presided over by pastors and officers of their own countrymen, worshiping the true God in the land of their fathers, in the costume of their fathers, in their own tongue wherein they were born, and in edifices of a thoroughly Chinese style of architecture.Source
That idea – native Christians in their home country worshiping God in spirit and in truth in their own culture – is an idea that is echoed in Scripture: in Revelation 7:9, we see that every nation, tribe, people, and language will stand before the Lord. And I’m pretty sure they won’t all have the same cultural background!
We are thankful for Hudson Taylor’s example of serving the Lord in a new, fresh, and unexpected way. We are thankful for his example of depending on the Lord for provision, knowing that all resources come directly from Him. And we are excited to name our son Hudson, in honor of this man of God.