When J. Hudson Taylor arrived at the port of Shanghai on this day in 1854, he did not speak the language, he did not know where to go, he did not know a soul, and he did not have a place to stay. Evening was just descending when he disembarked from his ship and he began walking alone through the bewildering alien streets. Nevertheless, he wrote in his diary, that he was exultant, “My feelings on stepping ashore I cannot attempt to describe. My heart felt as though it had not room and must burst its bonds, while tears of gratitude and thankfulness fell from my eyes.”
Though he was ultimately able to find his way to a friendly mission compound in the teeming city that night, just about nothing else seemed to go his way. The days and weeks that followed were dreary and lonely. A civil war erupted just days after he arrived and people were slaughtered before his eyes. He struggled with the language and the seemingly impenetrable cultural barriers between himself and the Chinese people he had come to serve.
Eventually though, Taylor was able to overcome every one of these difficulties and many more. He learned the language and made up his mind to adopt native dress. He went to work planting an indigenous church and English board and founded the China Inland Mission, to expand his work throughout the entire land. He never told anyone about his financial needs, trusting that the Lord would provide whatever was needed. He famously reminded his beloved wife, Maria, "God's work done in God's way will never lack for God's supply."
He was right. At his death the China Inland Mission had 205 missionaries and the Gospel was already beginning to flourish across that great land.
Though Chinese Christianity grew slowly at first, and has always suffered severe persecution, the fruit of Taylor’s labors is evident. Today the Chinese church is thought by some analysts to be the fastest growing in the world. Who could have ever imagined such an outcome on that day so long ago when Taylor stepped out in faith and into Shanghai?