Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Pigtail and Chopsticks Man

(BOOK 5 of the 52 week Challenge)

This week's selection is a biography of J. Hudson Taylor. Taylor was born in 1832 in Yorkshire, England, the son of a chemist and part-time lay Methodist minister. He became a Christian at the age of 17 and, after his conversion, prayed and asked God to give him a special work to carry out. The Lord responded, and told Taylor to spread the gospel in China. Taylor spent the rest of his life - over 50 years - devoted to evangelizing the people of China.

He was the founder of the China Inland Mission (now known as OMF International), which was directly responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country. It is believed that those missionaries were directly responsible for over 18,000 Christian conversions.

When Taylor first went to China, he was poorly received by the native Chinese people; he believed part of the reason was because he looked like a foreigner. He made the decision that he (and all later members of his organization) would attempt to fit into the culture better by adopting native Chinese dress and, for the men, the Queue (pigtail). He was then regularly greeted by the Chinese children with these words:
"Here comes the pigtail and chopsticks man."
Historian Ruth Tucker summarizes the theme of Taylor's life as follows:
“ No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.”
Each of the book's 30 short chapters includes questions or thoughts for discussion, and this would be a good book for family devotions.

Taylor and his wives (he remarried after his first wife passed away) spent quite a bit of time away from their young children as they served the Lord in China. That bothered me. It has also always bothered me that Billy Graham spent so much time away from his young family. I know that both these men were doing what they felt called to do, but children need their parents. Don't they? Were these Christians hearing God correctly? Or should they have taken their children with them full-time on the mission field? I don't know the answers to those questions.