Who was Hudson Taylor?


Hudson Taylor was a HISTORY MAKERHudsonTaylor-photo

Born in the 1830’s in Yorkshire, England, he spent most of his life in China, and that country has never been the same. In all, he spent 51 years of his life in there; he led a society of over 800 missionaries who founded 125 schools and established 300 stations of work with the help of hundreds of local volunteers. When he was 73, Taylor made his 11th trip to China; he died there and was buried near the Yangtze River.

American historian Kenneth Scott Latourette called him one of the greatest missionaries of all time, and “one of the four or five most influential foreigners who came to China in the nineteenth century for any purpose.”

It may be obvious why his story was a formative influence in the lives of Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Eric Liddell, and Billy Graham.


Hudson Taylor was a SURVIVOR

Hudson Taylor was a small man, and not strong; he was often sick and even spent one long winter paralyzed from a spinal injury he suffered in a fall. He also knew what it was to suffer heartache: his first wife died of cholera after only 12 years of marriage and he also suffered the loss of six children. He endured famine, lived through civil war, suffered loss through fire and robbery, and lived sparingly on what was spontaneously given, vowing to never publicize his needs or ask for help except in prayer.

Hudson Taylor was a VISIONARY

Taylor approached missions differently than anyone else, breaking new ground in the area of cultural sensitivity. In the course of his life, he served as a medical doctor in China, established an innovative mission that left the world profoundly changed. Tens of thousands of lives – maybe millions of lives – were changed in China, and countless others were changed around the world as people caught a vision for Christian service and joined him through prayer and giving as well as going.

Hudson Taylor was RELEVANT

Long before it was cool, Taylor recognized the importance of cultural sensitivity. He was even willing to cause a near-scandal in his day by encouraging his co-workers, including the women, to adopt local dress. Indeed, the entire model of Christian service and missions changed as the result of his life and work, and he has been called “the father of modern missions.”

Hudson Taylor was FAITHFUL

He had an unwavering confidence in the transforming power of the Gospel, but he also understood the importance of preparation, seeking training in medicine and theology before embarking on a life of service.

He was obedient to God’s call. Through many hard times, he lived a life of faithfulness. One of our favorite Taylor quotes goes like this:

“A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.”


Hudson Taylor was ECUMENICAL

Hudson Taylor was non-sectarian –welcoming of co-workers from many denominational backgrounds, including women, minorities and members of the working class. The son of a lay preacher, he was raised Methodist, but had ties to Baptist and Open Brethren groups. He was a 'kingdom-minded' leader whose example continues to inspire us. 

Hudson Taylor was a SOCIAL ACTIVIST

Taylor clearly saw the influence of the Gospel as affecting people’s circumstances, not just their eternal destiny. He valued service, never neglecting to preach the gospel, yet never failing to meet the medical and social needs of the communities he visited.

He was committed to addressing needs for health, security, justice and freedom from bondage; one good example is his public opposition to the opium trade.


Hudson Taylor is OUR NAMESAKE

For Taylor College & Seminary, Hudson Taylor serves as an enduring symbol of what we aspire to accomplish in Christian education. After reading about him, you can see why we wanted to re-name our school in his honor – and you have to admit, he had a pretty cool beard.


A bit more about Taylor College & Seminary

Our school opened in 1940 under the name Christian Training Institute with a focus on developing lay leaders for churches. The school later formalized ties with the North American Baptists, offering a wider array of formal studies and degrees under the name North American Baptist College. We are now known as Taylor College & Seminary, named in honored of Hudson Taylor.

Our outstanding faculty continues to train people for full-time vocational service around the world; Taylor Seminary has a wide range of excellent programs and features a faculty that is rich with experience.

At Taylor, there is no false dichotomy between “spiritual” and “secular” education; rather, in every course, we seek to bring the best of human understanding into conversation with faithful theological reflection so that students graduate with a solid foundation for service in ministry or in the marketplace. Built on a legacy of excellence in spiritual formation and training for life, Taylor aspires to be your choice as a place to experience academic excellence and to build Christian character.