Book Review: Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

I can’t say this enough… I love biographies! Okay, so I will admit: while I’m reading them I don’t LOVE them. They are sometimes filled with boring facts and often too detailed in things that get me lost. It happens every time. But when I get to the end, my faith is so built and encouraged and in this case, I am so inspired to press on in being a Missionary to my town, my friends, my family, my sphere of immediate influence and extended influence.

I was encouraged when I came to the biography of Hudson Taylor. However, I was also troubled by a few things I saw in his life. It is true, he left all- family, country, familiarity- to meet the spiritual needs of Inland China. He was resisted, he was mocked, he wore the chinese garb when no other missionaries were doing so. He lost a daughter, two sons, and a wife (and actually, his second wife died before him, as well.) He himself had serious health issues. He trusted the Lord through it all.

The issues I had were regarding his view toward his family and ministry and the balance of the two. When his daughter was on her death bed, he was sitting beside her and said, “I laid my wife and children with myself on the altar for this service.” To quote Mark Driscoll in his message on Ministry Marriages, “What is that? Idolatry… There was an occasion where a father nearly killed his son on an altar in the BIble. God came and said, ‘No. I’ll send My Son; you don’t need to sacrifice your son.'”

In addition to this, he sent his kids away so that he and his wife could commit themselves to the ministry. He sent his kids AWAY from him. His kids were his ministry! Why did he cast aside a ministry that God provided in exchange for another?

So, you can see why I was greatly disturbed by Taylor’s view and actions toward His own family.This is not our calling. He is not an example to ministry leaders or missionaries of how to reach the people. You don’t reach the people by neglecting your own little people. It is important, before (and while) pastoring a church or leading a mission, to pastor your family and be on mission with your wife and kids.

Hudson Taylor had a calling from God. He obeyed and pursued that calling with passion and singleness of mind and heart. He did neglect his main ministry for a secondary ministry, which is not just unfortunate, but unwise and disobedient to the overall call of God on the life of a husband and father. Nevertheless, we can still draw from his life.

Believer, you have a calling from God. Will you follow Him wherever He leads? Will you be faithful to His call? Good. But do it without irresponsibly sacrificing marriages and children on the altar of service and in idolatry, call it “ministry.”

Book Review: A Chance To Die

For any who have never read anything by Amy Carmichael, get yourself to now!

Reading this biography (written by Elisabeth Elliot after Amy Carmichael had died) showed me what a life of faith and self-denial really looks like. Amy lived in England in the late 1800’s and left home at 18 to be a Missionary. Never marrying or having children of her own, and through illness and heartbreaks, she finally ended up in India where she found her life’s call. Her heart was distraught and broken for the victims of the sex temples in India- the children. Eventually, God called her to rescue these children by whatever means, but mostly by prayer and watching God work (for “prayer was the center of every day”), and start a home for these children, which she called “Donavaur”. She became their “Amma” or “mother” and they became her dear children.

God gave her insight into her role as a “mother” of these children:

“Motherwork, like any other honest labor, is God’s work– not to be despised, but offered up to Him.”

Every third sentence and every poem is quotable and worth passing on, but one especially stuck with me. Maybe it is what mothers (and all who call themselves Believers) need to hear.

“… If the Lord of Glory took a towel and knelt on the floor to wash the dusty feet of His disciples (the job of the lowest slave in an Eastern household), then no work, even the relentless and often messy routine of caring for squalling babies, is demeaning. To offer it up to the Lord of Glory transforms it into a holy task. ‘Could it be right,’ Amy had asked, ‘to turn from so much that might be of profit and become just nursemaids?’ The answer was yes. It is not the business of the servant to decide which work is great, which is small, which important or unimportant–he is not greater than his Master….

“‘If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider ‘not spiritual work’ I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love,'” Amy wrote after many years of such unspiritual work.”

Verdict: Very Good

She wrote many other books. She wrote until- literally- her index finger and thumb would no longer touch. Then she dictated. It is only when she slipped into a coma that she stopped writing. If you don’t read this book, read another book of hers… or every other book she wrote. I plan on it!

Others by her: