"Passion and Pigtails"

In 1853, 21-year-old Hudson Taylor left Liverpool for China. His ship arrived in Shanghai, one of five treaty ports China had opened to foreigners following The First Opium War with England. Soon after arriving, Taylor made a radical decision (at least for Protestant missionaries of his day). He decided to wear Chinese clothing and grow a pigtail (as Chinese men commonly did).

Eighteen hundred years earlier, the apostle Paul lived out a similar missions philosophy: "When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ" (1 Corinthians 9:20-21). It's likely that Paul would have insisted on wearing a Chinese "chang pao ma gua" complete with pigtail too.

While recuperating in England because of a sickness, and troubled that believers had little interest in China, Taylor wrote: "Can all the Christians in England sit still with folded arms while these multitudes [in China] are perishing, perishing for lack of knowledge, for lack of that knowledge which England possesses so richly?"

Taylor began the China Inland Mission, later called Overseas Missionary Fellowship, with a number of distinctive features: Its missionaries would have no guaranteed salaries nor could they appeal for funds; they would simply trust God to supply their needs. Furthermore, its missionaries would adopt Chinese dress and spread the gospel into China's interior.

Paul also felt compelled to preach the gospel to as many people as he could (vv.16,22). Though he could have asked (vv.11-15), Paul restrained from seeking support from the people to whom he was ministering. He wanted to preach the gospel without charge (vv.15,18). Both the apostle Paul and Hudson Taylor were men consumed by one singular passion: "I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings" (v.23). What's your passion?

--k.t. sim, Our Daily Journey

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