Hudson Taylor on missionary parents

As a follow-up to my post, ‘praying for missions’, a friend sent me this bit on Hudson Taylor’s parting with his mother as he first went to China. Of course, in Taylor’s day, the parting meant the real possibility of never seeing, never hearing, never conversing again in this life. Today, at least, missionaries even in remote areas can at least have some regular communication with home by way of telephone or e-mail.

This is from The Growth of a Soul, vol 1 of Hudson Taylor’s biography by Howard and Geraldine Taylor, son and daughter-in-law of Hudson Taylor. The excerpt comes from pp. 186-187.

Taylor is finally boarding the ship for his first long, dangerous five and a half month voyage to China. Here is a brief excerpt from his mother’s diary:

“Soon after we went on deck… Then came my moment of trial – the farewell blessing, the parting embrace… A chill came over me and I trembled from head to foot. But a warm arm was quickly round my neck and I was once more pressed to his loving breast. Seeing my distress he had leaped ashore to breathe words of consolation.

“‘Dear Mother’, he said, ‘do not weep. It is but for a little while, and we shall meet again. Think of the glorious object I have in leaving you. It is not for wealth or fame, but to try to bring the poor Chinese to the knowledge of Jesus. …

“Once more our Dear One reached out his hand which was eagerly grasped, Another, ‘Farewell, God bless you’ was reciprocated and the deep waters… became a separating gulf between us.”

More from Hudson Taylor’s own recollections of that difficult parting:

“My beloved, now sainted mother had come over … to see me off. Never shall I forget that day, nor how she went with me into the cabin that was to be my home for nearly six long months. With a mother’s loving hand she smoothed the little bed. She sat by my side and joined in the last hymn we should sing together before parting, We knelt down and she prayed – the last mother’s prayer I was to hear before leaving for China. Then notice was given that we must separate, and we had to say good-bye, never expecting to meet on earth again.

“For my sake she restrained her feelings as much as possible. We parted, and she went ashore giving me her blessing, I stood alone on deck, and she followed the ship as we moved toward the dock-gates, As we passed through the gates and the separation really commenced, never shall I forget the cry of anguish wrung from that mother’s heart. It went through me like a knife, I never knew so fully, until then, what ‘God so loved the world’ meant. And I am quite sure my precious mother learned more of the love of God for the perishing in that one hour than in all her life before.

“Oh how it must grieve the heart of God when He sees His children indifferent to the needs of that wide world for which His beloved, His only Son suffered and died.”

May accounts such as this stir us up to greater service for the King!