Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)
"No other missionary… 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."
"Hudson Taylor was, ...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..."
Kenneth Scott Latourette
"More than any other human being, James Hudson Taylor, ….made the greatest contribution to the cause of world mission in the 19th century."
Ralph D. Winter
"He was ambitious without being proud ... He was biblical without being bigoted... He was catholic without being superficial ... He was charismatic without being selfish."
Arthur F. Glasser
Principles of Hudson Taylor's life & ministry:
"There is a living God. He has spoken in His Word. He means what He says. And He is willing and able to perform what He has promised."
2005 is a significant year for Hudson Taylor. June 3, 2005 will mark 100 years since J. Hudson Taylor passed away in China, the scene of his labors for over 50 years. When Taylor arrived in China there were only 350 Protestant believers. When he died there were over 175,000. When Taylor landed there were less than 80 missionaries in China, mostly on the coast. When he passed away there were 3,800 throughout that vast land. The largest group of workers was Taylor's "China Inland Mission". Hudson Taylor founded the first "faith mission," without denominational backing, which inspired numerous other "faith missions" to other gospel fields. These are a few of the reasons why Ralph Winter says, "More than any other human being, James Hudson Taylor, …made the greatest contribution to the cause of world mission in the 19th century."
Birth & Family Background
James Hudson Taylor was born to James and Amelia Taylor in Barnsley, North Yorkshire, England, on May 21, 1832. Before Hudson's birth, his father had taken particular note of passages in Exodus and Numbers regarding setting apart the firstborn to the Lord. He shared his impressions with his wife, and the result was that both knelt in oneness before the Lord to consecrate their firstborn to God.
From birth, Hudson's health was "delicate." His parents did not succumb to their natural inclination to spoil him. They raised Hudson and his sisters, Amelia and Louisa, with a view that they would be useful to the Master. Character-building habits were inculcated, and family devotions, led by the father, took place after both breakfast and tea. Taylor's father instructed Hudson and his siblings to "Love your Bible." The Taylor children also learned from the guests often present at their dinner table. Perhaps it was during one of these times that the young Hudson first heard about China. The topic of foreign missions would come up, and James Taylor would express his frustration at what he felt was the church's indifference to China. "Why do we not send our missionaries there?" he would exclaim. "That is the country to aim at, with its teeming population, its strong, intelligent, scholarly people" (Taylor  52).
Because of frail health, much of Hudson's early education took place at home, under the tutelage of his mother. When Hudson was 15, he left home to work as a bank clerk. After nine months he had to quit because his eyes had become too inflamed to continue. During this time away, however, Hudson had grown distant from the things of the Lord and had become skeptical of God. His friends at the bank seemed happy in such a state, but Hudson was miserable, and this was apparent to those who loved him. His sister Amelia took action: she would pray for her brother three times a day until he would be "brought to the light." Though only 13 at the time, this she did, and she recorded her petition in her journal.
Hudson's mother was likewise burdened for the salvation of her son who was now 17. One afternoon, while away from home, she took the opportunity to give herself to uninterrupted prayer for her son. When she rose from her knees, she had the joyful assurance that God had answered her prayer. Unaware that he was the subject of such urgent petitions, Hudson wandered into his father's study looking for something to read to pass the time. He picked up a tract, thinking, "There will be a story at the commencement and a sermon or moral at the close. I will take the former and leave the latter for those who like it" (Taylor  66). But in reading, Hudson was struck by the phrase, "the finished work of Christ." The Holy Spirit was working, and before Hudson had finished, light had entered. His conversion resulted in a full assurance of salvation that never left him (Kane, 197).
Hudson experienced the joy of salvation, but then came a period of soul deadness and backsliding. Prayer and Bible study became dry duties, if he did them at all. Sin was raising its ugly head, and Hudson found himself yielding to temptations. Like the man in Romans 7, he was wretched, and he cried out for One to deliver him. A man needed God and God needed a man. Taylor promised that: he would be wholly given to the Lord if only God would work on his behalf. "Never shall I forget," he wrote, "the feeling that came over me then….Something seemed to say, 'Your prayer is answered, your conditions are accepted.' And from that time the conviction never left me that I was called to China" (Taylor  78).
Training & Preparation
Hudson decided to devote his life to the evangelization of China. Medical missionaries were urgently needed, so he took a medical apprenticeship in Hull on England's E coast, and later in London, studying medicine and surgery, as well as Chinese, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. During this time, Hudson Taylor trained himself to depend on God. His rationale was "when I get to China I shall have no claim on anyone for anything; my only claim will be on God. How important, therefore, to learn before leaving England to move man, through God, by prayer alone." (Tucker, 172) To prepare for the task ahead, he disciplined himself by assuming an austere lifestyle. He gave up the ordinary comforts of life. His diet for a period was a pound of apples and a loaf of bread each day.
It was in Hull that Taylor began to meet with believers in the Plymouth Brethren movement. In this period Hudson learnt his first spiritual lessons. He began to live by faith. He visited an Irish laborer's wife who was close to death. Her weak state was a result of child birth and severe hunger. Hudson felt he ought to do more than pray. But he only had a little money, which he needed to live on. Yet he felt God wanted him to help this family. Moreover, Taylor felt that unless he did what he could (give the little money he possessed) how could he expect God to answer his prayer? He gave his money to the husband to buy food and trusted God to provide for his own needs. The following day the Lord provided more than an equal amount through a gift. This was Hudson's first lesson in the life of faith.
In 1853, at the age of 21, Taylor sailed for China under the guidance of the Chinese Evangelization Society [CES]. The farewells were heartfelt since Hudson Taylor did not expect to see England or his family again. After a six-month voyage Hudson arrived in Shanghai, China, hearing for the first time spoken Chinese. Taylor was based initially at Shanghai and later in Ningpo (Ningbo). When he arrived in China, Taylor was part of the "third generation" of Protestant missionaries to the "Middle Kingdom."
Robert Morrison (1782- 1832), the pioneer Protestant missionary to China, arrived in China in 1807. He was confined to Hong Kong and mainly contributed the Chinese translation of the Bible and other gospel material. At Morrison's death, in 1832 there were only 10 baptized believers in China. Progress was painfully slow. A decade later, in 1842, Protestant missionaries reported only six Chinese baptized believers (Kwok, 194). Karl Gutzlaff (1803- 1851) was the "second generation of Protestant missionaries." He inspired the creation of the CES which sent Taylor to China. By 1853 (the year before Hudson Taylor's arrival) the number of Believers in China had risen to 350. However, this represents a mere .00001% of China's 380 Millions.
Difficult Early Days
Hudson Taylor arrived in China on 29 February, 1854. At the time the country was in the midst of the "Taiping Heavenly Kingdom" insurgency (1851-64). Shanghai was in rebel hands, under siege from the Imperial army. Both the Chinese inhabitants and the foreign settlement were threatened. Inflationary prices prevailed. The civil war severely limited mission travel. Taylor tested the limits as far as possible.
Daily life was challenging, Taylor suffered difficulty and distress, much of it due to the CES, which was "curiously incompetent." The Society failed to provide the meager support promised -- $400 per year. Hudson suffered from loneliness, isolation and racism. In an early letter home Taylor wrote: "At home, you can never know what it is to be absolutely alone, amidst thousands, everyone looking on you with curiosity, with contempt, with suspicion, or with dislike. Thus to learn what it is to be despised and rejected of men...and then to have the love of Jesus applied to your heart by the Holy Spirit...this is precious, this is worth coming for." Sickness and disease were concerns. Mortality rates among missionaries were high. In the 50 years since Robert Morrison reached China, 40 of the 200 male missionaries to China died; 50 men lost their wives to disease (Steer, 159). Hudson Taylor was to survive small pox, dysentery, pneumonia, malaria, and TB. during his China years.
Adopting Chinese Dress & Lifestyle
When he ventured outside the port cities, Taylor found the Chinese more interested in his western clothes, than in his message. So Taylor abandoned his western-style clothes and adopted Chinese dress. Other western missionaries sought to preserve their European lifestyle, Taylor was convinced the gospel would only succeed if missionaries were willing to affirm the culture of the people they were seeking to reach. Hudson Taylor's exhortation was: "Let us in everything unsinful become like the Chinese, that by all means we may save some." Taylor adopted Chinese dress, manners and culture. He took the Chinese name Dai Desheng; his given name literally means "virtuous life."
God Provides a Fellow-Worker, William C. Burns (1815-68)
When Hudson Taylor began his gospel-preaching trips into the countryside, God provided an older companion, William C. Burns of Scotland. Hudson was 23, William Burns 40. In December, 1855, Burns unexpectedly met the young missionary. This was a great blessing for both men. William Burns found in Hudson Taylor a man after his own heart, and for seven months they labored together. Burns saw the warm reception Hudson Taylor received, while preaching in the native Chinese dress. Burns, quick to learn, adopted this practice for himself. The impact upon the youthful Taylor by the experienced Scotsman is seen in Hudson's journals. He wrote, "Never had I had such a spiritual father as Mr. Burns". "Those happy months were an unspeakable joy and privilege to me. [Burns] love for the Word was delightful, and his holy, reverential life and constant communings with GOD made fellowship with him satisfying to the deep cravings of my heart. His accounts of revival work ...were most instructive, as well as interesting; for ....he often pointed out GOD'S purposes in trial ... His views especially about evangelism...., were seed-thoughts which were to prove fruitful in the ... China Inland Mission," Taylor wrote in retrospect.
Taylor described their strategy: "We were in the habit of leaving our boats, after prayer for blessing, at about nine o'clock in the morning, with a light bamboo stool in hand. Selecting a suitable station, one would mount the stool and speak for twenty minutes, while the other was pleading for blessing [ie praying]; and then changing places, the voice of the first speaker had a rest. After an hour or two thus occupied, we would move on to another point at some distance from the first, and speak again. Usually about midday we returned to our boats for dinner, fellowship, and prayer, and then resumed our out-door work until dusk."
On moving to Ningpo around 1857, Hudson met Maria and Burella Dyer, daughters of the late Samuel Dyer (missionary with the London Missionary Society, 1827-1843). Both women taught at a girl's school managed by Mary Ann Aldersey. Miss Aldersey was the pioneer female missionary to China; she opened the first school for girls in China. She was dedicated to the Lord and to missions. However, she has gone down in mission history as a "kill-joy, a spoil-sport" for opposing the Taylor-Dyer marriage. She opposed the union because Hudson was a "young, poor, unconnected Nobody." Moreover he was associated with the Plymouth Brethren. When Taylor wrote to Maria proposing marriage, Maria was inclined to express interest. However, Miss Aldersley stood over Maria and dictated a rejection letter! She also wrote to Maria's guardian in England, impugning Hudson Taylor for being uneducated, unordained, unconnected and uncouth! If that was not bad enough, he was short (5' 2") and wore Chinese clothes!
Hudson read Maria's rejection and thought he discerned Miss Aldersley's influence. He secretly met with Maria, in the presence of another missionary. That harmless meeting brought the threat of legal action from Miss Aldersley. Her ally, Reverend Russell forbade communion until Maria repented! Maria was closely monitored. The pair managed another clandestine meeting at which they were secretly engaged. (Tucker, 179)
Back in England, Maria guardian received Miss Aldersley's letter and one from Hudson Taylor asking permission to marry. He checked with Hudson Taylor's acquaintances and received glowing recommendations. He approved the marriage and condemned Miss Aldersley's lack of judgment. The letters arrived in China in December 1857.The couple were overjoyed. Hudson reported that "I was not long engaged [before] trying to make up for the number of kisses I ought to have had these last few months." (Pollock, 53) The missionary community erupted in uproar at the engagement, even though Maria's guardian had given his warm ascent. The story has a happy ending - 21-year-old Maria Jane Dyer (1837-1870) married Hudson Taylor, aged 26, on 20 Jan. 1858.
Maria Taylor's Contribution
Ruth Tucker writes: "Maria was the very woman Taylor needed to polish the rough edges of his personality and to help focus his enthusiasm and ambitions, and from the very start their marriage was a true partnership." (Tucker, 179)
Maria sympathized totally with her husband's burden to evangelize the vast Chinese Empire. She became an invaluable assistant to Taylor. When young women recruits arrived, Maria trained them in the Chinese language, Chinese culture and missionary work. The couple had eight children. However, only 4 survived beyond childhood. Maria died at 33, shortly after giving birth to their last child in 1870. All four surviving children became missionaries to China.
Return to England (1860- 6)
By 1860, foreigners were able to legally travel anywhere in China, missionary activities were allowed, and officially the Chinese could convert to Christianity. At a time of opportunity in China, ill health forced Taylor, with his wife, Maria and small daughter, to return to England. What seemed like a setback turned into a step forward. While in England recovering his health, Taylor completed his medical studies. He revised a Chinese New Testament and organized the China Inland Mission. He had an increasing concern for Chinese living in provinces untouched by missionary work. He expressed his growing vision in China's Spiritual Need and Claims, published in 1865. He challenged believers: "Can all the Christians of 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, which has made England what England is ..?" Taylor asked, "What does the Master teach us? Is it not that if one sheep out of a hundred be lost, we are to leave the ninety and nine and seek that one? But here the proportions are almost reversed, and we stay at home with the one sheep, and take no heed to the ninety and nine perishing ones!"
Forming the China Inland Mission
Hudson Taylor's Vision, 25 June 1865
Taylor wanted to recruit 24 workers: two for each of China's 11 inland provinces, and two for Mongolia. At the time, all Protestant missions had about 90 workers in China. However, anxiety racked Taylor. He agonized over the millions of Chinese dying without Christ; yet he recoiled at sending young workers into isolated areas where they would face disease, loneliness, hostility, and even death. He went without sleep, obsessed over the dilemma.
He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown ("Thought I should lose my mind," he later wrote). While trying to rest on England's coast, Taylor was unable to watch hundreds of Christians enjoying the consolation of a Sunday service while 400 million people were perishing in China. Walking along the seashore at Brighton, he committed all to God. "I surrendered myself to God for this service," he later wrote. "All responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with Him; that as His servant, it was mine to obey and to follow Him - His to direct, to care for, and to guide me and those who might labor with me." That decisive transaction launched Taylor's faith mission to inland China
The First Goal: 24 willing, skillful Laborers
Hudson Taylor wrote in his Bible: "Prayed for 24 willing, skillful laborers, Brighton, June 25, 1865."
Witness Lee recounting these events, comments, "It is debatable whether what Mr. Taylor saw can be considered a vision of the age. Of course the vast China needed the preaching of the gospel. From this viewpoint, Mr. Taylor indeed received a commission, and it was a vision. Yet it is questionable whether or not that is the vision that God has for this age." (Lee, Vision of the Age, 10). Perhaps the best comparison is not with Paul's Damascus vision - Paul's "Vision of the Age"-- but with Paul's "Macedonian Call" (Acts 16:9). The "Macedonian Call," bringing the gospel to Europe, was the practical application of the apostle's Damascus vision. Hudson Taylor's vision at Brighton brought the gospel to inland China.
Opening the Door to the One-Talented Members
Hudson Taylor realized that China could not wait for highly educated, ordained personnel. China needed evangelists, not scholars and theologians. "There is ample scope for the highest talents that could be laid upon the altar of God, "Taylor wrote, "yet the proposed field is so extensive, and the need of labourers of every class so great, that 'the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee;' nor yet again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of thee.' Therefore persons of moderate ability and limited attainments are not precluded from engaging in the work." Thus Taylor opened the door to the working-class, farmers, trades-people, artisans, and bookkeepers -- candidates rejected by conventional missions. (Austin, 6) Taylor recruited dedicated believers from among England's vast working class. Volunteers were expected to have a "sound English education." But the CIM stressed spiritual qualifications over education and social attainments. In this strategy, Taylor was an innovator, he opened the door to one-talented members and avoided competition with other missions.
Within the year, on 26 May, 1866, the first party of missionaries left for China on the ship, Lammermuir including Taylor, his wife (& 4 children) and 16 young missionaries (six men and ten women). They were to join five missionaries (four men and one woman) already working in China under Taylor's direction - 23 missionaries in total. Aware of the "utter weakness in ourselves," Taylor wrote, "we should be overwhelmed at the immensity of the work before us, were it not that our very insufficiency gives us a special claim to the fulfillment of His promise, 'My grace is sufficient for thee; My strength is made perfect in weakness.'" They survived a typhoon en route, and after a 4 month sea voyage, the ship arrived in Shanghai, China, a battered wreck.
The China Inland Mission - Principles & Practices
Before leaving for China, Taylor founded the China Inland Mission (CIM). Taylor became General Director of the Mission, based in the mission field. The China Inland Mission differed from existing missions with their organizational structures. For example, the CIM's director was to live in China and direct operations from the field of operation (China)
Influence of George Muller & the Plymouth Brethren
Hudson Taylor modelled his mission after George Muller's orphan work in Bristol, England. Muller supported thousands of orphans by faith, through prayer. The CIM took the same principles, believing that "God's work carried on in God's way will never lack God's supply." One writer says, "If Hudson Taylor was the 'father of faith missions,' George Muller was their grandfather." (Austin, 11) Another says, "Taylor learned much concerning the life of faith from Muller; and Muller, … gave periodically and generously to the work of the China Inland Mission." (Kane, 202) Austin reports that Muller "was the most generous donor to the infant CIM, paying the entire expenses during three lean years." During the 1870's Muller sent the CIM approx. 2,000 British pounds annually - a massive amount in those days. (Steer, 231)
Hudson Taylor was "shaped by Methodist disciplines and Brethren piety," says Lauren Pfister. He indicates that "Taylor was influenced greatly by a certain strain of Brethren communities in England during his first furlough [1860-6]" (Pfister, 8). In 1863, Taylor visited George Muller, addressing Muller's orphans and the Brethren assembly in Bristol.
The connection between the Brethren and Hudson Taylor's mission to China extends well beyond George Muller. Half the original CIM London council were Brethren and "the great majority of the earliest supporters were... Plymouth Brethren." (Austin, 11)
The Pre-millennial Return of Christ
Hudson Taylor had a "strong sense of urgency [in spreading the gospel] related to the imminent and physical return of Christ to rule the earth." (Pfister, 28) Once Hudson wrote home, "I wish, dear mother, you saw clearly the truth of the second coming of our Lord..., which would alter the indolent and apathetic state of the church." (Austin, 10) Official biographers minimize this influence on Taylor. Professor Pfister points out that "this premillennial ... position is downplayed in A. J. Bloomhall's account to the point that it is hard to locate at all, and yet letters ... point to this as one of the primary reasons for Taylor's emphasis on itinerant missionary work [ie extensive gospel-preaching trips.]" (Pfister, 29) In another place Pfister writes, "Although A. J. Broomhall seeks to disassociate Taylor from the Darbyite Brethren, it seems that Taylor may have followed their form of arguments for asserting the nearness of the return of Christ." (Pfister, 39)
Concerning Christ's return, Bible teachers differ concerning whether the whole church will be raptured before or after the "Great Tribulation"-- pre- or post-tribulation believers' rapture. In addition, teachers differ concerning the number of raptures -- the "Partial Rapture" of the Church. Hudson Taylor held that the Bible taught a "First-fruit rapture." W. Nee says, "Among those who believe that a minority will be raptured before the tribulation and the majority will go through the tribulation before being raptured are: Hudson Taylor, R. C. Chapman, R. Govett, G. H. Pember, D. M. Panton ... and others." (W. Nee, vol. 19, 503)
The China Inland Mission's Six Distinctive Features
First, its missionaries were drawn from any denomination, provided they could sign a simple doctrinal declaration.
Second, they received no guaranteed salary, but trusted the Lord to supply their needs. Income would be shared. No debts would be incurred.
Third, no appeals for funds would be made. Taylor often said: "God's work, done in God's way, will never lack of supplies."
Fourth, the work in China would be directed not by home committees [in England, the US etc.], but by Hudson Taylor, himself and eventually other leaders in the field in China.
Fifth, the organization would advance the gospel into China's interior ("where Christ had not been named"). The gospel's rapid spread led to Taylor's insistence that workers continue gospel-preaching trips throughout the provinces of China. Their example incited other missions to extensive evangelization efforts.
Sixth, the missionaries would wear Chinese clothes and worship in Chinese-styled buildings. They would not call on western powers for protection. To Taylor enduring persecution was "ten thousand times better than writing to the Consul and getting him to appeal to the Viceroy." (Bays, 61)
Hudson Taylor - the Pioneer in "Faith Missions"
The founding of the China Inland Mission by Hudson Taylor began the 'Faith Mission Movement'. Taylor's example influenced the founding of over forty new mission boards along similar lines. (Tucker, 289) Later 'Faith Missions' include the Christian & Missionary Alliance (1887); the Evangelical Alliance Mission (1890), the Central American Mission (1890), the Sudan Interior Mission (1893), and the African Inland Mission (1895)
Back in China - Labour
Taylor arrived back in China with his group of inexperienced recruits, without denominational backing and no visible means of support. "Everyone predicted disaster; but it did not happen. With no weapon but the truth and no banner but love, those young workers two by two, penetrated the interior of China against incredible hardship and opposition." (Kane, 198)
Soon after the first party of volunteers arrived, Hudson Taylor engaged in medical work, seeing more than 200 patients daily at his clinic. His operations to remove cataracts seemed like miracles to the Chinese. A Chinese convert, saved under Taylor's preaching, preached to those waiting for medical treatment.
Back in China - Sufferings & Hardships
Taylor made enormous demands on himself, and on CIM missionaries. Some of them balked. One CIM missionary, Lewis Nicol, soon abandoned his Chinese dress, claiming English clothes gave him more protection and respect. "I will not be bound neck and heel to any man," he told Taylor. After nearly two years, Taylor dismissed Nicol from the mission, mainly for spreading lies about the CIM. Three CIM missionaries resigned in sympathy. Taylor displayed forbearance and flexibility.
Other western missionaries complained about unmarried men and women living in close proximity. They accused Taylor of being too familiar with the young ladies (he and Maria kissed some on the forehead before they went off to bed). The ladies denied any inappropriate behavior by Taylor. Still the complaint reached London and led to a fall in support for the mission. Taylor refused to stop directly supervising single women.
Then Timothy Richard, an able young Welsh Baptist, on arriving in China, began to win over some CIM members. Richard emphasized establishing the Kingdom of God on earth and protecting the poor and needy from tyranny. He also argued that God worked through other religions; if their similarities to Christianity could be pointed out, he believed, people could be won for Christ, and the whole of China would Christianized. A handful of CIM missionaries were influenced by Richard's liberal views, and left the mission. In spite of controversy, the number of CIM missionaries grew.
Rivalry between the London & China CIM Councils
Misunderstanding and rivalry between the London and China councils of the CIM caused Taylor enormous strain and led to the resignation of missionaries. The issue was: Taylor wanted the China Council, closest to the work, to have executive powers; the London Council disagreed. Despite all these difficulties, Taylor persevered.
The personal cost to the Taylors was high: Maria died in child-birth, at age 33, and four of Maria's eight children died before age 10. Hudson Taylor buried 5 family members in China. The sufferings and hardships multiplied: Taylor's first-born daughter, Grace died from water on the brain; the family was almost killed in a riot of 1868; when the news reached London, the House of Lords debated whether allowing missionaries into China's interior was good for British trade. The negative publicity reduced the CIM's financial support. At this time George Muller's contributions were crucial in sustaining the infant mission.
Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret
As mission leader, Hudson endured intense stress. Moreover, he was waging an inner conflict, "I hated myself; I hated my sin; and yet I gained no strength against it." He prayed, agonized, made resolutions, read Scripture, but with little effect. The more he struggled for holiness and vitality, the more it eluded his grasp. He realized, "in Christ was all I needed, but the practical question was how to get it out…? Christ is rich, but I am poor; He is strong, but I am weak." As he traveled among CIM stations, he shared about the need for more power, more life. On arriving home, Taylor read a young worker's letter reporting his own discovery - "To let my loving Savior work in me His will… Abiding, not striving and struggling… Not a striving to have faith, but a looking to the faithful One seems all we need. A resting…" wrote the co-worker. Amazed at his own blindness, Taylor's inner eyes were now opened. "I looked to Jesus and I saw… I have striven in vain to abide in Him. I'll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide in me …?" Taylor's struggle to "get it out" of Christ were mistaken. "I am one with Christ! I am part of Him, as a branch of the vine!" he exclaimed to the household.
Hudson Taylor had discovered a spiritual secret and it changed his life. He had grasped the "blessed reality 'Christ lives in me.' And how great the difference! Instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in [Christ.]" (Pollock, Hudson and Maria, p. 197). A few days later he greeted a young worker, "Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man! God has made me a new man!" The pressure eased; now Hudson could testify, "The sweetest part, … is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything." The years fell away. Instead of premature middle age, he was again a man in his thirties.
Hudson Taylor soon faced a severe test. His wife, Maria died after childbirth at age 33, followed by her new-born child. Sorrow almost overwhelmed Hudson. His wife was gone; his surviving children were back in England; He was left alone. He became sick. Concerning that dark period, Hudson recorded, "How lonesome were the weary hours when confined to my room. How I missed my dear wife and the little pattering footsteps of the children far away in England! Then it was I understood why the Lord had made that passage so real to me, "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." Twenty times a day, perhaps, as I felt the heart-thirst coming back, I cried to Him: "Lord, you promised! You promised me that I should never thirst." Whether I called by day or night, how quickly He always came and satisfied my sorrowing heart! So much so that I often wondered whether… my loved one who had been taken could be enjoying more of His presence than I was in my lonely chamber." (Taylor  200)
18 months after the death of Maria, Hudson Taylor married Jenny Faulding (1843-1904), his first wife's best friend. She was one of the original CIM party aboard the Lammermuir in 1866. She wholly supported Taylor in his work. Their marital partnership lasted nearly 30 years.
Jennie (Faulding) Taylor's
Devastating famines hit North China in 1877-8. Relief efforts were desperately needed; this was an opportunity for evangelism. However, Hudson had to remain in England. The CIM called for more workers. Many volunteers were women. A leader was needed. Taylor's wife, Jennie was eminently qualified. He strongly encouraged her to pick up the task. So, leaving her sick husband and children (2 of her own and 4 by Hudson's first marriage), Jennie returned to China to lead the relief work. (Tucker, 184) Jennie Taylor was the first woman to travel deep into the interior, and her success strengthened Taylor's case for appointing women to pioneering roles. They had two surviving children, Ernest (b 1875) and Amy (b 1876). Jennie continued to travel with her husband into their old age. She died of cancer in Switzerland, a year before Taylor's own death.
The Progress of the CIM
By 1876, 18 new missionaries sailed for China, bringing the total to 52, giving CIM a fifth of the total missionary force in China. CIM missionaries moved increasingly into the interior; one brave worker reached Tibet.
"Women proved to be remarkably useful in China, ..." (Austin, Only Connect, 15)
The wives of CIM missionaries were considered missionaries in their own right. Taylor told potential candidates, "Unless you intend your wife to be a true missionary, not merely a wife, home-maker and friend, do not join us." Thus, married sisters were required to learn Chinese and (within reason) to carry their share of the work. To facilitate this role all missionary children were sent to the Chefoo school, established in 1881, for 12 years of education. The Chefoo school, modeled on the British education system, became the largest and most sought-after foreign school in China, famous for its high standards. [A founding editor of Time magazine was educated there.]
Taylor made another bold move, which drew criticism: sending single women into the interior. Single women workers became common-place in the CIM. Taylor appreciated their eagerness to volunteer and the usefulness of their ministry. Chinese women were more open to the gospel than men. In the gender-segregated Chinese society, only women workers could reach them. Later an intrepid trio of three CIM sisters - Evangeline French, Mildred Cable, and Francesca French - spent 20 years wandering the ancient "Silk Road," crossing the Gobi desert, sowing the gospel on China's western frontier.
By the 1880's two-thirds of CIM workers were women. (Austin, 16) Many single female workers were produced through the Bible colleges established in N America by Moody, A. T. Pierson, A. J. Gordon, A.B. Simpson & others. This was a new phenomenon - female Bible school graduates. Single women (and men) spent their first 2 years in China in language studies. Only after completing that training were they allowed to marry. Inter-racial marriage was discouraged. George Parker, an independently-minded CIM worker, married a Chinese wife in 1881. In 1898 Miss Anna Jacobson, a CIM associate from Norway, announced her intention to marry a Chinese evangelist. Miss Jacobson resigned and went with her new husband to work as independent missionaries. These are the only two recorded cases of Inter-racial marriage in that era.
The Second Goal: 70
Hudson Taylor desired to see more Chinese saved. He trusted God for what were remarkable requests: In 1881, he asked for another 70 missionaries within three years, and he got 76. By 1882 all but 3 of the eleven interior provinces had resident missionaries.
"The Cambridge Seven" and the CIM
In 1884-5 Taylor cooperated with the American evangelist, D. L. Moody to preach the gospel and present China's needs in Britain. Some prominent Cambridge University students responded, including C. T. Studd, a member of England's cricket team. His was a household name in England. Studd gave up fame and fortune to take the gospel to China with the CIM. Within a few weeks, six young men joined Studd. The media broadcast the news - the "Cambridge Seven,"- seven young men, including an all-England cricketer, two Cambridge rowers, and two promising young soldiers were bound for China as missionaries. No volunteer band caught the public's imagination like the Cambridge Seven. They brought revival to Britain as they toured the universities. Hundreds were saved nightly through the simple but heart-moving testimonies of Christ's work in their lives. The "Cambridge Seven" catapulted the CIM from obscurity to "almost embarrassing prominence." Their example inspired hundreds of recruits for the CIM and other mission societies. In 1885, when the Cambridge Seven arrived in China, the CIM had 163 missionaries; that number doubled by 1890. The number of Chinese believers was also growing, the number of Protestants reached 37,000 by 1889 (Bays, 308). This missionary movement of the 1880's affected both sides of the Atlantic.
The Third Goal: 100
Late in 1886, Taylor was praying for another 100 missionaries by 1887. A veteran missionary told Taylor, "I am delighted to hear that you are praying for large reinforcements. You will not get a hundred, of course, within the year,....." "Thank you for your interest," Taylor replied. "We have the joy of knowing our prayers answered now. And I feel sure that, if spared, you will share the joy of welcoming the last of the hundred to China!" By early November 1887, Taylor announced that 102 candidates had been accepted for service and enough money given to pay for their passage to China!
Hudson Taylor visits N. America, 1888
By the late 1880's, Taylor's vision had begun to ignite imaginations across the world. In 1888, Taylor visited N. America on his return trip from England to the Far East. The recently completed railroad made the journey 2 weeks shorter than by ship via Africa, India etc. It was an historic visit. "The momentous visit of Hudson Taylor to North America in 1888 changed the history of faith missions." (Robert, 185) Taylor's 1st stop was Moody's conference in New England, US. This historic conference founded the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) for Foreign Missions. The motto was adopted "The Evangelization of the World in This Generation." Over the next 30 years, the SVM sent out over 8,000 workers to fulfill this mission.
Hudson Taylor's Vision at Niagara
Hudson Taylor then traveled to Canada, stopping at the Niagara Falls. It was 33 years since his historic dealing on the beach at Brighton. At Niagara, Taylor saw more than white-water cascading over the great cataract. Professor Austin says, "Hudson Taylor's vision at Niagara changed his life and the life of the CIM." (Austin, Only Connect, 2) The following day, Taylor spoke at the annual conference on Prophetic Topics. Taylor compared the needs of China to Niagara Falls, "There is a great Niagara of souls passing into the dark in China. Every day, every week, every month, they are passing away! A million a month in China are dying without God." (Austin, Saving China, 6) The assembled believers donated enough money to support 8 workers for a year. Most mission leaders would be overjoyed. Not Hudson Taylor. Next day he spoke again, "To have missionaries and no money would be no trouble to me, for the Lord is bound to take care of His own.... But to have money and no missionaries is very serious indeed... We have the dollars, but where are the people?" he challenged. Volunteers came forward.
Wherever Taylor preached around the Great Lakes, young people offered themselves for China. In total there were 42 applicants. Taylor chose 15 to accompany him immediately to China. When Taylor first came to America, he had no thought of the CIM expanding to N. America. When he left 3 months later, he had money, hundreds of prayer supporters and a hand-picked band of volunteers. A farewell meeting was conducted in Toronto, on Lord's day, 24 Sept. 1888. 2,000 people attended. Taylor told his audience, "God has honoured the city by choosing so many of its young people to go out to preach the gospel to the heathen..." (Austin, Saving China, 9) The "spiritual energy was overwhelming." (Robert, 185). There was a torch-lit parade down Toronto's main street ["Yonge Street"] to Union station. After prayer and singing, the party of 16 departed by train to Vancouver, then a 3-week voyage across the Pacific to Shanghai.
CIM's North American Branch, Toronto, 1888
Hudson Taylor originally opposed a North American branch of the CIM, but he became convinced it was God's will. Taylor established the CIM North American branch in Toronto. The decisive factor in choosing Toronto was the response at the YMCA farewell meetings. Two related Bible Schools were later established in Toronto, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, and the Toronto Bible Training School (now Tyndale University College & Seminary). Both served as "feeder schools" for the CIM.
From 1888 to 1901, 750 applications were received by CIM's N. American office. 163 were accepted and sent to China. Over 100 applications (107) came from Toronto, 126 from small-town Ontario. Two-thirds of volunteers were from the US, mostly from the Mid-West & NE of the US. (Austin, Only Connect, 27).
The Spread of the Mission
In 1889, Taylor was, once again, back in England. Touched anew with the Lord's charge to "preach the gospel to every creature," he proposed a bold plan for every person in China to hear the gospel. If 1,000 evangelists would preach the gospel daily to 250 different people for 1,000 days, China's 250M people would hear (Steer, 316). Based on this plan, China needed 1,000 new workers. The next year Taylor addressed the General Missionary Conference in Shanghai which called for 1,000 workers for China over the next 5 years. [The 1,000 were for all missions in China.] By 1895, after 30 years, the CIM had 641 missionaries plus 462 Chinese helpers at 260 stations. They were thinly spread, with the goal of evangelizing the whole of China. The CIM. was suppling over half the Protestant missionary force in China. It was the largest single mission in China. A decade later, by the time of Hudson Taylor's death in 1905, the CIM had 800 workers located at 450 stations in 15 Chinese provinces.
Late in Taylor's lifetime, the CIM began to reach out to minority ethnic groups in China. They found a fertile field among China's indigenous peoples, the ethnic minorities. In 1904, Samuel Pollard began a work among the "flowery Miao" which "stood out as the most dramatically successful of any single mission station in China." (Diamond, 147). Later, in 1910, James O Fraser would begin a similar work among the Lisu people of China's SW mountain region bordering Burma. After Hudson Taylor's death, the CIM continued to grow. By 1914 it was the largest mission organization in the world. In terms of man-power, it peaked in 1934 with 1,368 workers (Tucker, 188). In total during China's "open century" (1850-1950), over 6,000 workers served under the CIM.
By Their Blood - The Boxer Rebellion, 1900
At the close of the 19th century, aggression by the imperial powers against China provoked anti-foreign sentiments. Reactionary forces headed by the Dowager Empress of China gained the upper hand against interests favoring modernization. Storm-clouds began to gather. For 32 years, since the first CIM team arrived in China, no CIM worker had died through violence. On occasion property had been damaged and workers injured, but lives had been spared. Then, in 1898 the first CIM worker was martyred in inland China. "How sad the tidings!" Taylor wrote. "Blessed for the martyrs, but sad for us, for China, … not only sad, but ominous! It seems that God is about to test us with a new kind of trial." (Steer, 349) That trial was unleashed in the form of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. CIM workers, scattered through the inland provinces, were particularly vulnerable.
During the 100 Boxer Rebellion, a total of 188 Western mission personnel were martyred -- 135 missionaries and 53 children were killed. Of the total martyred, the largest number, 79 (58 adults & 21 children) were associated with the CIM. The next largest, 36, belonged to A. B Simpson's Christian & Missionary Alliance. Hundreds of Chinese Christians were also killed. (Hefley, 40) At the time, Hudson Taylor was in Europe, sick and raising more recruits. Hearing the news of his martyred fellow-workers whom he had led to China, he could only say, "I cannot think, I cannot pray, but I can trust."
Taylor's generous spirit and his heart for China are evident in his handling of the Boxer indemnities. Following the defeat of the Boxers, the Western powers forced China to compensate the missions for their losses. Although the CIM had suffered the greatest losses, Hudson Taylor refused to submit any claims or accept any compensation. He considered such actions contrary to the gospel. The mission's work did not diminish after the Rebellion. Rather, it was pursued with greater vigor. The number of workers quadrupled in the next decades.
Hudson Taylor's Virtues
In his Church history survey, Watchman Nee states that in the 19th century "many spiritual brothers were being raised up." He refers to Robert Govett, G, H. Pember, D. M. Panton and Hudson Taylor. Concerning Taylor, Nee says, "The latter wrote a book Union and Communion, which speaks of some profound experiences of Christ." (Nee, 851-2) W. Nee also mentions Taylor along with A. B. Simpson and A. J. Gordon because, "They saw that the believers should return to the experience of the apostolic age when men lived by faith." (Nee, 852)
Another writer says, Hudson "Taylor appears as a 'man of one book.' His .... was a reading meditatively absorbed and expressed in terms of 'fellowship with Christ' as the basic form of Christian spiritual life.... Persuaded of 'the mystical union of Christ and the believer,' Taylor made ... the Christian Bible, take on new spiritual meaning for thousands who heard him speak about the 'living Christ, ' 'God's faithfulness" and China's preeminent need." (Pfister, 38)
"Hudson Taylor was anything but sectarian." On his world tours he appealed to believers in all denominations to support their own mission programs. In China he held together a diverse group of hundreds of workers from most major denominations.
Taylor was not building a CIM empire, nor a name. He was grieved when people called him a "great leader." One observer said, "He was one of the purest, humblest, most sensitive souls I ever knew, fervent in prayer, mighty in faith, his whole life dedicated to the single object of doing the will of God." (Sherwood Eddy quoted by Kane, 199)
Broad & Generous spirit
Taylor was more interested in the evangelization of China than in the growth of his own mission. His first priority was China, but he was happy when workers were called to labor in other countries. Ralph Winter calls the CIM, "the most cooperative servant organization yet to appear."(quoted by Kane, 199)
A Good Administrator
Taylor never claimed to be a missionary statesman, but he was a good administrator, 'ran a tight ship,' and almost single-handedly opened inland China to the gospel. His 1st priority was the salvation of souls. Schools and hospitals etc were of secondary importance.
Able to Foster Harmony
CIM missionaries were a large and diverse group. Recruits came from all major denominations in Britain and other English-speaking countries, plus Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. They were from different home mission boards. In China they were all part of the "large CIM family." "That this large, international, heterogeneous group of active, strong-minded missionaries could achieve and maintain a high degree of harmony over a long period of time was a tribute to the wise, gentle, but forceful leadership of Hudson Taylor." (Kane, 201)
Hudson was burdened for China. He exercised his evangelistic ministry. Yet, he was an affectionate person who loved his wife and children. Once he wrote to his wife, Jennie, "I feel as if my heart would break soon if I don't have you yourself. I was almost in a mind to run off by today's [ship], ... Though the tears will come into my eyes every few minutes, I do want to give myself, and you too darling, for the life of the Chinese and of our fellow-labourers.... Pray for me, my own heart's love, that neither my faith nor my patience fail..." (Pollock, 54)
Determination & Hard Work
Taylor's success resulted from his determination and dedication to hard work. His prayer was matched by focused labour. His son wrote, "Hudson Taylor prayed about things as if everything depended upon the praying, but then he worked as if everything depended upon the work." Taylor wrote a poem:
Who spoke of rest? There is rest above./ No rest on earth for me. On, on to do/ My Father's business. He, who sent me here,/ Appointed me my time on earth to bide,/ And set me all my work to do for Him,/ He will supply me with sufficient grace - / Grace to be doing, to be suffering / Not to be resting. There is rest above.
A Canadian doctor, Dr. De la Porte, observed Hudson Taylor. He wrote:"I have seen him come home at the close of the day footsore and weary, his face covered with blisters from the heat of the sun. He would throw himself down to rest in a state of utter exhaustion, and then get up again in a few hours to face the toil and hardship of another day. It was clear to me that he enjoyed the highest respect from the Chinese, and was doing a great deal of good among them." (Quoted in Steer)
Hudson Taylor's Weaknesses
The Matter of the Church
Taylor's major burden was China's evangelization, the salvation of souls. He had no intention of forming another "CIM denomination." The churches raised up by CIM workers were never organized into a "national body". Hence, Hudson Taylor avoided producing a CIM denomination or a "Church of China." However, Taylor did not raise up genuine local churches either. He was not greatly concerned about the type of churches produced. Every pioneer CIM worker was free to establish his (or her) type of church - Congregational, Presbyterian etc. Once established, the style of church government could not be changed by later missionaries, only by the churches themselves. Typically, CIM missionaries from the same denomination worked in a region, so denominational affiliations usually formed along regional lines. (Kane, 201) In practice this meant that western denominational factions were transplanted to China. Thus one of the "Cambridge Seven" was installed as the first Anglican bishop in China - the head of the Church of England in China - an oxymoron according to Scripture. Witness Lee observes, "I appreciate Hudson Taylor's life greatly. I received much help from his life. We must realize, though, that even with him the element of division was still there." (Lee, The Practice of the Lord's Recovery, 22). Hudson Taylor and the CIM's handling of the "Church matter" retarded the growth of local leadership in the Church and made "foreign churches" in China an easy target for nationalist and communist opponents.
Spread Too Thin?
Hudson Taylor's goal was to evangelize the immense population of China. He felt that "souls on every hand are perishing for lack of knowledge; more than 1,000 every hour are passing away into death and darkness." He proposed a numerical plan and budget: with 1,000 evangelists, if each could reach 250 new people a day with the gospel, the whole of China could be evangelized in just over 3 years. It looked good on paper, but it was unrealistic. To reach 250 different people each day without duplication soon becomes an enormous challenge.
Perhaps this thought led Taylor to spread his resources too thin. It led to diffusion, not concentration. Workers were constantly engaged in itineration. CIM came to mean, "Constantly In Motion." Latourette comments, "The main purpose of the CIM was not to win converts or to build a Chinese church, but to spread a knowledge of the Christian Gospel throughout the empire as quickly as might be.." (Quoted by Tucker, 185)
Failure to Produce Leaders among Chinese Believers
The directorate of the CIM was located in China, close to the field of operation. However, leadership remained in the hands of "experienced" (and therefore foreign) missionaries. This kept decision-making in the hands of foreign workers, as opposed to Chinese believers. This situation was typical of missions. In this matter the CIM was no better than other missions. The CIM remained "basically a foreign-dominated structure at the top levels" well into the 20th century. (Bays, 308)
The Role of Hudson Taylor's Extended Family
Hudson Taylor's children played an important role in the CIM. His son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Howard & Mrs Geraldine (Guinness) Taylor, wrote the definitive 2-volume biography, Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission (1911,1918). The Taylor family was concerned that "nothing detrimental to the mission be written and any documents which might prove an embarrassment in later years were to be destroyed." After the official history was published, "the archives were purged of everything which does not merely substantiate what they wrote." (Austin, 8) Benjamin Broomhall married Hudson's sister, Amelia Taylor. Broomhall became the director of the London office of CIM. Every national council in sending counties had at least one member of Hudson Taylor's extended family. Professor Austin comments colorfully, "Compared to a corporate board of directors, the council of the CIM was a family reunion." (Austin, 12) He refers to a "Taylor-Broomhall-Guinness dynasty" within the CIM. The family connection continues today; James Hudson Taylor IV is active in the OMF (the current version of the CIM.)
Hudson Taylor's Publications
Hudson Taylor's writings were exclusively in English. There is no indication that he ever wrote or published in Chinese. His writings addressed an English-speaking audience. Taylor's goal in his missionary publications was twofold:
(1) First, to provide believers with up-to-date information on China, the country, its people and the progress of missions there.
(2) Second (and more important), to awaken Christians from their complacency and mediocrity to fulfill their obligations to China
"China's Millions" was CIM's monthly journal. It commenced publication in 1875, with Taylor as editor. He continued to oversee its publication until 1895. His second wife, Jennie Faulding, supported Taylor in publishing. Later Benjamin Broomhall provided support in London. Taylor's book, China's Spiritual Needs and Claims first published in 1865, reached its 7th edition by 1887, and 9th edition by 1890. Later books include, After Thirty Years and his autobiographical, A Retrospect. In Taylor's book, Union and Communion (an exposition of the Song of Songs), readers can catch a glimpse of Hudson's deep walk with the Lord and of his oneness with Christ.
J Hudson Taylor appears on the list of ministering brothers at the annual Keswick "inner-life" conferences in England on three occasions:1887, 1893 and 1896. He ministered with F B Meyer, Handley C G Moule, Otto Stockmayer and other leading ministers on the "inner life". Robert reports that "Hudson Taylor spoke at Keswick with great effect." Also in 1897, Hudson Taylor proposed that a delegation from Keswick be sent to China to refresh the spiritual energy of CIM missionaries and Chinese evangelists there (Robert, 256)
"The greatness of a man's power is in the measure of his surrender" He often affirmed, "If I had a thousand lives, China should have them all. No! Not China, but Christ. Can we do too much for Him?"
Finishing His Course
Hudson Taylor's second wife, Jennie passed away from cancer at age 60 in Switzerland in 1904. In April, 1905, Taylor returned to China for the 11th and final time. He passed away on Saturday, 3 June, 1905, age 73 in the capital of the last province opened to the gospel. He was buried beside his 1st wife, Maria and 4 of their children. The gravestone inscription reads, "... A man in Christ."
When Hudson Taylor died, in 1905, Protestant missions in China had nearly 4,000 workers and some 178,000 converts. The CIM had 800 workers located at 450 stations in all China's provinces.
Austin, Alvyn , Saving China: Canadian Missionaries in the Middle Kingdom, 1888-1959. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, (1986)
Austin, Alvyn "Only Connect: The China Inland Mission and Transatlantic Evangelicalism," University of Cambridge, North Atlantic Missiology Project, Position Paper # 58, (1998)
Bays, Daniel H. (editor), Christianity in China from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. 1996.
Diamond, Norma, "Christianity and the Hua Miao: Writing and Power" in Christianity in China from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Daniel H. Bays (editor), Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. 1996.
Kane, Herbert J. "J. Hudson Taylor 1832 - 1905 Founder of the China Inland Mission" in Mission Legacies, Gerald H. Anderson et. al. Eds. Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books, 1994
Nee, Watchman "What Are We?" in The Present Testimony (4), Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. #11, Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA.,1992, pp. 843-60.
Nee, Watchman, "The Rapture and the Tribulation (1)" in Notes on Scriptural Messages (3), Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. #19, Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA.,1992, pp.501-16.
Pfister, Lauren F., "Re-thinking Mission in China: James Hudson Taylor and Timothy Richard" University of Cambridge, North Atlantic Missiology Project, Position Paper # 68, forthcoming in
Andrew Porter, ed., Christian Missions during the Period of High Imperialism, from Eerdmanns Press.
Pollock, John C. Hudson Taylor and Maria - Pioneers in China. Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1962
Pollock, John C. "China's Millions" in More Than Conquerors, John Woodbridge (editor), Chicago, IL., Moody Press, 1992 pp. 50-55.
Robert, Dana L. Occupy until I Come: A. T. Pierson and the Evangelization of the World, Grand Rapids, MI. William Eerdmans, 2003
Steer, Roger J. Hudson Taylor - A Man in Christ. Carlisle, Cumbria, UK., Paternoster Lifestyle, 2001
Taylor, Dr. and Mrs. Howard. Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God. Singapore: Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1911.
---. Hudson Taylor in Early Years: The Growth of a Soul. Singapore: Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1911.
H Taylor & M G Taylor, Hudson Taylor in Early Years (1912), and Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God (1919); M Broomhall, Hudson Taylor: The Man Who Believed in God (1929); A J Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China's Open Century (7 volumes, 1981-1989).
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