Feb 21, 2012
A hardened atheist
Hudson Taylor lived in the 1800’s, and was one of the first missionaries to inland China.
Before he left for China, he worked as a medical assistant.
One of his first assignments was a man with severe gangrene in his foot.
This man was an atheist with a violent temper. When someone offered to read Scripture to him, this man loudly ordered him to leave. And when a pastor had visited, this man spit in his face.
Hudson’s job was to change this man’s bandages every day. He also started praying earnestly for his salvation.
The first few days he shared nothing of the Gospel, but focused on carefully changing the man’s bandages. This greatly eased his pain, and the man was deeply touched.
Longing to share the Gospel
But Hudson Taylor was concerned for this man’s eternal destiny.
So the next day, after carefully changing the bandages, he did something different. Instead of heading out the door, he knelt down by the man’s bed and shared the Gospel.
He explained his concern for the man’s soul, told of Jesus’ death on the Cross, and that he could be saved from his sins.
The man grew furious, said nothing, and turned his back to Hudson.
So — Hudson got up, gathered his medical equipment, and left.
This pattern continued for some time.
Every day Hudson tenderly changed his bandages, then knelt down by the man’s bed and spoke of Jesus’ love.
And every day the man said nothing — and turned his back to Hudson.
After a while Hudson Taylor started wondering — was he doing more harm than good? Were his words causing the man to become more hardened?
So with great sadness, Hudson Taylor decided to stop speaking of Christ.
The next day he again changed the man’s bandages. But then, instead of kneeling by the bed, he headed toward the door to leave.
He before he walked out the door, he looked back at the man.
He could tell the man was shocked — because this was the first day since Hudson had started sharing the Gospel that he had not knelt down by the bed and spoken about Jesus.
And then, while standing at the door, Hudson Taylor’s heart broke. He started weeping.
He went back to the bed, and said — “My friend, whether you will hear or not, I must share what’s on my heart” — and he earnestly spoke of Jesus, again begging the man to pray with him.
This time the man answered — “if it will be a relief to you, go ahead and pray.”
So Hudson Taylor got down on his knees and prayed for this man’s salvation. And — God answered.
From that point the man was eager to listen to the Gospel, and in a few days he prayed to trust Christ.
Hudson Taylor’s take-aways
- “Often in my early work in China, when circumstances rendered me almost hopeless of success, I have thought of this man’s conversion and have been encouraged to persevere in speaking the Word, whether men would hear or whether they would forbear.”
- “Perhaps if we had more of that intense distress for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our own feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our lack of success.”
(From Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor’s “Hudson Taylor in Early Years: The Growth of a Soul,” pp.178ff.)
I’m feeling convicted
I’m weak in both of these.
I need more faith in the power of God’s Word to open closed hearts.
And I lack that intense distress for souls that leads to tears.
So what can I do? How can I grow in boldness and compassion?
That’s a topic for a future blog post.
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