Hudson Taylor’s Wish for a ‘Thousand Lives’ for China’s Millions Has Become a Reality

The legacy of Hudson Taylor and his China Inland Mission is still inspiring new generations of Christians in China and beyond.

In the courtyard of the headquarters of Overseas Mission Fellowship (OMF), across the street from lush botanic gardens in the city-state of Singapore, there is a pavilion emblazed with words in both Chinese and English: “Have faith in God.”

This simple but overwhelming command is the spiritual core of the mission that OMF continues, the work of British missionary James Hudson Taylor (Dai Desheng 戴德生, 1832–1905), who founded OMF—then known as China Inland Mission (CIM)—in 1865. Taylor’s pioneering work in China’s inland was groundbreaking, and he is remembered for his missional drive, spiritual discipline, evangelistic strategy, contextualization to Chinese culture, and support for single women missionaries.

For Chinese Christians in China, Taiwan, and overseas, Taylor remains a peerless figure. He is loved and admired, and many Chinese Christians can still recite his best-known words: “If I had a thousand pounds, China should have it. If I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No! Not China, but Christ.”

Taylor’s descendants of four generations, each boasting at least one missionary dedicated to the Chinese church, are affectionately called an example of Dai Dai xiang chuan (戴戴相传), a “legacy of dedication from one generation to the next.” Indeed, the very existence of tens of millions of Chinese Christians and thousands of Chinese churches all over the world today is significantly the legacy of Taylor and CIM/OMF.

“History has proved that the fruit of the gospel produced by CIM has a strong foundation and can stand up to the winds and rains,” wrote mainland Chinese pastor Yan Yile. “Even though Western missionaries were forced to …

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