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Wind in Their Sails

Wind in Their Sails

Undoubtedly, one of the great missionary heroes of all time is Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission. 

As I was recently re-reading one of his small books,  a number of things stood out to me. Let me start with these three:

1) This month marks the 165th anniversary of when Hudson Taylor first set sail to China.

2) The voyage took over five months!

3) He sailed from Liverpool to Shanghai, which makes him officially Liverpool’s best export to the world, not the Beatles.

Reading the stories of that sea journey is exhausting. I can’t imagine what it was like to actually live through them. This was certainly not a luxury cruise.

Taylor writes of being in imminent risk of shipwreck twice. On one occasion, it was only God, in answer to prayer, that saved the ship and passengers:

“I could not fail to notice that the captain looked troubled and frequently went over to the side of the ship. I learnt from him that the current was carrying us rapidly towards some sunken reefs, and we were already so near that it seemed improbable that we should get through the afternoon in safety.

“After standing together on the deck for some time in silence, the captain said to me, ‘Well, we have done everything that can be done; we can only await the result.’ A thought occurred to me, and I replied, ‘No, there is one thing we have not done yet.’ ‘What is it?’ he queried. ‘Four of us on board are Christians,’ I answered, ‘let us each retire to his own cabin, and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze.’

“I then asked the first officer to let down the corners of the mainsail. He answered, ‘What would be the good of that?’ I told him we had been asking God for a wind, that it was coming immediately, and we were so near the reef by this time that there was not a minute to lose. He gave me a look of incredulity and contempt. But while he was speaking I watched his gaze go up to the topmost sail, and there, sure enough, the corner of it was beginning to tremble in the coming breeze. ‘Don’t you see the wind is coming?’ I exclaimed. ‘No, it is only a mere puff of breeze.’  ‘Breeze or not,’ I cried, ‘let down the mainsail, and let us have the benefit!’”

Taylor writes that, within minutes, wind filled the sails, and the ship was able to escape the dangerous reefs. God had answered the prayers of the four men!

Thankfully, our missionaries no longer have to spend five months at sea in order to minister in Asia. 

Nonetheless, many obstacles still exist for our appointees as they prepare for overseas service. Usually, they must take Bible courses, complete cross-cultural training, begin learning a second language, gather a team of financial supporters, sell their car, and rent out their house. 

As they do so, please join us in prayer that God will be the “wind in their sails.”