Thoughts on the Way Home

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Missionary Heart for Thieves

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Taken from "Hudson Taylor: In Early Years, The Growth of a Soul" - Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor

We read of young Hudson Taylor, then 24, on an expedition on an expedition in China to move his few belongings to a new port city for further ministry. Abandoned by the Chinese helpers paid to move his things, he is outside at night with nowhere to sleep.

I was opposite a temple, but it was closed, so I lay down on the stone steps in front of it, and putting my money under my head for a pillow should have been asleep in spite of the cold had I not perceived a person coming stealthily towards me. As he approached, I saw he was one of the beggars so common in China and had no doubt his intention was to rob me of my money. I did not stir, but watched his movements, and looked to my Father not to leave me in this hour of trial. The man came up, looked at me for some time to assure himself that i was asleep (it was dark so that he could not see my eyes fixed on him), and then began to feel about me gently. I said to him in the quietest tone, but so as to convince him that I was not nor had been sleeping,

"What do you want?"

He made no answer, but went away.

I was thankful to see him go, and when he was out of sight put as much of my cash as would go into my pocket safely up my sleeve, and made my pillow of a stone projection of the wall. It was not long before I began to doze, but I was aroused by the all but noiseless footsteps of two people approaching, for my nervous system was rendered so sensitive by exhaustion that the slightest sound startled me. Again I sought protection from Him who alone was my stay, and lay still as before, till one of them came up and began to feel under my head for the cash. I spoke again, and they sat down at my feet. I asked them what they were doing. They replied that, like me, they were going to pass the night outside the temple. I then requested them to take the opposite side as there was plenty of room, and leave this side to me. But they would not move from my feet. So I raised myself up and set my back against the wall.

"You had better lie down and sleep," said on of them, "otherwise you will be unable to work tomorrow. Do not be afraid, we shall not leave you, and will see that no one does you harm."

"Listen to me," I replied. "I do not want your protection. I do not need it. I am not a Chinese, and I do not worship your vain idols. I worship God. He is my Father, and I trust in Him. I know well what you are and what are your intentions, and shall keep my eye on you and not sleep."

Upon this one of them went away, only to return with a third companion. I felt very uneasy but looked to God for help. Once or twice one of them came over to see if I was asleep.

"Do not be mistaken," I said, "I am not sleeping."

Occasionally my head dropped and this was a signal for one of them to rise. But I at once roused myself and made some remark. As the night slowly wore on, I felt very weary, and to keep myself awake as well as to cheer my mind I sang several hymns, repeated aloud some portions of Scripture, and engaged in prayer... to the annoyance of my companions, who seemed as if they would have given me anything to get me to desist. After that they troubled me no more, and when shortly before dawn of day they left me I got a little sleep."

This all sounds great, how he trusted in God and was kept through the night. But the story wasn't over. He writes of his reflection later the next day:

"On the way I was led to reflect on the goodness of God and recollected that I had not made it a matter of prayer that I might be provided with lodgings last night. I felt condemned, too, that I should have been so anxious for my few things, while the many precious souls around me had caused so little concern. I came as a sinner and pleaded the blood of Jesus..."

Later when they discovered the Chinese worker, Yoh-hsi, that had ran off with his belongings and abandoned him, he declined advice to prosecute the man (which he could have done quite easily). He had been earnestly striving for this man's salvation prior to the incident, and wrote:

So I have sent him a plain, faithful letter to the effect that we know his guilt, and what its consequences might be to himself, that at first I had considered handing over the matter to the yamen, but remembering Christ's command to return good for evil, I had not done so, and did not wish to injure a hair of his head.

I told him that he was the real loser, not I; that I freely forgave him, and besought him more earnestly than ever to flee from the wrath to come. I also added that though it was not likely he would give up such of my possessions as were serviceabe to a Chinese, there were among them foreign books and papers that could be of no use to him but were valuable to me, and that those at least he ought to send back.

If only his conscience might be moved and his soul saved, how infinitely more important that would be than the recovery of all I have lost. Do pray for him.

The point is, he was burdened for their souls, a true missionary heart.

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*** eventually we are told George Muller somehow learned of this account and sent him the money sufficient to repay his lost items (40 pounds) and from that day forward shared in prayer and financial support for the young missionary Hudson Taylor...