When Mr. Hudson Taylor laid down the leadership of the Mission in 1900, five years before his Home-call, the China Inland Mission numbered 750 missionaries. Today (1932) its membership is 1,285. The income while Mr. Taylor was directing the work and sustaining it with his prayers ran into millions of dollars, unasked save of God — no less than four million dollars. The total income since 1900 has been almost twenty million dollars, unasked save of God. And there has been and is no debt. Seven hundred Chinese workers were connected with the Mission, rich answer to Mr. Taylor’s prayers, and the converts baptized from the commencement numbered thirteen thousand. Today there are between three and four thousand Chinese workers connected with the C.I.M., and the baptisms since 1900 alone number a hundred thousand. “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.”
Mr. Taylor was unique in his relation to the work, of which he was founder as well as Director: no one in this sense could take his place. Yet, in the leader God raised up to follow him, a gift no less unique has been given. Bearing responsibilities greatly increased since 1900, Mr. D. E. Hoste has been sustained in a prayer-life which is the benediction of the Mission, while under his guidance, through years of storm and stress, the work has gone steadily on from strength to strength.
True, there have been times of overwhelming trial and apparent setback. When the revolution broke out and China, almost overnight, became a republic, a reign of terror prevailed in certain districts and the Mission was again called to add to its martyr roll.
In the city of Sian, once capital of the empire, Mrs. Beckman and six children of missionary families were murdered by a lawless mob, also Mr. Vatne who was trying to protect them. Not a few missionaries were obliged to leave their stations for places of greater safety; others, who hold on, were enabled to protect many of the terrified people round them, women especially, who ﬂed to the missionary homes for refuge. Precious opportunities were afforded in those days for living as well as preaching the Gospel, and the friendly feeling toward missionaries in the interior was very marked.
With the spread of lawlessness and cruel banditry, as well as the organized agitation among students; missionaries and Chinese Christians alike have had to face great and increasing dangers. But the amazing thing has really been that changes so stupendous could take place without more bloodshed and upheaval. Swept away from all the old moorings, reaching out with passionate desire for better things, China in her helplessness has fallen among thieves.
The desperate counsels of Communism and Bolshevism have prevailed in many places, to the unspeakable aggravation of existing evils, and latterly the relentless aggressions of neighboring powers have added to the distresses of the situation.
“When brothers fall out,” the old Chinese proverb has it, “then strangers are apt to take advantage of them”; again, “to complete a thing, a hundred years is not sufficient; to destroy, one day is more than enough.”
Yet in the midst of it all, the protecting hand of God has been over the work, so that advance has been steady in connection with the evangelistic program of the Inland Mission. The fact that the work IS evangelistic rather than institutional accounts for much of the friendliness of the people and their readiness to listen to the consolations of the Gospel. Never have there been such opportunities as there are today for the sale of Christian literature and the witness of living hearts to the saving power of Christ. “The healing of His seamless dress” is the healing that China needs, and many are the wounded hearts turning to Him for life and hope amid conditions of despair.
That such an hour is no time for retrenchment in the missionary enterprise must be manifest to all who look to God, who “look up,” rather than at circumstances. This it is that has called the China Inland Mission, of recent years, out from a policy of waiting, into a glorious advance along the lines of Mr. Taylor’s latest and greatest vision. With regard to the fresh realization that came to him of the Lord’s plain meaning in His definite commission, “Preach the gospel to every creature,” Mr. Taylor had written:
This work will not be done without crucifixion, without consecration which is prepared AT ANY COST to carry out the Master’s command. But given that, I believe in my inmost soul that it will be done.
If ever in my life I was conscious of being led of God, it was in the writing and publication of those papers [“To Every Creature”].
Living seed, though it fall into the ground and die, will yet bring forth fruit. Mr. Taylor had long gone to his reward when a second baptism of suffering was permitted, five years ago, in the overwhelming distress of 1927. More than six hundred members of the Mission were obliged to evacuate their stations in that tragic year, when Western Governments, alarmed at a new and fierce outbreak of anti-foreign agitation, ordered their nationals to withdraw from the interior.
This was inspired by propagandists from Moscow [as Dr. Robert H. Glover, * now the North American Director of the Mission, writes] who incited the Chinese soldiery and student body to acts of violence, particularly directed against missionaries and other foreigners. … And so the large majority of missionaries all over China were forced to leave their stations, their beloved converts and the work of years, and make their way to the coast.
Thus, almost before they were aware of it, several hundred C.I.M. missionaries, among others, found themselves out of inland China, with the door closed behind them.
* [The Rev. Robert Hall Glover, MD, assumed at the close of 1929 the responsibilities which the Rev. Henry W. Frost, DD laid down after forty-two years of devoted and successful leadership. Dr. Frost, to the thankfulness of all concerned, continues his invaluable connection with the Mission as Home Director Emeritus.]
To provide for these refugees in the overcrowded settlements imposed a heavy burden on the funds of the Mission. Fourteen houses had to be rented in Shanghai alone, and furnished in some sort, and all the traveling expenses had to be met out of straitened resources.
For many supporters of the Mission at home, seeing that the work was for the time being largely at a standstill, found other channels for their missionary giving, and had the China Inland Mission been depending on its donors rather than on the living God the outcome might have been very far from what it was. But “God is equal to all emergencies,” as Mr. Taylor loved to remind himself and others, and His dealings with the C.I.M. in the financial crisis of 1927 constitute one of the most marvelous answers to prayer that the Mission has ever known.
The following are the facts. The income of the Mission fell off in that one year not by thousands but by tens of thousands of dollars. With largely increased demands upon its resources, and with strict adherence to its principles of making no appeal for financial help and of never going into debt, how was the situation to be met — with an income diminished by no less than $114,000?
Yes, “God is equal to all emergencies”; and that year He was pleased to work in an unexpected way. Money transmitted to China from the home countries has to be changed into silver currency at a rate which is always ﬂuctuating. But that year the ﬂuctuation, strange to say, seemed steadily in favor of the Mission funds. More and more silver was purchasable with the money remitted from home, and by the close of the year it was found that while $114,000 LESS had been sent to China than in the previous year, the Mission had profited on exchange as much as $115,000! Thus all needs were met, and that year of special trial became one of overﬂowing praise.
And as to the matter of the closed door, Dr. Glover continues:
It was indeed a sad hour … and the outlook from the human point of view was dark enough. Would the door of missionary opportunity ever reopen? The question was variously answered … [by the skeptical, the worldly-wise, and the discouraged]. But there were missionaries — and those of the C.I.M. happily among the number — whose anointed eye saw the situation in a very different light.
That the blow came directly from Satan, and with intent to ruin the work of missions, they doubted not. But did the Word anywhere teach that God’s servants were ever to accept defeat at the hands of Satan? Assuredly not.
Had Satan at any time succeeded through persecution in destroying the cause of Christ? Far from it. … Paul, the great missionary, testified that the persecutions which befell him had “FALLEN OUT RATHER UNTO THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL,” and he followed on to exhort his fellow-workers to be “IN NOTHING TERRIFIED BY YOUR ADVERSARIES.” Nothing in the New Testament missionary record is more impressive than the way opposition and persecution from the enemy were repeatedly made by God the very means of advancing the missionary enterprise. Every such assault of the adversary today, therefore, should become the occasion of a forward movement issuing in fresh expansion and enlarged results.
Now that is just the way the China Inland Mission was led to regard the adverse situation with which it was confronted. … Was missionary work in China at an end? How could it possibly be, with Christ’s Great Commission unrevoked, and the task of giving the Gospel to China’s millions still so very far from completed? At whatever cost, the work must go on. And so the Mission went upon its face before God in fervent prayer for the reopening of the door and for clear guidance as to its future plans.
Those were days of deep heart-searching, Dr. Glover goes on to testify, as well as of earnest prayer. And it was then, right in the midst of the trial, that God gave vision and conviction for a great advance. For it was then that, on the basis of a comprehensive survey of the whole C.I.M. field, the leaders of the Mission felt clearly led to appeal to God and His people for, not one hundred, but TWO HUNDRED ADDITIONAL WORKERS for a forward movement of a strongly evangelistic character.
Hardly could the constituency of the Mission at home have been more rejoiced and impressed than when this appeal was received.
It was recognized to be of God, the outcome of much prayer, and at once new life began to be felt in all parts of the work. The two years in which the new missionaries were expected, not only asked for, passed quickly (1929-31), and though faith was tried in various ways, not least by strong counter attacks of the adversary in China, the story has been one of profound encouragement and blessing.
Not only did 1931 witness the outgoing of the last parties of the Two Hundred — ninety-one of whom were from North America — but the provision made for their reception in China was no less remarkable. The headquarters of the Mission in Shanghai, which had long been inadequate for the needs of the work, were replaced during that year by the much larger, more suitable premises God has provided without the cost of a single cent to the Mission. An opportunity came, in answer to much prayer, to sell the old premises for SIXTY-FIVE TIMES THEIR ORIGINAL COST. They had been the gift of a member of the Mission now with the Lord, who after more than forty years was thus enabled to provide the new headquarters for the growing work just when they were so urgently needed. * And the new buildings were ready in time to receive the splendid parties of last fall, when over a hundred new workers arrived in China for the China Inland Mission in the brief period of one month.
* [An additional gift from a retired American member of the Mission supplied admirable premises, also greatly needed, for Chinese workers and guests.]
Much more was included in that wonderful provision than the wisest leaders in the Mission could foresee. For when, early in the present year, the wholly unexpected attack was made upon Shanghai by Japanese forces, much of the fighting centered in and around the very district (Hongkew) in which the former headquarters of the China Inland Mission had been located. Just in time had the guiding hand of God led to the change which moved the Mission premises three miles farther back into the International Settlement, to a position of greater safety. Who but He could have foreseen and provided in this wonderful way to meet a situation so unexpected and acutely distressing?
Yes, He is caring still for the needs of His own work. Little wonder that the China Inland Mission stands foursquare on the old truths upon which it was founded; little wonder that it commemorates with thankfulness the centenary this year, 1932, of the birth of its father in God, the leader whose faith and obedience brought it into being. Thank God, there is not one of its twelve hundred and eighty-five missionaries who cannot and does not joyfully reiterate, today, the conviction of its founder:
The living God still lives, and the living Word IS a living Word, and we may depend upon it. We may hang upon any word God ever spoke or caused by His Holy Spirit to be written.
Oh, make but trial of His love; Experience will decide How blest are they, and they alone, Who in His truth confide.
Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then Have nothing else to fear; Make but His service your delight, Your wants shall be His care.
Will every Christian reader of this book join in the prayer of which a member of the China Inland Mission working in an inland province writes as follows:
We have been thrilled by the answers to the prayers of the Lord’s people for two hundred new missionaries for this land, and are now praying and urging friends to pray for FIVE HUNDRED SPIRIT-FILLED CHINESE WORKERS to take part of the Forward Movement.
Send Thou, O Lord, to every place Swift messengers before Thy face, The heralds of Thy wondrous grace, Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.
Send men whose eyes have seen the King, Men in whose ears His sweet words ring, Send such Thy lost ones home to bring:
Send them where Thou wilt come.
To bring good news to souls in sin, The bruised and broken hearts to win, In every place to bring them in, Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.
Gird each one with the Spirit’s sword, The sword of Thine own deathless Word, And make them conquerors, conquering Lord, Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.
Raise up, O lord the Holy Ghost, From this broad land a mighty host, Their war cry — We will seek the lost, Where Thou, O Christ, wilt come!
The past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demands for doing great things for God. The church that is dependent on its past history for its miracles of power and grace is a fallen church. …
The greatest benefactor this age could have is the man who will bring the teachers and the church back to prayer.
—E. M. Bounds, in “Power through Prayer”