Great-Grandson of Legendary Missionary to China Dies

The great-grandson of British missionary James Hudson Taylor, the man foremost responsible for spreading Christianity in China, died in the early morning on Friday in Hong Kong, mission agency OMF International announced.

Dr. James Hudson Taylor III went to be with Christ at the age of 79, according to OMF. He, like his great-grandfather, had immersed himself in Chinese culture and shared the Gospel with the Chinese people. Taylor will be remembered as a mission statesman who was warm, a master storyteller, and won the respect of senior Chinese government officials and church leaders alike.

OMF International, formerly known as China Inland Mission and Overseas Missionary Fellowship, was founded by James Hudson Taylor in 1865. Taylor spent 51 years in China and the organization he founded was responsible for bringing more than 800 missionaries to the country. The missionaries in turn began 125 schools, directly resulting in 18,000 Christian conversions.

James Hudson Taylor III was born on Aug. 12, 1929, in China's ancient city of Kaifeng, located in Henan province on the south bank of the Yellow River. His parents served as missionaries there for the Free Methodist Church.

Having been born and raised in China, Taylor "thought forms and literature like the Chinese themselves," OMF recalls.

In 1935, his family briefly returned to the United States as tension flared between China and Japan. They went back to Kaifeng in 1936, and just a year later the Nanking massacre occurred as Japan began to invade more cities.

Under mounting danger, James Hudson Taylor II was able to secure a sea passage back to the United States in 1939. But Taylor one day asked then nine-year-old James Hudson Taylor III if he would like to accompany him to the shipping office. It was not, as the younger Taylor expected, to pick up the tickets but to cancel them.

"His parents had resolved that this was no time for missionaries to leave China; instead they would move to the North West to train church leaders; the cost would be high as they would need to leave their four children as boarders at the China Inland Mission's Chefoo School in eastern China," OMF wrote, noting that this event left a deep impression on James Hudson Taylor III.

The parents and four children were separated for five years by 700 miles, during which time Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Taylor's mother often recalled scenes from the Nanking massacre and questioned if they should return to the United States for the children's safety.

But she read Matthew 6:33 and remembered her pastor in Virginia saying, "If you will take care of the things that are dear to God, He will take care of those that are dear to you."

In 1942, the Taylor children and their grandfather, Herbert Taylor, moved, along with the whole Chefoo school, into an internment camp in Weihsien, north China. The younger Taylor remembers his grandfather's unshaking faith despite the trialing times.

"I saw in Grandpa how the patterns of life had been set. Every day began with praise," Taylor wrote in his book God's Grace to Nine Generations.

The whole family reunited on Sept. 11, 1945 after the camp was liberated.

He returned to the United States for college and earned divinity degrees at Asbury Theological Seminary and Yale University Divinity School. He met his wife Leone Tjepkema, a fellow student, at Spring Arbor College in Michigan and Greenville College in Illinois where he earned his bachelor degree.

The couple served as missionaries in Taiwan and co-worked with Taylor's parents to teach at Holy Light Bible School, founded by James Taylor II. During his time in Taiwan, Taylor held various leadership roles in theological education and met with Chinese church leaders worldwide to share the need for graduate theological education.

In 1979, he accepted an unexpected invitation to be the seventh general director of then named Overseas Missionary Fellowship. In 1980 he became the first descendant of the mission founder to serve in this position. He turned over leadership of the mission agency to David Pickard in 1991, and with Leone moved to Hong Kong to work with the Chinese people there.

Just two years later, Taylor and several friends in Hong Kong formed Medical Services International (MSI). Later that same year, his son Jamie married Ke Yeh Min from Taiwan, bringing Chinese blood into the family line.

While in Hong Kong, Taylor loved teaching Bible stories and New Testament Greek to his grandchildren James Hudson Taylor V (known as JT) and his sisters, Selina and Joy, according to OMF.

Taylor's dedication to the Chinese people touched the Chinese government's heart and on April 4, 2007, he was awarded an honorary citizenship by a county of the Sichuan province.

His book, Even to Death: The Life and Legacy of Samuel Dyer, co-authored with Irene Chang about the life of Hudson Taylor's father-in-law will be published later this year.

Was this article helpful?

Want more articles like this?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone by making a one-time donation today.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In U.S.