One wonderful testimony of faith from church history is that of Hudson Taylor, the first missionary to the interior of China (in the mid-1800s). He was a great evangelist because he learn “to move man, through God, by prayer alone.”
To prepare for the loneliness and dangers of a possible missionary career, Taylor worked for a doctor in a poverty-stricken area of England known as Drainside (after the foul waste-ditch that ran through the community). One night after work (about ten o’clock), a poor man asked Taylor to pray over his wife who was dying:
“Up a miserable flight of stairs into a wretched room he led me, and oh, what a sight there presented itself! Four or five children stood about, their sunken cheeks and temples telling unmistakably the story of slow starvation, and lying on a wretched pallet was a poor, exhausted mother, with a tiny infant moaning at her side. ‘Ah!’ thought I, ‘if I had two shillings and a sixpence, instead of half-a-crown [in other words, change for the half crown, like a $5 and five $1s, rather than a $10 bill], how gladly should they have one-and-sixpence of it.’ But still a wretched unbelief prevented me from obeying the impulse to relieve their distress at the cost of all I possessed.
“It will scarcely seem strange that I was unable to say much to comfort these poor people. I needed comfort myself. I began to tell them, however, that they must not be cast down; that though their circumstances were very distressing there was a kind and loving Father in heaven. But something within me cried, ‘You hypocrite! Telling these unconverted people about a loving Father, and not prepared yourself to trust him without half-a-crown.’ I nearly choked,… yet strange to say I thought I should pray…and relief would come to them and to myself….
“But no sooner had I opened my lips with, ‘Our Father who art in heaven,’ than conscience said within, ‘Dare you mock God? Dare you kneel down and call him ‘Father’ with that half-crown in your pocket?’ Such a time of conflict came upon me as I had never experienced before…. I arose from my knees in great distress of mind. The poor man turned to me and said, ‘You see what a terrible state we are in, sir. If you can help us, for God’s sake do!’
“At that moment the words flashed in my mind, ‘Give to him who asks of you.’ And in the word of a King there is power. I put my hand into my pocket and slowly drawing out the half-crown gave it to the man…. And how the joy came back in full flood tide in my heart…!
“Not only was the poor woman’s life saved, but my life as I fully realized had been saved too. It might have been a wreck as a Christian life, had not grace at that time conquered and the striving of God’s Spirit been obeyed. I well remember that night as I went home to my lodgings how my heart was as light as my pocket…. When I took my basin of gruel before retiring, I would not have traded it for a prince’s feast. Reminding the Lord of his own Word, ‘He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord,’ I asked him not to let my loan be for long, or I would have no dinner the next day.
“The next morning, before I finished my plate of porridge, the postman delivered a letter in an unknown hand with a blurred postmark. Opening the envelope I found nothing written within, simply a blank piece of paper with a pair of gloves and a half-sovereign. ‘Praise the Lord,’ I exclaimed, ‘Four hundred percent interest for 12 hours investment.’” (From Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, 33-39).
I tell you that to set up this quote from Taylor. He was once introduced as the great missionary who had given his life to the Orient because he loved the Chinese. But he shook his head and answered, “No, not because I loved the Chinese, but because I loved God.” (Quoted in Hughes, 480).
From a sermon by Glenn Durham, How Do We Restore Those Who Stumble? 6/4/10
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Jerry Flury on Sep 27, 2002
When we think of stewardship, we often see it merely as a matter of our giving of money to God and the church. Giving of tithes and offerings is an important aspect of stewardship, but secondary. Stewardship is a reflection of my relationship with God.