Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No Collections: My All-time Favorite Hudson Taylor Story

My friends Chris and Janet Nevins' hearts have been captured by the Lord Jesus.  Chris is using his years of experience managing construction teams to assist missions agencies with construction tasks.  Visit their web site at www.fuelthemission.org to learn more.  Today I emailed them a bit of encouragement in the form of this true story from Hudson Taylor's life.  It tells the story of Hudson deliberately refusing to take an offering after speaking in a church.
   Preparations for sailing to China were at once proceeded with. About this time I was asked to give a lecture on China in a village not very far from London, and agreed to do so on condition that there should be no collection, and that this should be announced on the bills. The gentleman who invited me, and who kindly presided as chairman, said he had never had that condition imposed before. He accepted it, however, and the bills were issued accordingly for the 2nd or 3rd of May. With the aid of a large map, something of the extent and population and deep spiritual need of China was presented, and many were evidently impressed.
At the close of the meeting the chairman said that by my request it had been intimated on the bills that there would be no collection; but he felt that many present would be distressed and burdened if they had not the opportunity of contributing something towards the good work proposed. He trusted that as the proposition emanated entirely from himself, and expressed, he felt sure, the feelings of many in the audience, I should not object to it. I begged, however, that the condition agreed to might be carried out; pointing out among other reasons for making no collection, that the very reason adduced by our kind chairman was, to my mind, one of the strongest for not making it. My wish was, not that those present should be relieved by making such contribution as might there and then be convenient, under the influence of a present emotion; but that each one should go home burdened with the deep need of China, and ask of God what He would have them to do. If, after thought and prayer, they were satisfied that a pecuniary contribution was what He wanted of them, it could be given to any Missionary Society having agents in China; or it might be posted to our London office; but that perhaps in many cases what God wanted was not a money contribution, but personal consecration to His service abroad; or the giving up of son or daughter— more precious than silver or gold—to His service. I added that I thought the tendency of a collection was to leave the impression that the all-important thing was money, whereas no amount of money could convert a single soul; that what was needed was that men and women filled with the Holy Ghost should give themselves to the work: for the support of such there would never be a lack of funds. As my wish was evidently very strong, the chairman kindly yielded to it, and closed the meeting. He told me, however, at the supper-table, that he thought it was a mistake on my part, and that, notwithstanding all I had said, a few persons had put some little contributions into his hands.
   Next morning at breakfast, my kind host came in a little late, and acknowledged to not having had a very good night. After breakfast he asked me to his study, and giving me the contributions handed to him the night before, said, "I thought last night, Mr. Taylor, that you were in the wrong about a collection; I am now convinced you were quite right. As I thought in the night of that stream of souls in China ever passing onward into the dark, I could only cry as you suggested, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?' I think I have obtained the guidance I sought, and here it is." He handed me a cheque for L500, adding that if there had been a collection he would have given a few pounds to it, but now this cheque was the result of having spent no small part of the night in prayer.
I need scarcely say how surprised and thankful I was for this gift. I had received at the breakfast-table a letter from Messrs. Killick, Martin and Co., shipping agents, in which they stated that they could offer us the whole passenger accommodation of the ship Lammermuir. I went direct to the ship, found it in every way suitable, and paid the cheque on account. As above stated, the funds deemed needed had been already in hand for some time; but the coincidence of the simultaneous offer of the ship accommodation and this munificent gift—God's " exceeding abundantly "— greatly encouraged my heart.

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