We find one example of a compassionate heart for the lost in the early life of Hudson Taylor. We know that no one ever became a missionary by a journey across the seas. One shows that one is a missionary by how one lives and speaks where one is now living. Hudson Taylor was one of the greatest missionaries in the whole history of the Christian church. He was born in Yorkshire in 1832 and died in China at the beginning of the 20th century. Before going out to China he sought to prepare himself by working as a medical student and district nurse in London, learning about primitive medical care. One of the patients he visited was an old man in his home where he had to dress his stinking gangrenous foot. Hudson Taylor had the strongest desire to share his Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ with this person. But the man was a defiant atheist, and very antagonistic to religion. A Scripture reader who had visited him had been ordered from the room, and even spit in the face of a visiting minister.
Read Hudson Taylor’s own description of what happened–
“Upon first commencing to attend him I prayed much about it, but for two or three days said nothing to him of a religious nature. By special care in dressing his diseased foot, I was able considerably to lessen his sufferings, and he soon began to show grateful appreciation of my care for him. One day, with a trembling heart, I took advantage of his warm acknowledgments to tell him what was the spring of my action, that I was constrained in all I did by the love of Jesus Christ for me. Then I spoke of his own solemn position and his need of God’s mercy through Christ. It was evidently only by powerfully restraining himself that he kept his lips closed. He turned over in bed with his back to me, and said not a word.
“I couldn’t get the poor man out of my mind, and very often through each day I pleaded with God, by his Spirit, to save him. After dressing the wound and relieving his pain, I never failed to say a few words to him, which I hoped the Lord would bless. He always turned his back on me, looking annoyed, but never spoke a word in reply.
“After continuing this for some time, my heart sank. It seemed to me that I was not only doing no good, but perhaps really hardening him and increasing his guilt. One day, after dressing his limb and washing my hands, instead of returning to the bedside to speak to him, I went to the door, and stood hesitating for a few moments with the thought in my mind, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.’ I looked at the man and saw his surprise, as this was the first time since speaking to him that I’d thought of leaving without going up to his bedside to say a few words for my Master.
“I could bear it no longer. Bursting into tears, I crossed the room and said, ‘My friend, whether you will hear or whether you will forbear, I must deliver my soul.’ I went on to speak very earnestly with him, telling him with many tears how much I wished that he would let me pray with him. To my unspeakable joy he didn’t turn away, but he replied, ‘If it will be a relief to you, do so.’ I need scarcely say that I fell on my knees and poured out my whole soul to God on his behalf. I believe that God then and there wrought a change in his soul, and within a few days he had definitely accepted Christ as his Saviour. O, the joy it was to me to see that dear man rejoicing in hope of the glory of God! He had not entered a church for forty years.
“I have often thought since, in connection with this case and the work of God generally, of the words, ‘He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.’ Perhaps if there were more of that intense desire for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our own feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things, may be the true cause of our lack of success.”
— Geoffrey Thomas