The Gardener came and plucked a rose…
How one family handled the cost of missions
In 1858 Hudson Taylor, after some difficulty, secured the hand of Maria Jane Dyer in marriage.
In 1859, their first child, Grace, was born, to the delight of both parents. Hers was a happy childhood and she enjoyed the affection of her doting father.
Born and raised in China, she was the firstborn of their missionary lives, followed by other siblings.
When she was eight years old, while her father was away ministering, she seemed unwell. She deteriorated quickly and became incoherent.
Taylor was called and was shocked to discover how unwell she really was. It looked very serious indeed and he feared the worst. She had meningitis.
Roger Steer, in his brilliantly written, ‘J Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ’ writes,
‘Mary Bell [one of the female missionaries accompanying the Taylors] helped with the nursing and reported that Taylor “was so broken hearted he cried most of the day.”
‘I think Jesus is going to take you’
“There’s no hope of Gracie recovering,” he told Maria. They commended her to God and pleaded with Him to do the best for her and for them.
Back at her bedside, he said to Grace, “I think Jesus is going to take you to Himself. You are not afraid to trust yourself with Him, are you?”
“No papa,” came the reply.
A Father’s Agony
Next day, Hudson wrote to William Berger, “Beloved Brother – I know not how to write to you, not how to refrain…I am striving to write a few lines from the side of a couch on which my darling little Gracie lies dying…
Dear Brother, our heart and our flesh fail but God is the strength of our heart…It was no vain nor unintelligent act, when knowing the land, its people and climate, I laid my dear wife and the darling children with myself on the altar for this service.’
Four days later, Grace showed signs of pneumonia.
On Friday evening, August 23, the Taylor family and those closest to them gathered around Grace’s bed. Hudson began one hymn after another, though at times his voice failed…At twenty to nine Maria’s breathing stopped.
‘How I miss her sweet voice in the morning!’
“Our dear little Gracie!” wrote Hudson later. “How I miss her sweet voice in the morning, one of the first sounds to greet us when we woke – and through the day and at eventide!
As I take the walks I used to take with her tripping at my side, the thought comes anew like a throb of agony, ‘Is it possible that I shall nevermore feel the pressure of that little hand, nevermore hear the sweet prattle of those dear lips, nevermore see the sparkle of those bright eyes?’
And yet she is not lost…The Gardener came and plucked a rose…’
Excerpt taken from Roger Steer: J Hudson Taylor – A Man in Christ (OMF, Singapore 1990)
To read about the quality of men and women Taylor sought for the mission click here
For the first part of the Hudson Taylor story click here
© 2011 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog