CHAPTER 42--PRAYERS YET TO BE ANSWERED

ADONIRAM JUDSON, the Apostle of Burma, less than two weeks before his death, heard of a definite answer to prayers he had offered with great earnestness long years before, and which had seemed to be unheard. His heart had been deeply burdened about the Jewish people-so much so that he had even sought to found a mission in Palestine for their benefit-but nothing came of it. And then, only a few days before he passed away, he learned from a daily paper of the conversion of a number of Jews in Trebizond through a tract concerning his own life-work, and that they had sent to Constantinople asking for a Christian teacher. With tears in his eyes the veteran missionary exclaimed:

I never was deeply interested in any object, I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything, but it came. At some time, no matter how distant a day, somehow, in some shape, probably the last I should have devised, it came. And yet I have always had so little faith. May God forgive me . . . and cleanse the sin of unbelief from my heart.

Prayers yet to be answered-how rich the inheritance Hudson Taylor left to the land he loved, to the Church of God in China for which his life was given! In one sense the prayers of that life-time had indeed been answered.

He sowed with tears;

He laboured, suffered, strove for one great field,

And saw it yield,

His every hope of half a hundred years. 1-{1 From an In Memoriam poem by his niece, Miss Marian Fishe, now Mrs. J. L. Rowe.}

But in another sense do not those prayers lie beyond us yet, marking out wide possessions upon which the foot of faith has trodden, possessions still to be possessed ?

Nothing could have been more definite than Mr. Taylor's own conviction as to the thoughts that had come to him in 1889. Once he had seen it he could never doubt again the Master's will and purpose that " every creature " in China should hear the glad tidings of salvation. Through all the years that followed, though hindered again and again, and postponed for a time by the Boxer crisis, his purpose never wavered.

This work will not be done without crucifixion," he said in the C.I.M. Conference of May 1890, " without consecration that is prepared at any cost to carry out the Master's command." But, given that, I believe in my inmost soul that it will be done. If ever in my life I was conscious of being led of God, it was in the writing and publication of those papers, the first of which came out in November of last year."

The time had not come for it then, as events were to prove, but who shall say that the time has not come for it now ? Many are the indications that these are the lines on which the Spirit of God is working. A recent survey of missionary operations in China during the last ten years reveals nothing more clearly than the new spirit of evangelism which is taking, hold of the Chinese Church. In the province of Ho-nan, for example, with its twenty-five millions-the province in which Mr. Taylor spent more than half his last brief visit to China-all the Societies and churches are at the present' moment united in an effort to carry the Gospel to every home and "ever creature " within a period of five years. At the beginning of 1917 this forward movement was entered upon, its definite aim being " to enlist the co-operation of every Christian in Ho-nan and bring the Gospel to the ears of every nonChristian in the province" within the time agreed upon. And this effort, which will command the prayerful sympathy of all who long for the coming and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, is but part of the larger movement which in varying degrees is making itself felt throughout China.1-{1 On this subject the China Mission Year-Book (1917) gives definite and most encouraging testimony. Following , the great evangelistic meetings among students held by Dr. John R. Mott and Mr. Sherwood Eddy, (1913 and 1915), which evoked a response undreamed of before among the educated classes to the character and claims of Christ, has come a " new vitality in evangelistic work," fostered by the " Special Committee on a Forward Evangelistic Movement," of which Bishop Price of the C.M.S. (Fukien) is Chairman and Dr. Warnshuis the National Evangelistic Secretary. Such a movement, uniting all Societies labouring in China, is new indeed, and so is the Week of Evangelism it has promoted the first attempt ever made to mobilise the spiritual forces of the Chinese Church in a united evangelistic forward movement " (p. 343). In their report for 1917 the Forward Evangelistic Committee states: " Wherever this national Week of Evangelism was thoroughly prepared for and carried through with energy, the churches have been awakened and found themselves able to move forward on a wide front.. As stated in last year's report, the purpose was to create a persistent, organised, and enthusiastic missionary endeavour in the whole Church, among both pastors and lay-people, of which this Week of Evangelism would be but the beginning. This ideal still remains to be achieved, and the programme which the Committee recommends for the ensuing year contains proposals for a continuation of this effort."}

Equally encouraging are the tidings that come from Hu-nan, where the Floating Bible School is proving an effective method of developing soul-winners. Started by Dr. Keller, from whose home in Chang-sha Mr. Hudson Taylor had passed to his reward, this remarkable movement has for its aim " the speedy and thorough evangelisation of the twenty-two millions " of that province by means of itinerant bands labouring in connection with all the Societies. Taking advantage of the waterways which abound, the students of the Bible School-who must be men of a living faith in Christ and a serious call to His service-spend most of the year with a trained Chinese leader, visited by their missionary superintendents, on a boat large enough to accommodate twelve or more.2-{2- The course of study, which is thoroughly supervised and systematic, " covers two years and includes Biblical introduction, book, chapter, and topical Bible study, Bible doctrine, outlines of church history, music, the preparation of Gospel addresses, and individual training in chapel and street preaching, and in personal work. Much care is taken to foster a deep prayer life in each worker, real, living fellowship with God, and a consciousness of absolute dependence on the indwelling Holy Spirit for a holy life and fruitful service."} On the invitation of the missionary in charge they go to a given district and take whatever time is necessary to reach its entire population, whether in town or country, with the Message of Salvation.

" We now have three parties at work," Dr. Keller wrote in 1917, " and we hope to add three more parties this year. In hundreds of homes the people have given up idolatry, and have accepted Christ as their Saviour and Lord. Bible-study classes have been formed ; new churches have been organised, always by the missionary of the district, never by our men ; and many thousands who never heard the Gospel before have had their misconceptions cleared away, their prejudices broker} down, and their hearts opened to the Gospel message."

Then once a year the bands gather together for two months of special study in their Autumn Bible School among the mountains, where a famous shrine (Nan-yoh) attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims annually. There the students are joined by pastors and evangelists from all over the province who come up for rest and spiritual refreshment, and take part in the " intense, fruitful, heartto-heart work " carried on among the pilgrims, a large proportion of whom are earnest, religiously-inclined young men. Forty thousand personal conversations were recorded in 1916, and many cases of conversion of the deepest interest. These methods of training and work, Dr. Keller believes, could be adapted to the special needs of other provinces, and would go far to solve the problem of the evangelisation of China in this generation.

In the Bible Mr. Taylor used up to the time of his Home going a little map was found, traced on thin paper, of the province of Kwei-chow, showing the stations especially in which the work among the tribes-people was beginning. Often prayed over, that fragment of paper bears its silent testimony to the longing of his heart after those wild, neglected children of the mountains--living at enmity with their Chinese neighbours, worshipping demons and charms, and bound by the grossest superstition and sin. Coming home on his first furlough from Kwei-chow, Mr.James R. Adam, who had been doing what he could among the Miao people round An-shun, met Mr. Taylor in Dundee in the home of Mr. William Scott. The work was difficult though full of promise, and how to follow it up Mr. Adam hardly knew, with the charge of the station on his hands. Yet there seemed no prospect of fellow-workers. What was Mr. Adam' to do ? Should he give up the effort to reach the tribes-folk, and confine himself to work among the Chinese ?

" Never shall I forget your dear father's kindness," he wrote, that last time I met him. With affectionate sympathy he wished me Godspeed in this work among the Chinese and Miao, telling me to go on as I had been doing and to do the best I could for both."

Little did either of them think as they parted in Dundee of the answer that was to be given to their prayers ; of the wonderful movement that, beginning in the An-shun district, was to extend to the adjacent province (Yun-nan), gathering many thousands of these simple mountain people into the kingdom of God, and raising up from among them ardent missionaries to carry the Gospel on from tribe to tribe in ever-widening circles of blessing.

" The sun has never risen upon China without finding me at prayer," Mr. Taylor could say of long years of his labours in that land ; and perhaps no part of those labours had more to do with the results we see today. But he not only prayed. The foregoing pages have revealed a little of what lay behind those prayers. " I do want to give up myself and you too, darling, for the life of the Chinese and of our fellow-workers," he wrote to Mrs. Taylor in one of their many separations : and, " Notice, in 1 Cor. 1:18 the connection of the Cross with power. 'Do not many lives lack power because they do not love the Cross ? May your life be full of the power of God, and mine."

The needs that moved him, the command that revealed the yearning of the heart of Christ-Whom we, too, call Master and Lord-remain the same to-day. Great changes have come and are coming in China. New methods are needed in missionary work to meet the new conditions, and are being prayerfully developed and applied. But the great underlying facts remain the same. Idolatry has not lost its hold. Writing from the far north-west (June 1918), a member of the Mission tells of Guilds in one city numbering thousands of men and women sworn to regular worship at stated times. In one of these some fifteen hundred women are pledged to go to a certain temple on the second and sixth- of every month, " where they kneel upright on the verandahs and in the courtyard, each holding a stick of incense between the two hands raised to the level of the forehead. This position has to be maintained and prayers recited until the stick of incense has burned away-quite a long process." And offerings of money must be made on every one of the stated worship days,which go to the building and beautifying of temples and making fresh idols. And this is only one city out of hundreds that have as yet no resident missionary. Do the people need light in their darkness? Do' they not care about the unknown future and what becomes of the soul ? Is it for them too that the precious blood was shed which alone can cleanse from sin and bring us nigh to God ? And what shall be said of the responsibility that rests upon us if, these things, we are not doing our utmost whether by prayer or gifts or personal service-to bring to them too the knowledge which is life eternal ?

Much is being done ; but much more is needed if the present opportunity-perhaps the most glorious that has ever come to Christian men and women--is to be dealt with faithfully. " When China is moved," Napoleon used to say, " it will change the face of the globe." China is moved, is moving : shall it, not be home to the heart of God ?

" We must advance upon our knees," said Bishop Cassels in view of the needs, the possibilities of that vast country. " There must be a fresh taking hold of God in prayer.. I thank God that this Mission lives upon prayer. But I say, God will do ` a new thing ' for us when there is a new spirit of prayer among us. God will do ' a new thing' for us when there is a new spirit of consecration among us."

If the one whose steps we have followed through a life of toil and sacrifice, yet of radiant joy in fellowship with Christ, could speak to us to-day from " the exceeding and eternal weight of glory," would he not say again as he said in the midst of the fight:

There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world-as He gave His flesh for the feeding of the lifeless and of living souls whose life can only be nourished by the same lifegiving Bread. An easy-going non-self-denying life will never be one of power.

Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. " Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." We know how the Lord Jesus became fruitful-not by bearing His Cross merely, but by dying on it. Do we know much of fellowship with Him in this ? There, are not two Christs-an easy-going one for easy-going Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him, and thus to bear much fruit ?

Would that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest ; heaven so real that we must have men there ; Christ so real that our supreme motive and aim shall be to make the Man of Sorrows the Man of joy by the conversion to Him of many concerning whom He prayed, " Father, I long that those whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory."

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