Just before Christmas, a small group of us from the UK office took a trip to the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) to take a look at the vast amount of OMF archive material stored there.
As we were browsing through all the different materials that have been so diligently preserved, I suddenly noticed a short gospel tract titled ‘Poor Richard’, which had a small handwritten note attached to it written by Hudson Taylor’s mother, which said:
“The reading of this tract was the means of restoring dear Hudson to the favour of God.”
If this individual item had lead to the ‘restoration’ of Hudson Taylor to God, then the reading of this tract could be claimed to be one the most important sovereignly appointed moments of Hudson Taylor’s life, and, therefore, integral to OMF’s history.
The short note attached to the tract from Hudson Taylor’s mother makes it clear how much of a profound effect it had on Hudson Taylor. To describe how much of an impact it had, however, is best left to the words of ‘Dear Hudson’ himself found in his book ‘A Retrospect’.
I sat down to read the little book in an utterly unconcerned state of mind, believing indeed at the time that if there were any salvation it was not for me, and with a distinct intention to put away the tract as soon as it should seem prosy…Little did I know at the time what was going on in the heart of my dear mother, seventy or eighty miles away. She rose from the dinner-table that afternoon with an intense yearning for the conversion of her boy… She went to her room and turned the key in the door, resolved not to leave that spot until her prayers were answered. Hour after hour did that dear mother plead for me, until at length she could pray no longer, but was constrained to praise God for that which His Spirit taught her had already been accomplished—the conversion of her only son. I in the meantime had been led in the way I have mentioned to take up this little tract, and while reading it was struck with the sentence, “The finished work of Christ.” … Immediately the words “It is finished” suggested themselves to my mind. What was finished? And I at once replied, “A full and perfect atonement and satisfaction for sin: the debt was paid by the Substitute; Christ died for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Then came the thought, “If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?” And with this dawned the joyful conviction, as light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit, that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one’s knees, and accepting this Saviour and His salvation, to praise Him for evermore. Thus while my dear mother was praising God on her knees in her chamber, I was praising Him in the old warehouse to which I had gone alone to read at my leisure this little book.
This is such a great story that explains the means through which God took a hold of Taylor’s life, but also through the earnest and importunate prayers of his mother, we see a great model for Taylor in dependency upon prayer that so shaped the mission that Taylor was to found.
Having read this story before, I recall that I had previously tried to find this gospel tract online, interested to read the very words that God had used to cause Hudson Taylor to accept him as Saviour. But unfortunately, my search availed no results, so to find the very tract that Hudson Taylor read himself in front of me was a welcome surprise.
With my attention fully grabbed and filled with great intrigue, I sat down, teased the delicate pages from their protective plastic wrapping, and read it through. As I progressed I took photos of each page, and from these photos I have digitally recreated the tract, trying to make it look as visually similar to the original as I could.
I hope that through the digital recreation of this gospel tract, a key artefact of OMF’s history is preserved and that it serves to be of interest to you.