Dr James Hudson Taylor III (1929-2009)
James Hudson Taylor III, mission statesman and great-grandson of the founder of the China Inland Mission (now OMF International), died on 20 March in Hong Kong. He was 79.
James was born in 1929 in Kaifeng, where his parents were missionaries of the Free Methodist Church. When 12, he was interned for three years in Weihsien Concentration Camp along with his brother, two sisters and grandfather. This occurred when Chefoo School moved there during the Sino-Japanese War.
Eric Liddell, the Olympian athlete who won gold in the 1924 Paris Olympics, was also at Weihsien and taught the boys games. The camp was liberated in August 1945, and the Taylor family reunited the following month.
James returned to the US for education at several colleges, concluding with Yale University Divinity School. In 1951 he married Leone Tjepkema. In June 1955, James and Leone arrived in Taiwan to begin missionary service in Kaohsiung. They joined James’s parents just as Holy Light Bible School, founded by his father, began its first year of classes. Their three children, Amelia, Signe and Jamie, were born during their first term.
In 1960, James was invited to serve as school principal, which he did for 10 years, before being appointed founding president of China Evangelical Seminary, Taipei, in 1970.
In 1980 he became the seventh general director of OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship), the organisation founded in 1865 by his great-grandfather.
The 1980s brought consolidation and growth across all OMF fields, particularly Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong. James ensured that OMF’s concern for the Chinese people continued, with China awareness seminars being established across the UK and North America, and Chinese apologetic literature published.
After James had handed over OMF leadership to David Pickard in 1991, he and Leone relocated to Hong Kong. There in 1993, along with a Chinese-American professor of paediatrics and a businessman from Hong Kong, James formed Medical Services International (MSI). MSI served in Sichuan province, diversifying into accounting, English teaching, community development, livestock rearing and business management.
In 1993 James and Leone’s son Jamie married Ke Yeh Min from Taiwan, bringing Chinese blood into the family line. James took special delight in teaching Bible stories and New Testament Greek to his grandson, James Hudson Taylor V, and his sisters Selina and Joy, when the whole family lived in Hong Kong.
James received honorary doctorates from Greenville College; Asbury Theological Seminary; Tyndale College and Seminary, Toronto; and Spring Arbor University, in recognition of his service in Christian mission.
The respect in which he was held in China was demonstrated in April 2007, when he received honorary citizenship of a county in Sichuan province. The ceremony was attended by 300 people.