3contemporaries to note the unique non-solicitation practices. There is no doubt that Taylor consideredthis to be a vital aspect of the CIM.Taylor had very specific reasons for the NSP. First, he wanted to ensure that the CIM was not detracting
from other mission boards or from people’s giving to their church. Second, Taylor had a strict belief that
he and other missionaries of the CIM should be totally reliant on God for their provision and support. By
not soliciting, this “left things in God’s hands,”
so to speak. (See Wigram’s essay
Hudson Taylor and Non-Solicitation: Historical Context and Practice,
pp. 3-5 for more information regarding the history andcontext of the NSP.)We will explore in future sections how this practically played itself out, but suffice it to say, Taylorstrongly believed and preached his mantra of non-solicitation. Before delving into the financial aspectof the NSP, however, we must first visit Taylor
’s views on prayer. In many ways, the NSP was just as
much, if not more, about soliciting faithful prayer as it was about not soliciting funds.
The Link Between Need and Prayer
There is also little doubt that Taylor expressed financial issues to the readers of CM. He wouldoccasionally reference new projects, including the financial obligation they would likely entail. He
frequently printed a financial “expense report” of CIM for the year, listing income, expenditure
s, cash-on-hand, and the like. In fact, Taylor was incredibly transparent, providing itemized accounts of bothexpenditures and incomes (E.G. CM 1887, pp 104-105).It should be noted, however, that the statement of financial need was inexorably linked to petitions forprayer.
“We need, however, not merely funds … for this too, we shall be glad of united prayer.”
“Property is expensive in Shanghai, and 800
-1,2000 pounds might be required to meet our
need… We should therefore be very glad for prayer for guidance and help in this matter” (Both
from CM 1885, p.52).For Taylor, received finances were a direct result of God answering prayer, and he would frequentlypraise God for these provisions (E.G. CM 1875-1876, p. 70 and CM 1888, p.3). It is little surprise thenthat any explanation of financial need followed the formula of
‘This is what we’d like to
do; this is how much it will cost, so pray for us.
Some may see that as a very round-about sort of way to ask for money, particularly given our current
culture’s method of soliciting funds. “Will you pray about supporting me?” “Will you pray and see if God leads you to give?”
To reach the center of Taylor’s message, however, we must be willing to leave our own cultural baggageat the door. When read in the full context of Taylor’s theology tha
t support comes from God, it seemsperfectly reasonable that he meant exactly what he wrote with respect to appeals for prayer. Letters