Elizabeth would have to wait 30 years to fulfill the call of God on her life
Not much can be found about the early years of Elizabeth Wilson, such as who her parents were or when she was born. We do know that she was brought up in a Christian home, and according to her mother was interested in the things of God at a very young age. It was also at a very young age that Elizabeth was horrified to discover that some people didn’t love God.
Salvation and Calling
Elizabeth was born again at the age of 14, and consecrated her life to the Lord. Not too long afterwards she started working as a Sunday School Teacher. As a young girl in London, Elizabeth met J. Hudson Taylor, who would become the founder of the China Inland Mission. At this time, he wasn’t a missionary yet, but he was in training. They attended the same church, and his added fuel to burning fire in Elizabeth's heart – she felt called to be a missionary. By the time she was 20 years old, Elizabeth had given her life to God as a missionary
As he graduated and started his work, Elizabeth followed his adventures, setbacks, and triumphs with great interest. She supported the China Inland Mission as much as she could ... yet it wasn't time for her to start missions work quite yet.
Elizabeth was the only child that hadn’t left home and married. When her parents both became ill and eventually invalid, Elizabeth knew her first responsibility before God was to make sure her parents were cared for. There she remained – for thirty years she obeyed the Lord and remained where He had placed her.
She must have wondered why the Lord put such a burden for the lost, and such a drawing toward missions, but left her in England. This had to be hard, but she trusted the Lord and did what He set before her. Amy Carmichael once commented that the greatest form of obedience was to stay in place, and no doubt Elizabeth would agree.
Call to the Mission Field Reaffirmed
Shortly after her last surviving parent passed, she went to study at a Ladies Missionary Training Home, but had no hope of being able to serve overseas. Despite this, during this time the Lord distinctly called her to serve in China. After two years training, she was accepted by the China Inland Mission.
In the Field
Elizabeth was described as a woman of “independent means,” and it is interesting that she offered her services as a self-supported missionary. This money was no doubt part of the inheritance she received from her parents. No missionary society ever has as much funding as they wish, and very few have as much funding as they feel they need -- so this was definitely a blessing to the China Inland Mission.
At fifty years old, with gray-hair but a full heart, Elizabeth left for Shanghai. Called at twenty years of age, it took thirty years before the Lord opened the door for her to fulfill what he called her to do. However, by this time she was a mature Christian experienced in working with the sick and elderly. Despite the life of hard work she had led, Elizabeth was described by other missionaries as “full of energy and brightness," ad one referred to her “unconscious helpfulness.” It seems that being a help to others had simply become a part of her nature, and was as natural to Elizabeth as breathing.
She was said to be a breath of fresh air to some of the missionary compounds she visited. Hudson Taylor himself described her as “courageous, earnest, devoted, wherever the need was greatest, there this woman would go." And keep in mind that her service to the Lord was no longer in England, but in faraway China -- a new culture, a new people, a new language.
TO BE CONTINUED!
Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret (free on Audible and 0.99 on Kindle)
Wikipedia, Hudson Taylor
Still trying to track down my other resources!
China Inland Mission Digital Archive
China Inland Mission Headquarters Archive and Missionaries of the CIM at the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton University
Sara McCaslin is an engineer, a computer scientist, and a freelance writer.