Rev. James Hudson Taylor IV encouraged Asian Christians to mirror the Old Testament prophet Daniel as a blueprint for making a godly impact in the world.
On November 2 at the Second Impact Asia Alliance Summit held in Indonesia, Rev. James Hudson Taylor IV, the president of China Evangelical Seminary and the great-great grandson of James Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission (or OMF International), delivered a sermon titled "From Success to Significance" to over 350 church and Christian leaders. He prompted the audience to reflect on influential figures in the Bible, sharing the story of Daniel to elucidate the factors by which Daniel became a person of influence.
Rev. Jamie said, "I am a student of history. To my limited knowledge, in human history, there should be no other person comparable to Daniel." Explaining further, he highlighted how Daniel traversed through different eras, from Nebuchadnezzar to his son and then his grandson, and subsequently through the Medo-Persian reigns, spanning a total of five dynasties. He continued by saying, "I believe in human history; no one else has covered such a long period and been used by God in different eras."
The pastor shared the factors of Daniel's significance from seven perspectives.
First, Daniel lived with a heavenly perspective. The speaker explained that at 16 or 17, Daniel was taken captive to Babylon and spent the following 70 years not interpreting history from his own perspective but fixing his gaze on God to perceive events.
In the history of Israel, during the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign, Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Daniel's interpretation wasn't about Jehoiakim's incompetence or Nebuchadnezzar's power; instead, he attributed the fall of Jerusalem to God's work.
Furthermore, when explaining the experiences of himself and his three friends, Daniel stated that God had shown them grace and mercy before King Nebuchadnezzar. When acknowledging the king's appreciation of their abilities, he attributed it not to his skills but to divine gifting.
The pastor mentioned William Carey, an Indian missionary in 1793, who, faced with a church saturated with radical Calvinistic predestination, persisted in India for forty years with a kingdom-focused vision.
Pastor Jamie added that Daniel was serving with a servant's mindset: In Daniel's story, it was evident four times over that he served as a servant. He emphasized the need in this era to return to being servants of God and learn to serve others.
Jamie applied to the Rev. Hudson Taylor-founded China Inland Mission three times after earning his seminary degree in 1987 before receiving a response. The leaders told him he needed experience serving in a church. He spent three years at a church in Boston, where Rev. Morley S. Lee served as the senior pastor who immigrated to the United States after carrying out campus evangelism in Taiwan for years.
Before long, he discovered that every Tuesday afternoon, Lee was not in his office. Later, Jamie found him crouching in the men's restroom, looking disheveled while cleaning the toilet.
Lee explained, "I could ask the cleaning staff to do this job. But I come here every Tuesday to remind myself that I am here to serve the church. Don't assume that I would feel superior for being a senior pastor, but I would like to serve humbly."
Jamie also stated that Daniel lived a life of integrity. Daniel faced a significant challenge regarding what he and his three friends should eat and drink. They deliberated due to their faith and decided not to partake in the food and drinks provided by the king. They believed it might have been offered as sacrifices in temples and considered it unclean.
He didn’t just worship God on Sunday but integrated his faith into every part of his life, concerning fundamental aspects of what to eat and drink.
Daniel had the attribute of integrity. Jamie said, "I'm concerned that the church is losing its influence, and one reason is our lack of integrity. We're good at speaking, including myself, but do we live with integrity?"
Fourth, Jamie encouraged attendees to imitate the purity of Daniel, who resolved not to defile himself with the king's food and wine and sought permission from the chief official not to defile himself. He declared that to be influential, Christians should pursue purity and lead lives aspiring not to defile themselves.
He gave examples of constant reports about clergy succumbing to trials of lust, greed, and power. "Save me from this era, just as Daniel resolved not to defile himself," This was his frequent prayer for himself.
Fifth, Daniel had uncompromising faith, even when facing life-threatening situations with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abnego.
"The church today needs this kind of perseverance. We've compromised for too long with the trends of this era. We're not walking on the waves, but being swept away by them," the pastor born in Taiwan said. "Regrettably, we often compromise in our pursuit of popularity and increasing numbers."
The result of Daniel and his friends not compromising was wonderful. God didn't save them from the fiery furnace, but he saved them through it.
Before Nebuchadnezzar said, "What god can save you from my hands?" But after the trial by fire, he acknowledged, "Your God is worthy of praise; no other god can save like this."
Then, Jamie stated that Daniel was excellent in the workplace. He and his friends were exemplary figures in their workplace, making their professions a declaration of their faith. God allowed them to use their profession as a proclamation of their faith.
"Let us not be careless pastors; let us, by relying on God's strength, become excellent in pastor care," Jamie encouraged the participants.
Last, the pastor praised Daniel for his lifelong faithful service that Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus, marking 70 years.
He shared an experience from 1983 when he visited Pastor Wang Mingdao at a home church. Pastor Wang was born in 1900 and spent 26 years in prison due to his faith. When he left, Pastor Wang told him, "Many people have good beginnings, but not many have good endings."
"We are busy with the work of the Lord, yet we forget the Lord who works in us." Jamie quoted his great-great-grandfather's words, advising pastors to connect their lives to the true vine, the fundamental aspect of impactful lives.
- Translated by Abigail Wu