China Inland Mission

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The China Inland Mission is a missionary organisation formed in Britain in 1865 by Hudson Taylor (1832–1905), to reach the Chinese with the message of Christ. It is interdenominational. Expelled from China in the early 1950s, it expanded operations across East Asia and in 1964 changed its name to Overseas Missionary Fellowship and more recently to OMF International. It now operates in twelve countries in Asia.


The China Inland Mission's early years inland were hazardous, with riots, some internal dissension, and opposition from established Christian missionaries, who especially objected to the use of Chinese dress rather than European costumes. It took a strong part in famine relief and the campaign to abolish the British opium trade to China.

By 1880 it was systematically organized. In every province the first station was established in the capital city, later opening stations in designated major cities in the province. Missionaries mostly came from Britain, but before being sent to the field they first attended special training colleges in China to learn the language and customs. Each missionary is part of an elaborate system of promotion and supervision. Taylor was the director until 1902. In 1903 the organization operated 509 stations in 19 provinces, with 763 missionaries (about half and half men and women), and 541 native workers. Some 9000 Chinese had become communicants.[1]

Boxer Rebellion

Having undergone persecution at various times, it is most famous for the events of the Boxer Rebellion in 1899-1900. During that time the China Inland Mission lost 58 adults and 21 children to the desire of the Boxers to kill foreign missionaries and Christians. When the war was over and the Chinese had lost, the Mission would not accept compensation, feeling such an act would be the best way to show the message of Christ's love for all people to the Chinese.


After 1919 the May 4th movement of Chinese students and intellectuals attacked the Confucian tradition and embraced secular Western notions of "democracy" and "science." Thus as missionaries were searching for values within the Confucian tradition to support Christianity, Chinese intellectuals were attacking that same tradition as outmoded and useless in the modern world, as responsible for China's weaknesses and vulnerability to Western imperialism.

The Inland Mission became increasingly conservative in theology, and in 1926 withdrew from the organization of Chinese missions, the National Christian Council (NCC) to protest NCC's liberal theological orientation.


The Communist victory in 1949 forces the removal of all the agency's Europeans, nearly 1000 missionaries. They reestablished themselves in Singapore, and operated mission stations across Asia, with special emphasis on the Chinese diaspora.

Further reading

  • Austin, Alvyn. China's millions: the China Inland Mission and late Qing society, 1832-1905‎ (2007) 506 pages excerpt and text search, the standard scholarly history
  • Broomhall, Marshall. The jubilee story of the China Inland Mission (1915) 386 pages; online edition
  • Lyall, Leslie T. A Passion for the Impossible: The China Inland Mission, 1865-1965‎ (1965)
  • Pollock, John. "Taylor, (James) Hudson (1832–1905)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2004, online
  • Pollock, John. Hudson Taylor and Maria, pioneers in China (1962)
  • Taylor, Howard, and James Hudson Taylor. The Story of the China Inland Mission‎ (1900) 512 pages online edition
  • Xu, Xiaoqun. "The Dilemma of Accommodation: Reconciling Christianity and Chinese Culture in the 1920s" The Historian v.60 #1 (1997) pp 21+. online edition


  1. Henry Otis Dwight et al., The Encyclopedia of Missions (2nd ed. 1905) pp 154-7