How did early missionaries accomplish so much? Here is one key: By abstaining from frivolous activities!
This is an excerpt of a letter from Hudson Taylor to his beloved sister, written while on the mission field in China.
"There is one thing I would specially warn you against....one of the greatest curses I believe of the present day-the practice of novel-reading. If you value your mind and soul, avoid it as you would a dangerous serpent. I cannot tell you what I would give to be able to forget certain novels I have read and to efface their influence from my memory. And I firmly believe, though some would deny it,....that no Christian ever did or ever will read them without injury,.....very serious injury too, if the habit is indulged in. It is like opium-smoking, and begets a craving for more that must be supplied. Better books are neglected, and no one can estimate the mischief that results. Few, I believe, could honestly ask God's blessing upon the reading of a novel, and few would venture to assert that they read them to the glory of God. I dread them for you especially as a temptation to which you are constitutionally disposed....for you and I resemble one another very much as to temperament.....The only safety lies in avoiding them as one of Satan's most subtle snares. (Taylor, Hudson Taylor in Early Years: The Growth of a Soul, p.379)"
It's interesting that Hudson Taylor mentions valuing your mind, because I would have asked the question "what about developing your mind?" He apparently thinks that can happen without novel-reading. Perhaps it's imagination that will suffer, but is that a bad thing?
I suppose the key phrase that I agree with is that "better books are neglected." Does anyone really have enough time to read both novels and the Bible to their satisfaction?