Hodous was ordained as a Congregational preacher on September 18, 1901 at Bethlehem Church in Cleveland, Ohio and was later sent to the mission field of China with his newly wedded wife Anna Jelinek. They embarked from San Francisco on November 16 and arrived in Foochow (today Fuzhou) on December 18. From 1901 to 1917 Hodous labored as a missionary under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Foochow, during which time he also carried out careful studies on Buddhism and the Chinese folk religion. He served in Ponasang (保福山) from 1901 to 1904, teaching at the mission's theological seminary, and was president of Foochow Theological Seminary from 1902 to 1912. During the Hsinhai Revolution in 1911 he served with Chinese Red Cross. He was president of the Foochow Union Theological School from 1914 to 1917.