The majority of pioneer missionaries had their start in rather humble and obscure circumstances, with limited financial resources and few opportunities for an adequate education. But C. T. Studd is an exception to the pattern. His father, Edward Studd of Tidworth, England, had made a fortune in India and had retired to England to spend it.
The elder Studd was converted to Christ through the ministry of D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey in London in the year 1877. There the ambition for first-class race horses was exchanged for the desire to serve and honor Christ.
Charles T. Studd was born in England on December 2, 1860. He [and his brothers] were brought up to go to church, but C. T., as he was called, considered that going to church was just like having a bad toothache. He said, "I never met a real converted person."
C. T. and his two brothers were sent to Eton College, one of the most famous English schools. When C. T. Studd was only sixteen years of age, he was outstanding in the game of cricket and in 1879 became captain of the team.
After his conversion, Edward Studd became greatly concerned about the conversion of his sons. He took them to hear the searching messages of D. L. Moody. An evangelist who was invited to stay in the Studd home was used of God to lead the young man, C. T. Studd, to Christ. In 1880, C. T. entered Cambridge University, where he continued his studies until the year 1883. It was during that period that he dedicated his life and inherited wealth to Christ.
When J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, visited England, the missionary candidate, C. T. Studd, offered himself for service in China. That was the initial step for the famous Cambridge Seven, among whom was numbered D. E. Hoste, later the general director of the China Inland Mission.
On the fifth of February, 1885, they sailed for Shanghai, China, arriving March 18, 1885. Three years later Studd married Priscilla Livingstone Stewart. In 1894 the Studds, broken in health, returned to England. They severed their connection with the China Inland Mission and turned over to the mission the building they had paid for.
In 1912, C. T. Studd received his call to go to Africa. The missionary who had served so faithfully in China now formed the Heart of Africa Mission and, as a pioneer with his son-in-law, Mr. Alfred Buxton, and others, sailed for the new field in Africa. Mrs. Studd and two of their daughters remained at home to care for the secretarial responsibilities for both the home base and the field.
On the sixteenth of October, 1913, the party reached Niangara, on the Welle River in the very heart of Africa. God greatly blessed their soul-winning efforts. The first baptismal service was held when twelve converted heathen declared publicly their faith in Christ.
Gilbert Barclay, another son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Studd, entered this missionary work in 1919. With the vision that their work should be world-wide, they gave it the new name, World-Wide Evangelization Crusade. The mission continued to grow, gaining confidence among God's people at home and extending to remote and hard fields for missionary endeavors.
C. T. Studd's prayers had been that he might die a soldier's death on the field of battle for Christ and not be a burden to others for months and years as an invalid. In 1927, Mrs. Studd paid a brief visit to Africa, where she saw her husband for the last time. She died [while in Spain] in 1929. C. T. Studd died at the mission station on July 16, 1931. His last word to be understood was "Hallelujah." On the day of the funeral, there stood at his grave about fifty missionaries and two thousand black people, including various chiefs.
It may well be said that he gave gladly of his health and his wealth for winning lost souls for Christ. C. T. Studd's life and service for Christ will always be a rebuke to every form of Christianity that seeks for selfish comfort and ease.
"I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give. I do not suppose there is one that I have not experienced, but I can tell you that those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me."—Studd.
"I realized that my life was to be one of simple, childlike faith, and that my part was to trust, not to do. I was to trust in Him and He would work in me to do His good pleasure. From that time my life was different."—Studd.
Expressing the aggressive leadership that was his in spiritual endeavors, C. T. Studd wrote:
"Nail the colours to the mast! That is the right thing to do, and, therefore, that is what we must do, and do it now. What colours? The colours of Christ, the work He has given us to do—the evangelization of all the unevangelized. Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible, by faith in the omnipotence, fidelity, and wisdom of the Almighty Saviour Who gave the command. Is there a wall in our path? By our God we will leap over it! Are there lions and scorpions in our way? We will trample them under our feet! Does a mountain bar our progress? Saying, 'Be thou cast into the sea,' we will march on. Soldiers of Jesus! Never surrender! Nail the colours to the mast!"
In a letter written shortly before his death, C. T. Studd reviews his life with this summary:
"As I believe I am now nearing my departure from this world, I have
but a few things to rejoice in. They are these:
"1. That God called me to China, and I went in spite of utmost opposition from all my loved ones.
"2. That I joyfully acted as God told that rich young man to act.
"3. That I deliberately at the call of God, when alone on the Bibbly liner in 1910, gave up my life for this work, which was to be henceforth not for the Sudan only, but for the whole unevangelized World.
"My only joys therefore are that when God has given me a work to do, I have not refused it."
"...I do not say, Don't play games or cricket and so forth. By all means play and enjoy them, giving thanks to Jesus for them. Only take care that games do not become an idol to you as they did to me. What good will it do to anybody in the next world to have been the best player that ever has been? And then think of the difference between that and winning souls for Jesus."—Studd.
From Pioneer Missionaries for Christ and His Church by Thomas John Bach. Wheaton, Ill.: Van Kampen Press, ©1955.
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