C. T. Studd: World-Wide Witness

by Bernard R. DeRemer

C. T. StuddC. T. Studd (1860-1931) first attained fame as a cricket player. But he went on to become an evangelist and pioneer missionary who "blazed across the colleges with a call to follow him to the unknown." He was called the most brilliant member of his distinguished family.

C. T. (Charlie) grew up in luxury. He and his two brothers attended Eton (the "nursery of statesmen"), then Cambridge, where one after another they captained the cricket team. Saved in 1876, C. T. did not immediately respond fully to the call of Christ. Instead, the "love of the world" captivated him.

During his brother George's illness, C. T. faced eternal realities and realized what was lacking in his life. After recommiting his life, he plunged into Christian service with the same energy he had devoted to worldly pursuits.

In a later D. L. Moody meeting, Studd "brought all of his cricketing friendsand worked night after night in the inquiry room." The former athlete had found his calling.

A friend was going to the mission field under the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship). At his farewell service, Studd knew that God "was leading me to China." Studd and six other young men became known as the "Cambridge 7" which "shook the nation by the splendor of their sacrifice." They reached China in 1885, began language study, and started adapting to local culture and customs. C. T. even refused to sit in a Western-style chair if a backless bench was available.

At the age of 25, he came into control of the considerable fortune that had been held in trust for him. This he determined to give away and to live by faith. He kept only a reasonable amount to provide for his family; he had married Priscilla Stewart, another missionary, and eventually they would have four daughters.

In 1894, asthma (relic of a typhoid attack) and Priscilla's heart condition forced their return to England "to the sorrow of the Chinese in the inland city where they had built up a work through much suffering and hardship."

The great Student Volunteer Movement, a powerful missionary recruiting force, resulted from the witness of the Cambridge 7. From 1896-98 Studd toured American universities "like a whirlwind."

Next he went to north India, the area where his father had earned a fortune from indigo. For a time he pastored a church in India, mostly of Anglo-Americans. He also ministered to British army officers and officials.

In 1908 he visited Liverpool as an evangelist. There he heard a missionary pleading the need of unreached tribes in Central Africa, including pygmies and cannibals. With characteristic zeal he responded, rejecting the verdict of doctors that "he would die if he went to an equatorial climate." In 1910 he sailed for Africa, but when circumstances did not work out he returned to England and teamed up with the Africa Inland Mission. Later he founded the Heart of Africa mission.

During World War I he saw hundreds of African tribesmen turning away from the worship of spirits and demons to Christ. The work was later renamed the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (WEC).

Soon Studd was sending young men to pioneer fields in other parts of the world. But he himself began to feel the effects of his extensive labors and hardships as he aged. He had "astonished the doctors by his survival in an exhausting climate." Still he fought on, preaching until his death in the Belgian Congo on July 16, 1931. Two thousand tribesmen attended his funeral, despite pouring rain.

For reasons not now clear, the WEC was on the verge of collapse. However, Norman Grubb revived the organization and under God developed it into a great pioneer mission.

C. T. Studd "with his intensity and his red-hot faith remains a supreme example of those who renounce wealth and fame for the cause of Christ." May their numbers increase!


From "Cricketing Missionary," by John Pollock, in More Than Conquerors; © 1992 Moody Bible Institute; excerpts used by permission.

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