|Courage for Christ: The Life of C.T. Studd“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” – C.T. Studd
The Salvation of C.T. Studd’s Father
One guest, talking to Mr. Studd’s driver, remarked on the change in Mr. Studd, noting that he had become religious. “Well, sir,” replied the driver, “we don’t know much about that, but all I can say is that though there’s the same skin, there’s a new man inside!” Edward Studd was “in Christ” and had become “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Three High School Students Get a Shock
“Before that time, I thought that religion was a Sunday thing, like one’s Sunday clothes, to be put away on Monday morning. We boys went to church regularly, but, although we had a kind of religion, it didn’t amount to much….We were always sorry to have Sunday come [since it] was the dullest day of the whole week….Then…[I met] a real live ‘play-the-game Christian.’ It was my own father.”
But C. T. was not fully comfortable with the change in his father. “He used to come into my room at night,” C. T. recalled, “and ask if I were converted. I used to sham sleep when I saw the door open. In the day I crept round the other side of the house when I saw him coming.” But the three Studd boys could not evade the gospel for long.
But Mr. W. had his own maneuver in mind. That afternoon he managed to speak privately to each of the three boys in turn, and none went away without saying amen to Christ. C. T., then 17, recounts what happened:
As I was going out to play cricket, he caught me unawares and asked, “Are you a Christian?” I said, “I am not what you call a Christian. I have believed on Jesus Christ since I was knee high. Of course, I believe in the Church, too.” I thought with such an answer, I would get rid of him; but he persisted, quoting John 3:16. “Do you believe Jesus Christ died?” “Yes.” “You believe He died for you?” “Yes.” “Do you believe the other half of the verse – ‘shall have everlasting life’?” “No,” I said, “I don’t believe that.” The speaker responded, “Now, don’t you see that your statement contradicts God? Either God or you are not speaking the truth, for you contradict one another. Which is it? Do you think God is a liar?” “No,” I said. “Well, then, aren’t you inconsistent, believing one half of the verse and not the other half?” “I suppose I am.” “Well,” he said, “are you always going to be inconsistent?” “No,” I said, “I suppose not always.” “Will you be consistent now?” the speaker pressed. I saw that I was cornered, and I began to think, If I go out of this room inconsistent I won’t carry very much self-respect. So I said, “Yes, I will be consistent.” “Well, don’t you see that eternal life is a gift? When someone gives you a present, what do you do?” “I take it and say ‘thank you.'” He said, “Will you say ‘thank you’ to God for this gift?” Then I got down on my knees and I did say ‘thank you’ to God. And right then and there joy and peace came into my soul. I knew then what it was to be “born again,” and the Bible, which had been so dry to me before, became everything.
C. T. did not tell his brothers what had happened that afternoon, but on returning to Eton he wrote and told his father. A few days later, the three Studd boys received a joint letter from their father expressing his joy at their good news. When they passed the letter around, they were surprised to discover that all three had received Christ the same day!
In 1884 C. T.’s brother George fell seriously ill. C. T. kept vigil at his bedside, not knowing if his brother would live or die. He asked himself, “Now what is all the world’s popularity worth to George? What are fame and flattery worth? Is it worth possessing all the world’s riches, when a man faces eternity?” A voice seemed to answer, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” C. T. knew that only the Bible and the Lord Jesus were important to his brother now. In the light of eternity, C. T. Studd’s evaluation of his own life’s priorities also changed. God used this incident to restore C. T.’s spiritual health, and shortly thereafter George’s physical health was also restored.
After this experience C. T. went to hear Mr. Moody, who had returned to the U.K. for another gospel campaign. “There,” C. T. recalled, “the Lord met me again and restored to me the joy of His salvation.” C. T. began to witness to his friends. Soon he saw results and tasted the joy of fruit-bearing. “I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “I have tasted almost all the pleasures this world can give. But…[they] were as nothing compared to the joy the saving of that one soul gave me.” He said,
Formerly, I had as much love for cricket as any man could have, but when the Lord Jesus came into my heart, I found that I had something infinitely better than cricket. My heart was no longer in the game; I wanted to win souls for the Lord. I knew that cricket would not last, and honor would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come.
At C. T.’s urging, many members of England’s cricket team also went to hear Moody, and several, including one of his closest friends, received the Lord.
Seeking God’s Will
He was helped by reading Hannah Whitall Smith’s, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life: “I found that the reason why I had not received it [a joyful Christian life] was…that I had been keeping back from God what belonged to Him. I found that I had been bought with the price…and that I had kept back myself from Him, and had not wholly yielded.” When the Lord showed him this, he got down on his knees and gave himself up to God.
What he had committed to God, C. T. realized, God was able to take and keep. “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 has been different. He has given me that peace that passes understanding and that joy which is unspeakable.”
Many Christian workers sought to dissuade him, pointing out the needs among Britain’s youth, who looked up to C. T. because of his sports fame. Many of his friends and relatives also thought he was making a mistake, but it was his widowed mother’s opposition that caused him the most conflict of heart. “He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:36) helped to settle his path. In prayer with his brother regarding this matter, C. T. was also reminded of Psalm 2:8, “Ask of Me and I will give the nations as your inheritance, and the limits of the earth as your possession.” His decision bore fruit even before he sailed for China.
The Cambridge Seven
Hudson Taylor led the seven young men to Pingyang, in the Shansi province, in order to work with Pastor Hsi. Hsi, a recovered opium addict, was conducting a successful work in the region. By this time the new missionaries were living as the Chinese as much as possible – in their food, dress, and customs. Hudson Taylor took the revolutionary step of assigning the Seven to work under Hsi as his helpers. They would not assert “the divine right of missionaries” (as Stanley Smith disdainfully called it) to “correct” the native worker.
The inheritance was substantial. Today the same amount would be worth more than 25 million U.S. dollars. One of the first gifts from Studd’s inheritance went to D. L. Moody, who used the money to start the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Some of the other gifts went to George Mueller for his orphanages in Bristol, England, to the China Inland Mission for sending out new workers, and to the Salvation Army for work in India and for work among the poor in London.
“If God is the source of our faith,” Watchman Nee writes, “even a camel can go through the needle’s eye….During the past two thousand years, thank God, many camels have passed through the needle’s eye.” C. T. Studd is one example of a rich young man who sold all, “passed through the needle’s eye,” and emerged on the other side to serve the Lord.
Three years after arriving in China, C. T. had married Priscilla (“Scilla”) Stuart, a young Irish missionary. Just before the wedding he presented his bride with the remaining money from his inheritance. She said, “Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?” “Sell all.” “Well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding.” And they proceeded to give the rest of the money away for the Lord’s work.
A letter that the young couple sent to General Booth of the Salvation Army reads in part: “And now we want to enclose a cheque for £1,500….Besides this I am instructing our Bankers…to sell out our last earthly investment of £1,400 Consols and send what they realize to you. Henceforth our bank is in heaven. You see we are rather afraid – notwithstanding the great earthly safety of Messrs. Coitus and Co. and The Bank of England – we are, I say, rather afraid that they may both break on the Judgment Day.”
The Studd family learned that God indeed takes care of His own.
Fruit In China
a single Chinese man remained behind, right at the back of the room. When we went to him,…he said, “I am a murderer, an adulterer, and I have broken all the laws of God and man again and again. I am also a confirmed opium smoker. He cannot save me.” We laid before him the wonders of Jesus and His gospel and His power. The man meant business, and was soundly converted. He said, “I must go to the town where I have done all this evil and sin, and in that very place tell the good tidings.” He did. He…was brought before the [magistrate], and was ordered 2,000 strokes with the bamboo, till his back was one mass of red jelly, and he was thought to be dead. He was…taken to the hospital and nursed by Christian hands, till he was, at last, able to sit up. He then said, “I must go back again to my own city, and preach this gospel.” We strongly dissuaded him, but a short time after he…started preaching in the same place. Once more he was brought before the court. They were ashamed to give him the bamboo again, so sent him to prison. But the prison [cell] had small open windows and holes in the wall. Crowds collected, and he preached out of the windows and holes till, finding he did more preaching inside the prison than out…they set him free….Such men are worth saving.
After ten years’ labor in China, both C. T. and Scilla were in ill health and had to return to England with their four daughters. C. T. was not one to miss opportunities. As soon as health permitted, he was again speaking for the Savior. He took a trip to America and toured many universities there. Much blessing resulted.
A German Christian was recounting his experiences in Africa. He reported that in central Africa many tribes had never heard of Jesus Christ. Explorers, big-game hunters, Arabs, traders, European officials, and scientists had all been to those regions, but no Christian had ever brought the gospel. “The shame sank deep into one’s soul,” Studd said. “Why have no Christians gone?” God replied, “Why don’t you go?” “The doctors won’t permit it,” Studd responded. God’s answer came, “Am I not the Good Physician? Can I not take you through? Can I not keep you there?”
But how to do it? He had no money. At 50 years of age, after fifteen years of ill health, how could he face tropical Africa? A committee of Christian businessmen agreed to support him if he gained the approval of physicians. But the doctors refused permission, citing the health risks of equatorial Africa. Studd told the committee: “Gentlemen, God has called me to go and I will go. I will blaze a trail, though my grave may only become a stepping stone that younger men may follow.” Studd called on Christians to be “heroes” and “gamblers for God,” risking their lives for Christ (Rom. 16:4).
In 1910 Studd left England by boat for Africa without the backing of a missionary society or committee. The first night at sea he felt God’s reassurance concerning his mission. Concerning a supporting missionary board he declared: “The Committee I work under is a conveniently small Committee, a very wealthy Committee, a wonderfully generous Committee, and is always sitting in session – the Committee of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” He left behind his four daughters and an invalid wife. Norman Grubb writes: “Career and fortune had early gone on the altar, now health and home and family life went also.” His letters home encouraged his wife to believe the Lord for her health and to co-labor with him in his greatest endeavor for Christ. On that initial exploratory expedition Studd heard of the vast population in the Congo region as yet unreached by the gospel. Two years later Studd, then aged 52, and his young co-worker, Alfred R. Buxton, age 20, traveled by bicycle and foot for nine months to reach “the heart of Africa.” Studd was not unmindful of his age and its limitations. He said: “If I am not so efficient as youngsters, yet I am more efficient than an absentee.”
After returning to Britain for reinforcements, Studd labored continuously in central Africa from 1916 until his death in 1931. He established the “Heart of Africa” mission to pioneer the gospel in the Belgian Congo area. C. T. bore much fruit for the Savior in Africa as he endured weakness and sickness. He lost most of his teeth and suffered several heart attacks; however, he endured these hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. By 1923 there were 40 workers in the field, preaching and reaching thousands. When C. T. Studd passed away in July 1931, 2,000 natives attended the funeral.
C. T. Studd’s life was marked by his courage for Christ and his willingness to sacrifice for Him. He once said: “I have searched into my life and do not know of anything else that I can sacrifice to the Lord Jesus.” Alfred Buxton, his son-in-law and fellow-pioneer in Africa, states: “C. T.’s life stands as a sign to all succeeding generations that it is worthwhile to lose all this world can offer and stake everything on the world to come. His life will be an eternal rebuke to easy-going Christianity. He has demonstrated what it means to follow Christ without counting the cost and without looking back.”
The “romance” of a missionary is often made up of monotony and drudgery; there often is no glamour in it; it doesn’t stir a man’s spirit or blood. So don’t come out to be a missionary as an experiment; it is useless and dangerous. Only come if you feel you would rather die than not come. Don’t come if you want to make a great name or want to live long. Come if you feel there is no greater honor, after living for Christ, than to die for Him.
Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in hell, when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.
Marriage can be a great blessing or a great curse, depending on where you place the cross.
Some wish to live within the sound
If such men (prospectors, traders, merchants and gold seekers) hear so loudly the call of gold and obey it, can it be that the ears of Christ’s soldiers are deaf to the call of God? Are gamblers for gold so many, and gamblers for God so few?
Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands.
If you don’t desire to meet the Devil during the day, meet Jesus before dawn.
Some arrive thinking they are the last thing in high-class Christianity and have to find out they know little. That is why I keep the newcomers here at base for a time till I can make them really think out things and settle questions, not from hearsay but from what the Bible says.
The Cambridge Seven
Smith’s best friend was “Monty” (Montague) Beauchamp, who also went to Cambridge and joined the rowing team. He also came from a Christian family, and his parents had been original sponsors of Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission. Although rowing was more important to him than God initially, through the prayer of his companions, he eventually “yielded all to Christ.”
Another rowing friend was William Hoste. William’s younger brother was Dixon Hoste. Despite his Christian upbringing, he was “entirely indifferent to the claims of God.” After refusing three nights in a row, Dixon finally agreed to attend Moody’s meetings. His heart was opened as he listened to God’s word, and after a time of inward struggle, he yielded his life to Christ. He eventually left his military commission to fulfill Christ’s commission in China. In 1903 he succeeded Hudson Taylor as the Director of the China Inland Mission. For 30 years he led the Mission and reached many with the gospel, until he retired in 1935. He remained in China until 1945, when he was interned by the Japanese. He died in London in May 1946, the last of the Cambridge Seven to die.
William Cassels was an acquaintance from the rowing team. Cassels was a Christian and was studying to be a minister. Cassels and Smith became close friends, attending the same Bible study. They prayed for other students. Cassels labored hard to win the Chinese for Christ. But he also brought his Church of England background to China, being appointed the Bishop of Western China to serve in a gothic cathedral. He remained in China until his death in 1925.
The Polhill-Turner brothers were classmates and friends of the Studd brothers. In 1882 Moody’s mission came to Cambridge University. At the meetings, God spoke to Arthur Polhill-Turner’s heart, and he was thoroughly saved. Once in China, Arthur was a faithful worker traveling the countryside with the gospel. He remained in China throughout the Boxer Rebellion and did not leave until 1928, when he returned to England. He died in 1935.
Cecil Polhill-Turner was an officer in the British army. His newly saved brother took him to Moody’s meetings in London. Cecil was impressed, but he had his own ideas about Christianity. It took a year of struggle before he fully yielded to the Lord. Cecil’s goal was to bring the gospel to Tibet. In 1892 Cecil and his wife were nearly killed during a violent riot. After God restored his health, he again endeavored to bring the gospel to Tibet. In 1900, his health failed again, so he was sent home to England and forbidden to return. His heart was still in China. Throughout the rest of his life, he made seven prolonged missionary visits, and in 1909 he founded the Tibetan Border Mission. He died in England in 1938.
Copyright © 2003 The Church in Cleveland