I am no cricketer, but I do love a good story. Missionaries, apart from famous ones (like Jim Elliot and the Auca Five), are often unknown. But, their stories are inspirational and have affected so many people - even those we don’t know.
Charles Thomas (C.T. as he was often called) Studd (1860 – 1931) was a professional cricketer from England. During the 1880s, he was one of England’s greatest cricketers. He grew up in a wealthy family and was educated at prestigious schools.
Studd’s father, Edward Studd, became a Christian during a meeting held by D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey. The newly evangelised man deeply wanted to share the good news. As a result, the Studd Mansion turned into a centre of meetings and discussions with pastors and missionaries. Though his three sons tried to avoid the topic of Christianity, their determined father was not going to stop there.
Who do you really live for?
One afternoon, whilst on a break from college, Studd’s father invited a visiting preacher. The preacher confronted each of Edward’s sons, and they all came to faith in Christ that day. He asked them if they believed in God’s promises to give eternal life, quoting John 3:16. He questioned them on who they really lived for. This very challenge convinced C.T. Studd, and he became a Christian. From then on, his life was changed.
Even before his conversion, the Studd brothers were cricket enthusiasts. Not only did they admire the game, but they were also talented and soon shone out among other players. C.T. stood out, particularly on one occasion, when an Australian team visited their university. The Australian team was undefeated and in their first victory, C.T. was pronounced the best player.
He then captained his university team, and soon a bigger opportunity arose. He and his brother George were selected to represent England at the Ashes.
The first ever victory of England in the 1882-83 Ashes Series was incredible to the people at the time. Cricket was growing in popularity at that time and the fact that England had won greatly excited the people.
But in 1884, George, his brother, fell gravely ill. The realisation that his brother’s achievements and cricket career meant nothing in comparison to eternity, made Studd rethink his actions and direction in life. Studd even questioned:
"What is all the fame and flattery worth ... when a man comes to face eternity?"
He realised that everything in this world is nothing in comparison to heaven. This realisation called him to be a missionary.
"I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come."
The Cambridge Seven
Through his brother’s illness and its effect on him, Studd felt called to pursue mission work. He joined the China Inland Mission, an organisation founded by Hudson Taylor. Studd encouraged other members of his university, Cambridge, to join. Together, they formed the Cambridge Seven and together they ventured to China.
The news of the departure of one of England’s best all round cricketers at the time came as a shock to the public. Leaving behind fame and fortune to pursue mission work in an unknown land didn’t make any sense. But, Studd was determined. Before his departure, he lead a series of ‘revival meetings’ to universities, impacting many. Then, in the February of 1885, less than three years after he had won the Ashes Series, C.T. Studd left for China.
China and India
During C.T. Studd’s time in China, many things happened. In China, he met his wife, Priscilla, an Irish missionary, and married her three years after setting foot in Shanghai.
Also, when Studd was in China, his father, Edward Studd, died. Edward Studd left behind 29 000 pounds for Studd as his inheritance. Instead of using it all for himself, he gave away the money to various organisations such as the Moody Bible Institute, George Muller’s orphanage, a man working with the poor in England, as well as the Salvation Army. After serving in China for nine years and with deteriorating health, C.T. Studd returned home to England. But it wasn’t long before he felt a calling to India. He served there between 1900 and 1906.
Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade
However, during a return trip to England from India, he met Karl Kumm, a missionary in Africa. After visiting Sudan in 1910, he set his heart to Belgian Congo (now in modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1913. Here, he spent the rest of his life, serving God wholeheartedly until his death in 1931.
C.T. Studd began his life for the world and ended it for God. So, what can we learn from him?
- Devote yourself to God
Devoting yourself to God doesn’t necessarily mean to be a missionary and go to the middle of nowhere. In the case of C.T. Studd, it was. But even before his missionary work, he devoted his life to God through cricket. As he grew in spiritual life, he realised that his life was not of this world and that he should focus his life on God and for God’s Glory. As he wrote in his poem, "Only One Life, 'Twill Soon Be Past”:
Only one life 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Let us remember the words of this poem.
2. Use your talents for God
C.T. Studd pursued his talents in cricket for God’s glory. As he used these talents and answered his call to be a missionary, he also used his fame and fortunes for the same purpose. His fame allowed him to give his testimonies to many people and his fortune gave him the opportunity to support those who needed support.
Conclusion and Summary
C.T. Studd was a man of talent who gave his life to God. But the question now is not about Studd - it’s about you. Will you too give your life and use your gifts for God?