(English Missionary to China, India and Africa)
Charles Thomas Studd, or C T Studd as he was commonly known, was one of the best cricketers England had ever known. Responding to God’s call to the ministry in his later years, Charles served the Lord as a missionary in China, India, and Africa for forty-six years. His life’s maxim was: “If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
“C. T.’s life stands as some rugged Gibraltar – a sign to all succeeding generations that it is worth while to lose all this world can offer and stake everything on the world to come. His life will be an eternal rebuke to easygoing Christianity. He has demonstrated what it means to follow Christ without counting the cost and without looking back”
o Family background
Charles was born on 2nd December 1860 in Northamptonshire, England. His father, Edward Studd, a shrewd and successful businessman, had made his fortune in India as an indigo planter.
After the death of his young wife, Edward Studd married Dora Thomas in 1856. The family settled in Tedworth House, a huge country estate “with adequate parkland for a race course and a cricket pitch”. Together with his five brothers and one sister, Charles enjoyed an opulent lifestyle.
A passionate lover of horses, Edward occupied himself with breeding, hunting, training and racing them. It followed naturally, therefore, that his children grew up with a passion for horse riding.
At the tender age of seven, Charles, with his two elder brothers, Kynaston and George, attended preparatory school at Cheam. The siblings subsequently went to Eton College, a top school for the wealthy in England. It was at Eton – which was well-known for having the best cricket team – that the three brothers excelled in the sport.
Later at Cambridge, the brothers set an unprecedented record, as each of them captained the cricket team for three successive seasons.
o Church life
Church attendance for the family was but a mere formality. To Charles, the Sabbath service was something to be endured – “the dullest day of the whole week”. Recalling his childhood later in life, he said: “I used to think that religion was a Sunday thing, like one’s Sunday clothes, to be put away on Monday morning. We boys were brought up to go 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, and glad when it was Monday morning.”
o Father’s conversion
But things took a turn in 1877 when Edward Studd became a Christian. His salvation came through an old friend, Mr Vincent, also a plantation owner in India and an enthusiastic race horse bettor. One day, Mr Vincent, finding himself stranded in Dublin when he missed the boat back from the races, inadvertently entered a theatre where there was a religious meeting. D L Moody was preaching and Ira Sankey was singing the old familiar hymns. Hanging to every word that was preached and sung, Mr Vincent’s heart was strangely stirred. The next evening, he went again to the meeting. Before he left Dublin, Mr Vincent committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Edward had a business meeting in London, he arranged to meet with his old friend, Mr Vincent, who suggested an evening at the theatre where Moody was preaching. Seated in the front row directly under the nose of D L Moody, Edward listened intently as the preacher spoke. Like his old friend, Edward’s heart was strangely warmed by the message, and he was soundly converted.
The spiritual revival generated by the Moody-Sankey gospel team now “came like a hurricane to Tedworth House”. After his conversion, Edward surrendered himself wholly to follow his Saviour “with the same passionate zeal that had driven him for fifty-six years in the pursuit of horses and pleasure”. He gave up his racing interests and sold all his horses except those which belonged to his sons. He opened up Tedworth House for outreach work so that the local community could hear the Gospel. Edward also rode around the countryside inviting both rich and poor to hear preachers he had invited from London.
Edward continued in his single-minded devotion to his Saviour till the day of his death two years later. It was said that “he had accomplished more in his two short years as a Christian than most do in twenty.” (… to be continued)
(Unless otherwise stated, all quotations are from the book, C T Studd and Priscilla by Eileen Vincent).