(English Missionary to China, India and Africa)
When they arrived in Shanghai, China, the Cambridge Seven were welcomed by Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Mission (CIM). Once in China, the young missionaries followed the CIM’s early practice of identifying with the locals – they dressed like the Chinese in long-sleeved gowns, shaved their heads and wore pig-tails. They also began learning the Chinese language.
After spending some time together, the Cambridge Seven parted company. While the others went farther afield into inland China, Charles and the two Polhill brothers – Arthur and Cecil – went as far as Han-chung, a journey of 1,800 miles.
o Travel woes
During their three-month trip to Han-chung, the missionary trio learned about the hardships of travel – of “cramped quarters, discomfort, flies, rats, noise, smells, heat, filth and cruelty”. For long hours each day, they walked under the hot sun in ill-fitting footwear and uncomfortable clothes that were more suited for sleeping. Most nights, they lodged in filthy village inns where they slept on communal boards.
At the age of 25 when he was in China, Charles received an inheritance from his father’s will. But he had no intention of keeping it. Desiring to obey God’s Word to lay up treasures in heaven and “to show the world that he relied not on money but on a living Lord” (http://www.christianity.com), Charles gave his fortune away.
“Before knowing the exact amount of his inheritance, C.T. (referring to Charles) sent £5000 to Mr. Moody, another £5000 to George Müller (£4000 to be used on missionary work and £1000 among the orphans); as well as £15,000 pounds to support other worthy ministries. In a few months, he was able to discover the exact amount of his inheritance and he gave some additional thousands away, leaving about £3400 pounds in his possession” (http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/biostudd.html).
Three years after his arrival in China, Charles married a young Irish missionary, Priscilla Livingstone Stewart. Just before the wedding, Charles presented his bride with the balance of his inheritance money – £3,400. Desiring to wholly trust the Lord, like her husband, Priscilla turned down the gift. Together they offered their fortune for the Lord’s work.
For the wedding, the couple donned their everyday outfits. Charles explained: “We are strangers and pilgrims here. And I vote we have a real pilgrims’ wedding” (C T Studd: Cricketer and Pioneer – Norman Grubb). The bride wore a long white sash with the words, “United to fight for Jesus”. At the end of the ceremony, they knelt and solemnly promised the Lord that “we will never hinder one another from serving Thee”.
“Charles and his wife never turned back from their decision nor regretted it. Faithfully for the rest of the lives they delighted to live by faith, never making their needs known except to God. C T Studd lived as Hudson Taylor described, ‘From God’s hand to my mouth’.” Whenever they were short of money, they brought their needs before the Lord Who faithfully provided for them: “Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands,” said Charles on one such occasion (http://www.christianity.com).
o Ministry in inland China
After their wedding, Charles and his new bride settled in Lungang-Fu which “was not an easy place to begin married life”. A large inland city, Lungang-Fu, had among its residents, idol and spirit worshippers. Viewed by the locals as “foreign devils”, the couple were blamed for the year-long drought, and subject to daily abuse and curses. It is reported that for the first five years, they were greeted with curses each time they stepped out of their house. Despite opposition and hardships, Charles and Priscilla persevered in their efforts to win the Chinese to Christ.
When her first baby was due, Priscilla personally experienced the anguish of the womenfolk in childbirth. Without medical help during the delivery, she became seriously ill after her baby was born. But God intervened in response to Charles’ prayer and she miraculously recovered. “Four other children were born in similar circumstances to this courageous couple, and not once did they have a doctor in attendance.”
Besides establishing a church, the Studds opened a rehabilitation centre for opium addicts. During the seven years of its operation, the centre ministered to some 800 men and women, many of whom turned to Christ and were cured of their opium addiction.
o Return to England
In 1893, eight years after his arrival in China, Charles fell seriously ill with asthma. The family was forced to return to England. But before leaving China, Charles gave away his large property to the China Inland Mission. Though sick in body, Charles left China in good spirits, hoping to return when his health had improved. (… to be continued)
(Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the book, C T Studd and Priscilla by Eileen Vincent).