(English Missionary to China, India and Africa)
Back home in England, Charles regained his health and set himself to work. Soon he was holding meetings in many towns and cities of the British Isles.
o Ministry in America
In no time, news of his return from China reached America and an invitation was received for him to tour the universities. Arriving alone in the States in 1896, Charles began a hectic preaching itinerary, sometimes addressing up to six meetings a day. At the various universities he visited, he shared about his mission work in China. Many doors were opened and Charles enjoyed a successful ministry, as hundreds offered themselves for the mission field.
A gifted personal worker, Charles was very effective in guiding sinners to God. “Backsliders squirmed as they saw their sin and understood how they were robbing God. The unconverted were left in no doubt about their position, but he was incredibly patient with those who meant business with God. … Studd was a lover of men, a dynamic servant of God who rarely complained about the demands put upon him.”
Though Charles was mightily used of the Lord in America, his eighteen-month absence from home deeply affected his family. Priscilla, who had a serious heart condition, was often ill. Left alone to bring up their four daughters, she battled not only with poor health but with loneliness and limited funds. Charles wrote home regularly but his letters offered her little comfort.
“The hardships began to take a toll in both their lives … His final few months were spent in much conflict.” It was during this time that Charles became conscious of his many glaring faults: “It seems I’m blacker far than the devil himself – I do hate myself more and more. I feel a perfect hypocrite and I wonder how God can let me go on like this.” For weeks, he suffered frequent bouts of asthma and chest infections. Finally, after eighteen months, he returned to England in April 1898.
o Ministry in India
Back in England, another door was opened for the Studds – a new mission field in India. Since his conversion, Charles had felt a burden for India. He longed to preach the gospel to the estate workers on his father’s plantation.
His brother George had returned from India with a report that stirred Charles’ interest even more. Charles wondered: “When would God open the door to India?” The Lord showed His will clearly through an invitation from Mr Vincent, his father’s old friend who kindly offered to finance his visit there. Charles soon set sail – once again without his family – for Tirhoot, North India.
His initial contact was with the Anglo-Indian Evangelisation Society whose main aim was to reach out to the British expatriate community in India. It was through this contact that Charles started his ministry at Ootocamund, South India in May 1900. In October, he was joined by his wife and family.
Ootocamund – or Ooty, in short – had a large community of expatriates. “The British residents in Ootacamund could go riding, play polo, tennis, cricket, or golf on beautifully maintained, challenging courses, or go hunting and shooting. Life offered every luxury at a reasonable price, and the possibility of servants far in excess of one’s wildest dreams in England of that day.” While the rich foreigners enjoyed their affluent lifestyle, the local Indians struggled with their poverty. Life for them was hard. Their paths hardly crossed except on a master-servant level.
Charles’ pastoral ministry was not to the local Indians, but to the Europeans in Ootacamund Union Church. More of an evangelist than a pastor, Charles “could only be himself – a forthright, zealous evangelist. He used every opportunity to fearlessly proclaim Christ in circles where such blatant witness was scorned. It was said of the church during Studd’s time, ‘I shouldn’t go there unless you want to be converted.’”
His love for souls drew Charles to visit the British regiment that was stationed at Ooty where he had a fruitful ministry among the soldiers. Charles even played his favourite game of cricket with them.
The Studds enjoyed their six years in India. The local ministry meant that Charles had more time with his family. The girls – aged from six to twelve years – were taught at home by governesses from England. Though life was better for the family, Charles was struggling with frequent attacks of asthma. “Ooty is a very poor place for an asthmatic. The altitude (7,500 feet above sea level) alone could prompt an attack. …Even a short walk entailed steep gradients which soon set Studd wheezing and panting.”
The family remained in Ooty till 1906 when ill-health once again forced Charles to return home to England. (to be concluded)
(All quotations are from the book, C T Studd and Priscilla by Eileen Vincent.)