Volume. XXXIV, No. 38
Sunday, 22 March 2020

Charles Thomas Studd – Cricketer for Christ (Part 1)

Charles Thomas Studd

Born: December 5, 1860, Northallerton, England

Gone to Glory: July 16, 1931, Ibambi, Africa


Charles Thomas Studd, often known as C. T. Studd, was a British missionary, a contributor to The Fundamentals, and a cricketer. As a British Protestant Christian missionary to China he was part of the Cambridge Seven, and later was responsible for setting up the Heart of Africa Mission which became the Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade (now WEC International). He had also brought Christ to India, challenged students across America to Christian service, and also played cricket for England including the first Ashes in 18821.

One afternoon, one of the preachers caught C.T. on his way to play cricket. "Are you a Christian?" he asked. His answer not being convincing enough, the guest pressed the point and finally down on his knees went C.T. and when he arose, his heart was filled with joy and peace.

All three brothers were won to Christ that same day, and all became outstanding witnesses for the gospel. This was in 1876 when Studd was 16 years of age.

About this time Studd was fast becoming the most outstanding cricket player in England. The brothers started a Bible class at Eton and C.T. stayed on two more years, becoming the captain of the cricket team in his last year. He finished at Eton in 1879 and enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge, the next year, 1880. By 1882 he was considered one of the best cricket players in the world. He was probably the best-known athlete of his day in England. He captained the team his last year at Cambridge 1883-84. He got his B.A. degree and left Cambridge in 1885.

Studd had been somewhat backslidden since his conversion, and it took the Moody-Sankey team meetings of 1882 at Cambridge University to straighten him out. He got a burden for souls, and a call from China seemed to be what he felt God wanted him to do. Soon six others from Cambridge University joined him in this goal and the "Cambridge Seven" became well known.

In February 1885, they sailed for China arriving at Shanghai on March 18th. They at once began the study of the language seven to ten hours a day, donned Chinese garb, and ate with and like the Chinese.

It was on his 25th birthday (December of 1885) that he was to inherit $145,000. He had already determined it would go into the work of the Lord. He was alone at Chungking on that day. Perhaps Studd was born in 1861 as we cannot account for a year. On January 13, 1887, he sent out four cheques of $25,000 each and five of $5,000 each- a total of $125,000. He sent $25,000 to the following people:

  1. L. Moody - expressing the hope that he would be able to start some Gospel work at Tirhoot in North India, where his father had made his fortune. Moody used the money however to start Moody Bible Institute to train people to take the gospel into all the world.
  2. George Mueller - $20,000 of which was to be used on missionary work and $5,000 for the work among the orphans.
  3. George Holland in Whitechapel, to be used for the Lord among the poor in London. Holland had been a spiritual help to Studd's father.
  4. Commissioner Booth Tucker for the Salvation Army in India. It was used to send out a party of 50 new officers and came following a night of prayer for reinforcements.

In a few months he gave away several more thousands when he determined the exact amount of the inheritance. Most of this went to the China Inland Mission. He now had $17,000 left.

Priscilla Livingstone Stewart arrived in Shanghai in 1887. She was from Belfast, Ireland. Studd arrived in Shanghai in April of that year. There was a Sailor's Home where Miss Steward was working and where Studd was trying to win the lost. Meetings were held and sailors were saved. Soon Miss Stewart went to the centre of China, and Studd prepared to go North. Correspondence began in June and engagement was agreed upon on October 5th. Kneeling in the snow in March 1888, praying for souls during an open-air meeting caused her to get pneumonia. Studd himself had been at death's door for weeks with pleurisy in both lungs, typhoid, and then pneumonia. He recovered just in time to come to Miss Stewart's side. She got better. Everyone decided it was as good a time as ever, so Pastor Shi had a Christian ceremony, but they had to go to Tientsin to be married by the consul for official records' sake. This was March 1888. Just before his marriage he presented his bride with the $17,000 remaining from the 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." They wrote General Booth on July 3, 1888 and told him the Salvation Army would realize this last amount of funds. They left Tientsin with $5 and some bedding and for the next 41 years of marriage together God provided for them.

They went to an inland City, Lungang-Fu and the only house they could get was one considered haunted. For five years (1888-1892) they never went outside without a volley of curses from their neighbours. Finally, opposition began to subside. Studd spent a good deal of time with an opium refuge for the victims of this drug. As many as 50 at a time would be there. During the seven years some 800 went through the refuge, some saved as well as cured.

Their first child was born in 1889. Mrs. Studd had a relapse and almost died. Four more children were to follow, the fifth living just one day. Mrs. Studd never saw a doctor through all this. The four that lived were girls, Grace, Dorothy, Edith and Pauline. A sixth child was born after their return to England, a boy, but he only lived two days. Pauline married Norman Grubb, later WEC director.

In 1894 after ten years of service, the Lord directed them to return home to England, his asthmatic condition being a key factor. With four small children it was no easy job to journey to the coast. Naturally there was a royal welcome by Mrs. Studd (mother). The children knowing only Chinese now had to learn English culture and tongue. The health of the parents was poor, but soon Studd began to take meetings. Things were happening in the USA. Studd's brother, J.E.K. at Moody's request had toured the states telling the story of the "Cambridge Seven." Students in America caught the fire, and two of their number began the Student Volunteer Movement, with amazing results. Hundreds were enrolled.

C.T. Studd was invited to come. In 1896 he came and stayed for 18 months. He spoke as much as six times a day, seldom under an hour, had endless interviews with students. Outstanding things happened in such places as Knoxville, Tenn., in June; Lincoln, Nebraska in December; Minneapolis, Minn., in January of 1897.

Back in England from 1897 to 1900 gave him time for reflection, recuperation and readiness for the next assignment which was India. It was the father's dying wish that some of the family would take the Gospel there. So, they went, a better climate also appealing to them. However, his asthma which he had for years continued to plague him. He hardly slept except between 2 and 4 a.m. Night after night he was sitting up in a chair fighting for his breath. He was at Tirhoot for six months, then he became the pastor of the Union Church at Ootacamund in South India. The church reached out to all kinds of people, and a week never went by without one to three conversions transpiring. All four of his daughters made definite decisions for Christ and were baptized in India. The family returned to England in 1906. [To be continued…]

Compiled by Dn Wai Kin Wong. Main source of information: C.T. Studd, Cricketer and Pioneer by Norman C Grubb.


[1]                      The landmark 1882 Test match between England and Australia in which C.T. represented England was the origins of The Ashes - Australia won the 1882 match, hence the ashes of a cricket ball was put into the now famous urn as a symbolic obituary for English cricket.




More Lively Hope



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