Volume. XXXIV, No. 39
Sunday, 29 March 2020

Charles Thomas Studd – Cricketer for Christ (Part 2)

From   1906 to 1908, he must have spoken to tens of thousands of men, many of whom had never went to a religious service but were drawn to hear him by his sporting reputation. Many were the decisions for Christ.


While in Liverpool in 1908 he saw a sign, "Cannibals want missionaries." He sought out the author of the sign, a Dr.  Karl Kumm. Studd, now 50, felt the call to Africa. They talked together   about opening Africa from the Nile to the Niger to Christian missionaries.  This was the largest unevangelized region   in   Africa   at   that   time.   Penniless, turned   down   by a doctor, dropped by a committee, he persisted. God provided funds and on December 15, 1910, he left, sailing alone, leaving his wife behind. Arriving at Khartoum he had a delay of some weeks. Accompanied by Bishop Gwynne, he set off for Southern Sudan. Joined by a third, they went by mule and foot on a 22-month trek through a malaria invested country. Of their 29 donkeys, 25 died.  Back at Khartoum, Studd got a severe attack of malaria. While  trekking in 1911 on the Nile they were  told that  beyond the southern frontier of the Sudan, in the Belgian Congo,  between the Nile and  Lake  Chad were vast  masses  of  people  as  depraved and  destitute as those they  had  seen,  who  had  never heard  of Christ. He decided that the rest of his life would be spent with this challenge.


Returning home   briefly, he visited   Cambridge and stirred   people   to   the   depths   with   a   challenge of the unevangelized world. He challenged others to join him, set down a doctrinal statement, bought a missions headquarters, and in January 1913, was back in Africa. This time leaving his wife seemed harder. Studd simply believed, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” Studd’s one companion was Alfred B. Buxton and they journeyed through Kenya and Uganda to the shores of Lake Albert. They had a good reception from the Belgian official and were allowed   to enter   the Congo.  Soon they were in the very   heart    of   Africa, after    nine   months    of   arduous traveling, living in tents.  They had now reached the fringes of the great tropical forest which stretched for hundreds of miles to the south and contains; though unknown to them at the time, the biggest population of the whole of Congo. This was October 16, 1913.


Immediate work started, clearing, planting and building. A mission house went up in a few weeks. A poisonous snake once slept with Studd   all night and never  bit him.    Only   five  years   previous   these   natives   had   been shooting arrows at every  new arrival. Within two  years the heart  of Africa was surveyed, four strategic centers  chosen, covering  some hundreds of miles and  involving  about eight tribes.   These  included  Nala  (5  days  south  of  Niangara), Poke  (five days  northeast of Nala),  and  Bambili  (six days beyond   Nala).   Now  Studd   and  Buxton  split.   Studd  continued  going 300 miles beyond  Bambili  to the Congo River, then 700 miles to the mouth, and then on to England to find more  recruits. Buxton  met  a new  party  of five to open  the work   at   Nala,   plus   reducing the   language  to  writing. Buxton  also had  the first  baptismal service  at  Niangara on June 19, 1915, during Studd's absence, with 12 converts.


Studd  arrived home  in late  1914 to find  his wife very ill, but faithfully carrying on the home-base operations. She formed  prayer  centers, issued monthly pamphlets by the thousands, wrote often 20 and 30 letters  a day,  planned and edited   the  first  issues of  a  magazine. He  issued  the  most stirring  appeals that  pen could  write through his magazine. A farewell  rally was fixed for July 14, 1916, with the actual departure July 24th. This would be Studd's last day home in England. This would also be the third time he had to leave his wife, which did not get any easier as the years went by. He still had 15 years of ministry and was only to see his wife for two weeks during the remaining years.


A party of eight did go back with him, including his daughter Edith who was to marry Alfred Buxton.  Arriving at Nala was an amazing experience for Studd. He had left a few deserted houses, now there were many Christians and a vibrant work.  Then on to Niangara where the first white wedding in Africa’s   heart   was to be conducted.  Studd settled at Nala and scattered his staff to man the other three strategic centers already named. In January 1917, some 15 or 20 members of the native church went out to preach for three   months.  In April, some 50 now wanted to go and preach, plus they just baptized 81 more converts. By August 50 more desired baptism.


Soon a work  was opened  in the  lturi Province, which was  to eventually surpass  the  work  in  the  Welle  Province where  the  original four  stations were.  Studd   visited  that area  in June 1918 and  was amazed at  what  he saw.  The station  at Deti  Hill had  many  Christians, large  crowds  and many  converts. Things slowed down as the war halted  new missionaries  from  coming  and  Buxton  and  his wife took a well-deserved   furlough  in 1919-1921.  In   1920  early   prayer meetings seemed  to be the only encouraging thing  going for Studd  as he was having a terrible irritation of arms and legs with   many   bad  ulcers  on  his feet  and   ankles.  However, beginning in  1919  new  workers  began  to be sent  and  by 1922  the  missionary  population had  grown  from  six to 40 including  daughter  Pauline   and   her   husband.  Buxton's return     in    1921   to   Nala,    freeing    Studd    for   pioneer evangelistic   work   up   in   the   lturi   Province, was   encouraging. Tribe after tribe now wanted missionaries.

[To be continued……]


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

More Lively Hope



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    2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”
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