Charles Thomas Studd was born in Great Britain in 1860, and as he grew, he became a star cricket player in a game that was the premier sport in England. They called him C.T. and he was not only famous, he became in that era, a kind of a sports rock star, like Manning, Mantle, or Brady. While his father tried to impress the values of faith on his son, he avoided those conversations and wrapped his days in cricket and the social whirl that followed him everywhere.
Then one day, while hurrying out of the house for a cricket match, a visiting preacher stopped him. He asked C.T. if he believed in Jesus, and hoping to get rid of the preacher, he said "yes." But the preacher kept talking and the great cricket player was late to his match, but became a believer.
He attended Cambridge University and joined a group of athletes who met for Bible study and prayer. Still a popular and famous cricket player, he heard about the lost in China from the missionary Hudson Taylor, and he along with six other students from Cambridge—known as the "Cambridge Seven"—dedicated their lives to serving God in East Asia.
At the age of 25, he turned his back on his fame and comfortable life, and left for the four-month voyage to China. The seven men adopted Chinese traditional dress and learned the language, preaching the Gospel in villages and towns with great success. When his father passed away that year, C.T. turned his back on fortune as well, giving all he inherited to help the poor. Three years after going to China, he married and after 10 years, he and his wife who had become ill, returned to England, with their children who only spoke Chinese, and knew nothing of British ways.
But soon his dedication led him to South India, and later Africa, where he started the Heart of Africa Missions. He and his wife then went to the Congo, where he worked until 1931 when he died at age 71, three years after his wife had passed away.
It is interesting how we frame things. Stories of missionaries in the 1800s abound. Nothing to see here. But what a shock it would have been if Tiger Woods had decided to be a missionary at the height of his career. What if Peyton Manning, after winning a Super Bowl, would have said he was going to minister to the poor in Chad, Madagascar, or Mozambique, live in a tent and learn to speak Makuhwa, Portuguese, or Swahili? Charles Thomas Studd did no less. Having served the poor on four continents during his life, he was, in himself, a global mission. There is no way to know how many lives were changed, how many souls were saved, or how many people found the God of Abraham and Christ.
The Chapel bell rings clean and sweet, but helping people who are insignificant in the eyes of the world can be a messy business. Some of them truly do exist within a yard of hell, and without some kind of rescue, many many will slip right through those gates. "What does it matter?" some will say. "There are too many to make a difference." But having helped a few, I can say... "It mattered to him, and it mattered to him, and it mattered to her..."
So, it matters to me. And I am grateful that it matters to many of you,