Charles Thomas Studd was born on Dec. 2nd, 1860. He had two brothers, one older, one younger than himself. His father, Mr. Edward Studd, of Tidworth House, Wilts, had made a fortune in India, so that his boys were able to have every advantage. There was a town house as well as a country house, and Mr. Studd not only kept race-horses, but had a race-course made. In 1866, when Charles was 6 years old, Mr. Studd won the Grand National.
Charles was sent to Eton, and very soon displayed his remarkable cricketing powers He played for Eton when in his 16th year: in 1879 he was captain of the team. He used to spend a good deal of time before the looking-glass, practicing a "straight bat." That time was well spent, for his batting was a terror to all bowlers. It would be well for us as Christians to spend more time before another mirror—the Word of God—for we should then be better able to resist the onslaught of the Evil One. In 1882 and 1883, "C.T." (as he was called, to distinguish him from his cricketing brothers) scored more than a thousand runs and captured upwards of a hundred wickets. Later on he gave himself with holy keenness to scoring runs against heathenism and capturing souls for his Saviour. As in cricket, he concentrated his whole attention on the work.
Charles' father was converted through hearing Moody and Sankey in London. He was dining with a friend whom he was trying to persuade to put every penny he possessed on a splendid race-horse Mr. Studd had.
The friend smilingly refused. When, after dinner, the question of amusement was discussed, the friend as being the guest, chose that of going to hear Moody and Sankey. (He did not say he had himself been saved.) Mr. Studd objected that it was not Sunday! Why should they? However, having been amused by the things said in the papers about the evangelists—they had reported that Mr. Moody, you know, was here to sell his hymn books, and Mr. Sankey to sell organs similar to the "kist o' whistles" he used in the meeting—and the great racing man agreed to go. When they reached the meeting it was difficult to find seats, but they did—opposite Moody—and Mr. Studd was converted. His life, too, after some conversation with Mr. Moody, was entirely changed. Racing and race-horses were given up, and theatre going, and he started to try and win souls for Christ. He took his three boys to hear Moody, but they were not converted for some time after. He also had revivalist meetings in his house, attracting people for miles around, many being saved. This was wonderful, but his heart yearned for his boys, and at last C.T. was brought to the point by an evangelist staying in his home. The boy, down from Cambridge, dashing out of doors arrayed in flannels, was accosted by the messenger of God. A question—like a well-aimed cricket ball—sent his bails flying: "Are you a Christian, young man?" Young Studd was taken aback. He stammered out that perhaps not in the way his questioner meant, though he had believed in Jesus Christ, "since he was knee high, sir," and believed in the Church, too. Charles thought that would settle him. "Look here," was the reply, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "You believe Jesus Christ died?" "Yes." "You believe that He died for you?" "Yes." "Do you believe the next part of that verse: 'shall have everlasting life'?" After some hesitation, C.T. said he did not. Thus through the loving words and the God-given wisdom of the evangelist, the young man was very soon enabled to thank God for His great gift of everlasting life through faith in His Son.
But he did not tell others of his Saviour, and consequently his spiritual state was very low, and his heart grew very cold towards the Son of God Who loved him, and had given Himself for him. This lasted for six years, then his brother George fell ill, and as Charles, at his brother's bedside, watched him hovering between life and death, Eternal things appeared in their true light. George cared (at that time) for nothing but the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ, and Charles learnt his lesson. George recovered (unsaved), but Charles resolved to cleave to the Lord. He began by attending the Moody and Sankey meetings held in Cambridge, at which meetings hundreds of the students were saved. He lost his cold reserve now; he tried to persuade his friends to read the Bible, and spoke to them of their souls. He had the joy of leading his dearest friend to Christ—"a joy far exceeding all the earthly joys he had tasted."
Our God uses strange instruments in the forwarding of His work. Charles read an infidel effusion, in which the writer declared that if he believed, as millions say they do in regard to lost souls, etc., he would go forth into the world and preach, in season and out of season—nothing else should occupy his time—his text would be, "What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul" (Mark 8:36). Whether that writer would, or would not, is not our point—but Charles Studd felt called to give his whole life to seeking the salvation of his fellow-men.
Hearing of China's needs, he went to Mr. Hudson Taylor, who was then in England, hoping to take back some workers, and told him he was ready to go. There were six other University men ready, four of them were B.A.'s. They formed what was known as the famous "Cambridge Seven": Stanley P. Smith, two Polhill-Turners, W. W. Cassels, D. E. Hoste, Montague Beauchamp, and C. T. Studd. They sailed on Feb. 5 1885, after meetings in England and Scotland which brought many more students to the Lord, and drew them into His work, some of whom continue to this day.
During the voyage there were many conversions. The young missionaries did not hide their colours. On March 18th, 1885, they reached Shanghai, and were met by Mr. Hudson Taylor, and shortly after they dispersed to their various posts. C. T. Studd soon found himself in a station where there had been riots, and where every missionary's house had been broken down. He and the council became very friendly, and it was this man who, after pressure, signed the paper which enabled Charles Studd to give the fortune left him by his father entirely to China's Mission Work.
In October, 1886, he heard that his brother George would touch at Shanghai. He "was not going to stay long, for he was fearful of getting too much religion" (George, who had been at the point of death and so nearly saved before!). But he stayed six months and found Christ, Who is better than "religion."
In 1888, Mr. Studd married Miss Priscilla Livingstone Stewart. She was an Irish girl, and had for long resisted the strivings of the Spirit of God, but after her conversion she had given herself to spreading the news of salvation in China, and there she met her husband.
The dangers, difficulties, and privations around tried their courage and faith to the utmost, but both stood firm, and had the joy of winning many souls to the Saviour. They had five little girls, one of whom died in China.
In 1894 Mr. Studd's health was so bad that he returned to England, first handing over the buildings he had bought to the C.I.M. and severing from the Mission. He and his wife, both broken in health, remained in England (with the exception of his time in U.S.A.) till 1900, when his doctor permitted him to try the climate of India. He was pastor of the Union Church of Ootacamund for seven years. That church, we are told by his son-in-law, Mr. Buxton, "became a place to be avoided unless a man meant to get converted!"
At the end of 1912, the needs of Central Africa having called Mr. Studd, the Heart of Africa Mission was formed. On the 30th of January, 1913, he, with Mr. Buxton, sailed for the new field, Mrs. Studd and two of her daughters acting in secretarial capacity for the Mission at the home base. The missionaries' first goal was Niangara, on the Welle River, which they reached in June. During the following months they travelled about in a disturbed country, finally settling again at Niangara. The Mission was wonderfully blessed, and the workers who joined Mr. Studd had the joy, with him, of seeing many souls saved. C.T. himself was having a good innings. In 1917 the Belgian Government ratified the concession to the Mission, and made him intermediary between Mission and Government. "Personalite Civile" was his official title. A boys' school was started, and shortly afterwards another for girls.
In 1929, his beloved wife was called Home. He had seen her last in 1927, when she paid a brief visit to Africa. In 1931 his own call came. He had been asked many years before as to the Mission's work, "What if C.T. dies?" he replied: "Then shall our mouths be filled with laughter. We will all shout Hallelujah. Our God will still be alive and nothing else matters."
On the 16th of July, 1931, the veteran missionary passed away, after a brief illness, with a glad "Hallelujah" on his lips—straight into the Presence of His Lord.
From Twelve Mighty Missionaries by E. E. Enock. London: Pickering & Inglis, [1936?].
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