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Priscilla Livingstone Stewart (Mrs. Studd, wife of C. T. Studd)

by J. A. W. Hamilton

Priscilla StuddPriscilla Livingstone Stewart, born in [Lisburn, near Belfast, Ireland], August 28th, 1864, was a merry-hearted Irish girl destined to have the missionary vision of China, India, Africa.

Let's listen to her now as she tells us her own story (from C. T. Studd: Cricketer and Pioneer by Norman P. Grubb by permission of the author and publisher, Lutterworlh Press.)

"I am a Missionary now, but I was not made that way. Had you asked me to come to a meeting when I was a girl, I would have said, 'No, thank you, none of your religion for me'; for my idea of a person loving God was to have a face as long as a coffee pot, and I said, 'I have a young heart and a gay heart and I don't want to be miserable, or to have a face as long as a fiddle !'

"So right on till I was nearly out of my teens I maintained this attitude, not only of opposition when spoken to on such things, but also often scoffed and mocked and said, 'I will never serve God, I will never love Jesus nor call Him Lord and Master.' But what happened is just an illustration of 'Man proposes, but God disposes.'

"It was winter, and I had attended several small dances, and at last the day came, which is always a red-letter day in every girl's life; I was to go to a ball! How little I thought it was to be my first and last ball! I thoroughly enjoyed it, dancing every dance, etc. It was a grand night! We got home at 4 a.m. I went to bed and slept, but a disturbed sleep, as I had a horrible nightmare.

"The first time I awoke I tried to smother conscience with 'Oh, it's only a. dream!' I slept again to awaken at the same point, but the third time conscience would not be silenced. So I got up, determined to drown all such nonsense in the reminiscences and laughter of the breakfast table with my cousins. But the pricks of conscience are not so easily smothered. For three months this nightmare worried me, for I became convinced that I had seen the end of my own existence,

"I had dreamed I was playing tennis, when suddenly I and those playing with me found ourselves surrounded by a multitude of people, and, as we stared in amazement, One rose high over all the crowd, and as He did so, I alone exclaimed: ''Why, that's the Son of God!' Looking and pointing straight at me, I distinctly heard Him say, 'Depart from Me, for I never knew you.' The crowd seemed to disperse as clouds and we on that tennis court were left. I looked at my friends and seeing their expression of horror, turned to my special friend, saying, 'Never mind, we are all going together!'

"So hardened had I become that I did not care, though I knew and believed those words meant that I was cut off from God for ever. But as the days passed by, the thought fastened on my mind that somewhere in the Bible it said, 'It may be at evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow that Jesus will come again,' and as each of these hours came round the thought arose, 'And if He comes, what about me?'

"At the end of three months I was staying with a lady who herself had been converted but recently. One night she was telling me some remarkable stories of tragedies and happenings in her family, and that her mother, who had been a wonderful woman; had often been prepared for coming troubles by visions or dreams sent her of God. I retorted, 'God has nothing to do with dreams. I can prove it. If I have been over studying when I go to bed, my brain, being over-wrought, goes on working; and I dream of my studies. If I eat things which disagree with me, they disturb my digestion, and when I sleep, I dream'; and then I found myself trying to convince her of my theories by telling her that after the ball I suffered from a horrible nightmare, and in spite of myself I dared for the first time to tell another of the dream. Whilst doing so, I looked at her and suddenly came to my senses and wondered what I was doing in making such a confession, as she was looking at me in consternation. To turn off what I saw was coming, I laughed and said, 'Now God had nothing to do with that dream. That was the result of a supper of champagne and lobster and whirling round a ballroom all night!'

"But my friend exclaimed: 'Oh, child, if anyone has ever had a warning from God, you have; give Him your heart and nothing will ever disturb the peace of mind He will give you.' I was not conscious of wanting any such thing, but unlike my usual self, instead of mocking at such words, I found myself kneeling and saying, 'I have never decided for God, but I will tonight.' Then I realized I knew the devil as a person, as he actually seemed to come to my side, torturing me by bringing to remembrance all the times I had mocked and scoffed and said I would never love God nor yield my allegiance to Him. At the end of quite a time, a gentler influence seemed to overshadow me and a voice oh, so different, asked, 'Child, what do you want?' 'To get to God, but I can’t,' for there seemed veritably a great gulf fixed, and I, like Bunyan, with so great a load on me that I could not move. Suddenly close to me was raised the Cross with Jesus Christ nailed upon it, and with the crown of thorns upon His brow. Distinctly I saw the wounds and the riven side, and I saw the blood flow. Quickly the words came to me, just as to many a heathen woman I afterwards taught, 'Why wast Thou there?' And immediately a voice replied, 'With My stripes you are healed.' The vision of the Cross disappeared, my burden, too, and I arose. My friend greeted me with, 'Well, what is it to be?' I said, 'I have seen Calvary, and henceforth He shall be my Lord and my God.'

"What I said would never be, God had brought to pass."

Eighteen months after her conversion, in 1887, she arrived in Shanghai to begin work for God in the first sphere of her prophetic vision, China.

It was while in China she met the man to whom she was married, Charles T. Studd, the one-time famous cricketer, who became the famous missionary. After the wedding, the only house they could get to live in was supposed to be a haunted one. No one else would live in it, but evidently it was the right place for 'foreign devils,' as they were called. The missionaries were blamed for everything that went wrong, and during the riots their lives were in great danger. The people came in large numbers to see them, and for five years they never went outside their doors without a volley of curses from their neighbours. When their first little girl was born, they forgot their loneliness and isolation. They called her Grace. Altogether they lived in this city of Lungau Fu seven years. They erected a hall and dispensary, and hundreds of patients came to them.

In the year 1894, Mr. Studd's health was so broken, that he and his wife and four little girls returned to England. Mr. Studd fully intended to return to China, but neither his health nor his wife's would permit it.

After some years of evangelistic and deputation work, Mr. Studd decided to try the climate of India. Here Mrs. Studd joined him in 1900, and continued her whole-hearted work there for her Master. In 1908 the call came for Mr. Studd to go to Africa. Mrs. Studd was forced to stay at home for health reasons. At the end of the year 19f2, the. 'Heart of Africa Mission' was founded by the Studds. A missionary training colony was started at home, and consisted of army huts, so that conditions might be as much like those on the actual mission field as possible. It was designed to test and train men for the pioneer fields.

In the summer the whole colony went on 'trek,' preaching in the towns through which they passed, and looking to the Lord alone for supplies. During all these years Mrs. Studd was living the most strenuous life. She bore the burden of the home work, assisted by two of her daughters. She became the Mission's chief deputation secretary, and visited Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, South Africa, and lastly Spain, in its interests.

She wrote her last message to the men at the Hostel on January 10 th, 1929, from Malaga, Spain. She was taken ill almost immediately afterwards, and passed away to be with Jesus on January 15, and was buried in the cemetery at Malaga. Thus ended the life of a remarkable woman.

Yet the noble work she and her husband began is still going on, with the same object so in view, to reach the untouched regions of the world with the good news of free salvation.

From Twelve Clever Girls by J. A. W. Hamilton. London: Pickering and Inglis, Ltd., 1937. Chapter 10.

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