Since I was a teenager, the example of spiritual giants in the Christian arena has greatly propelled me toward personal growth and ministry leadership. Stories of personal sacrifice in our culture of comfort stand as a beacon of Jesus’ invitation for self-denial and bearing our crosses. As one of the first celebrity athletes, C.T. Studd was the Patrick Mahomes or LeBron James of his day, and he walked away from fame and fortune to share the Gospel on the mission field. How inspiring is that?!
Would you do it if God called you to leave everything to enter the ministry? Would you do it if God called you to use your career and influence for the Gospel? Consider the impact of our obedience to Christ. Souls that were once bound for hell are now in heaven because C.T. Studd said “yes” to God’s call on him.
“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”¹ This statement sums up C.T. Studd’s personal philosophy and mission. His life reflected this statement as it was characterized by sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.
Charles Thomas Studd was born into a wealthy English family in 1860. As a young man, C.T. was part of the Church of England but had a superficial knowledge of what being a Christian meant, even though he had been baptized and confirmed in the church. However, this would all change as a college student after being influenced by the ministry of D.L. Moody.
C.T. made a name for himself as a skilled cricket player while studying at Eton College and Cambridge. His fame continued to skyrocket when he graduated college in 1883 and soon became captain of England’s cricket team. Despite his increasing fame, C.T. sensed a greater calling on his life. He decided to leave behind sports, wealth, fame and family to pioneer the mission field of China. He, along with six others, made up the Cambridge Seven. They committed faithful service to God by serving alongside Hudson Taylor in China in 1885. His life of sacrifice was just beginning.
While C.T. served in China, he received his inheritance on his 25th birthday. He gave it all away by sending checks to various missions organizations and ministries such as George Mueller’s orphanages, the Salvation Army of India and the founding of Moody Bible Institute. Soon afterward, C.T. married Priscilla Stewart, and they served in China until 1894, returning home for a brief time due to health reasons.2
C.T.’s devotion to Christ would take him and his family to India for six years. Then, C.T. embarked on his final journey. Unfortunately, Priscilla could not go with him to Africa due to health reasons. However, she eventually joined him for a brief visit about a year before her death.
Despite this loss, Africa proved to be one of the most significant periods of ministry in Studd’s life. At age 52, C.T. pushed into the interior of Africa toward the Sudan to pioneer mission work for 18 years against his doctors’ advice. Taking the Gospel to unreached people fueled C.T.’s tenacity for sacrifice. One of his most famous quotes is, “Some wish to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”³
C.T. died in Africa in 1931. Studd’s response to God’s call continues to have a Kingdom-building impact today. Men, may we also be faithful to God’s call on our lives today.
State Missionary Larry Hyche serves as men’s spiritual development strategist at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. He may be contacted at (334) 613-2268, firstname.lastname@example.org.
¹ John Warwick Montgomery, “C.T. Studd,” Evangelical Quarterly 85, no. 85.2 (April 2013): 135–49.
² Norman P. Grubb, C T Studd Cricketer & Pioneer, 3rd Rev edition (Lutterworth Press, 1982).
³ “C. T. Studd Gave Huge Inheritance Away,” Christianity.com, accessed February 10, 2023, https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1801-1900/c-t-studd-gave-huge-inheritance-away-11630616.html.