Great men boast of great strengths, but they can also harbor great faults. Charles T. Studd, one of England’s most famous cricket players, was converted in 1883 through D. L. Moody’s influence. He developed a deep friendship with six other young men, and they offered themselves en masse to Hudson Taylor for missionary service in China. The “Cambridge Seven” sailed from England and arrived in Shanghai on March 18, 1885.

Studd set passionately to work, adopting Chinese clothes and customs and laboring to exhaustion for souls. On December 5 he turned 25 and legally gained control of a large inheritance. He gave it all to the Lord’s work, for he had found a greater wealth. “I cannot tell you,” he later said, “what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures this world can give. Those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me.”

Studd later poured himself into India, then Africa. He once said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” He toiled day and night, 18 hours at a stretch, with no meals except what he gulped down while working, and no vacations.

But his zeal overwhelmed those around him, leading to stress and broken relationships. His wife, often ill and lonely, was abandoned in England for years at a time while Studd was overseas. He expected his associates to work as he did, and he grew critical of those who didn’t. He wrote a book deploring lethargy as he saw it among Christians, and its title offended his supporters—D.C.D., standing for “Don’t Care a Damn.” He began treating his exhaustion and disorders with morphine. And when he died in Africa in 1931, he was broken in body and spirit.

But his fruit remains. The organization he founded, Worldwide Evangelism Crusade, is still sending out missionaries and changing the world. Despite his faults, Studd remains as one of our most passionate missionary heroes.

Try your best to please God and to be like him. Be faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle. Fight a good fight for the faith and claim eternal life. Promise to obey completely and fully all that you have been told until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. (1 Timothy 6:11b,12a,14)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Mar.18.

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