Charles “C.T.” Studd’s fame as a missionary was enhanced by the celebrated abandonment of his international cricketing career. Batting at the moment the 1882 match against Australia was lost and the legend of the Ashes was born, Studd was an English all-rounder of domestic renown. Remarkably, though, he not only gave away his career at its height, believing it to represent his ‘backslidden’ years, but he also gave away his inherited fortune, a then-substantial sum of around thirty thousand pounds.
Impacted by the words of Jesus to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” (Luke 12:33), Studd’s obedience was not impulsive. Having to wait two years to access the funds, he gladly and purposefully signed them over to numerous beneficiaries, all dedicated to Christian service. The largest recipients included the great nineteenth century evangelist, D.L. Moody, who had been responsible for Studd’s father’s conversion and therefore indirectly his own; with his five thousand pounds, he commenced the Moody Bible Institute which continues today.
The same sum was also sent to others: to George Muller who had famously established an orphanage in Bristol; t the lesser-known George Holland who worked with the poor in London; and to Booth Tucker who oversaw the Salvation Army in India and had been praying for vital funds just the night before the payment came through.
Studd then presented the balance of his inheritance to his new wife who affirmed that God had spoken and he must indeed give it all away. This he did to William Booth in acknowledgment of the Salvation Army’s work, despite himself going into a new life as a missionary in China, with his wife, in poverty and God-dependence. His inspiring words to Booth were, “Henceforth our bank is in Heaven”!
All the beneficiaries had already been faithful to their call to Christian service, just as Studd was faithful to heed what was a significant, yet for him an easy, sacrifice. Consider the stunning work done when we release funds to Him, funds of which we are mere stewards on behalf of the God who owns them if He owns us. Studd’s sacrifices might seem lunacy by the standards of others, yet stand as a challenging call to us as to who (or what) is really ruling our lives.