C.T. Studd: No Retreat

Chapter 1

We’re lost,” C.T. Studd said, shaking his head. C.T. and his traveling companion, Alfred Buxton, had been trying to find their way back to the trail through the dense African jungle, but all they had succeeded in doing was walking in circles until they were now totally disoriented.

“And hungry,” Alfred added.

The men’s porters, from whom they had become separated, were carrying all of their food and supplies.

The two Englishmen walked on a little farther and came upon a small clearing. They emerged from the sunless gloom of the jungle into the bright sunlight of the clearing. C.T. studied the sky above, searching for a cloud, a migrating bird, anything that might help him get his bearings.

“You know, this is the area where that elephant hunter we heard about was shot and killed with a poison dart,” Alfred said.

A shiver ran up C.T.’s spine at the thought. “I know,” he replied, “and I have a strange feeling we’re being watched right now.”

“Yes, I know what you mean,” Alfred said. “Do you have any idea which direction we should head to get out of here?”

Before C.T. could answer, the men heard a rustle in the jungle behind them. They spun around to see an African man emerge from the dense foliage. The man was naked except for the tattered shirt that he wore. C.T.’s and Alfred’s eyes were drawn to the bow and arrows the man held in his left hand. The man smiled, revealing teeth that had been filed to sharp points.

“The teeth, a sure sign he is a cannibal,” C.T. said.

It was then that C.T. noticed the plaited basket the man was carrying in his right hand. The basket was filled with sweet potatoes and cobs of maize. The man was still smiling, and sensing that he meant them no harm, C.T. smiled back and pointed to the basket. He then patted his stomach to indicate he was hungry, and the man seemed to understand what he was saying. He walked forward and handed several cobs of maize and some sweet potatoes to C.T.

“Thank you,” C.T. said as he took them, though he knew the man had no idea what he was saying.

C.T. did not want to just take the vegetables from the man. He wanted to pay him for them, but neither he nor Alfred had any money on him. C.T. wondered what he could give the man in return. It was then that he noticed the buttons on his pants. “Why do pants have so many buttons?” he asked Alfred.

Alfred gave him a bewildered look, unsure what such a question had to do with their present situation.

“I’ll tell you,” C.T. continued. “To give to undressed cannibals.” With that he tore six buttons off his pants and gave them to the man.

A broad smile spread across the man’s face, and his sharpened teeth glistened in the sunlight. Then, suddenly, the man beckoned for the two missionaries to follow him as he set off into the jungle. C.T. and Alfred looked at each other and then followed him.

An hour later they came to another clearing, in which was located a small village.

“Do you think this might be a trap and they’re going to kill us and eat us?” Alfred asked as they approached the village.

“No, I don’t think so,” C.T. said in a calm voice. “Look at us. We’re too lean and lanky and tough for them to try to cook and eat. There are more tender and appetizing animals to eat in the jungle.”

The man guided them to sit beside a fire near one of the grass huts. Once he was sure they were comfortable, he placed the sweet potatoes and ears of maize into the embers of the fire. Half an hour later he pulled the vegetables from the embers and served them to C.T. and Alfred. He brought some cooked meat from inside the hut and served it to them as well. The two famished men began to gobble down the meat and vegetables.

“The sweet potatoes and maize are cooked perfectly,” Alfred said as they ate. “And the meat was tender and tasty. I wonder what animal it is from.”

“In a cannibal village that might not be a good thing to inquire about,” C.T. said dryly.

Their host sat smiling as the men ate.

“Imagine if people in England could see us now,” Alfred said.

“Yes. Most of them could scarcely believe it,” C.T. replied.

As C.T. chewed on an ear of maize, he thought more about Alfred’s remark. What would people in England think? C.T. had been raised in a privileged family. He had attended the best schools in England. He had been the top cricket player in the country. Thousands of people used to come to watch him play. Could those who came to watch him have ever imagined that their cricket hero would one day be sitting in the middle of a dense jungle in the heart of Africa having lunch with cannibals? C.T. could scarcely believe it himself. His life had certainly taken a different turn from what he had ever imagined it would be. Indeed, if people back home could see him now!

Chapter 2
A Religious Fanatic

In the quadrangle of Eton College, a preparatory high school, C.T. Studd stood talking with several of his friends.

“Amazing. All three of you in the first eleven!” Cecil Polhill-Turner exclaimed. “Look out for those Studd boys! Eighteen seventy-seven is going to be our best year yet. We are going to beat Harrow!”

C.T. laughed. “It will take more than the three of us to make a great cricket team. But we are going to do our best. I can hardly wait to tell Father.”

Edward Studd would be the proudest man in England, C.T. was sure of that. His three oldest sons, nineteen-year-old Kynaston, or Kinny for short, eighteen-year-old George, and seventeen-year-old Charles Thomas, whom everyone called C.T., were on Eton College’s premier cricket team all at the same time. Their father loved any kind of sport, but especially cricket and horse racing. One of his horses, named Salamander, had even won the Grand National Championship in England.

“Here comes Kinny now,” Cecil said with admiration.

Kinny Studd strolled toward the group with the air of someone who had just learned he was to be the captain of the most popular sports team on campus. In his hand he held a letter.

“Hello,” he said, ruffling his younger brother’s hair. “I have a letter from Father. He says he wants to meet the three of us in London this weekend. Can you make it?”

C.T. nodded. “Does he say what he wants us for?”

“No,” Kinny replied. “I expect he wants to celebrate with us, probably go to the theater or hear the Christy Minstrels, something like that.”

“Sounds great,” C.T. said. “I wonder who told him the great news.”

The boys talked for a few more minutes before going their separate ways. C.T. went back to the rooms he shared with his two brothers. His first job was to make sure that their servant would have his Sunday clothes ready for the weekend excursion. The Studds were among the wealthiest families in England, and Mr. Studd liked his sons to look the part at all times.

Saturday arrived, and the three brothers climbed aboard a train for Paddington Station, where they had agreed to meet their father, who was waiting for them on the platform. Although he was fifty-six years old, Edward Studd looked sprightlier than ever, waving at the boys as soon as he spotted them through the carriage window.

After their father had greeted each of his sons, C.T. spoke up. “So where are you taking us?” he asked.

“Oh, didn’t I mention it in the letter? We are off to Drury Lane to hear a very special performance. I am sure you will all find it fascinating.”

“Why? What are you taking us to see?” Kinny asked, but their father simply beckoned for them to follow him through the crowded station and out to a waiting carriage.

As they walked, C.T. tried to think of who might have captivated his father’s attention so completely that he forgot to congratulate his sons for making the first eleven cricket team.

As the carriage rounded a corner near Drury Lane, C.T. froze in shock. Huge placards announced, “Come and hear Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey.”

George leaned over and whispered to C.T. “I can’t believe it. Do you think Father has gone religious on us?”

As if to answer the question, Edward Studd cleared his throat and spoke. “I have something very important to tell you. Since we were together last summer, I have experienced a change of heart. My dear friend Mr. Vincent and his family came to stay, and I found him quite different from the man I had known in India for so many years. He invited me along here to the Drury Lane Theater to hear two Americans, Moody and Sankey. I was not keen to go, but I had said he could name the entertainment for the evening, and that is where he wanted to go. At any rate, we went along, and I must say, Moody spoke more sense than any man that I have ever heard. I am not ashamed to say I went back night after night until I was soundly converted.”

A stunned silence followed, until finally Kinny spoke up. “Converted? You mean converted into… into a religious fanatic?”

C.T. looked at his father and saw a huge grin spread over his face.

“Just wait until you experience it too!” Mr. Studd replied. “There is nothing in the world compared to knowing Jesus Christ. Why, since I have taken him into my heart, my whole life has changed. My passion for horse racing is gone, and I barely have time to shoot anymore. You’d hardly know the house, either. I have cleared out the large hall and brought in chairs and benches. All sorts of people—merchants, business associates, servants—everyone comes to hear preachers at the house. It is marvelous!”

“And what about Mother?” George choked.

“She’s been converted too and is right behind me. I have never felt such joy in my whole life! Jesus Christ is the answer, boys. That I am sure of. He is the answer to all of life’s questions.”

C.T. looked down at the carriage seat. He hardly dared to look up in case he caught the eye of one of his brothers. How would they stop from laughing out loud if that happened? His father, the shrewd businessman who had made a fortune in India as a young man and then returned to England to live a life of ease, was now a fanatical Christian? It was almost too much to take in. C.T. wished he’d had some warning to get used to the idea.

“Come along,” Mr. Studd said encouragingly as the carriage came to a stop outside the theater. “Come and hear Moody for yourself. Then I’ll take you back to the house for dinner, and you can ask me all the questions you want.”

The house Edward Studd referred to was located in the fashionable area of Hyde Park Garden. Mr. Studd had bought the place some years before so that he would have somewhere to stay when he came to London to buy and bet on horses. C.T. would have given just about anything to be at the house right then, swapping cricket stories with his father. Instead he and his brothers followed their father into the hall. The crowd was already singing hymns, none of which were familiar to C.T. Like all well-brought-up English boys, C.T. had been to church every Sunday of his life, but these were not the traditional Anglican hymns he was used to.

The hymns were not the only things foreign to C.T. When Dwight Moody took the platform and started to speak, C.T. realized he had never before heard anyone preach with so much enthusiasm or conviction. He listened carefully to Dwight L. Moody, but he found it hard to imagine why his father found it all so exciting. Despite Moody’s enthusiasm and conviction, it still sounded like religious mumbo jumbo to C.T., who was eager to be out of the strange environment he found himself in.

Once the service was over, Mr. Studd summoned a carriage to take them all back to the house for dinner. The conversation around the meal was rather one-sided. All three brothers had the same reaction to their father’s new religious exuberance—they did not want to know anything more about it.

In his wildest dreams, C.T. could not have imagined this moment. As they ate dessert, Mr. Studd explained that he was going to keep four horses, one for himself and one for each of the boys, and sell the rest. He had lost interest in breeding racehorses or gambling on them.

“I talked to Moody about it,” Mr. Studd said happily, “and he told me that God would give me souls and that as soon as I had won a soul, I wouldn’t care about anything else. And you know what, boys? He was right. As soon as I won my first convert, I couldn’t care less about racing or making money. Isn’t that wonderful?”