The Cambridge Seven

Cambridge Seven

It has been said that despite Christ’s command to evangelize, 67% of all humans from AD 30 to the present day have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ. (Baxter 2007, 12). 91% of all Christian outreach/evangelism does not target non-Christians, but targets other “Christians.” (Baxter 2007, 12).

In the last 40 years, over 1 billion people have died who have never heard of Jesus, and around 30 million people this year will perish without hearing the message of salvation. (Baxter 2007, 12). 70,000+ people die everyday in the unreached world without Jesus. (Baxter 2007, 12). American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministry, 4.5% on cross-cultural efforts in already reached people groups, and .5% to reach the unreached. (The Traveling Team)

With the above numbers, along with a host of others that could be given, and the fact that we are told that for every 100 Bible College students only one will seriously consider the mission field, I thought I would share something from a book called On the Edge, written by missionaries Jake Taube and Mark Tolson 10 years ago. While the book deals primarily with sending missionaries to China it can be used to challenge folks to go wherever the need is great in the 1040 Window.

In the late 1800s, a missionary named Harold Schofield labored in the filth and disease that was the China of that day. He had given up a lucrative, successful position as a brilliant doctor in Oxford to take the Gospel of Christ eastward. As he preached in the Shansi province to its nine million  inhabitants, he witnessed day by day the immensity of the task that lay before the church in China. He knew there were not enough missionaries, not enough preachers.

The students in his homeland had turned a callous heart to the things of the Lord and to His worldwide purpose. The churches had turned a deaf ear to the ringing command of our Savior. So he turned in despair to the Lord. Night after night, he poured out his heart to the God he served so faithfully, begging Him to send forth laborers into His harvest of 385 million Chinese people. He prayed that the Lord would raise a generation of students from the universities of England that would become ambassadors for His holy name. Dr. Schofield didn’t live to see his prayers answered. While on the field, he contracted typhus and went home to be with the Lord. But God had not ignored his prayers! God was beginning to stir a movement in a new generation of students that would make one of the most profound impacts on the world since the days of the early church!

Until we have young men and young women of God who are willing to do anything necessary to see God’s name glorified, there will be no city-taking. Until there is a generation willing to suffer, willing to bleed, and willing to die for the glory of God, there will be no conquering of the land God has promised us. We may watch walls fall and doors open, but it is our hearts that determine whether or not the cities of this world will be taken. …

CT Studd-2In November of 1884, Charles (known better as C.T. Studd) was invited by a friend named Stanley Smith to attend a meeting at the China Inland Mission Headquarters to hear a missionary named John McCarthy speak. McCarthy spoke with passion and excitement about “thousands of souls perishing everyday and night without even knowledge of the Lord Jesus” in China. Smith and Studd both left that night, convinced that God was calling them to go to China as missionaries! Soon three friends, Montague Beauchamp, Dixon Hoste, and William Cassels, joined together with them in their surrender and plan to go to China as missionaries. Dixon Hoste had been motivated to consider China as he read a booklet called “China’s Spiritual Need and Claims” by the great pioneer missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. Beauchamp committed to go after prayer, Bible study, and witnessing Studd’s own decision. Cassels committed after much prayer and heart-to-heart talks with the other men. The five committed young missionaries then scheduled a week-long conference with Hudson Taylor at their alma mater, Cambridge University to encourage the students there to give up their personal ambitions and commit themselves to the Lord’s service. The student body was shaken, not only because the five young men were missionaries, but because they were respected friends and classmates, students out of their own midst! After the last day of the conference, the two Polhill-Turner brothers, Arthur and Cecil, also offered their young lives to go as missionaries to China!

Cambridge Seven-2The seven young men were dubbed the “Cambridge Seven” and Hudson Taylor accepted them all as missionaries with the China Inland Mission.  Before their departure in February of 1885 were scheduled to make a month-long tour of the campuses of the universities of England and Scotland, sharing their testimonies and passion to be used of God. Though none but Smith was much of a speaker, that tour planted the seeds of a great missions movement among the students of their generation. Thousands of lives were impacted by their willingness to sacrifice their lives to serve their God. Their testimonies were compiled in a book that spread throughout all of England, the Queen herself receiving a copy! Though all of them served as missionaries in China, and three of them eventually died there, few have accomplished what they did for the cause of missions before they ever left for the field! They showed a generation of Christian students that life was about more than making money, gaining fame, or fulfilling self. It was about glorifying the King by building His kingdom!

Schofield’s prayers were answered! A generation was mobilized to carry the Gospel to China and the world!

What will make the difference for the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation? It will be nothing less than the mobilization of student leadership towards God’s worldwide purpose. Only when students realize that God has a powerful plan for their life and abandon their own small dreams, plans, and passions will this world of 6.5 billion people be reached. Only when students cast their aspirations and goals onto the altar of commitment to Christ will China, now at 1.3 billion inhabitants, be evangelized.  The message of the need of China must be proclaimed to this new generation. Over a billion souls hang in the balance. We bear a command from our Savior to go into all the world, carrying the Gospel of His death, burial, and resurrection.

The question is given to this generation, “Who will go for us?” (Is.6:8) What can be done to raise up a generation of Christian students for China? What can American students do?   The students of America must be mobilized to the harvest fields of China. No other group in the world has the opportunity for so much training, so much financial power, and so much life ahead of them. Francis Xavier said, “Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ.”

—Taken from the book On the Edge (Jacob Taube; Mark Tolson). CT Studd-1



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