As a young man, C.T. Studd had everything going for him. A famous cricket champion during his Eton and Cambridge days, fame and success were his. But upon the death of his older brother George, he asked himself, “What is all the fame and flattery worth … when a man comes to face eternity?
I knew that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last”, he said, “but it was worthwhile living for the world to come.”
C.T. Studd had already become a missionary in China when he inherited, at age 25, the veritable fortune (for that time) of £29,000.
Certain God would meet his needs, he wanted to show the world that he relied on the Lord, and not money. So he gave it all to orphan work and missions. All except the last £3,400. That was his wedding gift to Priscilla, his bride-to-be. But Priscilla was not about to let her husband outdo her, and she gave it all away.
“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him,” C.T. said.
Things couldn’t have always been easy for the Studds, for Charles on one occasion stated, “Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands.”
C.T. Studd, because he firmly believed that no sacrifice could be too great for God, spent both his fortune, and his very life, on missions. Leaving us with a great example of faith and faithfulness.
And with the lesson that God trusts each of us with his reputation.
For C.T., this meant giving everything away. Leaving everything, and going to the foreign field, because he longed to share the peace and joy found in knowing Christ. But he also wanted to faithfully portray God’s character. His reputation.
What a privilege is ours! God trusts us his with reputation! Let that sink in a minute.
Funds are getting low? The cupboards bare?
God trusts us to display the trust and peace he’s put in our hearts. That unshakable peace that only he can give. Which in trust keeps looking to him, without hand-wringing worry. Knowing that God has only good in mind for us.
We’ve argued or been wronged?
God trusts us to give forgiveness and restoration to others, just as he does with us. He waits for us to take the first step. To apologize even when we’re not in the wrong. And to extend the mercy and grace he bestows on us.
Feeling fearful, terrified even, at what’s going on in the world?
God trusts us to show that his perfect love casts out fear. And he waits to see us reach out with love, not draw away in fear. And to give and keep on giving, no matter the cost.
This, in these evil times of terrorism, is the church’s hour.
The world is falling apart before our very eyes. Everywhere, from all walks of life, and people of all ages are expressing fear, anguish, and even anger and hatred.
And yes, so much of what we see brings anger. Evil should make us angry. But angry enough to do whatever we can to stop it. And angry enough to do whatever we can to ease the pain, the suffering, and the confusion it causes.
Our present work in the refugee camps in our area bring this home to us more and more. We watch the people around us saying, “Keep them out. We can’t help them. We’ve already got enough poor people. Enough problems. And ‘what if’ …”
Yes, what if? What if terrorists come in their midst?
This reminds me of some of my all-time greatest heroes. The ten Boom family of Holland. Who willingly took in Jews and hid them during WWII. Who willingly helped any and all who came to their door. And always with the threat of “what if” hanging over their head.
“What if” one of them was a spy, a traitor, an informant? It could cost them their lives, or at least getting sent to a concentration camp.
A pastor happened to visit the ten Boom family when someone brought them a Jewish baby in need of a hiding place. But babies were dangerous. Hard to hide. One cry, and they’d all be caught.
They couldn’t keep that baby there. Their house was too public, too trafficked. “You live in the countryside,” they told the pastor. “You can take the baby!”
But the pastor was afraid. It could cost too much. And he told them so. “You could lose your lives for that baby,” he told them.
‘You say we could lose our lives for this child,’ Casper ten Boom replied. ‘I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.’
I love history, and the lessons we can learn from it. And I’ve always wondered how an entire nation could go awry, like Germany did under the Nazis. And I’ve always hoped and prayed, that if such times ever came about in my life, that I wouldn’t follow the masses. But that I would have the courage and faith of the ten Boom family.
Papa ten Boom, Casper, understood the same thing that C.T. Studd did. God trusts us with his reputation. He’s left us here in this evil, hate-filled world to become his hands and his feet. To show the world who he is and what he is like.
The times we’re living are complex, dangerous, and fearful. I feel for world leaders and all in authority whose job is to protect and make wise decisions. But beyond praying for them to have wisdom there’s not much I can do in that regard.
But in this, the church’s greatest hour — how can we (as individuals) display Christ’s reputation?
How can we be his hands, his feet, his heart to the hurting and fearful? I don’t want to judge that pastor who went home without the little Jewish baby. Fear is a powerful weapon. And we never know how we’ll react until wearing the same shoes.
Like when a man, a spy and traitor, lead to the arrest of the ten Boom family.
After arrest, they offered to set Casper ten Boom free, because of his advanced age — if only he wouldn’t take in any more Jews. But he replied, “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help.” So he remained a prisoner. Imprisoned, but the freest man in all the nation.
I pray with my whole heart that, like Papa ten Boom, I would count it an honor to pay any cost to show Christ’s love, grace, mercy, and compassion. And in this, our greatest hour, may my door never be closed. May my heart and hands be ever open to give, to take in, to help. No matter the cost.
Too much is at stake for me to do otherwise. God has entrusted me with his reputation. And that’s a stake too high to risk.
Author’s note: We fully understand how complex it is to balance national/world security with compassion. And we pray for world leaders to get God’s wisdom. But these people are right here, in our neighborhood. So to us, THE REFUGEES ARE, AND WILL REMAIN, NEEDY PEOPLE THE LORD HAS PLACED IN OUR PATH. We could no more refuse them help than we could have refused our children food.]