On this day in 1885, seven young men arrived in Shanghai, China to commence missionary work with Hudson Taylor and the China Inland mission. Not long before, each one of these young men had been rich, influential London aristocrats attending Cambridge University. But they each decided to leave the life of privilege behind to “throw away their lives on the mission field.” These young men would be remembered as the “Cambridge seven.”
For years earlier, the son of a British baronet, Montagu Harry Proctor-Beauchamp, was enrolled at Cambridge University. Though he was a very popular man, he was only a nominal Christian and cared much more for the worldly charms than the call of Christ.
One day, he introduced a good friend of his, Stanley Smith, to one of his dear childhood friends, Kynaston Studd. Since Stanley was the captain of the row team and Studd was one of the star cricket players for the college, Beauchamp knew that the two of them would be quick friends. But there was something else about these two young men that Beauchamp didn’t know. They both shared a deep love for Jesus Christ. And this bond did more to tie them together than anything else. When Beauchamp left Stanley and Studd alone, these two men agreed to pray together for their mutual friend, that God would captivate his heart and use him. For every day after that, they would meet for fifteen minutes and pray for their friend. And God answered the prayers of these faithful men. Nine months after they began to pray, Beauchamp surrendered his life to Christ and became a fiery witness throughout the university.
Little did any of these men realize the role this would play in their lives. Beauchamp’s influential family was befriended to Hudson Taylor and he had much knowledge about the China Inland Mission. When Beauchamp became a seminary student, he became an unofficial spokesman for the work in China, though he never had any intention of actually going himself. Through his influence, his friend Arthur Polhill-Turner decided to go to China and applied to the mission board.
At the same time, Stanley came to visit his friend at the seminary and, while he was here, heard a message on Isaiah 49:6, “…I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Stanley realized that he wanted to get involved in the mission work going on around the world. But where should he go? He spoke privately with Beauchamp about it and, of course, he challenged Stanley to go to China. Soon, Stanley was apply with the CIM also.
Dixon Hoste, who had served as an officer in the Royal Artillery, had been given a copy of Hudson Taylor tract called, “China’s Spiritual Need and Claims” by his brother William and Beauchamp, decided to go to China.
William Cassels was planning on going to Africa as a missionary through the Church Missionary Society, but after talking with Stanley Smith, decided to join him in China with the CIM.
Meanwhile, Stanley invite his friend C.T. Studd, the best cricket player at Cambridge and all of England, to attend a CIM rally with him. At the rally, Studd heard of the “thousands of [Chinese] souls perishing everyday and night without even knowledge of the Lord Jesus.” He decided to join the ranks to make a difference.
Beauchamp, the one who started it all, decided he didn’t want to be left behind. When he heard that Studd was going to China, he began to seriously pray and consider going. He soon joined the ranks of the other young missionaries.
What was the greatest strength of the Cambridge Seven? Their strength lies in the fact that they used their influence to spark a fire among the Christians of England for the cause of World Evangelism. These young men, all well known and respected, spoke to countless number of University students before their departure to China. They pleaded and begged for other students to get involved. Their lives challenged others to make sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel. They showed the world that the ministry of taking the Gospel of Christ to the lost was a job that required the absolute best a man and the church had to offer. Of the Cambridge Seven, the following was said:
We began to understand how much more noble a sphere of service was offered by Christ to young men with great possessions and good abilities, than any the cricket field, or the river, the army, or the bar could afford…never before were the stroke of a University eight, the captain of a University eleven, an officer of the Royal Artillery, and an officer of the Dragoon Guards seen standing side by side, renouncing the careers in which they had already gained no small distinction, putting aside the splendid prizes of earthly ambition which they might reasonably expect to win, taking leave of the social circles in which they shone with no mean brilliance, and plunging into that warfare whose splendours are seen by faith alone, and whose rewards seem so shadowy to the unopened vision of ordinary men? It was a sight to stir the heart, and a striking testimony to the power of the uplifted Christ to draw to Himself not the weak, the emotional, and the illiterate only, but all that is noblest in strength and finest in culture.”
The actions, words, and ideas of these men influenced countless people to follow Christ and revolutionized a nation. Who’s life are you influencing?
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