This address was given by Mrs. Buxton at a luncheon to mark the publication of the paper-back edition of Reluctant Missionary, at the Westminster Theatre.
Edward Studd, my grandfather, lived at Tedworth, a Georgian house in Wiltshire, now the Officers' Mess of Southern Command. He lived well, with a stable full of horses, one of which, Salamander, won the Grand National in 1866.
He had everything life could give. including six sons. They grew up to be good horsemen and played cricket, practicing every day, calling the gardeners off their work to bowl to them. Three of them became great cricketers. It is the only time three brothers have been in the Eton Cricket XI together. They followed on to the Cambridge First XI. Then father, C.T. Studd played for England against Australia.
Two gentlemen came over from America to convert the heathen British in 1876. They created not a riot but a revival. Grandfather got caught. Moody preached only 20 minute sermons, but so direct that Grandfather, who was sitting under his nose, said afterwards: "This man told me everything about himself, that I would not tell my best friend." The revival grew, as anyone can stand a 20 minute sermon and Mr. Sankey sang so divinely that the ladies all fished for their handkerchiefs.
When Grandfather got converted he left Tedworth and the horses, and the family settled in Hyde Park Gardens. At this time he gave away a lot of his money and founded the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I don't think Grandma quite approved, but she was left with enough money to run 2 Hyde Park Gardens in fine style.
While he was at Cambridge my father got converted and announced he was going to China as a missionary. The last straw! He left the house one night fed up with the wailing of the family about this decision and, pausing under a street light he opened his Bible. His eyes fell on the words: "I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the world for thy possession." He did not live to see this prophecy fulfilled, but he founded the World-wide Evangelization Crusade,known as WEC, which now has 1200 missionaries and workers all over the world.
Before he went to China, C.T. gave away all his money. You'd think he'd stay single. Not he. He met my mother, fell in love with her and married her in Shanghai. He had £500 left. This conversation took place between them. "Silla," - that was her name - "what shall we do with this £500?" "Give it away, Charlie," she said, "They'll only say I made you keep it." Bang went the £500. Then they got into a sampan propelled by Chinese, sailed up the Yellow River and started trekking inland.
They were very ill-equipped for this venture - only a few pots and pans and a roll of bedding. They came to a walled city called Lu-nhgan-fu in the province of Shansi, the heart of China. (Father always had to find the middle of everything - he later founded the Heart of Africa Mission). In Lu-nhgan-fu baby girls were so despised that they were thrown over the walls at night to the wolves. My parents lived there ten years and lived completely Chinese. During this time four daughters were born to them. Mother always said they were given daughters to teach the Chinese how valuable they were. There was no special food for them, so when Mother's milk dried up they were fed boiled bird seed three times a day. They did not grow up warbling like canaries, but who's to blame them if they were all rather featherbrained!
An attack of typhoid followed by asthma which was to dog my father all his life made them turn towards home. We all arrived back in England complete Chinese - trousers, jackets, shoes, round hats and pig-tails - and not in very good health. Father's eldest brother, Kynnie, met us at Tilbury docks. The sight of these missionary children must have shocked him. "How are you off for money," he said to Father. "I think I have ten shillings in my pocket," he replied.
We were plumped down in Grandma's house, 2 Hyde Park Gardens for the first fifteen years of our lives. As we grew up we became a great concern to the older generation. "Who is going to marry these penniless girls?" they said. "They will all have to be governesses."
At last four young men were found who looked kindly on us and we were all married off. The older ones threw their hats and bonnets in the air. "Thank goodness," they said, "they are off our hands at last."
You will wonder as I do how a woman of little imagination could write a book.
It never ceases to surprise me also.
To write a book you do not need to be clever. We were sent to Sherborne School for Girls with our cousins the Bradshaws, paid for by our Uncle Willy Bradshaw. Of course the Bradshaw's shot up to the 6th Form, but the Studds floundered about in 4B and C till, not fit for Form 5, they made a special class for them nick-named "The Wastepaper Basket".
Here after three years we were shot out to face the world. So you don't have to be clever.
You don't have to have words -- I am told the English language contains over 90,000 words, but the likes of me uses only a few hundred in daily conversation.
So you do not have to have words.
But you do need memories. You need to dream, dream until you are so absorbed in the past and what you see that you come back to the earth with a bump; so that you have to ask what day of the week it is.
That's when you must get a pen and write what you have seen, especially details.
I sent the first chapter of "Reluctant Missionary" to my candid sisters. They said, "Bravo, write another chapter." Then not so bravo - try again. So I kept pedalling away.
Sometimes my pen flew, sometimes I got stuck, good and proper - so I bought a leaflet on "How to write a book". It said, "Whey you get stuck, there is only one thing to do, Afix the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and write". It worked.
It took two years - but the chapters piled up.
It had to be typed three times - because of spelling mistakes, split infinitives and groggy grammar - and sheer muddle. The money was flying out at £36 a time on typing and I wondered if I would ever get it back.
When it was dressed in its best suit, it fell into the hands of a very intellectual young man. He said "Umm, not bad - in fact I went through the same experiences myself. This young woman got tangled up in a net of sects - C of E, Nonconformists, even a touch of the Salvation Army, brass band and all. And she worked her way out until she knew where she herself stood - on her own two feet outside the net. This book should be printed. I have only one comment to make: perhaps a little less of these intimate conversations with the Almighty: `I said to God' - `He said to me'. It's a bit bald. It needs dressing up a little."
I wondered what his earthly father would think if he was addressed like that - he would say "The chap must be going mad." I took no notice!
In the end he turned up trumps. He said, "I'm going to a publisher in the morning - I'll take it with me and see if he will take it."
Then came a letter - important looking - I tore it open - it was from my first and only ever Publisher (I'll never write another book, never) asking me to come and see him.
The day came, I put on my most sober side, dressed carefully, not too much, not too little and sallied forth to meet him. Bouverie Street - it's a dingy place, but at last I found it - and scampered up the stairs - heart high with hope. Then I suddenly stopped - I said to myself, "Don't get so excited, play it cool. Have a little dignity. He may hand you back your manuscript and you'll throw it out of the window." Too true, I thought.
So, calming down, I knocked on the door and walked in cool as a cucumber, looking as if I did not care a cent whether he printed the darn thing or not.
After exchanging civilities he said, looking at me over the top of his bi-focals, "You know, Mrs. Buxton, this is a very risky business."
"Risky" I said, "my book?"
"Yes," he said, "It's the money - if you print a book, and no-one wants to read it, you lose a lot of money." "Yes," I said, looking rather simple - "Have you got £500 you can put into it?" he said.
"NO," I said. I should have said, "I thought you would give me £500."
I agreed to forego any Royalties and after about a year it came out, and to everyone's surprise it sold out in three months.
A second impression sold more slowly - after about a year or so it was finished.
I asked the Publisher if he would make it into a paperback. "NO," came the reply, "much too risky!"
They kindly surrendered the publishing rights and that very day I posted a copy of the book to Hodder and Stoughton who have now published it in paperback.
I believe no less than 10,000 have to be printed to make a paperback worthwhile. It is no small task to have 10,000 books on your shoulders. So we have come here today to help give it a push.
I am so glad we can launch this paperback here in the Westminster Theatre. It is about three years ago since 1 first came to a meeting here, one Sunday morning. I'd like to know what my father thought when he looked down and saw me in a theatre on Sunday morning. It was never allowed - so worldly! But instead of spending an hour and a half cold and fidgeting, this place was alive. The things you hear at these meetings in the Westminster Theatre - this work of MRA. It is going on all over the world. You hear of what is going on in India, the opening of a training centre in Panchgani, and of miracles of reconciliation among the Asian nations. It is like an army operating. You hear of violence averted in Assam and Malaysia. You hear of an answer to the colour warin South Africa. You hear tales of Prime Ministers shaking hands with the opposition and apologising for their divisions. My goodness, I wish we could see a little of that here. Fancy if Mr. Wilson apologised to Mr. Heath and vice versa. The front pages of the papers would catch fire.
You hear of MPs who have been at daggers drawn with their political enemies now planning together with them, their differences forgotten. I know what you are thinking: this woman is exaggerating. Not at all. Why can't it happen? Hundreds of times a day people pray the Lord's Prayer: "Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven". What do we mean by that? Why for Heaven's sake is it there unless our Lord saw what could come if only we would live as he taught us through His whole life how we should live. My word, if you let yourself go, you begin to think of nations coming to agree with each other, islands, continents, all creeds, classes and colours. Frank Buchman used to say we must think in continents. I think of that wonderful hymn:
Thy Kingdom come, O Lord.
Thy Rule O Christ begin
Break with Thy iron rod
The tyranny of sin.
When comes the promised time
That war shall be no more -
Oppression lust and crime
Shall flee Thy face before.
Where is Thy reign of peace
And purity and love,
When shall all hatred cease
As in the realms above?
You hear stories of married couples who have divided, who live a cat and dog life (though the husband sometimes says it is all cat), and they make up their differences, gather their children around them again and live a happy united life.
God's Kingdom could come. And who knows that MRA is not going to be used by God to do this?
The foundation of it all of course is the Cross of Christ. That is the foundation, and the genius of Frank Buchman was that he gave us the bricks to build on that foundation - those four absolutes, honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. With those absolutes we couldhave a world where the rich nations would look after the less well-off where men would trust each other and everyone would have something worthwhile to live for. That is what I saw at the Westminster Theatre An army on the march. I don't consider myself to be in the main infantry brigade but I am a "trotter" - trotting along and trying to keep up the pace.
I have been reading Frank Buchman's Secret recently: "God had answered the defeats and estrangements in my life," he said. "Our job is to save the world from dictatorship, corruption and war. That is the task of MRA". Of course it's all too big for me with my 500 words to play with. My mind is like bad elastic - it doesn't stretch far enough. But you know what this might mean for the world. I may not see it but some of you will.
And so I come to Frank Buchman. He was very much like my father. Both of them were much maligned - but both of them were heart and soul devoted to Christ. My own humble link with Frank Buchman is that we both came to Christ through the same person. I don't know if you know Frank Buchman's story. Walking in Keswick in 1908 he went into a little church and there a woman brought him to the Cross of Christ and he went away so changed that he wrote 6 letters of apology to the men he hated, starting each letter with that hymn -
When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died;
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.
I don't know if you have ever had your pride broken. It's quite an experience. I knew a little of it myself on the mission field. Without the four standards to build with we lied to one another - shocking - some of us were very selfish, myself included. So God had to break my pride there in the Congo and enable me to say sorry to those I had wronged. I wish I had learned then to listen to God. We were taught to read our Bible - not an easy book to read. And we were taught to pray to God - mostly selfish prayers, telling Him what to do for us. Thousands of Christians have set their feet on the right path but have lost their way and don't knowwhere they are going. It is like wandering in the desert. Read my book with MRA in mind and you will know what I mean. My father and his son-in-law would never have separated and two neighbour missions would never have clashed if we had learned to listen to God.
I came to the Cross at the age of 18, through Mrs. Booth Clibbon, the daughter of General Booth of the Salvation Army, who was known as the Marechal. I did not have Frank Buchman's four standards, so I became very pious and tried to make myself into what I thought God wanted me to be. I put away all my finery, feathers and fluff and went out and bought a monk-like garb in brown. The Marechal wore her clothes to the floor. I didn't go quite that far but it was a very long frock. I even found a brown Sally Army bonnet which I snapped up and went home. Having put it all on I went to visit the Marechal, my ideal. It was a summer day and she was at the end of her garden. She looked at me aghast and said: "Edith, I've seen more pride under a Salvation Army bonnet than under any hat with feathers." Which made me think. It was like a balloon being pricked. I must have heard God's voice. He said to me: "You leave yourself to me. I'll make you what I want you to be. The world is a cold and lonely place and I want you to go out with a warm heart towards all, whatever colour, nation, language, creed, or class. You must love them all. That's your work." These last three years I have had a lot to learn. My eyes have been opened and I have seen where we have gone astray off the main road and into the by-paths. We need to come back again to the Cross and build our lives on those four absolutes.
This is the battleground within us, the inner conflict that must be resolved. And this is where Christ comes to help us. As we came to the Cross for forgiveness, so we must come to Him again for His indwelling Spirit. Albert Schweizer calls it "that Spirit of Jesus in a Man".
He will not come to us. We must come to Him. What if He takes up a life and finds it so full of self He has to put it down and says: "I cannot do anything with this life". What of the young man who tries to convert another, but with such harshness - "I am right and you are wrong" - that Christ says again: "I cannot use him because I do not work that way."
He never forces Himself on a life. He is the ever-waiting, ever-compelling figure who is always with us waiting for us to come to Him. That is friendship. We must have a personal relationship with Him, whereby He indwells us and is the strength to combat the quick sins that are constantly defeating Christians. The tiny dishonesty, the hidden impurity, the moods and unkind answers that ruin family life and cloud the atmosphere, the lack of love to one another. In silence God becomes real and tells us where to start rebuilding His creation.
Someone asked me the other day: "Edith, what is your aim in life now?" I think I can explain it by a true story I was told in Africa. Water had been laid on to a village through a pipe. One day the water stopped. There was none to be had for miles, so they started to dig and at last they came to the main water supply. There was no water there. So they started to clear the main. Suddenly a jet of water shot into the air and on top of it were two dirty old sacks. The story goes that when Christ reached Heaven they all gathered around and asked Him: "Who is left to carry on?" And He said: "Four men - fishermen. I am depending on them". And from these four men His message has come down to us over 2000 years and is still alive. God has only us through which to pour His living water to this thirsty world. And my aim in life is to keep that channel clean and flowing, clearing out those sacks. With the help of those four standards and listening to God I will let Him use me as a channel. He teaches me to keep myself out of the way. You can block God's channel so that He cannot reach others. My aim is to live so that God's rivers of living water can come to this parched world around us.
When Scott's expedition was returning from the South Pole they camped eleven miles from the base which held all the food and the warmth they needed. They had every expectation of reaching it next day. Only eleven miles. They tucked themselves into the tent that night; then the worst snowstorm they had yet encountered whirled around them, literally burying them.
I do not know at what point they knew they were doomed. But there came a moment when each one wrote his last message. Scott wrote to the nation: "For God's sake look after our people". Wilson wrote to his wife. Bowers had no-one to write to - he was the least significant of the party - but perhaps he left the greatest message of all. Faced with death there comes to a man a clarity of vision not given in life.
"One night when things were at their blackest, it seemed to me that Christ came and showed me why we are here and what the purpose of life really is. It is to make a great decision, to choose between the material and the spiritual. He filled my whole horizon. Who could refuse to stick to such a friend?"