Mrs. C. T. Studd
I would like to tell you how the Lord laid hold of me when I was young and bad no sense. I can look back and remember the time when I hated the idea of wanting to know Jesus.
We had two uncles converted in the revival in the north of Ireland. At one uncle’s house we used to meet various evangelists. Uncle was a very wise man and the children were allowed to go to the children’s den, whilst all the people went into the drawing-room to pray and groan and say, Amen! We were brought up in the Church of England, but the uncles, converted in the revivals of 1859, had given up going to the Church of England, and had formed meetings for their employees. We used to get numbers of people coming to stay there, and they would hear sometimes the laughter and screams from that room as we used to play at being lions and tigers.
It was in that house we had a book that when the winter evenings came on we used to love to get, and then draw down the blinds, and put out the gas. The book was a book of ghosts, and on the breast of these ghosts was a star, and the book said: "Gaze at the, star for fifteen minutes and put out the light, and you will see the ghosts in the air and on the wall”; we did this, and we used to scream whenever the ghosts appeared, so that it attracted attention down in the drawing-room and sometimes some would come up into our den. I remember Edmond Greer, be was the man I liked best of all: he used to get us round the fire and throw on half a bucket of coals and make a nice big blaze, and then he would shut his eyes, and we used to like that because we did not like men looking at us! Once he said, “My dear children, I want to talk to you all,” and with his eyes shut he said, “Now, Miss Scilla, you can give your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ now.” When we knew he was coming afterwards, we said “What shall we do with this man when he comes in tonight? “We decided that we would say “Yes” when we ought to say “No,” and say “No” when we ought to say “Yes,” and see what he looked like!
One day I was late in coming into the dining room (we had to run when the gong went, and if we did not get there in time we were called "the late Miss" for the rest of the day, and this day I was a bit late). A missionary who was going out to Africa was standing by the window looking out, so I said, “It is horribly wet to-day,” just to pass over the fact that I was late. He said: “It is a grand thing to have the sunshine of the Lord Jesus shining in your heart.” I thought, “What has that to do with it? “I did not want to give my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. I said, “No, I am not going to have my face as long as a fiddle for anybody.” As I think of these things, I just feel what a wonderful thing that God should chase me as the hound of the mountain.
HE CHASED ME AND HE CAUGHT ME.
It was this way. I was away from home and I was staying with some wonderful people. In fact, the lady with whom I Stayed had had a terrible experience.
She had been through such an experience it was a wonder she was not out of her mind, yet she had a most wonderful expression on her face. I used to think she looked angelic. She never talked to me about religion, she was warned not to. She had been through such sorrows, yet you would not know a sorrow bad crossed her mind and heart. This was what impressed me. I soon began to learn the secret of it. She would sometimes come and say, “I am in such difficulties, would you mind just kneeling down and praying with me?” And before I could say anything, she was on her knees and praying. One night her father came in and said to her, “I am asked to take the service at the Salvation Army tonight, and I wonder if you will come with me.” She said, “Father I have been out to a drawing-room meeting this afternoon, but this friend here (and she looked at me), she will come.” Talk about a dog in heaven I If I could howl I would have done so! At tea I was put at the head of the table with this man, and afterwards I had to sit on the platform with him, and I shall never, never forget that night with hundreds of lasses all round me with their stiff collars and studs, which were creaking as they moved, and they took their rattles, and flapped them round my head! I was in a State, but I got away, and No body asked me about my soul. I went home and I found on the table a pamphlet written by the old General Booth describing a terrible vision he had of a lot of people shipwrecked: you could see the people with their heads in the water and their hands Stretching out, and some of them on the rocks: and then telling how Jesus was going to return suddenly—" It may be at midnight or at cockcrow, or, in the morning," and then the same awful sudden fate was going to overtake the unsaved.
It was not long after this that I went to my last ball. Some cousins went with me and when we were going they bet me that I would not smoke six cigarettes that evening. I took on the bet and won it. We got home early in the morning, and when I was asleep I had a dream. I dreamt that I was with a number of young people at a tennis party. While we were playing, suddenly the Lord Jesus appeared amongst us and singled me out of all of them and said, "Depart from Me, for I never knew you." I looked round for my companions saying, "Never mind, we will all “go to hell together, "but they had all disappeared. I was alone and then I had the most awful, terrifying vision of hell that I could not describe. The next day I was haunted with the words, "Depart from Me, for I never knew you," and if I took up a book they were there on the printed page, I could not get away from them. Then one day at my aunt’s house, we were a party of young people and a number of them were telling their experiences, so I told them of the Story I had read of the vision of General Booth.
This led to our talking about visions and dreams being sent of God. I said “God has nothing to do with dreams. I know perfectly well at school when I studied too hard, my body slept and my brain went on working. I know when I eat certain things and they disagree with me, I dream. God has nothing to do with dreams! “And then I told about the dance and how I had an awful nightmare after that dance, but it was nothing to do with God. Then my aunt turned to me and said, “What was your nightmare?” I found myself telling it without realizing I was talking, and when I came to the part of how I was taken to hell,
I looked at her and thought: “Oh, now I am in for a goody-goody talk,” and I burst out laughing. I said, “That was nothing else but the result of lobster and champagne.” She said, “If anybody has had a warning from God you have in that dream; give your heart to the Lord Jesus at once.” I did not realize I needed to be any different. I have no recollection of rising, but although I had a book and some work on my knee, I found myself at the other end of that long room, and I was kneeling and I said, “I have never decided for God, but I will tonight.” As I got on my knees and said that, I realized there was somebody beside me. Somebody spoke to me and said, “What are you doing here. Three months ago you said you would never go this way,” and I knew that person was the devil. He came and kneeled beside me and I recognized him and I knew him as a friend. I have had lots of ministers say to me, “People are never converted through fear.” But I was. I went and I said, “I am afraid of hell,” and as I said the words, the power of the evil influence disappeared away from me, and the Lord laid hold of me, and another voice said: “Child, what is it you want?” I said, “I would give anything to get to God, but I cannot.” When a man is drowning he sees the whole of his life before him, and I saw the whole of my life pass before me: I saw all the times that anybody had spoken to me about my soul, but instead of the person and the name I found I had been all the time making a gulf between myself and God, cutting away the ground under my feet, and turning my back on the Son of God. Not a person, but every time that anybody had spoken to me about my soul it was Jesus Christ in that person pleading with me, and I realized my own heart was black as black as the worst sinner on earth; not that I knew anything about sin or sins, but I was so convinced of unbelief in my mocking and scoffing, that I might have been the most hell-deserving sinner that ever lived. I would have given anything to get to God, but I could not. A great gulf was fixed by myself and my own actions. But as I waited, there came up before my eyes the most wonderful vision of Calvary’s cross and the human form of Jesus Christ nailed upon the cross; that cross was brought so close I might have touched His blessed feet. I saw the nails driven there by me, and the crown of thorns pressed that brow, and the blood flowing down. I found myself exclaiming aloud: “Why was He there?” And there came back the voice, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed.” It did not stop there, for He gave the personal word; “With My stripes you are healed.” The vision of the cross disappeared, and I rose from my- knees, and that lady came forward and said, “Whatever have you seen? What is it to be?” I looked at the clock and saw it was two hours I had been there, and I said: “You have not come to help me all that time?” She said, “What have you seen?” I said, “I have seen Calvary, and henceforth He will be my Lord and my God.” That was what I always said would never be, but God proved to me this, that He could bring about what I said would never take place.
One or two other points I want to tell you about. Immediately I went to my room and fell on my knees and began to pray. I told every person I met. I heard that my own religious relations said, “Why, she was the blacker of the black sheep; if she is converted there is hope for anybody.” People had been, praying for me from my childhood that I might be saved. This rather smote my heart. Is it any wonder I went to the Salvation Army and said, “Colonel, I am saved, I was saved last night.” He said, “You were saved when you were at that meeting the other day, surely.” I said, “No, I was not and you never spoke to me.” He said, “I took it for granted you were.” That has taught me a lesson not to take things for granted about people. I was not saved.
I used to go to their meetings, they were a very great help to me; I walked in their processions, and I tell you it was worth while in those days going with the Salvation Army, there were old boots, wood, stones, rotten eggs and oranges thrown at us. They were grand days those. None of my friends recognized me in the Street and all the young men who were fond of me walked on the other side.
The Cambridge Seven started for China in the month of February, and I was not converted; but God spoke to me and God shook me, and God hunted me right into a corner that very month, the 27th February, and on 5th May I was converted, and before 18 months was out I was in training, to be a missionary in China.