Christian Generous Living: Two Examples from the Past
Ms. Ida Mary John
The good on earth has not ended. Generosity is an attitude to see others being blessed. Generosity is also the freedom from jealousy, greed and other selfish motives. Generosity is a lifestyle.Many people with goodness in heart were used by God to sustain life on earth. Charles Thomas Studd and George Muller are two Christian leaders who are exampleswith their good, kind and generous life.
Charles Thomas Studd
C. T. Studd (1860 - 1931) was the third son of a wealthy indigo planter, Edward Studd who returned from India after gaining great fortune,like many of his time. His father Edward studd had undergone salvation experience while attending the meetings of D L Moody in 1877. His father earnestly attempted in influencing the three of his sons with the gospel. In 1878, all were converted when a preacher visited the family.
C. T. Studd became famous as an outstanding and skilled cricket player. Along with his brothers he proved excellence. At the Cambridge the three brothers became the captains of the England cricket team from 1882- 1884. Towards the height of fame he was caught with questions on what is life and fame in comparison with eternity when his brother became seriously ill in 1884. That was a great turning point in Studd’s life. At this time he wanted to opt for something of lasting value. From then on he witnessed among the players and friends, bringing many to Christ. At the same time his brother Kynaston had already begun influencing many students and young people.
C. T. Studd came very soon with the conviction to be a missionary especially when he got an opportunity to listen to a missionary from china. Psalms 2:8 “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possessions” made great impact in his life for the new decision. The family members were not fully happy with the decision of Studd. He was confirmed about his call. His decision was followed by six more persons from the Cambridge who came to be known as the “Cambridge Seven”. This gave wide publicity in England for the seven and calling for wider attention across the land. Students in Edinburgh, London, Oxford, and Cambridge were greatly impacted with a missionary zeal resulting in the formation of the Student Volunteer Movement which created further implications for world mission.
Studd along with the Camb-ridge Seven offered themselves to the China Inland Mission with Hudson Taylor. Studd is also known for giving away huge amounts of his inheritance for mission. Some accounts present a statistics of Studd sending 5000 pounds to DL Moody, another 5000 pounds to George Muller, 15000 pounds to support other ministries and many more thousands again which amounts to present 3.5 million pounds. He kept only 3400 pounds in his possession. While in China he married another Irish missionary, Priscilla Livingstone Stewart.Remaining amount was presented to Priscilla Steward before marriage. She asked him, “Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?” “sell all”. “well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding”. They gave away the remaining amounts for missions. They did not depend on their financial backup rather they were able to see the generous treasury of the creator.
He was one of the rare individuals who generously divided not only his inheritance but also his life time for different continents on account of "running to rescue" more people. Studd worked in China from 1885-1894, in India from 1900- 1906 and in Africa from 1910 to the rest of his life.He did take part in the generosity of God's heart by leaving even his family behind to serve for long, eighteen years, in the continent of Africa.
While C. T. Studd was known for his generosity towards Mission, George Muller was one who experienced great measures of the generosity of God in taking care of thousands of orphans. Great individuals like Muller give the world a realization that generosity is practiced not from plenitude but from an attitude to uplift others, to see the needy on higher grounds. Thus generosity is an attitude held by those who stand on higher grounds.
George Muller (1805 -1898) was born in England. He was the son of a tax collector. At an early age he lost his mother. He lived with his interests on stealing and drinking for a few years. Later his father sent him to Cathedral Classical School. He then went to the University of Halle to study Divinity. He came with great conviction for mission at this stage. He began to preach and became the minister of the Ebenezer chapel. At this time he renounced his salary and voiced against the practice of renting the church pews. The church wanted to give the rented money to Muller. This practice widened disparity between the rich and poor. His sense of justice put an end to the practice of rich choosing better seats at the church.
England of the nineteenth century saw a time of social evolution and technological and economic advance. The middleclass, the traditional working class and wealthy aristocracy became the feature of the society. Yet it was also a time when numerous children were left without parents or single parents who could not take care of them. During such a time George Muller worked in Bristol, from 1832, at the Bethesda chapel. He founded an organization named the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad for aiding Christian schools and missionaries in 1834. With five branches it included Bible schools for children and adults, Bible distribution and missionary support, Book distribution and care for orphans.
Though Muller was not very rich or owned huge acres of land or houses, he rented houses seeing the need of children to be taken care. From 1836 onwards he concentrated on taking care of more orphans in their house. It included boys, girls and small children. When the need increased the Mullers decided the construction of their own orphanage. Thus the orphanage at Ashley Down, Brixton was opened. It had five houses built to accommodate over 300 children. During his life time he cared for around 10000 children. Muller proved through his life that generosity holds a great gift, the joy received in filling hungry and satisfying the needy.
Muller was a person of great faith. He never requested anyone to meet his needs. He prayed and the children in the orphanages lived in high standards and received education. The architect built houses without taking any fees; church members also were keen in helping Muller and his orphanages. Some others helped them with donations of milk, bread and clothes. They saw miracles every now and then with the provision of exactly what they needed.
At one time there was no food to serve. Muller made the children sit each in their place with their plates. Then he prayed and thanked God for the food. Very soon they heard the arrival and enquiry of a baker. The baker said : "last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in." The very same day they saw the milk man coming and informing them that his vehicle had broken down in front of the orphanage while taking it to be sold. The milkman offered them the milk for the day. The breakfast was complete.
Generosity is life giving not just in terms of providing finance. A generous heart can achieve beyond what money can buy or serve. Generosity of individuals preserved life on earth. They were ready to GIVE AWAY. They knew that by giving away one can become co-creators with God and be life giving.
Let me conclude with a poem I wrote in the year 2000:
Give away, Give away your life,
Give away, oh! some need it
Give to those lifeless and needy.
Be kind to give a little smile,
Honey it is for those battered
A little life for the lifeless.
Be humble to ask “How are you?”
Gentle breeze this for the desert,
A little life to the weary.
Be loving to say “It’s okay, you can be better”
Cool drops are they for the dry land,
A little life for the mistaken.
Be gentle to say “No problem”
It’s the sun in the chilling hill,
A little life for the hapless.
Be earnest to ask “Are you sure?”
It’s showing a way for the river to flow,
A little life through correction.
Be generous to say “Accept it”
It’s like the formation of the pearl
A little pain for a better growth
Be intelligent to say “Well done”
It’s the medicine to the psyche,
A little life to the growing.
Be Love and express it.
The secret to the fullness of life
A little life for the dying.