Our Spiritual Heritage–Part 2
The following is taken from Norman Grubb’s book After C.T. Studd. In this book, Norman recounts his personal recollection of C.T.s last days. More importantly, he shares with the reader the ways of faith that he learned from C.T. Studd.
These became the bedrock of Norman’s life’s calling.
I was sitting on the edge of C.T.’s native bed. We were in the bamboo house in the heart of the Ituri forest. It was 3 a.m. He looked very white and drawn. His thin legs beneath the blankets were drawn up under his chin, with his wasted arms clasped round them. Without was the still African night, the palm trees looking lovely– silhouetted against the moon-lit sky–and behind the dark rim of the primeval forest. We had been talking for hours. Suddenly, he said, "This looks like the end of every-thing. I don’t see any way out." After a pause he added, "Eighteen years ago, God told me to found this mission. We have had all sorts of difficulties, but He has brought me through them all. If God doesn’t deliver me now, when I am near the end and faced with the biggest, well, He is–But He isn’t, because He will!"
It was the darkest chapter in the mission’s history. That hateful thing, internal dissention, had raised its head in our ranks and torn the work in half. We were without reputation at home. Rumours had spread from mouth to mouth which shook the confidence of many.
Pauline, who is C.T.’s youngest daughter and my wife, had accompanied me on a visit to him in the Congo, knowing that we should not see him again on earth. While we were there, the storm broke. It would be neither helpful nor necessary to go into the details of the controversy.
The inward conflict which Pauline and I sufered was intense, as we faced our call to return to England and rebuild in the dense fog of suspicion, condemnation and controversy. It was the darkest valley of our lives also, and we lived there for six months.
Yet we were to learn as an old saint once wrote that "the way to heaven is through hell." The more the Lord plans to use an instrument, the fiercer the fire in which it is tempered. We had earnestly sought for ten years that we might be instruments meet for his use, and the answer had been a great deal of pruning with very little fruit. Now at last, right from "the belly of hell" we were to be lifted up into "a large place."
We were praying together four months after our return, when Pauline turned to me on her knees and said, "Father has gone home, I know it. We are to start anew with God." I knew it too. We were dumb with the shock for a time. But it was God’s voice. We left that room diferent people. We had heard and accepted God’s call. Shortly after, a cablegram was handed to us at the breakfast table. We glanced at each other before we opened it, for we guessed its content: "Bwana [C.T. Studd] glorified July16th." (4)
Secret of Effective Service
Prepared thus by the Spirit, we knew what lay before us. We were to take up the sword C.T. Studd had laid down. Something else had also happened in the blackness of that night. Some of "the treasures of darkness," of which Isaiah speaks, had been laid open to us, and one supremely great secret of efective service had become vividly real to us, which lies at the root of most of what follows in these pages. It was the answer to that simple but fundamental problem, how can I know God’s will? If I know it, then obviously I can believe and act. But first I must know.
How can I put the light we saw in a word? Perhaps best by describing what we did. We made a change in our daily pro-gramme at headquarters, but that change made all the diference. It was customary to start the day’s work with a half hour of Scripture reading and prayer; then followed the real business, letters, interviews and committees. Now the emphasis was to be changed. The reading and prayer was to be the real business of the day, and the rest fit in as best it might. In other words our first occupation became, not to exercise our own minds, but to find His mind.(5)
In The Law of Faith, Norman recalls the life-changing effects of that simple change in focus.
Then followed three years of great illumination in the way of faith. It was as if that which had been seen dimly as a series of separate peaks of faith which might occasionally, with much efort, be scaled was now seen to be a broad high road in the uplands, a route of the Spirit, a way of life, to be steadily traversed and no range of rugged peaks at all. The Scriptures were marvelously opened up: Hebrews 11 especially became alive, and faith was seen to be the permanent element in which the men of God lived, who themselves had first to pass through the school into the life of faith–Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, and so through all the list into New Testament days. They were days of great revelation. It was like the thrill of a new discovery, the exaltation of the explorer whose eyes are resting for the first time in history on some magnificent landscape. Experiments were made, feebly made, but the feet were not yet firm enough on their new road to take one to the destination, and nothing came of it. But the light had truly dawned. Scriptural light, borne witness to by the inner assurance of the Spirit, the consummation without a doubt of the gropings and inner preparations of years. Failures could not quench those certainties. All that was needed was a firmer grasp of method, and, above all, those special sorts of circumstances in which living faith through all history has thrived, those necessary conditions for its healthy growth: dificulties, frustrations, [and this is the best one] impossibilities–for when I am weak, then I am strong." "In hopeless circumstances, he hopefully believes."
And they came. There is no need to go into them in detail.
Take note of the word "impossible" in the preceding paragraph. Impossible doesn’t mean "Maybe," or "We’ll kind of work it out," or "If we’ll just try this–we’ve tried ten things, but let’s just try another." Impossible means exactly what it says–impossible. Days of blessedness, peace and assurance?
Days of agony and darkness, days when one’s life work seemed in ruin around one, when the mission one loved seemed collapsing, when the hand of practically all friends and fellow Christians seemed against a tiny remnant of us. [Tiny remnant? At home, just four: Norman, Pauline, a new recruit, and one missionary home on furlough.] And I myself, with my wife, was called to take a stand completely alone, on behalf of a few on the field, surrounded by criticism and fierce opposition.
Then in travail, I cannot tell how (indeed I had learned that one usually cannot trace the "how" of God’s deepest dealings), what I had seen and rejoiced in in theory became my own in practice. I saw how to walk the broad road of faith, how to have and maintain that touch with God, that living fruitful union with Him which in infinite grace and condescension He has given us as our own inheritance in Christ; and we began to go that way.(6)
I think there was about $8.00 apiece for the folks on the field. At that point he and Pauline decided they would not take any money that was sent for the mission, but they would personally depend on special gifts.
Christ, the All in All
Fifteen more years have now passed, years when, by God’s grace, these vital principles have been even more strongly built into one’s life. Others, many others, have learned them, practised them, and rejoice with us to see the marvelous truth of them in their concrete results. In the ranks of the Crusade, tremendous transformations have taken place: God’s work has forged ahead, increased and abounded: souls have been saved world-wide: tens of thousands have heard the Gospel who had never before heard the blessed Name: Christians by the hundreds have been revived and stirred into action: Christ Himself has become increasingly the all in all; all fresh springs have been found in Him; all hunger and thirst satisfied according to His Word; desire increased beyond measure that He only should be glorified; His Word become the joy and rejoicing of the heart.(7)
What an overwhelming diference that made. Away went worries, plans, defeatist fears. In their place was this: What does God say about it? What God says is always original, always in the impossible, and great enough to be worthy of Him.
What He said was this: Our petty human thinking was occupied with the littleness, poverty, weakness of our condition. He said, "Look at Joshua and see what I did for him, and Moses and Abraham and Daniel. Do you think I have given you a great commissionto evangelize the worldand not great resources to do it with? Does not all the Bible tell you that I have come to make people strong out of weakness, if they would only believe? Now will you believe?"(8)
Ask yourself that question: Are you going to look around and see what other people believe, what the Bible says, what God has done for others–and not believe for yourself ? In my experience, I would look at Norman and think, "Praise God he is here, and God is showing him things and doing things through him." I wasn’t thinking, "That’s just the way Norman is. That’s not me, and I will never be like that." Instead I thought, "Me, too. He and I are the same." I didn’t see him as some holier-than-thou person who lived above and beyond the common man. Of course, he had more wisdom and more experience than anyone I had ever known. This made me know that he was someone I could learn from because of the truth he taught me–that we were both vessels that Christ lived in and through–we were the same person. I was never intimidated by him. I felt perfectly free to talk to him about anything: my problems, my fears, my questions, my doubts, my shortcomings, my ideas, and so on. I would struggle with some difficulty or uncertainty for months. When I would see Norman the next time and ask him about what-ever my dilemma was, he would promptly give an answer.
Remember, before our digression, God had asked the question, Will you believe?
The answer was obvious. Just one thing remained. For what specifically should we ask and believe? What was our immediate equivalent of Moses’ need of manna or Joshua’s need of a way across Jordan? That was not hard to find. Men and money, of course. For we were a Crusade to evangelize unoccupied areas, and that needs just those two supplies.
So we came to our first transaction of faith based on guidance, a truly memorable moment in our history, [Take note!] for what we did then we were to repeat in an endless succession of instances for an endless variety of needs. [This is the key!] We came somehow to the conclusion, I can’t tell exactly how, that for us the impossible which would glorify God and extend His Gospel would be the supply of ten new workers and all the money for them in a year, by the first anniversary of C.T. Studd’s death, July 16, 1932.
Having done that, we exactly obeyed the word of Christ, "When ye pray, believe that ye receive." We deliberately thanked the Lord for what we had then received. From that day on, we never asked again for the ten, but daily reminded Him and ourselves in His presence that they were ours, and we thanked Him.9 ["we never asked again "–that statement is the key!]
I am quite sure that many of you in Zerubbabel Fellowship do not realize you are here as the answer to that spiritual principle? Here is what I mean: Years ago, (in the early 1970’s) Norman and I were sitting in a small group with several others. I spoke up and said, "I don’t have any-one at home to share the Galatians 2:20 message with." I was pretty much on my own spiritually. Norman spoke right up and said, "We are going to say a word of faith that you are going to have a fellowship."
Well, here we are! You all are it! Our fellowship came into being through the application of the very same faith principles Norman and others back at WEC headquarters practiced many years ago–how God operates today as the result of the spoken Word of faith, and not by asking Him for the same thing over and over. Remember, "Before they call, I will answer" (Isa. 65:24).
As Norman understood how to speak the Word of Faith, he continued forward using the same faith principle.
Calling Forth the Impossible
One other lesson also that we gradually learned, of deep importance in faith, is that the Source is our concern, not the channel: in other words, that we are to keep occupied with what we have already received from Him in the unseen, and not be diverted into looking around for the way in which He may send it in the seen.
Now for the story of how the ten came. Some readers may think, "Well, ten is not many, nor the £1,500 necessary for their outgoing." No, they are not: but remember we were infants learning to crawl! To us it had all the thrills of new adventure and discovery. As we used this one and only method of obtaining things from God according to His word, by the invisible hand of faith, reaching into His equally invisible resources, we felt all the joys of pioneering in a new country.
What he’s not saying here is that it was wartime, and conditions were dreadfully bleak. It seemed that there wasn’t any money anywhere. But that did not quench their faith. They knew they were trusting in the God of the impossible and not in apparent circumstances.
The first two came in quite easily and soon sailed. It was then that we saw another condition of the pathway of faith, which is not exactly the faith itself, but is the works which prove the faith to be real and establish us in it. It is the equivalent of the confession with the lips commanded by the Scripture as a necessity for salvation, side by side with the belief of the heart (Rom. 10:9). We saw that one who really believes is ready to make public acknowledgment that the things he has received by faith are his, although he has not yet obtained them in fact. We saw it particularly with Joshua at Jordan. He came out from the presence of God and told his oficers to prep are victuals, for in three days they would cross the river. A declaration of a certainty, yet only a certainty to faith. [This was a turning point, this Joshua story. This is what radically changed his life.] In the same way God told us to write to Jack Harrison, C.T.’s successor on the field, and tell him to expect ten new workers within the year, although owing to the circumstances the missionaries on the field had no thought of immediate increase. I had a brief controversy with the Devil about it, as he told me what a fool I should look predicting what would not come to pass, and that as the new secretary in London I should be doing the best thing possible to shake their confidence. Yet of course it had to be done. The unmistakable word of the Lord had come, and the letter was sent.
Norman realized that God didn’t mention a timetable for crossing the Jordan. It was Joshua who assessed the circumstances, determined how long it would take, and made the statement, by faith, that they would cross in three days. He stepped out by faith and God backed him up.
Probably some of you are still waiting around to see what God’s going to do. But God’s waiting to see, number one, if you’re going to clean up your life. Remember, it’s the fervent prayer of a righteous man that availeth much not someone with resentments and selfishness who says, "Well, today I’m going to start trusting Christ with my life." Doing this is an exercise in futility without cleaning up your sin.
Norman is making the point that God is waiting to see who’s going to step out knowing who they are, say what needs to be done, and know by faith it is done. That was the secret Norman learned. That is our secretnot that we’re keeping it a secret. But this is the secret that we know that the rest of the Christian world doesn’t seem to know. They’re sitting around asking, waiting, praying, looking to see what God’s going to do, rather than saying this is what He’s going to doand then God backs them up.
The Word of Faith
The next three, women, were ready to go by March, but there was no money. So we gathered together one morning, faced the fact that nothing hindered them going except finance, and made a definite transaction with the Lord that then and there we received it from Him by faith. The three soon had a fine opportunity of making the open declaration of faith. Two of them were going away for the Easter week-end, so they left their addresses with the third, telling her to write them if the money were provided during the week-end.
On the Saturday we had two guests. They themselves lived by faith, and so we took it for granted that they had no spare stores of money. As a matter of fact for years they had a sum in the bank which they had dedicated to the Lord, but He had never told them what to do with it! That night before going to bed, in a word of prayer, someone quite naturally mentioned the three. You can imagine the surprise we had next morning when they came down to tell us about this sum and that in that word of prayer, God had spoken to both of them separately that the money was for this purpose! It turned out to be sufficient for two passages. At this point the faith of the third who had remained with us shone out in really remarkable fashion. We made the news known at dinner time and said that we must send the telegrams. She then said, ‘Why not wait half an hour? God may yet send the money for the third passage’in spite of the fact that, being Sunday, no post, or visitors would be expected. Just at the time she said this, unknown to us, the treasurer had cause to go over to his office, which was closed, and he there found a letter. When opened, it had within it a check for £100! The telegrams were sent.
These three sailed in May, followed by two in June, a total of seven. [Remember, they had to have all ten recruits ready to go by July, and it was running close. It was June with a total of seven.] The eighth arrived from Canada. Six weeks remained and no app lications remained and no money. Five weeks, none. Four weeks, no application, but a gift of £1 00. Three weeks, still none. Two weeks, No. 9 applied.
Now there were all but days left. Thirteen days, twelve, eleven, ten. On the evening of the tenth, No.10 applied. It was at a conference. He had spent three days in fasting and prayer to be sure of God’s call, and the next day the Lord set a wonderful seal on his application. A guest at the conference, who knew nothing about Number Ten’s offer, was praying before breakfast. The Lord distinctly led him to take a blank cheque from his chequebook and put it in his pocket, but He did not reveal the reason. At breakfast he heard a mention of the application and at once knew that the cheque was to be for this purpose. Shortly after £120 was in the Secretary’s hands.
Two days later two of us were in Ireland. We went into the matter together and found that £200 was still needed to complete the sum. So we agreed in secret to ask the Lord for this. A couple of days after, as we came out of a meeting [Norman was at a conference in Ireland, and Pauline was back at home waiting], our hostess handed one of us a telegram, and, although she had not an idea about our secret prayer, said, of all things in the world, "Perhaps there’s £200 in it." It was from London and read, "Two-hundred pounds for the ten." [Pauline had sent the telegram].
Within six days of the anniversary, God had sent the ten and all the funds. It never had been our intention to get this number actually to the field by that date, for we felt there must be no hurry about the necessary testing of their suitability. All that we had asked and received from the Lord by faith had been graciously and completely provided. All the ten sailed to the Congo by the autumn, five men and five women. Our joy was great, yet greater and of more importance was the realization that we had been allowed to prove by personal experiment that this was the way outlined by God’s word for the fulfillment of His purpose through human agency.(10)
Walking Onby Faith
When first we were led to pray for the ten, we already had in mind, as a more distant goal, a memorial in flesh and blood to C.T. Studd–twenty-five new workers. In our weakened situation, and realizing that twenty-five represented an increase of almost three-quarters of our numbers, we had regarded it merely as an aspiration for the future; but after the vision and realization of the ten, to ask for the remaining fifteen as our next annual objective–by July 16,1933, the second anniversary–became obvious.
We went about it by the same methods, although we were growing in the use of them. We kept continually before ourselves the fact that, by the eye of faith, we already had the fifteen, and we busied ourselves in daily thanksgiving. How hardly we learned that the invisible is verily the real. If hard facts appear to deny it, down crashes that flimsy, foolish palisade of faith, which calls things that are not as though they were!
Four months of this second year had passed. We had reached the beginning of December, and had naturally thought that by now we should have a flow of candidates and some money, but not one was ready to go out, nor had any money come in. According to the principle before revealed to us, we had made the simple statement in our magazine that God would be sending this number by that given date. [It’s December, and nothing–no money, nothing. They’d gone from July to December with nothing. And they had already published that new workers would be coming.] The storm troops of unbelief, armed as always by so-called hard facts, those "appearances" by which Jesus told us not to judge, those waves which were more real to Peter than the Master’s answering, "Come," penetrated our defenses and wiped out both spoken word and written declaration. We had no business to waver. We had to learn that we only had one enemy to fight in this warfare of faith: not things, not people outside us, but only the attempts of fear and doubt, those emissaries of Satan, to get a lodgment within. [This is one of Norman’s "top ten" greatest lines and has been more meaningful in my life than almost any other.] Our failure on this occasion was a lesson to us, and certainly God’s mercy came half-way to meet us, just as Jesus upheld the sinking Peter.
I was preparing the January issue of the magazine and said to the Lord that I would not again publish the statement that fifteen would be with us by July unless I had a seal from Him. The final proof had to go to the printer the next day, so I said, "If You will only send me £100 before 11 a.m. tomorrow, I will take that as the seal. But fi You do not, I will not put in the article." 11 a.m. came. I had the proof on the desk in front of me, but no £100. So I said to the Lord that I was very sorry, but in these circumstances I must drop the fifteen and publish nothing further about it. As I said that, I saw Colonel Munro coming across from the office. He entered the room waving something in his hand. It was a cheque from Scotland for £100. The article went in. The fallacy and weakness of my action, and the mercy of God, are obvious. If the exercise of faith means that first we find the will of God, then we receive our request when we pray (Mark 11:24), how can we be foolish enough to go about asking for seals on a thing which we have said that we already have?
Things then began to move. The first three came for "the Heart of Africa." Some money arrived in February. By March £250 was still needed, but we were led to publish in the March magazine that they would sail by the next boat without mentioning the financial situation, which meant that the money must be in by March 13. On March 5 came a gift of £1 00 and on March 11, two days before the time limit came £150 from the other side of the world.
This was followed by a pregnant revelation. The ten had been only for "the Heart of Africa," and we had taken it for granted that the fifteen would be the same. The remark of a friend opened our eyes to the fact that, as God’s commission to Mr. Studd was world-wide, the perfect memorial to him would be a world-wide twenty-five. We had already received several applications for other unoccupied fields, but until this moment had not regarded them as within the scope of the memorial twenty-five. Now we saw the full sweep of God’s plan, that the first ten should go to the land of Mr. Studd’s special labours, and the last fifteen be scattered through many lands and begin to carry out his world-wide vision of occupying every unoccupied region. Two came forward for Columbia, two for Arabia, two for Spanish Guinea, one more for the Congo, three for Lesser Tibet–a total of thirteen.
The weeks passed. The Lord sent money for some of these. The gift for Pat Symes, our first representative to Columbia, was especially remarkable. He was to open a new field in this part of South America. He had left his home in Australia for a diferent destination, so that none who might normally have helped knew of his need of funds. We suggested a few meetings in England, but he received definite guidance from the Lord that he was not to take meetings with a view to obtaining financial help and was to remain at Headquarters and prove that God was calling him to this new work by receiving a first £1 00 direct from Him. [When they would "have a meeting," they never asked for money. They would simply tell what they were believing for. If anyone listening felt led, they would make a contribution.] He had a struggle to come and tell me. He felt that he ought to say so at the next morning meeting, but feared and kept silent. Rebuked in the spirit for not speaking, he came back after the meeting to find me talking to a woman in the drawing room. I introduced him to her, and during a short conversation he stated what God had told him, and went out.
I had asked him to go and collect some further information on Columbia from a friend living ten miles away on the other side of London. He never told me that he had only six pence in the world, but went on his errand. Four pence was spent on getting there, partly by bus and partly on foot. On the return journey he walked to the Thames Embankment, intending to get a two-penny tram ride from there. A "down and out" accosted him and asked the price of a cup of coffee. Pat refused, saying that he had only two pence in the world, and passed on. The Spirit told him to go back and speak to the man about his soul. Pat went back, but found that he could not speak about his soul and do nothing for his body, so the two pence changed hands and Pat walked the eight miles home.
Meanwhile, I continued my interview with the woman who was a visitor from the Midlands. She told me that she had £100 which she wanted to go towards the opening of a new field. "Why," I said, "that man who has just spoken to us is the first pioneer to a new field and has asked the Lord for this exact sum."
Pat arrived back weary and perspiring. I opened the door to him with a cheque of £100 in my hand just at the same time that the Devil had been hard at work telling him that the life of faith was poor business!
Only six weeks now remained. There were still two more vacancies in the fifteen and about £500 needed to send them.
On June 15 we went to our annual Worldwide Evangelization Crusade conference. On arrival at the station we were met with the news that two more fully-trained young men had received the call to Columbia. The next day, at a preparatory meeting for the conference, the verse was brought to us, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." The point was pressed home that the person who is consciously abiding is given the privilege of claiming this promise. It was suggested that the audience claim what they specially needed in the way of spiritual blessing in the coming few days. The blessing I needed was £500. I went alone with God, examined whether I was abiding in Him so far as I knew, and received the £500 by faith.
The Lord always tests faith and a test came the following day. For some years I had attended annually some days of prayer in Ireland early in July; but this year I had the conviction that I was not to go away from my watch-tower of faith in London before July 16 unless the fifteen were comple
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 26 No 1
- Intercession Being Gained in Worldwide, Churchwide Commission
- Our Spiritual Heritage–Part 1
- A New Start for W.E.C.
- Excerpt from Summit Living
- C.T. and Colonel Munro
- To Congo with C.T. Studd
- The Cost of Commitment–Colonel Munro
- Excerpt from Summit Living
- A Review of C.T. Studd in the Heart of Africa
- Excerpt from Summit Living
- I Count All Things To Be Loss…
- Words to Live By…
- Our Spiritual Heritage–Part 2