Belfast Telegraph

Thought for the weekend: From the Ashes to Africa

By Rev Gareth Burke

Summer has arrived - just about. A short spell of good weather has put us all into a good mood and has given us an excellent topic of conversation over the past few days. What do you think of when you hear the word summer? For many people summer is instinctively associated with cricket.

Soon, of course, England will be facing the Australians in another hard fought Ashes series. The rivalry between Australia and England is legendary and goes right back to the first Ashes Test played between the two countries in 1882.

At that first Ashes Test match one of the English batsmen was a young Cambridge student by the name of Charles Studd. Charles had been brought up in a wealthy family in Northamptonshire. His father had become a Christian through the influence of DL Moody, the well-known American evangelist.

Soon afterwards, Charles came to recognise that he, too, was a sinner before God and trusted in Jesus for salvation. A young man of great cricketing skill, it wasn't long until his talent was recognised by others and he was selected to play for England.

Charles spent a lot of time playing cricket for both Cambridge University and the MCC and he became exceptionally well known in English cricketing circles. However, in 1884 he faced a major crisis in his life when his brother George took seriously ill. Although he had achieved considerable fame and recognition, Charles came to realise that there were matters of greater significance than cricket and sport.

"What is all the fame and flattery worth when a man comes to face eternity?'' he asked.

He recognised that he had not been giving Jesus, his Saviour, the place of prominence that he should have had in his life and he determined that from that moment on he would give his life more fully to God.

In time, CT Studd became well known not just as a cricketer but more so as a pioneer missionary, first in China and afterwards in Africa.

A postcard sat on his desk bearing the following words: "If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."

CT Studd's life continues to challenge men and women of faith today. We need to be asking ourselves: "Is Jesus first in my life?"

Belfast Telegraph


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