FORERUNNERS OF THE SPORTS OUTREACH MOVEMENT: THE STUDD BROTHERS - PART #2 / NORTH ATLANTIC CORRIDOR BEGINS
This Series of Blogs provide vignettes of the early pioneers of The Muscular Christianity Era & Faith-Sport Integration who laid the foundations for the Modern Day Sports Outreach Movement
KYNASTON (J. K.) STUDD - The begginning of the North Atlantic Corridor of Sport Evangelism
J. K. Studd is not nearly so well recognized by those involved with Sports Ministry of the 21st century as is his more popular brother C. T. Studd, and yet his direct influence upon the YMCA, muscular Christianity and The Student Volunteer Movement along with his indirect influence upon Foreign Missions and subsequent Sports Outreach Ministries is distinct and undeniable. While C. T. was known for his missionary zeal which motivated him to turn his back on his wealthy life and leave his family for years at a time, Kynaston seemed to have lived a quiet life in the London area. As much as anything, C. T. is the better known because he had a biography written about his life by his son in law. In comparison the resources to research Kynaston’s life are much harder to come by and are by nature more anecdotal. None-the-less, his tour of North American campuses in 1885-86 had an incomparable impact upon the world as it influenced a generation of leaders in the world evangelization movement and served as a model for future short term sports evangelism.
Those who came under J. K.’s influence at the time of his North American tour include: James Naismith (the inventor of Basketball) while Naismith was a student at McGill; Amos Alonzo Stagg (the dean of American Football) while Stagg was a student at Yale; C. K. Ober and Luther Wishard (who were YMCA Secretaries involved in student and foreign work) during the Northfield Conference; R. C. Morse (the International General Secretary of the YMCA); and certainly the most influential: John Raliegh Mott, while Mott was a student at Cornell University. These men represented hundreds of others which were touched by the sincere ministry of this young “Muscular Christian.” The world continues to reap the benefits.
Moody’s revivals in England impacted the Studd family in dynamic fashion. The initial revival in 1874 witnessed the Studd’s father’s conversion, and through both Moody and through his own father, Kynaston came to a personal faith in Christ. He later attended Cambridge and was also an athlete at Cambridge including serving as captain of the Cricket team.
Upon Moody’s return in 1882 Kynaston persuaded the American Evangelist to minister to the college students at Cambridge which Moody was only too happy to accommodate and which caused such positive results, that it led to a similar endeavor by Moody at Oxford. This success led Luther Wishard and R. C. Morse to invite Moody to do the same type of ministry with College students on North American campuses. There is little doubt that Moody’s relationship with Kynaston Studd and the other college students he ministered to while in England rekindled his long affection for working with youth and in particular using athletics as a tool to minister to them.
These involvements were instrumental to the founding, defining and strengthening of Moody’s subsequently held summer conferences held at Northfield. It furthermore led D. L. to reciprocate and invite the young British lad who had first invited Moody to speak to young college students. Moody insightfully understood the powerful influence that a young prominent athlete, or Muscular Christian, could have on North American students who came to the conferences each summer. Thus, J. K. came to speak to the assembled group of College students who gathered at Northfield during the summer of 1885.
Kynaston’s speaking at the conference was so well received that he was invited by the YMCA officials to spend the next college year of 1885-86 visiting the campus associations of the Y. He did so and with his new wife (on their honeymoon) visited eight states and two provinces which included stops at 23 Colleges over the next four months.
During this tour JEK had an historic encounter when he visited the campus of Cornell University in New York. Little did he know what his visit would mean to the young man he counseled, the YMCA and the whole of world missions. While at Cornell, Studd gave an address in which he discussed vital Christianity. This address greatly impacted a young skeptical sophomore who had attended only out of an interest in seeing a British University man who was reputed to be a Muscular Christian. It is possible that this skeptic, John R. Mott, came only because Studd was being touted as the real life “Tom Brown,” the robust and Muscular Christian of the popular British novel written by Thomas Hughes. Mott had expressed doubt that such a person as Tom Brown could exist, but obviously Mott was impressed enough by Studd to give his life to the Savior that Studd talked about.
Mott described his spiritual awakening as quite a struggle. As he listened to Studd’s presentation from the back of the old Botanical Hall lecture room, he was arrested by the only three sentences he remembered from Studd’s speech. “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” His was a struggle of the will. Would he allow God to take over his life? Literally millions of people who were impacted by Mott’s life are eternally grateful that Mott did indeed say yes to the Savior.
Studd spent much of his remaining time at Cornell with Mott, encouraging him to seek his life’s goals and ambitions from the Word of God. Mott did just that and the resulting spiritual awakening in his young life became the foundation for a life-long ministry of networking evangelistic endeavors. Just one year later when R. C. Morse visited, he found Mott as the energetic President of the Cornell Christian Association (of the YMCA),. Mott subsequently spearheaded the delegation of Cornell men to student conferences held again that summer at Northfield.
Basil Mathews, p.49.
This blog is an excerpt from a future book "Surrounded by Witnesses" by Dr. Greg Linville. All rights reserved. For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. w. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville and other local church Sports, Rec & Fitness Ministers are archived at: http://www.csrm.org/blog/