Harold Schofield was desperately ill. The young doctor, just 31 years old, had contracted typhus.
Two and a half years before, he had left behind a bright future in England's medical world by choosing to serve as a missionary doctor with the China Inland Mission. He was one of only eight evangelical missionaries in the whole northern province of Shansi and the first Protestant missionary allowed into the heart of China. For months his heart ached under the weight of lost souls and he knelt again and again, sometimes foregoing food, to pray that God would send more men to spread the gospel among the Chinese.
On his knees, his prayer was for more than just missionaries, though. Harold was praying for a specific kind of person. He had seen the need for men who could lead. And so he was praying for university men, men equipped in England's top colleges with the finest mental and physical training.
Now that he was sick, he continued to press God for an answer. But he would not live to learn the outcome in this world. On this day, August 1, 1883, Harold Schofield died.
But God had heard his prayer. A year and a half later, in February, 1885, on a platform in London, seven university men, all of them athletic and scholarly, stood to testify how God had changed their hearts and led them to offer themselves for mission work in China. They were to leave the following day. "What are we going to do? What is the use of great meetings like this if the outcome is not to be something worthy of the name of JESUS? He wants us to take up our Cross and follow Him, -- to leave fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, property, and everything we hold dear, to carry the Gospel to the perishing..."
Today those young men are famed as The Cambridge Seven. They included Stanley Perigrine Smith, who had headed a rowing team and C. T. Studd, a well-known cricket player. With them were Montagu Beauchamp, E. E. Hoste, W. W. Casels, and the Podhill-Turner brothers, Arthur and Cecil.
After their acceptance into the China Inland Mission, the seven toured England and Scotland, preaching and appealing to their listeners to follow Christ. Many individuals, impressed that for the sake of Christ these boys had given up everything that the world holds dear, yielded their own lives for God's use. The young men's example helped to inspire the Student Volunteer Movement and Inter-Varsity Fellowship. And they attracted many recruits to the China Inland Mission.
All seven worked for Christ to the end of their lives. Cecil Polhill tried repeatedly to get the gospel into Tibet. Arthur served quietly through the Boxer Rebellion and the Revolution that followed some time later, retiring at the age of 66. Hoste worked for years in association with a native Chinese evangelist and eventually became head of the China Inland Mission. C. T. Studd founded the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade. Montagu Beauchamp conducted several preaching tours across China and also served as an army chaplain during World War I. Stanley Smith learned to preach as fluently in Chinese as in English, but was booted out of the mission when he adopted the notion that everyone will finally be saved in the next world if not in this. William Casels, with a strong love of order, became a bishop in China. Such were the fruits of Harold Schofield's prayers.
- Austin, Alvin. "Missions Dream Team." Christian History. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/52h/52h019.html
- "Cambridge Seven." http://www.am-ccsm.org/displaypage.asp?subject=C7
- Guinness, M. Geraldine. "The Cambridge Band and Shansi," Chapter XXIX of The Story of the China Inland Mission http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/ mscambridgeband.html
- Pollock, J. C. The Cambridge Seven. London: InterVarsity Fellowship, 1956.
Last updated July, 2007