This is an article from the April-May 1979 issue: The Great Roadblock

Yesterday’s Precedent

Yesterday’s Precedent

"Show me, if you can, why you should not obey the last command of Jesus Christ?"

In the Report of the First International Convention of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions held in Cleveland in 1891, are recorded the burning concepts and the motivating material that the Holy Spirit used to fuel the fires of the career missionary committments of 100,000 U.S. college students in an era when the student population in America was only 1/37th of what it is today.

During my undergraduate years at Princeton in the late 60's I heard much about Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy and that of our other noted alum, John Foster Dulles; not once did I hear even a mention about the work of Robert Wilder and Robert Speer, two Princeton Students. Together with other, older spirit-filled saints like A.K. Gordon, these student leaders gave scriptural motivation and direction to a "foreign policy which sent 20,000 young men and women out to live and sometimes die in nations around the world They were supported by an amazingly active clergy and lay backing made up of 80,000 other "student volunteers" who preached the gospel of God's salvation in Jesus Christ while establishing educational and medical facilities for whole nations. The results have changed the world in an enduring, continuing way. Contrast that "foreign policy" contribution to that which millions of students, Christian students, study dutifully year in and year out at thousands of colleges across the land; the work of Wilson and Dulles, now for the 6 most part period pieces in need of overhaul and replacement, is kicked along like a fraying football with each succeeding American political administration.

In the recorded speeches of the Student Volunteer Movement we hear the characteristics of the vibrant undertaking propounded over and over again, the characteristics that would prove so enduring, so valuable in the world-wide growth of the Church of Jesus Christ. It demands from its members first of all a total personal and disciplined commitment to Jesus Christ as Saviour based on a daily, private walk with Christ. Prayer, in fact, was the foundational element for the launching of the movement.

The data was there too; the facts about the unreached people which Hudson used to call "the accusing map". Gordon alerted those gathered to another foundational principle: it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that true missionary work can be undertaken and sustained.

Most unavoidably, we can see in the leaders of the Student Volunteer Movement a personal and consuming concern for the lost

Theirs was a compassion paralleling the concern of Jesus Himself as He looked at the multitudes in Matthew 9:36; Jesus was so moved that He was literally torn up inside. The S.V.M. leadership not only had that kind of concern, but they also conveyed it to others.

I am convinced that we must have a new Student Volunteer Movement for Frontier Missions Facing the facts of the 2. 5 billion "Hidden People" of the world, and looking at the next twenty years of forecasted population growth, I believe this new movement must raise up cross-cultural missionaries prepared to give their lives if necessary to plant churches amidst over 16,000 subcultures of the world. If such a new student movement arises, complete with watchword and declaration, may it be based as solidly on the Word of God the enabling of the Holy Spirit and the consuming passion for the lost as was the Student Volunteer Movement in the springtime of its vigor and Holy Spirit Power.


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