C T Studd was a graduate of Cambridge University during the 19th century. While still an undergraduate he played cricket for England against Australia in a match that was to establish the "The Ashes" competition. As a sporting hero people expected to see him excelling at cricket for many more years. It was a cause of great shock then when, in 1885 together with six other colleagues, he turned his back on sporting acclaim and family wealth and offered to go as a missionary to China. Later he also worked in India and Africa where he died. Many would consider that he had wasted opportunities for fame and fortune. He, however, thought differently saying, ""I knew that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last."
Eric Liddell is famous for refusing to run on a Sunday. The film Chariots of Fire records how he was gave up the chance to win an Olympic Gold Medal for the 100 metres He did, of course, win gold in the 400 metres against all expectations. Like Studd he was acclaimed a sporting hero He could have made a career coaching others in athletics and giving lectures about his experiences. Instead he, like Studd forty years earlier, went as a missionary to China. He died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in 1945.
It is the words of another missionary, Jim Elliot, that help us understand what drives people to take such life-changing decisions. Elliot went to Ecuador. With four others he set out to share the Christian gospel with the Waodoni Indians. It seemed that they were building good relationships. Then one morning the bodies of all five missionaries were found. After his death a journal entry of Elliot's was found and in these words we get a glimpse of what drove Studd, Liddell and others like them. He wrote, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose". He and thousands of others had discovered a secret that we would do well to learn again.