What kind of leaders did the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) produce in the 20th Century?
I answer that question after looking again at the foundational work done by John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards. Wesley began whittling away at denominationalism and parish structures. He said, “The world is my parish.” He was not necessarily speaking as a missionary, but as an evangelist to the churched people. However, the impact opened the way to the wider world. Edwards, the father of the first great awakening, wrote a little booklet about humility and our will to prayer that was read by William Carey, a cobbler in England. That shoe-maker made maps of leather on the walls of his shop, and he prayed for the world. The impact of Edwards on Carey, the father of modern missions, is unmistakable. Prayer fuels mission. When believers accept the responsibility to pray, it changes history.
A quick review of the 19th Century, including the Haystack Prayer Meeting, the Cambridge Seven, the Meeting of Ten Nations, and the birth of the Student Volunteer Movement, and the explosive growth of that missionary movement. Then we take some time to review the lives of the major leaders that came out of the SVM.
We first look at John Mott, first chairman of the SVM. We look closely at the first World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1910. Mott chaired that event and two important, though muted voices, at that conference, are of importance to us today.
We examine the life and work of Robert Speer, Kenneth Scott Latourette, Robert Moffet, Samuel Zwemer, Frank Buckman, and James Yen. All of these leaders changed history. All volunteered their lives to Christ’s mission during their college years.