Student Volunteer Movement (Part 1)

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Student Volunteer Movement (Part 1)

“Has any such offering of living men and women been presented in this age–in this country–in any age, or any country, since the days of Pentecost?” – President McCosh, President of Princeton College (now University) in May 1887, referring to the Student Volunteer Movement

In 1886, 251 young men from nearly 90 colleges gathered together in Northfield, Massachusetts for a month-long Bible conference with famed revivalists D.L. Moody, A.T. Pierson, and others. The students would daily gather together with Moody for 6am prayer meetings, a morning Bible study on the subject of the Second Coming of Christ, and games and sports in the afternoon. Despite Moody’s lack of any formal education, he captivated the hearts and minds of some of the best and the brightest college students with a vision of a great awakening in the hearts of college students to the revelation and beauty of Jesus.

In the midst of this month-long conference, a young radical named Robert Wilder, a recent graduate of Princeton, began to envision his fellow students with a dream to evangelize the world in their generation. Though missions was not the purpose of the month-long conference, it became the dominant theme in the minds of the students as Wilder spread his passion for a collegiate missions movement among the other students. John R. Mott, the future leader of the Student Volunteer Movement, remembered, “You could hardly go anywhere without somebody crossing your path and presenting this great missionary message.”

Robert Wilder’s sister, Grace, had prophesied to her brother that 100 college students would be set apart for missionary work at the summer Bible conference. On one of the final nights of the conference, students gathered together who had consecrated themselves to the finishing of the task of world evangelization in their generation. One by one they explained their reasons for their commitment to this great undertaking. Many remembered the power and effect of this meeting for years to come.

Then, on the night before the conference would end, those who had committed themselves to the missionary cause gathered together for one final prayer meeting to present themselves to the Lord and consecrate their lives as foreign missionaries. There, 99 students gathered together, and as they began to kneel together before the Lord, one final student slipped through the back door and joined his fellow students. These initial 100 student volunteers would come to be known as “the Mt. Hermon 100.”

In a breathtaking moment, just as had been prophesied earlier by Grace Wilder, exactly 100 students who would come to be known as “the Mt. Hermon 100” launched the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. Within one generation, these Student Volunteers would explode from 100 college students to over 20,000 young men and women who became foreign missionaries preaching the gospel in every nation of the earth.

Could it happen again?

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