Monday, February 29, 2016

Cru's MOTTley Heritage

This past Friday we held our weekly meeting in Barnes Hall. Barnes Hall is commonly used for concerts these days, but it was actually constructed in the early 1900's specifically to host large Jesus-centered gatherings like our Real Life meeting. Along with a few other alumni, John R. Mott helped spearhead and raise funds to build Cornell's first "student Union" with a vision for student worship gatherings.  
Jabez and one of our Cru bands in Barnes at Real Life

I love John R. Mott and consider him the definitive great grandfather of modern campus ministry. As a student and then as an alumnus, Mott was a huge part of the YMCA. (Yes, back in the day, the YMCA was more interested in Bible studies than exercise equipment!) Functioning as a co-ed ministry, they were referred to as  “The Association” or "the Christian Association."

John R. Mott came to Cornell as a transfer student in 1865. He grew up in a Christian home, but he wasn’t remarkably fired up about Jesus or planning on being a Christian minister when he showed up on campus.
Two big things came together to instigate a radical turning point in John's life.

#1 Mott's Jesus Loving Room mate.  During his sophomore year, John lived with a friend named Arthur Grant. Grant was the president of the Cornell Christian Association and was a devoted follower of Christ. Grant's passion for God spurred John Mott powerfully and together in prayer and with time in the scriptures Mott felt the call of God upon his life. Throughout his life he would reflect with tremendous gratitude on his time with Grant. Looking back on all that God did through John Mott during his life-time, I would say, we should all be thankful for Arthur Grant!

#2 The Night he heard J.K. Studd speak. Also during that sophomore year, John attended a Christian chapel type ministry meeting where the brother of the famed English cricketer turned global missionary C.T. Studd was speaking. Mott showed up late, but just in time to hear Studd's powerful and challenging exhortation:

Studd said : "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not. Seek ye first the kingdom of God."  

Whenever you hear Mott's story, this tale will be included. Taken out of Shakespearean English, Studd asked a provocative question that comes from Jeremiah 45:5
Are you seeking great things for yourself?  

He continued "NO!  No, don’t seek that."  

And he followed it up with an exhortation straight from the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33 "Seek first the kingdom of God”  

Mott was blown away by the Holy Spirit! He heard the gospel and understood the implications in a whole new way. That night marked a true turning point in his life; Mott basically changed his major, and began to involve himself more fully in student ministry.  

Mott spent lots of time leading Bible studies and telling others about Jesus.   That next summer he ended up going to a Christian conference up in Massachusetts where he met a guy named Robert Wilder. Along with his sister Grace, the Wilder's were passionate about what we would call “overseas missions.”  They were tremendously burdened to help spread the saving message of Jesus to the Nations.  On the last night of the conference, Robert Wilder hosted this special session -it was a momentous occasion, 100 People -including Mott banded together and committed themselves to task of taking the gospel to the World.  This was the birthplace of what was known as the “Student Volunteer Movement” if you’ve ever heard of that.  
There’s lots to say, but here’s what I want to highlight.  John Mott was hardcore and he actually believed that everyone needed to know the good news of Jesus.  He also understood that God’s method and means of delivering that good news was through his disciples. 
John 3:16 teaches us that God loves the world
Matthew 28:18-20 has the explicit commission from Jesus to all who follow him to “GO” and make disciples of all Nations.  

John Mott believed that in light of God’s expressed will, Christians should strive for nothing less than telling everyone in the whole world about Jesus.  

John said, Let's labor to make“knowledge of the gospel accessible to all men.”  
He wanted to “...give all men an adequate opportunity to know Jesus Christ as their savior..."

Mott went on to give his life to the mobilization of missionaries; most of them students.  And in the end, he actually won the Nobel Peace Price for the work he did in uniting various churches and denominations in that endeavor.  (Perhaps the most appropriate Nobel Peace Prize ever given!!)

Cru and every other Christian campus ministry owe a lot to Mott for all that he pioneered on the campus’. It is no secret that Bill Bright stood on the shoulder's of John Mott in founding Cru back in 1951.  

John was clear, powerful, straightforward -he wrote numerous books, and in all of them he was trying to help the Church to truly embrace her mission. -To help everyone in the whole world hear/understand the gospel!  

Below are just a few of my favorite quotes:

"It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions."

"Prayer alone will overcome the gigantic difficulties which confront the workers in every field."

"If the gospel is to be preached to all men it obviously must be done while they are living.  The evangelization of the world in this generation, therefore, means the preaching of the Gospel to those who are now living. To us who are responsible for preaching the Gospel it means in our life-time; to those to whom it is to be preached it means in their life-time."

I am grateful for Mott's example and leadership, and it is my prayer that as a ministry we will continue in the same legacy. Would we be "Mottley"......a MOTTley Cru.