Under Luther Wishart of the YMCA the Student Volunteer Movement became a world wide movement for missions mobilization.
Wishart was an unlikely founder: overweight, nearly blind, lacking the natural charisma of a leader. Regardless, he set off on a four year world tour determined to make college campuses the “strategic points in the world’s conquest.’”
John Mott (right) followed close behind on a two year world tour intending to make the colleges throughout the world the bases from which the world would be won for Christ. Mott proved even more effective in creating student organizations with the intention that they become centers for world evangelism.
Following his tour, “Mott reported that he had visited 22 countries, 144 educational institutions, organized 70 new YMCA’s, organized five national intercollegiate organisations, saw the beginning of 11 Christian publications, inducted 12 countries as corresponding members of the WSCF, saw 2,000 commit to keeping the morning watch, and witnessed 505 people accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Finally he saw 300 students commit to become student volunteers for home missions.”
By 1920 the various SVMs of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) had recruited 11,079 missionaries.
A key to the SVM’s effectiveness was the focus that it’s watchword provided — “The evangelization of the world in this generation.”
Despite the success of the SVM, by the end of the first decade of the new century, questions and arguments were raised concerning the wisdom of its further use. Opponents of the watchword from within the SVM felt that, “the goal of evangelization was too narrow, and that the Great Commission called for was not the mere proclamation of the gospel but the Christianization of the world.”
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