The momentum of the present missionary movement has been startling. It suggests that we are on the eve of an advance undreamed of by the most enthusiastic. The last twenty-odd years have seen progress clear outstripping that of the previous hundred, though all built upon the foundations so well laid by the earlier leaders of the century.
In answer to the earnest persistent prayer of a few, the Spirit of God found new stuff ready for His kindling fires among the colleges. The story of the prayer of a few that preceded the forming of the Student Volunteer Movement is thrilling. That great movement was literally conceived and brought forth in the travail of prayer. Its wide-spread influence upon the colleges, and then upon the churches; its early campaigning, its remarkable leaders, its great conventions, the steadiness of its growing influence through more than twenty years, and the distinct mark it has made upon the whole mission propaganda abroad, make up one of the most thrilling chapters of church history, ancient or modern. To-day its influence encircles the earth. Its volunteers are found everywhere.
Its reflex influence upon that other movement, the Young Men's Christian Association, has been no small part of its work. The two have been interwoven from the beginning, each contributing immeasurably to the other. The practical power of the Young Men's Christian Association on foreign soil is recognized by the Church, and by foreign governments, as of a value clear beyond calculation or statement.
It has come to be one of the great expressions of the unifying spirit of the Church on foreign-mission soil. Our churches at home may go their separate ways, largely. But the pressure of the sore need of the foreign world has been welding the churches there together remarkably. The Christian Associations, both of young men and young women, belonging to all the Church and representing all, have held a strategic position in action, and been of inestimable service to the Church in its missionary propaganda.
The Young People's Missionary Movement, whose long, warm fingers are reaching throughout the whole Church, and the newer Laymen's Missionary Movement with its aggressive campaigning, are both remarkable expressions of the new uprising.
The women of the Church were forehanded in their earnest working and praying. They were up at dawn of day. Their influence is mighty, clear beyond any words to express. And now at last the men are waking up, and the new life is showing itself anew within organic church lines. Men's missionary conventions, with great attendances, are swinging into line, and revealing the awakeness of the Church.