Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 10, 2009

John R. Mott

John R Mott   John R. Mott is one of my historical mentors. A historical mentor is someone who, although dead, continues to influence succeeding generations through writings and a life well-lived. Mott was born May 25, 1865 in Livingston Manor, New York and became a believer at a young age. He was a brilliant young man who was interested in pursuing a career in either law or business. God, however, had other plans for him. While a sophomore at Cornell University, Mott arrived late for a lecture by J.K. Studd on January 14, 1886. As he entered the room he heard Studd say, “Young man, seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not! Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” Studd’s words pierced his heart and kept him up that night. Mott later met privately with Studd for a conversation. That conversation changed the course of Mott’s life.

   In the summer of 1886, Mott attended a conference in Mount Hermon, Massachusetts held by D.L. Moody. On the final day of that conference, a young man from Princeton named Robert Wilder issued a missionary challenge and an appeal for personal commitment. One hundred of the 251 college-aged men in attendance from 89 colleges and universities signed the Princeton Pledge which read, “We hold ourselves willing and desirous to do the Lord’s work wherever He may call us, even if it be in the foreign lands.” These men became known as the “Mount Hermon Hundred.” John R. Mott was among the one-hundred men who signed the pledge. That meeting was the beginning of what would later be known as the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. Mott led this movement for thirty years and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for his work in international church and missionary movements.

   The Student Volunteer Movement’s motto was, “The evangelization of the world in this generation.” Mott felt that the best hope for the fulfillment of this motto was to mobilize college students to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. He successfully mobilized students from different denominational backgrounds around this unifying purpose and consequently helped organize the World Student Christian Federation that included societies in about 3,000 schools around the world. In April 1901, Mott spoke on the responsibility of young people for the evangelization of the world. His words are as relevant today as on the day he spoke them. In this speech, Mott said, “The last command of Christ is operative until it is repealed. It is not optional, as some would assume, but obligatory. It awaits its fulfillment by a generation which shall have the requisite faith and courage, and audacity and the purpose of heart to do their duty to the whole world.”

   Today, the last command of Christ still awaits its fulfillment. And today, multiplied thousands of students still continue to heed the call “to do their duty to the whole world” — to the nations. As I travel around the world, I am most encouraged and inspired by the audacious commitment of Christian students. I have met students serving the least of these from Darfur to the sewers of Delhi. I have talked with young backpackers trekking to mountain villages and shared rickshaws with students navigating back streets of mega-cities. I have watched young people laugh and play with filthy street kids and weep for the dying in Mother Teresa’s homes. I believe there is hope for reaching the nations with the truth of the gospel because of students like these “who have the requisite faith and courage, and audacity and the purpose of heart to do their duty to the whole world.” Perhaps this is the generation of students Mott dreamed of.

   Today, over three-hundred Kingsland students will leave our campus to serve in missions initiatives from Houston to the Gulf Coast, from New Mexico to Old Mexico, and in Nicaragua. Please pray for our students as they join hundreds of thousands of other students who are serving around the planet this summer. Because of their work, many will come to faith in Christ. And, join me in praying for what Mott longed for — “the evangelization of the world in this generation.”


  1. What an excellent article to start my week off with!

    Thanks Omar

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