A Christian of Exceptional Personality and Evangelistic Appeal
by Rev. David T. Myers
Picture the scene in your mind’s eye. Thirty-five hundred natives peoples have gathered together at one site that summer of 1933. Missionary evangelist Charles J. Woodbridge no doubt had something to do with that great gathering in the French Cameroons. He was the sole evangelist for a mission station in that African country, a mission station that encompassed five thousand square miles! These natives were in great need of hearing the plain and simple gospel message, and had been gathered to hear a message from a visiting Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission executive from America. What they heard instead from this visitor from the U.S. was instead an hour-long message on, (are you ready for this?), “the Power of Personality.” Standing off to the side of the podium, deeply aghast at what he heard, there was no greater proof to young Charles Woodbridge of the deepening apostasy of the official missions board of the Presbyterian Church.
When he later heard that he himself had been singled out to serve as the General Secretary of the newly formed Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions in June of 1933, he gathered his wife and two daughters and returned immediately to America to take up his new post. In less than four years, he would be censured by the highest court of the Presbyterian church for accepting this new ministry.
Charles Woodbridge, born January 24, 1902,was described by his fellow Reformed Christians as being no ordinary General Secretary. From his heritage as the fifteenth generation minister of his family line, dating back to 1493, from his own father who had been a missionary in China, from the fact that he married the daughter of a missionary, Charles Woodbridge would be known as “a man of exceptional personality and evangelistic appeal.” His spiritual gifts made him the perfect architect of a new mission strategy in reaching the world for Christ.
Yet the main line denomination of which he was a part, did not take kindly to this new mission upstart. Within a year, steps were taken to force him to abandon this new missions work, and when he chose not to follow their directives, Charles Woodbridge was censured by the church. He left in 1937 to become a pastor of the Presbyterian Church in North Carolina for several years.
Eventually, he served as a theological seminary professor and author, always seeking to warn Christians of the danger of compromising the Word of God. He died on 16 July 1995, at the age of 93.
Words to Live By: Committed to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is a great goal for everyday life and service.
Some of the many publications of Rev. Woodbridge—
The Chronicle of Salimbene of Parma : A thirteenth century Christian synthesis. Durham, NC: Duke University, 1945; Ph.D. Thesis; 305 p.