Sometimes, of course, sincere differences of opinion and active opposition coincided; and sometimes he overlooked this fact and took opposition to him and his message as a sign of resistance to truth itself. But his basic understanding of opposition grew through experience, and he was coming to recognise the edge of malice or even hatred which intruded when the opposition arose from people or groups who felt that his message threatened their ways of life or even their institutions. That Buchman provoked such opposition did not of itself prove the validity of his stand, but if he had not provoked persecution from any quarter, that would have indicated that he was not putting into practice the revolutionary quality of the great Christian tradition. He did not enjoy it, but he welcomed the test. 'Persecution is the fire that forges prophets - and quitters,' he said in later life.

To move out beyond accepted boundaries, which was to be the pattern of Buchman's life, was a consequence partly of temperament, and partly of the atmosphere in which he began to work and develop in Penn State and China. John Mott's crusade 'to evangelise the world in this generation' was the central theme among the Christians with whom he worked most closely. Mott had become Student Secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA in 1888 and General Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation, which he largely created, in 1895. 'While the missionary enterprise should not be diverted from the immediate and controlling aim of preaching the gospel where Christ has not been named,' he wrote, 'this must ever be looked upon as a means of the mighty and inspiring object of enthroning Christ in the individual life, in family life, in social life, in national life, in international relations and in the relationships of mankind.'12 The strategy for this tremendous enterprise was to mobilise students from as many countries as possible in order to build up 'the new world leadership' for carrying out an epochal change during 'this decisive hour of world history'. His primary aim was not so much to enlist large numbers, but 'to get the ablest, strongest men, those who in any walk of life would be leaders', and he quoted Drummond's saying, 'If you fish for eels you catch eels; if you fish for salmon, you catch salmon.'

Mott's strategy depended on the peace and freedom of movement and communications which preceded the First World War, and during that war its thrust slackened. The American YMCA, of which he was by now General Secretary, became more and more involved, after 1917, in providing amenities for the troops. Its Secretaries in the mission fields of India and China were inadequate to their primary task, and no match for a Communist missionary like Borodin. Buchman, on his return home after the war, found that the old modes of working - through the YMCA, Northfield and so on - no longer possessed the power which they had previously. He felt that something less organisational, much more dependent upon the kind of transparent fellowship which he and his friends had established through total honesty in Tientsin, was necessary. At the same time it becomes clear, as the story proceeds, that he had absorbed and retained much of the optimism and many of the tactics of Mott's great design.