William Carey – inspires us to remember God saves people through evangelism & missions
1761 – 1834
William Carey was passionate about Christians reaching all nations with the good news of the Lord Jesus, and is often referred to as the ‘Father of Modern Missions’.
At a meeting of Baptist leaders in the late 1700s, a freshly ordained Carey stood up to argue for the value of overseas missions, and was abruptly interrupted by an older minister who sadly declared, “Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.”
Carey promptly went on to write a seminal treatise called ‘An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen’ and founded a missionary society with the wonderful tag line ‘Expect great thing from God; attempt great thing for God!’ The Great Commission of Jesus, ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28) must not be ignored – for it is through our evangelism and mission that God saves the people he has chosen to save!
As a young man Carey taught himself New Testament Greek, later adding Hebrew and Latin, and in 1873 Carey and his family sailed for India as missionaries where he would labour for 41 years. The early years were extremely difficult, not least with the death of his son to dysentery and the subsequent breakdown of his wife. Carey persevered, translating the New Testament into Bengali and over the ensuing years he and his team translated all or part of the bible into dozens of languages and dialects.
Carey’s legacy included a college in Serampore for training local ministers, and educational and social reforms including campaigning against infanticide and widow burning (sati). Arguably his greatest legacy was in the worldwide missionary movement of the nineteenth century that he inspired. Missionaries like Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, and David Livingstone, among thousands of others, committed themselves to being used by God in the glorious cause of bringing the gospel to all nations.