Today's 'thought' comes from a book entitled "The One Year Book of Christian History." The authors are E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. It is set up in a daily devotional style and each entry is tied to some event in history that happened on that particular day of the year. For those who enjoy learning about church history, I highly recommend it.
Today's selection is about William Carey. He is known to us today as, "The Father of Modern Day Missions," though he was not the first to push the foreign missionary endeavor, and many ministers in his day called him, "the hare-brained enthusiast." Yet for an uneducated shoemaker his accomplishments in the furtherance of missions are stunning. I trust you will find his story inspiring and challenging. Enjoy.
"William Carey was born in 1761 to a poor Anglican family in rural England. He wanted to become a professional gardener, but a skin disease prevented him from working out in the sun. He therefore began training as a shoemaker's apprentice at the age of fourteen. This was a providential career shift because a fellow apprentice, John Warr, was a Christian.
Being from a staunch Anglican family that despised Dissenters (non-Anglicans), Carey was uneasy with the evangelical arguments presented to him. However, over time Carey began to feel a "growing uneasiness and stings of conscience gradually increasing" with regard to Warr's beliefs. After a traumatic incident when Carey was caught trying to pass off a counterfeit coin as real money to his employer, he was so ashamed that for the first time he began to see himself as morally bankrupt and in need of salvation. Over the next two years he came to "depend on a crucified Savior for pardon and salvation." He was baptized in 1783.
Although he did not attend high school or college, Carey possessed a keen intellect. He taught himself five languages (Latin by the age of 12, and hew went on to master Greek, Hebrew, French and Dutch). By the end of his life knew dozens of languages and dialects.
Carey became a Calvinist Baptist preacher and followed a strict system of study. He studied the classics on Mondays, science and history on Tuesdays, and the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures the rest of the week. During this time he became increasingly burdened for overseas missions. He published a pamphlet called, "An Inquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens." (He also made a map of the world out of a scrap piece of leather, hung it on the wall in his cobblers shop, and prayed over the countries of the world.)
For years he tried to convince fellow Baptist ministers of the need to form a missionary society in order to spread the Gospel across the world. Although the leaders of the denomination kept putting him off, he persisted.
On the evening of May 30, 1792, Carey preached at the annual Baptist association meeting. His text was Isaiah 54:2-3, and his theme was, "Expect Great Things From God; Attempt Great Things For God." He urged his fellow pastors to commit to venturing forth among the nations with the Gospel, having confidence that God would bless the message and extend His kingdom.
Carey's address made a profound impression on the ministers in attendance...The next day, May 31, 1792, they agreed to form the "Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen." A snuff box was passed around to collect contributions for the new undertaking, later renamed The Baptist Missionary Society.
In 1793 Carey and two other men sailed for India as missionaries. Carey worked there until his death in 1834 without ever taking a furlough.
His comprehensive approach to missions included evangelization, church planting, and Bible translation, but also included working for social reform. He established schools, hospitals, and a savings bank. He founded the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of India, started a Bengali newspaper, supervised the start of India's first printing press, paper mill, and steam engine. He also taught languages at a local college, wrote a Bengali-English dictionary, and founded the first Christian college in Asia. He was instrumental in legislation outlawing Suttee (the burning alive of Hindu wives on the funeral pyres of their deceased husbands).
In all, Carey translated the complete Bible into six languages and portions into twenty-nine others (and that was after the warehouse containing the Sanskrit and Bengali dictionaries he had written, two grammar books, and ten translations of the Bible went up in flames, in 1812. In surveying the scene Carey said, "In one short evening years of labor were consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God...The Lord has laid me low, that I may look more simply to Him.")
He expected great things from God, and attempted great things for God, and God brought them to pass."
As former colleague used to say, "It goes to show what God can do with a heart touched and made willing by God." Carey was among the greats in the modern missions movement -- self-trained, self-educated, and God-motivated. Oh for a few more of his kind!
Blessings on your day, Pastor Jeff