Christians You Should Know: William Carey October 4, 2023

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For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. – 2 Corinthians 1:5

A Snapshot of the Life of William Carey:

Born: Aug. 17, 1761 – Paulersbury, England
Died: June 9, 1834 – Serampore, India

Father of Modern Missions and missionary to India. Carey was a shoemaker 1779-89, school-teacher, and Baptist pastor. He was converted on February 10, 1779, at a prayer service, following a witness from John Wart, a fellow cobbler. He then became a Baptist pastor, Moulton (1786) and Leicester (1790). He married Dorothy Plackett in 1781 (died 1807 following a mental breakdown). He then married Charlotte Rumor (1761-1821) in May, 1808 and Grace Hued Farbes in 1822. His second wife was a lifelong invalid and a lady of means who had come to India for health reasons. On Oct. 2, 1792, he founded a Baptist Missionary Society in Kettering after giving a historic sermon (Enquiry…”) on Isaiah 54:2-3, five months earlier. Carey sailed to India on June 13, 1793, and served there for 40 years until his death. It was six years before he baptized his first convert in 1800. That same year he settled in Serampore, a Danish colony 13 miles north of Caleutta. Carey taught languages at Ft. William College is Calcutta, 1800 onward, and translated portions of Scriptures into 44 dialects. In 1812, the Serampore printing presses and manuscripts were destroyed by a fire. He established Serampore College (1818) and the Agricultural Society of India (1820). Through his efforts, the tradition of widow-burning was abolished in 1829. He died of repeated attacks of fever and other complications. Some of his last words were, “When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey; speak about Dr. Carey’s Saviour.” Felix Carey (1786-1822) was his oldest son and he became the first missionary to Burma (Mynamar). “Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.”  – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

William Carey was pioneer in missions because he understood the great heart of God to save lost sinners. The salvation of the lost consumed William Carey, but it was his love for Christ that compelled him. There are many aspects of Carey’s life and ministry that should be studied. His work to get the Scripture to the people of India must not go without recognition. Carey’s perseverance during violent illness, personal suffering, marital distress, persecution, and incomprehensible oppression serve to remind us that God’s work requires God’s strength. Christ promised us that In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (1 Corinthians 16:33b) – in all of the these things, we can have the peace of God. We serve a victorious Savior (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).

Maintaining the right perspective of ministry was a constant priority for Carey. A few months before leaving for India, Carey exhorted: “Surely it is worth our while to lay ourselves out with all our might in promoting the cause and Kingdom of Christ.” Is there a cause greater? Is there a cause with more lasting fruit? Is there a purpose with a greater Example than Christ? No! The cause of Christ is the only cause upon which our lives should be poured out. Nearing death, Carey again pointed to his precious Savior: “When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey; speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.

Carey did not just preach these truths from the comfort of Western life; his life demonstrated an unwavering resolve to obey Christ. He expected God to bless his faith. Battling through his own bouts of discouragement and frustration, Carey discovered the overcoming strength that God gives. After years of painstaking translation work, it was all destroyed by fire. He endured tremendous loss and suffering in his own family. Yet, Carey continued to “attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.” What a stirring reminder to you and me. When the way grows hard, and all seem loss – “keep looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). As difficulties and frustrations abound, “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:3)Christ is our great motive; may our lives bring Him great glory.

A Suggestion for Further Reading…

William Carey: Obliged to Go Janet & Geoff Benge (1999)

William Carry: Missionary Pioneer and Statesmen – F. Deaville Walker

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