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William Carey: The Mission


Yesterday, at school we were discussing the work of William Carey who wrote a persuasive piece designed to inspire his fellow Baptists to send out and support missionaries in 1792 called An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. His unrelenting desire to save the lost drove him to study languages incessantly. He was a shoemaker by trade who taught himself Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Dutch, and French. Eventually he moved to India with his family and some others to spread the gospel there. He translated the Bible into Bengali and Sanskrit and distributed it among the people. Below is a quotation that I found challenging. Part of his treatise included a series of tables listing the population of each known country in the world along with religious affiliation. He estimated that out of the 731 million people in the world 420 million were still in “pagan darkness.” Looking at statistics today, there are roughly two billion Christians out of 6.5 billion people. Are Carey’s words any less relevant today than when he penned them more than two centuries ago?

Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens by William Carey (1792)

It is inconsistent for ministers to please themselves with thoughts of a numerous auditory, cordial friends, a civilized country, legal protection, affluence, splendor, or even a competency. The flights, and hatred of men, and even pretended friends, gloomy prisons, and tortures, the society of barbarians of uncouth speech, miserable accommodations in wretched wildernesses, hunger, and thirst, nakedness, weariness, and painfulness, hard work, and but little worldly encouragement, should rather be the objects of their expectation. Thus the apostles acted, in the primitive times, and endured hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ; and though we living in a civilized country where Christianity is protected by law, are not called to suffer these things while we continue here, yet I question whether all are justified in staying here, while so many are perishing without means of grace in other lands.

This thinking is intensified when one realizes that the majority of Christians do not know the gospel of the kingdom and they worship God as a Trinity. The fields are white for harvest. Who will go?

2 Responses to “William Carey: The Mission”

  1. on 02 Dec 2009 at 5:44 pmKen

    I believe Carey’s statement accurately reflects the heart of the apostles and others in the book of Acts who continually risked their lives and their comfort in order to obey the Lord’s commands to herald the message.
    Whenever our “comfortable” spiritual activities crowd out our awareness of our need to reach out and herald the message, we need to pay attention to reminders like this one from William Carey.

  2. on 09 Dec 2009 at 5:19 pmKen

    Thanks again for sharing this. I’m reminded of our Lord’s reminders to be involved in ministering to those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and in prison. Jesus, of course, emphasized this as the criterion for genuine faith in action in relation to future judgement (in Matthew 25: 31-46.) This must be an ever-urgent priority to our minds and hearts if we are to stay on course.


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