In the 1700’s cobblers were not expected to make much of a global impact. In 2009, fast food workers and garbage men would probably face similar expectations. The life of William Carey, one such cobbler, reveals something very different.
In 1786 Carey began his humble career working bi-vocationally as a preacher & shoemaker. However during this very time God began to work in his heart for taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation by Rev. Andrew Fuller was an important book that Carey read. The drive of this is as Fuller states “If it is the duty of all men to believe whenever the Gospel is presented to them, it must be the duty of all who have received the Gospel to endeavor to make it universally known.” Fuller’s conviction became Carey’s conviction and the world would never be the same.
As Carey began to discuss foreign missions, many of his fellow Christ-followers thought he was speaking a foreign language because the idea was so unfamiliar to the Christian culture at that time. A famous rebuttal that he received was “Young man, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your help or mine!” Despite this criticism, Carey knew God had a desire to reach the nations. He also knew that God would use Christ-followers as Gospel vessels to accomplish this mission.
1792 was vital in the development of William Carey's heart for God's call to missions. Carey was able to devote more time to studying God's Word. On May 30, 1792 he delivered a powerful sermon from Isaiah 54:2-3 with two points that are now every missionary’s motto: “Expect great things from God: Attempt great things for God.” In the fall of 1792 a missionary society was formed (against the advise of most London pastors.) Carey willingly offered himself as the 1st missionary to be sent out.
When the Carey family arrived in India in 1793, there was probably a small sigh of relief to see seven years of prayers realized. But the work on his knees was really only beginning. He loved and served for four years before he saw his first convert and seven years before his first India native convert. The missionary joys were accompanied by a fair share of sorrows & struggles. But Carey remained entirely given to the mission of God.
His legacy reads: “30 missionaries, 40 native teachers, 45 stations and substations, and approximately 600 church members.” Through his work thousands continue to go and reach the nations.
William Carey is now known as the “Father of the Modern Missions.” He is one of the heroes of the faith for sure. But he made a remarkable statement as he neared the end of his life. “There is nothing remarkable in what I have done. It has only required patience and perseverance." He later added, "When I compare things as they now are in India with what they were when I came here, I see that a great work has been accomplished, but how it has been accomplished, I know not.”
To me, the most amazing thing about God is that every Christ-follower is equal in His eyes. Sure there are greats like Paul, Carey, Luther, Wesley and Graham. But these men have titles and accolades only because we have given it to them. In God’s economy a Christian engineer or accountant who passionately lives missionally in his or her office building is just as much of a giant as the pastor of a 2,000 member church. Christ-followers are gifted in different ways because there are million different types and kinds of people that do not yet know Jesus as their savior.
No matter your age, occupation, title or personality I would love for you to reflect on Colossians 3:23-24. Paul uses the powerful phrase: “You are serving the Lord Christ.” See the true biblical picture throughout scripture of Christ’s church is not a building but servants in and among various cultures: living, loving and serving people as Jesus Christ would himself.
I hope and pray that every Christ-follower will redeem the office buildings, neighborhoods, break rooms, coffee shops and school all across the world. God’s desire is that we all begin to see our work as a way to make his salvation known among all nations. The reason is because we are all missionaries whether that be in India, New Orleans, Montreal or where ever God has placed you.
Carey’s last words in 1834 were “Dr. Duff! You have been speaking about Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey — speak only of Dr. Carey's God.”
There’s only one unique figure, his name is Jesus Christ. Everyone else is to trust Him as Lord and then go share with others about Him as servant. The most important title for Carey was “Servant of Christ” and this is the only one that you and I need to pursue.
Source: William Carey's Biography
More Information on Carey: great links to click and read
Other Christian Biographies