Church History Minute: William Carey
Who was he? He’s known as the founder of the Modern Missions Movement (the first serious effort for Protestants to send missionaries outside the standard area of Christendom).
Carey was a rather unassuming Baptist preacher in Britain during a time of extreme hyper-Calvinism, of the sort that thought evangelism was unnecessary. Carey, though, was overwhelmed with the lostness of those who had never heard the gospel. When he was asked to preach at the annual meeting of Baptists he preached what is called his “deathless sermon” from Isaiah 54:2-3 in May 1792. It had two points 1) Expect Great Things from God 2) Attempt Great Things for God. After a final plea to the other members, the Baptist Missionary Society was formed and Carey was selected as one of its first missionaries.
After convincing his, rather reluctant, wife to join him they set sail for India. Unfortunately his wife lost her mind when some of her children died there and spent the rest of her days in an asylum. Also Carey worked for several years before his first convert. His efforts did not prove successful until he teamed up with two partners and formed a thriving mission in Serampore.
Where might I have heard of him? In many discussions of missions, especially the history of Baptist missions.
Fun Fact: Prior to leaving for India, Carey, who was a preacher and a cobbler, also was a teacher. He taught Geography using a globe he constructed from extra scraps of leather lying around his cobbler shop. He would often become over whelmed and need to stop Geography lessons when talking about the “Pagan” nations.
Why should I care about Carey? Well Carey Pioneered the system of missions dominant in the modern era. It can be summed up through the acronym STAMP, emphasizing the five things he felt were necessary for effective mission work. Schools for children to teach literacy, but also other educational enterprises (up to and including colleges and seminaries). Translation of the bible into native dialects (something Carey had a knack for). Agricultural methods should be shared if they could improve crop yield. Medical aid should be provided. And finally Preaching should be a regular fixture. It is important to note now that many missions organizations have begun to deemphasize one or more of these prongs, despite the wild success they have had. In particular, when the IMB of the Southern Baptist Convention pulled out of schools it was cause for significant alarm among many missionaries. They have, recently, begun to slowly ease back into schools abroad.