This is the first blog in a five-part series about historical missionaries who stood firm in the faith.
“Expect great things from God! Attempt great things for God!” -William Carey
William Carey’s heart was convicted as he stood among ministers at a Baptist leaders' meeting. It was the late 1700s in England, and Carey was a full-time pastor. He had read the works of former missionaries, had studied Matthew 28 and Isaiah 54, and was convinced that the Great Commission that Jesus gave His disciples was relevant for every generation.
Yet when he suggested at the meeting that the church should have an active role in overseas missions, one minister responded, “Sit down, young man! Sit down and be still. When God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without consulting either you or me.”
But Carey would not be stilled. This experience served as a catalytic moment for Carey and further drove him to pursue global missions. He continued trying to convince fellow Christians of the need for taking the gospel to other nations, and, with some friends, he began a missions organization. But he continued to see little movement from Christ followers.
Then Carey met John Thomas, a doctor who had worked in India and had returned to England to raise funds. Carey decided to go to India with Thomas as the first missionary of his new missions organization. Carey and his family left for India with Thomas in 1793.
Life on the mission field was harsh. Upon first arriving in India, Carey and his team struggled to support themselves financially, and they faced threats from gangs, tigers, and cobras. One of his children died of dysentery, and his wife’s mental health deteriorated until her death. But Carey knew God had a purpose for him in India.
Seven years after traveling overseas, Carey baptized the first Hindu man he had led to Christ. With a thirst for learning languages, Carey and his team translated the Bible into more than 40 languages. Dozens of churches were planted in India, as well as more than 100 schools. Carey also advocated ending the cultural custom of Sati, where a widow would throw herself on the burning body of her deceased husband at his funeral.
Carey died a faithful servant of the gospel after working in India for 41 years. By the time of his death, India had more than 30 missionaries and about 600 church members.
Despite being ignored by his peers, Carey knew the Great Commission was a duty for the church of every generation. His faithfulness to follow God led to hundreds of people in his lifetime knowing Jesus.