Saturday, January 28, 2012

William Carey - A shoemaker turned into a Multitalented Missionary

When God has a definite purpose in a person’s life surely his/her life has great transformations. There are ever so many people who have become great and famous but the most important aspect is their life in connection with the God of the Bible; a shepherd boy elevated to be a king, fishermen chosen to be the disciples of the Son of God, a persecutor of Christians became a preacher for Christ. These transformations surely speak of God’s way of choosing people for His purpose as per Corinthians I 1: 26-31.
They also clearly elucidate the mammoth growth, prosperity, and blessings in the life of a person who clings on to Jesus and remains faithful to him. One such significant transformation is the life of William Carey, a shoemaker transformed into a missionary, professor, publisher, social reformer, educationist, and so on and so forth. He brought light, the TRUE light, into the spiritually darkened Indian subcontinent by translating Bible into nearly 11 Indian languages.

William Carey was born at Paulerspury, in Northamptonshire as the eldest son of Edmund and Elizabeth Carey in 1761. His father was originally a weaver, but later he was appointed as a teacher in the village charity school. After the completion of his formal school education, due to his family’s financial constraints he was sent to work. As he had great passion for nature, animal, birds, plants, and gardens, he opted to take up a job in agriculture. Prolonged exposure to sunlight caused allergic outbreaks on his skin, and so his father decided that William would be suitable only for indoor jobs and sent him as an apprentice to a shoemaker Clarke Nichols in Piddington; at the time William was just 14.

William Carey’s early life is similar to that of John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim's Progress, marked with swearing, cursing, and mischievous deeds. While at work he had many conversations regarding his spiritual life with his senior, John Warr, who is also an apprentice. John warr's WALK AND TALK attracted Carey to Jesus. Carey found solace and peace to his soul through the word of God. Soon he started testifying his experiences to the people of his village. In 1783, he obeyed the Lord in the waters of baptism. John Ryland who baptized William Carey recalled after many years: “On October 5, 1783 I baptized a poor journeyman-shoemaker little thinking that before 9 years elapsed he would prove to be the first instrument for the formation of a society for sending missionaries from England to the heathen world, and much less than late he would become a professor of languages in an Oriental college and the translator of the scriptures into 11 different languages.”

Realizing the great commission of Jesus (Mathew 28:19), he started preaching the Gospel. As he was not formally educated in any of the theological college, the church did not recognize his pastoral skills. However, in 1785 the Baptist Church identified him and ordained him as the pastor of a Baptist Chapel at Moulton.

Carey had a burden in his heart to preach the gospel to the unreached parts of the world. This burden became too heavy and that came out as a sermon in Northamptonshire Baptist Association Meeting. The key verse of the sermon was Isaiah 54:2-3. Carey’s burden was shared with the entire people of the association, which resulted in the formation of a society to send missionaries to heathen lands to spread the gospel. In 1793 William Carey and John Thomas were commissioned to go as the missionaries to Bengal in India. After an year of stay in India, he brought his wife, Ms. Dorothy Carey, and children to Bengal from England. He did not get much support from the natives. In order to support his large family, he worked as an indigo planter. However, after a while he became jobless as the owner of the indigo estate sold it out. In his loneliness and sorrowful state he said: “I am in a strange land, alone, no Christian friend, a large family and nothing to supply their wants. But now all my friends are but one, I rejoice, however, that He is all-sufficient and can supply all my wants, spiritual and temporal.” Though he was in much distress, he was not at all shaken. Nothing separated him from the love of Jesus. In deed, Carey was “educated in the school of adversity”.

Carey observed about the conditions of India as “I see one of the finest countries of the world full of industrious inhabitants; yet one-third of it is uncultivated jungles, abandoned to wild beasts and serpents.
If the gospel flourishes here, “the wilderness will in every respect become a fruitful field.” As aptly commented by William Carey India was once a jungle both spiritual as well as physical aspects. It was inhabited not only by real serpents and wild beasts but also by the serpent, the evil one. India was under the clutches of powers and principalities of darkness and human sacrifices, widow burning, and other evil practices were flourishing at that time. The people were spiritually blinded and sacrificed their children and infants to their deities. They were not aware that it was not only an inhuman practice, but also compulsorily sending the souls to hell. The same is evident in the case of widow burning. Carey was really sorrowful of the perishing souls, but he knew the solution for all and that is Jesus, who only could bring deliverance. He was not only preaching, but also indulged himself in translating the New Testament into Bengali language (one of the major languages in India). Thus he brought the divine light in to the darkened country and his work is greatly commendable. God filled him with enormous talents. He had spectacular linguistic skills. He channeled his scholarly skills solely to the translation work as he was well aware of the importance of work he was involved in. He set up the India’s first printing press in Serampore, also invented an indigenous paper for printing. He is the pioneer of Indian printing technology. In 1801, he printed the first Bengali New Testament. In the later years, he translated Bible into nearly 11 languages. Thus, William Carey truly lighted the lives of the Indians.

After the death of his wife, Ms. Dorothy Carey, due to insanity in 1808, he married Ms.Charlotte E. Rumohr. She was extremely helpful spiritually and intellectually to Carey. After a interim period of happiness, in 1812 he faced another tragedy of the destruction of his Serampore Printing Press in a fire in which he lost his research materials, literatures, and his numerous writings of untold value. However, through this loss God made his humble servant’s name spread far and wide and God enabled him to rebuild it far better than the first. In 1818, he founded the Serampore College, the first university in the Indian history, not only to educate young men and women but also to lead them to Christ. His childhood passion for nature evolved him to be a founder of Agriculture and Horticultural Society of India in 1820. In 1821, his wonderful soulmate passed away leaving him in great sorrow. He continued his work for the Lord in spite of his suffering and loss of the loved ones. He continued to voice against infanticide and Sati, widow burning, through a journal called "Friend of India". Through the united efforts of the missionaries, British reformers, and Indian reformers the practice of Sati was abolished. His health declined gradually, he finished his good race in 1834. He was buried in the Serampore next to his loving wife Charlotte’s grave. Truly, he lived according to his words, Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.”
The Indian Government celebrated bicentenary of the arrival of William Carey in 1993 and honored him by releasing a commemorative postage stamp.

People may become great through various means. The dangers of becoming great and famous are innumerable. But the safest way to become great in the sight of God and Man is by doing God’s Will and being humble. The bible says in Proverbs 22:4,“By humility and fear of the Lord, are the riches, honor, and life. ” In quest of name and fame many have lost the essential ones, the fear of God, the humility, and the life. If anybody fears the Lord, he is ought to obey God's word, which is the Bible. If anybody is humble, then he must be constantly depending on the grace of the Lord. “He gives grace to the humble,” says the Bible. The grace of the Lord shall make one great. Self-realization, recollection of our past, and wonderful leading of our Lord through the wilderness, would work out gratitude in our hearts for our loving, gracious savior, which would keep us safely in His grace.

Bible speaks of a God who desires his children to wax great and great. He makes the despised to be eternal excellency, a joy of many generations (Isaiah 60: 15). This is the work of the Lord to make His children joyful and for HIS GLORY. We cannot become truly great through our own efforts, but as we seek His kingdom and all its righteousness He makes our name great in the sight of God and Man. He establishes our families on the face of this earth. God has made William Carey’s life an inspiration to all of us. He did valiantly through God and for God. He is not only great in the human history, but also has great rewards stored up for him in the Kingdom of God.

There is only one life that is soon to pass, but only things done for Christ will last.

Written By: Shanta S. Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sadhu Sundar Singh - An Indian Sadhu for the Living Christ!!

The Bible speaks about the existence of God even before the existence of any living thing. He is the creator of everything. He is the God of all flesh (Jeremiah 32: 27). This God of the whole universe became flesh and came into the world in the form of a man, and He is Jesus. The path of following Jesus Christ, the savior, is Christianity. Christianity is neither a religion nor it belong to a particular culture, creed or community. However, some groups charge Christianity as a foreign religion and hinder the expansion of the kingdom of God. Christianity in India faces such a charge. From time immemorial Indian culture is known for religious beliefs and devotion. Because of its deep rootedness in religious fanaticism, even now certain organizations cry out and claim that Christianity is a foreign religion and the Indians should not convert to Christianity. It is not the nominal conversion that the Lord Jesus intends for, but for the complete conversion of the being and becoming the child of God. To bear witness for Christ, the God of all flesh, against the aforementioned charge, there have been many Indian witnesses as well as martyrs from the remote past to date. Among them, Sundar Singh is considered one of the earliest and most impressive witnesses of Jesus Christ.  By following the footsteps of Jesus and through indigenous ways he testified that Christ was the God of all creation including Indians.

Sundar Singh's life began in 1889 in a wealthy Sikh family in the state of Punjab, which is in the northwestern part of India. A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism, which is a blend of Hinduism and Islam. As Sundar's father was a wealthy landlord he sent Sundar to a school, which was run by the American Presbyterian Missionaries. Besides formal education, Sundar obtained religious education as well. His mother was a pious and prayerful woman and wished her son should also be devout like her. So she appointed special teachers called pundits or scholars to instruct him on religious beliefs, duties, worship, and devotion. These religious classes affected in him a burning desire to know deeper truths regarding salvation and life. Neither his instructors nor his personal study of the Hindu religious scriptures satisfied his hunger and thirst for the truth. Although he desired to know the truth, he could not accept the truth that Jesus is the savior of His life and He is the only one who can give him peace and joy, which the world cannot give, because he vehemently opposed it as the foreign religion. During this period of his spiritual restlessness, his beloved mother passed away. The loss of his beloved mother intensified his state of dejection leading to suicidal thoughts. As he was seriously thinking of putting an end to his life to escape from extreme frustration, he saw the vision of Jesus, which was a breakthrough event in his life.

Sundar Singh's account of the remarkable intervention of Jesus in his life is included here for perusal. "I found nothing in Hindu philosophy. Only in Jesus Christ whom I used to hate, I found peace. I was spiritually blind, but in Him, I found what I had been seeking for a long time. I shall never forget that day, December 16, 1904, when I burnt the Bible in fire and my father said, Why are you doing such a foolish thing. I said the Western religion is false; we must destroy it. So I destroyed the Bible and thought I had done my duty. On the third day, I saw the power of the Living Christ. That third day I was going to commit suicide because I had no peace in my heart. I woke up in the early morning; it was winter and I took a cold bath. Then began to pray, but not to the Christ of Christianity, but I prayed like an atheist for I had lost my faith in God. I said, if there be a God you must show me the way of salvation or I will commit suicide. From 3:00 to 4:30 early in the morning I was praying. About 5:00 I was going to commit suicide by placing my head on the railway line, so I had only half an hour more. Then something happened that I never expected; the room was filled with a wonderful light I saw a glorious figure standing in the room. I thought it was Buddha, Krishna or some other saint whom I used to worship and was quite prepared to worship him, but I was surprised to hear these words; "How long are you going to persecute me? I died for thee. For thee, I gave my life." I could not understand, could not speak a single word. And then I saw the scars of the Living Christ, whom I thought of as a great man who used to live in Palestine and was now dead; but I found he was living, the Living Christ, not dead and gone. I was now prepared to worship Him. I saw his loving face. Though I had burnt the Bible the day before yesterday, he was not angry. I was changed! There I knew the Living Christ, the savior of the world, and my heart was full of joy and peace, which I cannot express. When I got up he disappeared. I went to tell my father. He could not believe it. "Only the day before yesterday you burnt the Bible, how can it be that you are now a Christian?" Because now I have seen His power; He is the Living Christ. It was not an imagination that I saw Him, because before the vision I hated Him and did not worship him. If I had seen Buddha you might say it was an imagination, because I used to worship him. It was not a dream. After taking a cold bath nobody can dream. That was reality, the Living Christ."

Initially, Sundar Singh's family members did not believe Sundar's conversion as he did greatly oppose Christianity. But as days rolled on, his witness for the Living Christ was so evident that they were indeed afraid as they considered it as a threat to the Sikh heritage of their family. So they persuaded him to change his mind through enticing and loving words. As their efforts for peace failed, they began to threaten him. But Sundar was steadfast in his faith in Jesus. As the latter mode also failed them, Sundar's own family members went to the extent of committing homicide. They poisoned him and cast him out of the house. Sundar took refuge in the house of a Christian friend. But by the time, the toxic effects of the poison were evident and he was almost dying. By God's unfailing love and grace, he was able to receive medical attention in due time and was saved from death. After his recovery, he stayed with the American missionaries who sent him to study in a high school in Ludhiana. At that time he was 15 years of age. As he grew up in faith and in the love of Jesus, he took baptism on September 3, 1905.
After his baptism, he followed Jesus closely but in an Indian Sadhu way. Right from his early childhood he was taught to respect Sadhus or saints who devoted their entire lives to God and spent their life in traveling from place to place chanting mantras and living on the food offerings offered to them. Therefore, he opted to lead a saffron-robed Sadhu life for Jesus. He traveled from place to place preaching the gospel but determined not to depend on anyone for anything. His Sadhu appearance gave him much freedom to move even among the orthodox people and share the gospel of Christ.
Impressed with his evidential witnessing of life for Christ, Bishop Lefroy of Lahore sent him to St. John's College of Divinity in 1907 so that he might ordain Sundar as a pastor after his theological studies. However, Sadhu Sundar Singh could not accustom himself to the college and quit in about 8 months. He said, "I learnt many useful things, no doubt, but they were not of much spiritual profit. There were discussions about sects, about Jesus Christ, and many other interesting things, but I found the reality, the spirit of all these things, only at the Master's feet. When I spent hours at his feet in prayer, then I found enlightenment, and God had taught me so many things that I could not express even in my own language. Sit at the master's feet in prayer. It is the greatest theological college in the world."
After his short-term college life, he resumed his independent preaching extensively throughout the northern part of India. God blessed his ministry and made it fruitful. Many Hindu scholars who heard his speech publicly claimed that Jesus was the true God. He had a great desire to take the Gospel to Tibet which was closed to Christianity. The law of this country did not permit the preaching of Christ in any form. But Sadhu started visiting Tibet from the year 1912. His adventurous, perilous journeys and the miraculous deliverance of the Lord are sources of inspiration that would have great influence on any ordinary person to perform extraordinary exploits for the Living Christ. He underwent innumerable persecutions, all of which would have caused sure death of our Sadhu, but the miracle-working God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego delivered him out of them all. Here is one such incident narrated by Sadhu Sundar Singh himself.

"I often remember that day when, for preaching the Gospel in Tibet, I was thrown into a deep well. For three days I was in that well without food and water. The door was locked and it was quite dark. There was nothing, but dead bodies and bones in that well. It was like hell. There I was tempted: Is your Christ going to save you, now you have been put into this prison? But I remember a wonderful peace and joy came to me in those hours of persecution, when my arm was broken, and there was such a bad smell. That hell seemed like heaven. I felt the presence of Living Christ. He is always with us as he has promised. I never thought that I could have any Cross with this kind of peace, but there I had that experience. After that was a wonderful thing, I was thinking that my time had come and I would be called to Heaven, when somebody opened the door. I could see no one. Then I knew what a wonderful power had delivered me. Perhaps someone will think that this was a dream, or that somebody set me free from that well, but the Man who made me free, who touched my arm- it was all right in a few minutes- was no human being. A human being could not do that, only the power of God. Now I preach, not because I know Christ through what is written about him, but because I know him from my own experience. He is the Living Savior. If Jesus Christ were not the Living Christ, I would not be preaching the gospel."
Sadhu Sundar Singh was a man of prayer and spent many hours in prayer and meditation. He often chose a secluded place to spend time with God. In January 1913, he decided to undergo fasting for 40 days. He chose a dense jungle, void of human interference, at the foot of the Himalayas. After several days of fasting, he became extremely weak and finally collapsed. He was found by two woodcutters who passed by and was brought to a place called Rishikesh to the Hindu Sadhus, as they thought he was one such. He was then later taken to Rev. Dharamjit's parsonage at Annfield, where he was nursed until he regained his vigor. During the fasting period, he saw the vision of Jesus for the second time. This time he saw Jesus with pierced hands, bleeding feet, and radiant face. He confessed that this vision cleared all his doubts about Christian Sadhu's way of life, and his call, and delivered him from all his weaknesses and fears.
After having revived his strength he left the Annfield parsonage to resume his evangelistic work. His great devotion, steadfastness, his sacrificial Christian living in an Indian Sadhu outlook not only attracted many Hindus to Christ but also the Westerners. He was earnestly invited to share his visions and experiences in many countries such as England, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, and Australia. After his worldwide evangelistic travel, he returned back to India in 1922. His health began to decline as a consequence of 19 years of toiling. He could not accept any more invitations from abroad owing to his health condition. His father, who once opposed his conversion to Christianity, later became a follower of Christ and insisted Sadhu Sundar Singh have a part of his property. But Sundar Singh refused to take the land but accepted the money with which he purchased a missionary house at Subathu, on the slopes of Himalayas. He rested and spent many hours in prayer at his Subathu bungalow. As his health did not permit him to have a vigorous, adventurous, wandering, ministerial life, he was forced to be confined in his house at Subathu. Even then he served God through his articles and books. Nevertheless, his desire to preach the Gospel in Tibet had not still abated. Finally, in 1929 he set out to Tibet. But after that, there was no news about Sadhu. His friends' efforts to trace him were fruitless. It is inferred that he had gone to live with his Master and Savior, the Living Christ.

The witnessing life of Sadhu Sundar Singh challenges and encourages the believers to live for Christ amidst the persecutions and suffering. His life is an example of utmost earnestness and sincerity in loving Jesus and living for Jesus. Many Christians in India think about Indianizing Christianity to win India for Christ. It is the CHRISTIANIZATION OF CHRISTIANITY that will save any country. If the born-again Christian community leads a CHRIST-FILLED LIFE, the country inhabits it will become a Christian country, NOT a nominal one, but a truly Christian nation for the glory of the Living Christ. Sadhu testified at every instance about the reality of Jesus and proclaimed that Jesus is a living God. He spoke extensively of his visions and his intimate moments with Him. One of the satanic weapons against Christianity is that it is charged as a foreign religion. Although Jesus was born as a Jew and lived in Jewish culture, He proclaimed that after his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, all kinds of people would follow Him.
This is clearly quoted in John 12:32 "and I, if be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." He said "will draw all men," which means the entire mankind shall be drawn unto Him irrespective of multidimensional differences such as language, culture, race, religion, etc. Mathew 8:5-11 says, "And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven." This verse assures that the people of different nations will be partakers of the heavenly heritage along with the Old Testament Saints of God. Therefore, the Bible proclaims that Jesus is the God of all people and whosoever believes in Jesus shall be saved. Every believer has to live for this truth and display the banner of truth to the people around them.

"Lord thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth- Psalms. 60:4."

Written by: Shanta S. Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

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