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]

Follow Us