Known as the father of the modern mission movement, William Carey (1761–1834) has been described as perhaps the greatest missionary since the time of the apostles. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, described Carey as a “lone, little man. His resume would have read: Education – minimal. Degrees – none. Savings – depleted. Political influence – nil. References – a band of country preachers half a world away.”
Carey faced many obstacles even before going on the mission field – even by some Christians. He responded with what has become a powerful, and often repeated statement, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” How many of us today have so carefully crafted our “comfort zone” that we idolize this faux comfort instead of stepping out in faith with radical obedience? No wonder we rarely see God work. He will not begin to work until we begin to move in faith.
Just before Carey left his home country of England for India, he preached at his home church from Matthew 28:16-20 known as the Great Commission. Adrian Rogers once said that this passage was the heartbeat of the Son of God.
Carey faced even more adversities in his over forty years spent in India. His first wife died in India. Then his second wife also died. He also buried three of his children. On top of that, it was seven years before he would see his first person come to saving faith in Christ. How often we give up too soon. Most Christians are not deep enough in their walk with Christ. They simply cannot function in circumstances that are not “perfect” by their definition. Make no mistake; being a follower of Christ is not easy. It often times means going against the flow of the culture and the world system. Be faithful to the end as William Carey was.
As Carey neared death, he told his friend, “When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey. Speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.” His grave in Serampore, India reads, “A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall.” He wasn’t being hard on himself; he simply saw how frail he was and how strong Christ is.
How about you? Has the Lord called you to do something for Him that is outside your ability? Has He encouraged you to take a step of faith? Has He moved you to leave your comfort zone and trust Him? Success in this life is found not in fame or fortune but in faithfulness. The heights are experienced not in being served but in serving the least of those around us.
Dr. Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a challenging book titled 10 Who Changed the World. He examines the life and ministry of William Carey and nine other world-changing missionaries.
Brad Ferguson is lead pastor at Tega Cay Baptist Church: @bradferguson623