The final days of summer are here. One of the books on my reading list, mentioned in a previous post, is a Christian biography on the “father of modern missions” William Carey.
The book was written by his great-grandson and traces the heart and soul transformation of a shoe-maker from England. Carey becomes one of God’s greatest servants on the field in India.
I did not find this book on my own. The hat tip goes to John MacArthur. When he named this unfolding story as one of his most rewarding reads, it was immediately added to my Amazon wishlist.
This is my favorite missionary biography and one of my favorite books period. William Carey’s journey to and through India is one of the greatest responses to the Great Commission in the history of the church. This book continues to be a catalyst for my own commitments to pray for and give to the missions efforts of our church.
With an endorsement like that I had no choice but to read it.
Just 47 pages in, and I’m already challenged by the newfound fascination Carey has with the things of God. Let me get out of the way and share the passage with you.1
For four years already it had burned in his bones. He felt the world’s darkness. Nightly he kept adding to his own world map, from ethnographer Guthrie and others—the map… on the wall of his workshop. He amassed his data and accumulated arguments in support of the proposition—that God uses means in the salvation of the lost, and that His servants must preach to all nations.
One of Thomas Gotch’s sons never forgot a question cropping up at a ministers’ gathering held in his father’s home, about a small East Indian isle. ‘Neither Hall nor Ryland, Sutcliff nor Fuller, could supply the needed information. Presently, from a back corner, with much reticence, Carey report its location, length, breadth, and nature, and the number and religious character of its people, to the amazement of the rest, who as good as said, “How do you know?”
He had schooled himself to detailed research in order that he might make an accurate survey of the church’s task, and present his Lord’s pressing commission. His globe was his other Bible… His pupils saw sometimes a strange sight, when their master would be moved to tears over a geography lesson. As he pointed to continents, islands, and peoples, he would cry, ‘And these are pagans, pagans!’… His sister-in-law, Catharine, says that more than once she saw him stand motionless for an hour and more in his little garden, absorbed in his tense thoughts and prayers, till his neighbors judged him beside himself.
He read the lives of John Eliot and David Brainerd. He learned how the one had toiled with a scholar’s patience and an apostle’s grace for nearly sixty years amongst America’s Indians, and had been the first to translate the whole Bible into a pagan tongue. The other, in three seraphic [blissful] years, had burned himself out for those Indians and the Lord. These two, with Paul, were henceforth his heroes and models.
The Bible, too, now throbbed with new meaning. He saw it as the progressive unfolding of God’s world-missionary purpose. The Old Testament, especially the latter portion of Isaiah, shone to his renewed sight with missionary prophecy, as the New shone with missionary exploits and achievements.
Church history also became his fascination, though also his poignant pain, as he realised how far from its heroic periods was the listless church of his own day.
A chief glory of the Moulton parish church, the largest in its deanery, and dedicated both to St Peter and St Paul, was its peal of bells. The village loved to hear ‘the five’ set swinging in the wakened tower. Carey yearned to hear a strident peal from God’s Word which would rouse Christ’s church to catch again the missionary spirit of Peter and of Paul. He himself, though he knew it not, was to ring that peal.
The life of Carey is convicting. This man was investing time behind the scenes on the things that mattered—to God. He wasn’t doing it for show; and certainly not for tell. Instead, Carey was doing it because of his abiding presence with the Lord his God. This is what stirred his heart and stimulated his mind.
Do you have a newfound fascination with the things of God? What are you doing to fuel that passion? Are you preparing for what He has in store for you?
Something for each of us to think further on. May we be found faithful.