A Breathtaking Legacy – William Carey, Father of Modern Missions

William Carey

It is not accurate to merely mention William Carey as an inspiration for global mission.

His legacy, and the breadth of his involvement and influence in Indian life, does not allow us to pass by him quickly.

Here was an ordinary man, a shoemaker by trade, converted to Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, and set on a life of service to those who don’t know Christ.

He grasped, as we should, that the Christian Gospel impacts the whole of life – not only how one prays in private, important though that is.

He saw the gospel as a powerful manifestation of grace that reconciles us to the Holy God, and enhances our intellectual, moral and social life.

What did Carey do?
As a result, we’ve seen how his career as a missionary in India places him in a unique position as a helper to India’s freedom.

He believed Scripture has greater authority than tradition
He urged others to take the ‘Great Commission’ seriously
He believed God specifically called him to go to India
He knew that the Bible was the key to human freedom and human development
He taught that Karma trapped people but Grace releases them
He preserved and enhanced indigenous languages through Bible translation
He was the first to publish on Science and Natural History in India
He introduced the steam engine to India and gave local engineers the design so they could reproduce it
He also developed locally produced paper so that locals would not have to purchase imported paper at higher prices
He introduced the idea of a savings bank to India to protect the poor from loan sharks
He was the first person to lead a campaign for the humane treatment of leprosy patients
He was the father of print technology in India
He established the first ever newspaper printed in an Oriental language – and sought to establish a ‘free press’
He was the first to translate the Indian religious classics into English
He wrote worship songs in Bengali
He established dozens of schools in India, for both sexes – disregarding colonial fears and prejudice
He founded the Agri-horticultural Society in India before the Royal Agricultural Society was formed in England
He was concerned for the environment in India and wrote essays on forestry
He established Indian lending libraries
He fought for Women’s Rights in India – successfully working for legislation that would outlaw widow burning

What should we do?
In the light of such achievements and areas of involvement we would do well to ask ourselves how far reaching our influence could be?

And, once again, as I have said several times, such a study of Carey should challenge, if not obliterate, the oft-repeated slander that the missionaries sent from Europe were primarily self-serving or Empire-serving lackeys. Rubbish!

That Carey’s life-long devotion to the liberation of India was costly will be examined next time as we consider the impact it made on his family, and more specifically, on his wife, Dorothy.

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

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