Trail of Obidience to God – William Carey

William Carey was born in Paulerspury village, 8 miles from London. His father Edmund Carey was a weaver and also a School master in a charity village school. His mother Elisabeth encouraged William to read. He developed reading books in his early age. He had a special interest to read traveller’s books. He was delighted to read the writings of Captain James Cook, a British explorer who explored different continents and wrote about human sacrifice in Tahiti, an island in southern Pacific Ocean. William Carey’s uncle, Peter was a traveller and so he would discuss and dream to go to a strange land.

careyWilliam loved plants. At the age of 12 he became a gardener. He left this work since he developed rashes in his face and hand because
of the hot sun. He was sent as an apprentice to Mr Nicholls to work as a cobbler (shoe-maker) which was a promising trade in those days. John Warr, a fellow apprentice told William that he should know Jesus personally and he invited him to attend some meetings in his church. He also loaned some valuable books to Carey for reading. William Carey misappropriated a shilling and lied to Mr Nicholls.
He was ashamed when Mr Nicholls found out. That day he attended a meeting and listened to a message on Hebrews 13:13 and it led him to Christ. His employer died and was hired by another cobbler. He married his employer’s sister in law. His wife Dorothy was 25 years old, when he was 19.

William learnt Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, and Dutch. When  he was a teenager he used to read Bible in 6 languages. During those
days Bibles were not commonly available. In his cobbler’s stall he hung a hand-made world map and wrote in it the details of the
peoples and places which he knew through his readings. He prayed regularly, “Dear God, don’t let Trail of Obedience to God
this people die in darkness. Send someone to show the light of the Gospel.” At that time, he did not know that he was one of them
who would show the light to the people in darkness. He pastored a small Baptist congregation and was allowed to preach in different
Baptist churches. One of his friends seriously told him that he was neglecting his business by going for preaching. Carey replied, “My
business is to extend the kingdom of God; I only cobble shoes to pay expenses.”

In those days, the Church’s theological understanding was that the Great Commission was binding only on the apostles. William told in a minister’s meeting that the great commission which was once given to the apostles by Jesus was still a binding command. The pastors looked at each other not knowing what to respond. The chairman said, “Sit down, young man. When God pleases He will do it without your help or mine.” William who was discouraged, wrote a book, An enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use the Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, on the needs of the world and pouring out his passion to evangelize the foreign land. He shared his concerns about telling the love of God in the foreign countries in different meetings and finally on 2 Oct. 1792, the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) was established. He wanted to go as a missionary to Tahiti. He met John Thomas, a medical doctor, who worked in Bengal and knew the Indian languages and culture. He also read a letter from three Indians who wrote to have compassion on India and send preachers and those who would translate the Bible. These words motivated Carey to change his plan and go to Calcutta
in India.

BMS decided to hold the rope of encouraging, praying and financially supporting the work of Thomas and Carey.They reached India on 11 Nov. 1793 with much difficulty travelling for 5 months through sea. William and his family shifted 6 places because of East India Company in Calcutta and the Danish rule in Serampore. William Carey’s wife Dorothy had not prepared her mind to come to India. She went through a painful time because of the death of their children. William Carey contributed in different areas. Some of them are as follows. He translated the entire Bible in Bengali, Sanskrit, and Marathi. Together with his team Carey translated the New Testament and few portions of the Scripture in about 40 languages and dialects.

  • He also translated some parts of Ramayana into English. William, with his team has written grammar and dictionaries in different languages like Sanskrit and Bengali.
  • As a team they printed the  Bible, dictionaries, grammar books etc along with the expert British printer William Ward. Once the press was on fire and many of the translated manuscripts were burnt. Carey was discouraged but with the team he translated the materials again.
  • He founded Serampore College/ University to train national leaders.
  • He started the first India Newspaper The friend of India, which is now known as The Statesman.
  • He was appointed (by the British governor general to India) as a professor of Bengali and Sanskrit at the William Fort College for the British who were in India and wanted to continue their higher studies. William had never studied in a college.
  • He opposed and mobilized people against Sati (a wife being burnt alive along with her husband’s funeral pyre) along with Dr Raja
  • Ram Mohan Roy. A law prohibiting Sati was passed on 4 Dec. 1829. When he was asked to translate the declaration into Bengali he cancelled his Sunday preaching and translated, to avoid many innocent widows being burnt.
  • He opposed the children being thrown alive into the river Ganges to appease their gods.
  • He founded the Agri-Horticultural Society and did a systematic study of the plants in India.
  • He started literacy for women and schools for the lower caste people along with Joshua Marshman and his wife Hannah Marshman.
  • He led campaign for humane treatment for leprosy patients as he witnessed the lepers being thrown into a pit of fire and burnt alive.
  • He introduced the concept of Savings Bank.

A missionary team was sent from Britain to William Carey. They shared their meal together. They lived as one community. He insisted on equality for all adult members by rotating the chores and responsibilities. His motto was ‘Expect great things from God, Attempt great things for God.” William Carey risked obeying God  even when the church failed to realize her obligation to share the Gospel. He is called the Father of Modern Missions. Many people and churches were challenged by his obedience. Faith Baptist Church in Bangalore celebrates every year his arrival to India on 11 November 1793. They regularly pray and financially support 100 missionaries and 50 children. Carey prayed for the information which he got through his readings. He obeyed God willingly to serve in a foreign land (India). He responded to the need that he saw.

Prayer…Obedience….Action. Will you pray for the needs you see in today’s world and be willing to walk the trail of obedience?

Alex, Ben, 2000 ‘Heros who changed the World’ Drejervej, Denmark: Scandinavia Publication 

Petersen J. William 1984 ‘Martin Luther had a wife’ Chepstow, UK: Bridge Publishing

Samuel Fisk 1993 ‘40 fascinating Conversion Stories’ Secunderabad, India: OM Books

Meg Crossman ‘Mission pioneers’ in ‘Perspectives on World Missions’ South Asia version 1998 Bangalore, India: New Life Literature.



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