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William Carey

Expect Great Things From God, Attempt Great Things For God

Father of Foreign Baptist Missions.  Born: August 17, 1761, in Paulers Pury, England. Died: June 9, 1834, in Serampore, India. William Carey was an English Baptist missionary and linguist. He was baptised in the Church of England but joined the Baptists in 1783 and began to preach.

His father was a weaver. William Carey became a committed  Christian in 1779 and acted as Pastor to Baptist churches in Leicester, England,  from 1785 - 1793, as well as working as a shoemaker to earn money to feed his  family at 15. At the age of 25, he taught himself several different languages including Latin, Greek, Hebrew etc.

In 1792, Carey and 14 other people formed the BMS (Baptist Missionary Society). The year after, he agreed to go to India as a missionary, and sailed over, settling near Calcutta. During William Carey's early years in India he mastered the main languages of India.  From 1796 - 1829, he translated the New Testament into Bengali, The old Testament 8 years later, and parts of the bible into Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Urdu and many other dialects. Carey also wrote dictionaries and grammars in Sanskrit, Marathi, Punjabi and Telugu. On top of all this, Carey's work led to the abolition of the 'Suttee' in which widows were cremated at their husband's funerals.

During his lifetime, Carey was a: Missionary, Social Reformer, Educationist, Linguist, Author, Publisher and Botanist.   William Carey was the founder of:

• The BMS (Baptist Missionary Society) -792
• The Baptist Mission at Serampore -1800
• The Baptist Mission Press at Serampore -1800
• The Serampore Botanical Gardens -1800
• The Serampore College -1818
• The Agricultural Society of India -1820

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Book/Movie Reviews
WILLIAM CAREY, by Basil Miller
WILLIAM CAREY, by Sam Wellman
    Timothy George, Book/Movie Review

At the Northampton Baptist Association convention the morning of May 30, 1792, William Carey spoke on Isaiah 54: 'Enlarge the place of thy tent?!' He went on to once again urge his fellow ministers to begin a missionary society for spreading the Gospel. "Brothers," he exhorted them in conclusion, "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God!"

Yet the next day William could not believe Andrew Fuller, the ferocious bulldog William thought was an ally, actually moved to adjourn the convention. Once again the association was concluding its annual meeting with no approval for a missionary society. William hesitated to protest. After all, at 30 he was surely the youngest minister in the association. Shouldn't he defer to older, more experienced ministers? William was by nature reticent anyway. Rarely did he ever persist right away when rebuffed. But this rebuff was one too many.

"Is nothing going to be done again, sir?" William shouted at Fuller. 

The ministers seemed in shock. Was this mild-mannered young William Carey who was all red-faced and shouting? Andrew Fuller was red-faced himself. He looked like William had slapped his face. Was he angry with William? Now silent, William watched in wonder as Fuller harangued, bullied, scolded and reprimanded the other ministers like an avenging angel. Within minutes the association had passed the following resolution:

Resolved, that a plan be prepared against the next ministers' meeting at Kettering, for forming a Baptist Society for propagating the Gospel among the Heathens.

The door was at last opening to William Carey's missionary society!

[source: William Carey: Father of Modern Missions by S. Pearce Carey, 1923]

As well as this, Carey translated the bible and wrote dictionaries in many Indian languages and spent a long time preparing these. He figured that it would make it easier for Indian people to understand Christian belief. He at least wanted to get rid of the Suttee and the many customs that meant some people weren't as important as others and therefore were treated unfairly (people of different importance couldn't marry each other, live with each other and in some cases, couldn't look or speak to each other). William Carey had set out to change all that, but today things are slowly starting to get better, and Carey's work hasn't gone to waste.

Today, William Carey is remembered largely among those from England and India, his family, friends, and people who had a connection with him. He is also looked upon highly by those who respect and admire his work and those fortunate enough to be a part of a Carey community whether it be a school like Carey BGS in Melbourne or Serampore College in India. When discussions on famous missionaries occur, Carey's name is one of the first to be mentioned. He is also remembered as a courageous person who would rarely think of himself and helped his family on their struggle to India.

Another thing Carey is remembered for is his endless fight to abolish some of the unfair customs of Indian culture like the Suttee and modify unjust laws in India. Carey also introduced the Christian faith to the people in India. For this he is remembered throughout history.

Theological/Eschatological positions: William Carey was a devout Calvinist in the matters of a systematic approach to Biblical hermeneutics. He maintained the Post-Millennial position.

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