Janet and Geoff Benge
Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 1998
For most missions minded Christians, at least of my generation, William Carey (1761-1834), “the father of modern missions”, is a household name. There are many excellent biographies of this great man, but here is one that is readable “for ages 10 to 100”. I would encourage you to recommend it to your family and friends. In fact, you should recommend all the great biographies in this series called “Christians Heroes: Then and Now” written by Janet and Geoff Benge, a husband and wife writing team, originally from New Zealand, who served with Youth with a Mission. The series includes biographies of Nate Saint, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, and many more. (By the way, I am a firm believer in reading the biographies of great Christians – nothing besides the Bible itself has inspired me more!)
This is a fascinating story of a remarkable Englishman, who had so little formal education, but was used by God to accomplish so much in the way of evangelism, higher education, translation, and much more.
Carey truly lived out his motto: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” For years he served Christ without one convert. The persecution he endured from many quarters, and the various trials he suffered, including his first wife’s mental illness, are beyond belief. Yet he persevered with great faith, and in the end he accomplished so much, even helping to end the dreaded practice of sati, a Hindu practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband’s funeral pyre, as well as infanticide, the killing of newborns.
As one reviewer wrote, “William Carey displayed a single minded determination to set his face like flint to the task of bringing the gospel to those lost in darkness. His life of service and sacrifice is a guidepost for Christians of all generations.”
The authors conclude this very readable biography with these words:
William Carey, the man who began his life as the son of a poor weaver, had taught himself Latin, Hebrew, and Greek as he worked as a cordwainer (shoemaker). When he became convinced that England should be sending out missionaries to newly opened up countries, he helped found the first English missionary society. He then felt obligated to go to India as its first missionary. When difficult circumstances surrounded him – he watched his children die and wife go insane – he never lost faith. He always endured, always pressed ahead. In the process, he founded the most prestigious college of his time in India. He translated the Bible into many Indian and Asian languages. He helped start numerous churches and schools around India. He spoke out against inhuman practices, and he never once wavered in his calling to the share the gospel message with Indian people wherever he found them.
In the course of his life, William Carey set a pattern and a standard for missionary work that in the years since his death, many have copied, but none have matched.