William Carey is often attributed the title ‘Father of Modern Missions’. He was born into a desperately poor family, and consequently obtained a poor education. He was apprenticed as shoemaker, but simply did not make the grade. He tried his hand at starting and running a school, but it functioned badly. His marriage was a deeply unhappy one, during which his daughter died early, an event which left him bald for life. He was a deeply committed believer, but his subsequent attempt at pastoring a small church hindered his chances of ordination, because by common consent his sermons were too tedious and boring.
Despite such an apparently flawed track record, Carey formed a missionary society with himself as the first candidate setting sail to India. This feeble individual translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese and Sanskrit, as well as portions into 29 other languages! At one stage, he lost ten years’ translation work in a fire – what did he do? Just started again. Then there were contributions to literature, education, literacy, agriculture, getting infanticide outlawed and more. This man’s obedience and perseverance was used to impact the lives of literally millions of people. Before dying, knowing that they wanted to write about him, he wrote the following:
“If one should think it worth his while to write my life, I will give you a criterion by which you may judge of its correctness. If he gives me credit for being a plodder, he will describe me justly. Anything beyond this will be too much. I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.”