William Carey: Father of Modern Missions

Ron Geschwendt

READ : 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (v. 20 NIV)

The 18th-century revival in England rippled throughout the world. Transformed Christians were available for God’s work. Their goal was to win others to faith in Christ, and at the same time they sought to abolish social conditions that destroyed lives. Robert Raikes began Sunday schools for poor working children in Glouster, England. John Howard, a friend of John Wesley, worked for reform in prisons.

This era also witnessed the birth of modern missions. William Carey (1761-1834), a self-educated shoemaker and pastor in England, organized the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792. He inspired colleagues with a sermon entitled, “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great Things for God.” In 1793 he sailed for Calcutta, India, where he quickly mastered the language, managed an indigo factory, translated the Bible into Bengali, and preached the gospel everywhere. In addition, Carey learned Sanskrit, established schools, supervised and edited translations of the Bible into 36 languages, pioneered social reform, and established an Agricultural and Horticultural Society of India.

This father of modern missions spent 41 tireless years of labor in India. The secret to his dedication lay in his confidence in the Bible’s teaching. He had learned the unequivocal truth that “God is a missionary God.”


God, give me your heart for the nations!