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William Carey

by Avery Foley on May 15, 2017

William Carey is considered the father of modern missions. He was born in 1761 in a small country village in England. William didn’t get much of an education in school. Instead, he became an apprentice at a cobbler’s (shoemaking) shop. While he was making shoes, William heard and accepted the message of the gospel.

Eventually William married a woman named Dorothy and took over the shoemaking shop. While he built shoes, he taught himself Greek and Hebrew (the languages the Bible was originally written in), as well as Latin, Italian, Dutch, and French. During his reading, he read stories of other missionaries and explorers who found people who had never heard about Jesus. Eventually he would write a book showing that the Bible commands Christians to go all over the world and share the gospel with others. In sermons he urged Christians to “expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

William Carey

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

William Carey

In 1792 William and Dorothy Carey, along with their four children, sailed for India as missionaries. It was a hard country to live in, and they did not have much money. However, William was determined to share the gospel and knew God was with him. He learned the Bengali language of India and translated the Bible so those who spoke Bengali could read God’s Word for themselves. Over the years William would translate the Bible into 5 other languages and parts of it into 29 other languages. He also wrote dictionaries and grammars (some of which are still used today) to help the Indians study their own language.

After seven years of sharing the gospel, William led one Indian man to the Lord. Over his 41 years in India he led over 700 people to Christ. William also believed that many of the cultural practices of India were wrong because of what the Bible teaches. He fought against many social injustices (practices and views that were wrong) such as the killing of babies and widows, the caste system (the belief that people belonged to a certain group and that some groups were better than others), and the abuse of women. He started schools and taught girls to read and write, something that was not done in India at the time.

Because of his tireless work, many things changed for the better in India; in fact, schools and churches that he founded are still there today. His work also inspired many other missionaries who went to other places to share the gospel with people who had never heard the name of Jesus before.

Fun Facts About William Carey

  • Left almost entirely bald by an illness in his youth, William wore a wig. On the way to India, however, he threw the wig into the ocean and never wore it again.
  • William loved to study plants. He edited, wrote and/or published several books about native Indian plants. He also founded a horticultural (plant) society in India.
  • William printed the first Indian newspaper, and it is still being printed today.
  • William brought the idea of a savings bank to India to help poor farmers. Before the bank existed, these farmers typically borrowed money from rich people and were forced to pay back much more than they had borrowed. This was a great financial burden.