John E. Shaffett
Dr. Rathel: William Carey: Isaiah 54:1-5
This is a summary and response to a message that was delivered in chapel.
Dr. Rathel’s sermon was a biographical look at the life of William Carey. He thinks Isaiah 54 is a missionary text. William Carey was the founder of the Modern Missionary Movement. Carey asserted that we are to “attempt great things for God and to expect great things from God.” Baptists at Carey’s time were reluctant to involve themselves in international missions because of Hyper-Calvinism. Carey had a heart for the whole world.
Carey came to faith through the witness of a cobbler. Carey worked in a cobbler shop. Carey began to study about all the nations of the world. Carey bought himself a globe to remind himself of the needs of the world. He prayed for the world daily. He was influenced by his friend, Andrew Fuller. Fuller’s sermon, “Gospel Worth of All Acceptance,” was especially influential. Fuller thought all people have an obligation to believe the gospel. Carey in a missionary sermon said Christians need to be planning, giving, and going to the mission fields. Carey taught that world missions must be undergirded by prayer. Christians who couldn’t go needed to hold the ropes for those who did go.
Carey was one of those who did go. Carey gave his life to plant the gospel in India. Carey was a man who was completely sold out to God’s mission for the world. God used Carey to preach the gospel, train Christian workers, start educational institutions, work for social justice, and oppose slavery. William Carey was truly a great missionary.
There is a dark side to this picture. Carey’s wife didn’t want to go to India. Carey was going to leave her. She was finally persuaded to go with them. Carey seems to neglect his family because of his missionary work. Carey’s wife suffered from a mental illness and she eventually had a complete mental breakdown. She was forcefully confined to her room. Carey neglected his children. It seems they were undisciplined and uneducated. Other members of the missionary community took it upon themselves to take care of them.
This shadow of Carey brings up an important issue. Is it God’s will for ministers to neglect their family to pursue ministry? Does God want us to abandon our family? Does God require ministers to sacrifice their kids on the altar of ministry?