From Cobbler to Missionary

From Cobbler to Missionary

Introduction
When we think about the task that our Lord has entrusted to us in the Great Commission, we could reach the conclusion that it is impossible to carry out. However, we must recognize that this situation has been faced by the church throughout the ages. We must remember Peter, Paul, Steven, Philip, Barnabas, in the beginning, as well as John Huss, John Knox, Calvin, Luther in the period of the reform, and ultimately names like Von Zinzendorf, Christian David, Wesley brothers, etc. These were ordinary men who the Lord used to accomplish the extraordinary task of bringing the Good News to the whole world.
These men had to face difficulties, but they did so with the faith that God was sending them. As an example, I want to describe the journey of a man who is known as “The father of the modern missionary movement.” He was William Carey, a common man, a humble man, a man of little education, an unknown man, but also a man who understood the need to go to a lost world in need of the Gospel.

I. A shoemaker with a missionary conscience. The beginning.
William Carey was born in the period known as the Industrial Revolution. This period supplanted the agricultural revolution and catapulted England into the strongest commercial state in Europe. However, it was also a very difficult period for the lower class, who suffered the onslaught of unemployment, violence, and insecurity, among other difficulties. It is said that at this time the children of the lower class started working when they were about 8 years old.
Carey was born in 1761 near Northamton, England of a poor family greatly affected by the industrial revolution since his father was a domestic weaver who had to compete with the large textile industries. Although little is known of his childhood, it is known with certainty that he was raised in the home of an Anglican teacher who directed him toward Christian beliefs.
At the age of 14, driven by poverty, he felt the need to learn a profession that would help him to survive in life. It was thus that he became a shoemaker’s apprentice, a profession that became a life-long one for him. From a very early age he was highly disciplined and made sure that since he had, from “…his home acquired the habit of reading, he never left it, and reading about the trips of Captain Cook and others, awoke in him a deep interest in distant lands and diverse cultures. This led him to prepare a map of the world that included notes on the culture and religion of each place, and to study, in addition to Latin, Greek and Hebrew, Dutch and Italian.” [1] As he entered adulthood, he experienced a religious experience with the Baptists and worked with this denomination for the rest of his life.
Without a doubt, Carey was a hard-working, self-taught person. As a young man he devoted much of his free time to the study of the Bible. Little by little, this devotion to God and the knowledge of the spiritual condition of those distant peoples, burdened the heart of the cobbler. William saw those distant places deeply in need of the Gospel. The desire to reaching them eventually drove him to take steps towards the mission field.

II. A shepherd shoemaker – His life as a minister.
In 1781 Carey married and five years later he was ordained to the ministry, temporarily leaving his cobbler tools to devote himself to his pastoral work in a small Baptist church. In addition to his family, he also supported the widow of his teacher and her four children, his economic need frequently leading him back to supplementing his income as a cobbler. In spite of financial hardship, the courageous spirit of young William was not deterred, but, instead, every day he read more about those distant peoples who were precious to him in the eyes of the Lord. In his first year of his pastoral career, he appealed to the Fraternity of Ministries to send people to Asia to preach in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To his surprise, his very serious suggestion met with derision.

His suggestion was greeted with a strong rebuke from Mr. Ryland, the president. “Young man, sit down!” He replied. “You are an illusion. When God wants to convert the pagans, He will do it without consulting you or me.” Carey was devastated. His colleagues saw his ideas as unbridled illusions, and he was considered a renegade. Wherever he went, he encountered opposition. But when he was almost ready to abandon his vision he met Thomas Potts, who had traveled to the United States and had seen the fate of natives, both from India and Africa, in the slave trade. Potts encouraged Carey to put his vision into action out of love for the people of India. [2]

The initial rejection followed by encouragement for his vision ultimately made Carey stronger in his commitment to Christ and the mission, preparing him for the day when his vision would become a reality. He believed that the Great Commission was not only for the apostles, but for all churches at all times.
Thus came the year 1792 and the day Cary had hoped for. Despite their previous opposition to his ideas, the Association of Baptist Ministers invited him to preach, and he did not waste that precious opportunity. That was the day Cary preached his famous sermon, “Wait for Great Things from God; Undertake Great Things for God,” a sermon that, according to some historians, was one of the simplest, but most powerful, in its content and for the conviction of the speaker. That day, Carey masterfully presented the need for the church to expand its outreach and the lost world was the target to reach. However, according to the biographical historian, Percy H. Jones, nothing visible happened that day. Percy states that “when Carey saw that the people retired hurriedly, he came down from the pulpit and, addressing his friend, Andrés Fuller, said: ‘What! Are not we going to do anything?’ “[3] And that was exactly what happened that day, nothing. But despite the lack of immediate action, the hearts of the ministers had been deeply touched. God had spoken, the need was evident, and something had to be done.
Despite this new setback, Carey again remained steadfast. He believed with all his heart that God was moving him to do something. He had surrendered his life to the Lord and that allowed him to withstand the storm. That same year, shortly after that masterly sermon, he published an 87-page book entitled, Examination of the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of Pagans. In it, Carey clearly demonstrated the obligation of the church to take the gospel to the whole world. “Can we hear that they are without gospel, without law, without government, without arts or sciences, and not endeavor to make them know the feelings of men and Christians? Is not the propagation of the gospel the most effective means for his civilization?” [4] This book would later be known as the “Magna Carta of modern missions.” This work came to seal the masterful call he had made from the pulpit earlier in the year.
Finally, following a proposal by Fuller (Carey’s most faithful ally), the Ministry decided to prepare a plan for the formation of a Society, which would only be brought for approval to another meeting four months later. [ 5]. In this way, at the end of 1792, the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen was founded. This entity was born, according to Carey, with the purpose of collecting funds for missionary work, as well as to recruit suitable personnel for this task. But again, despite the fact that that society was formed, the funds and the expected volunteers did not appear. It seemed that all of Carey’s efforts had fallen on infertile ground, despite the formal approval of his vision. However, this did not dismay that warrior of the Lord since his conviction was stronger than the thousand difficulties he faced.
This atmosphere of apathy, we must remember, had been the result of ignorance of the great need that existed in the world. The number of pagans living in Africa, India, China or the islands of the Pacific was not known. According to another of his biographers, Carey was strongly influenced by the visit of a famous medial missionary, Dr.John Thomas. “When Dr. Thomas appeared in a meeting, Carey was amazed to see a missionary for the first time in his life. Subsequently, upon seeing a complete absence of candidates, he himself offered to go to India.”[6] Finally, the initiator of the modern missionary movement was now only a few months away from stepping on the ground that he had expected others to earn for the Lord.
Another praiseworthy aspect of the life of this servant of God was his simplicity. Carey never looked at the Missionary Association as something of his own, but rather as a brotherhood. He knew that he could not undertake this immense task alone; he needed the help of his brothers. Carey’s words were memorable when he approached his brothers in the faith, asking them to be part of his ministry, saying to them: “In India there is a gold mine. I will descend and dig, but you will have to hold the ropes here.”[7] Holding the ropes was nothing more than their prayers and financial help. Thus, William’s pastoral life in England ends. It was 1793 and his journey to his beloved India was about to begin.

III. A missionary pastor: Life in the mission field
Although Carey had offered to be the first missionary of the Baptist Missionary Association, this did not mean that things would turn out well. In the beginning, his wife strongly opposed it. As a mother, pregnant with her fourth child, she could not comprehend leaving the comfort of her poor home to move with her children to a new world where everything looked bleak and dark. Despite this, Carey did not falter and by June 1793 he left for India in the company of his family and Dr. John Thomas who had offered to accompany them to the field. On November 19, after five months of travel and dangerous sea crossings, they arrived in the city of Calcutta. At last, after so many struggles, the dream of stepping on Indian soil had come true, but the fruits of this dream were still ahead.
Immediately problems began to appear. Thomas began to misuse resources to such an extent that Carey was forced to work to support his family. So, he dedicated himself to the production of indigo by fermenting leaves and stems of indigo and used this platform to spread the gospel, using every possible means to fulfill his mission there. He preached, funded schools and undertook the translation of the Bible into languages of India. Even as he was doing this, he faced opposition from the East India Company that dominated most of India and was totally against missionary work, believing it could be harmful to trade. The evangelization of the Hindus would, the company thought, cause a revolt. This opposition, as well as the economic problems, were almost unsurmountable.
Moved by the need, he wrote to his brothers in the faith in England telling them about the difficulties he faced: “My position is already untenable … There are difficulties everywhere, and many more ahead. Therefore, we have to move on.”[8] As a result, funds soon arrived to support his work, as well as a group of missionaries who were willing to suffer the price of serving Christ in that country. Despite this, opposition continued with the new missionary group, who had to settle in the Danish colony of Serampore because the East India Company would not allow them to disembark in Calcutta. Carey moved there with his family and this town became the base of operations of the Baptist missionary work in India.
Despite his many difficulties, including the death of two of his three wives and one of his children, Carey worked hard for 41 years. In this time, he translated the Bible, or portions of it, into more than 30 Indian languages. His influence changed the hostile environment of that country. He founded many schools and participated decisively in the eradication of infanticide and in the burning of the widows, customs that impacted him from the first moment he witnessed them. He was also of great spiritual help to the congregation of shepherds who decided to follow in his footsteps. The title with which he is known, “Father of Modern Missions,” is a fitting one given his work and influence in service to the Lord.
Dr. William Carey died in 1834. On his deathbed Alexander Duff, who had arrived on the mission field earlier that year, visited Carey. Duff expressed his deepest appreciation for his work after which Carey asked him to pray for him. After that prayer Carey said to Duff: “You’ve been talking about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey. After my death do not say about anything else about Dr. Carey, just talk about Dr. Carey’s Savior,” [9] once again underscoring the humility of this servant of the Lord.
While this soldier of the Lord died long ago, his work, example, and dedication are still alive in the annals of history, still touching hearts that are moved by his dedication to give everything for his Savior.


Bibliography

Bertuzzi, F. (1997). The awakening of the missions. Sante Fe, Argentine Republic: COMIBAM International.

Carro, D., Poe, JT, Zorzoli, RO, & Editorial Mundo Hispano (El Paso, T. (1993- <1997). Biblical Commentary on the Hispano World Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (1. ed.). El Paso, TX: Editorial Mundo Hispano. Carro, D., Poe, JT, Zorzoli, RO, & Editorial Mundo Hispano (El Paso, T. (1993- <1997). Hispanic world biblical commentary 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Chronicles (1. ed.). El Paso, TX: Editorial Mundo Hispano. Deiros, P. A. (1997). Hispanic-American Dictionary of the mission. Casilla, Argentina: COMIBAM International. González, J. L. (2003). History of Christianity: Volume 2. Miami, Fla .: Editorial Unilit. González, J. L. (1995). Sketch of church history: González, Justo L. Decatur, GA: Association for Hispanic Theological Education. Lewis, N. (1987). Finance for world missions. Miami, Florida, USA: Editorial Unilit. Maxwell, J. C. (2000; 2003). The power of an alliance in the Church; The Power of a Praying Church (76). Thomas Nelson, Inc. Padilla, C. R. (1998). Biblical bases of the mission: Latin American Perspectives. Buenos Aires: New Creation. Robert, A. (1998). Missionary awareness I. Barcelona, Spain: COMIBAM International. Robert, A. (2005). Missionary awareness II. Barcelona, Spain: COMIBAM International. Sanders, J. O. (1984). They are lost?. London: Hebrón Editions. Ruth Tucker (1983). To the last of the earth. Miami, Florida: Editorial Vida. Various. (nineteen ninety six). The Latin church in world mission. Argentine Republic: Comibam International. Footnotes

[1] González, J. L. (2003). History of Christianity: Volume 2 (2: 450). Miami, Fla .: Editorial Unilit.
[2] Maxwell, J. C. (2000; 2003). The power of an alliance in the Church; The Power of a Praying Church (76). Thomas Nelson, Inc.
[3] Robert, A. (1998). Missionary Awareness I (173). Barcelona, Spain: COMIBAM International.
[4] Sanders, J. O. (1984). They are lost? (fifteen). London: Hebrón Editions.
[5] Robert, A. (2005). Missionary Awareness II (97). Barcelona, Spain: COMIBAM International.
[6] Robert, A. (2005). Missionary Awareness II (96). Barcelona, Spain: COMIBAM International.
[7] Carro, D., Poe, JT, Zorzoli, RO, & Editorial Mundo Hispano (El Paso, T. (1993- <1997) Hispanic World Bible Commentary 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Chronicles (1. ed. .) (181) El Paso, TX: Editorial Mundo Hispano. [8] González, J. L. (2003). History of Christianity: Volume 2 (2: 450). Miami, Fla .: Editorial Unilit. [9] Carro, D., Poe, JT, Zorzoli, RO, & Editorial Mundo Hispano (El Paso, T. (1993- <1997). Spanish Bible Commentary Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (1. ed.) ( 536) El Paso, TX: Editorial Mundo Hispano.

Jaime Blandon (48)

Jaime Blandon was born and raised in eastern Nicaragua. He served in the Nicaraguan Special Forces for 4 years and it was during this time he came to follow Jesus. Jaime earned a Bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministries at the Rio Grande Bible Collage and a MBA in business and a Master in Project Management from EUDE Business School. Jaime was a missionary for 9 years in Nicaragua where he has helped plant three churches and found 516 Now Inc.

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