As I sit along the banks of the river with such ebbs and flows, I cast my thoughts back to the pioneer missionaries who first sailed to our town 200 years ago. Some would never see home again, and had to rely on letters that would take weeks to arrive. Then there were those who adjusted well, who could embrace their new culture and thrive, but more than one never did and went mad. Still others died prematurely of tropical diseases, and their dreams were never realised. As you may have worked out I am referring to; Carey, Marshman and Ward, (the Trio) and their families.
From time to time, I take people to the overgrown grave sites and interestingly on Carey’s grave is written a caption from the words of an old hymn, “Poor wretched helpless worm, onto thy kind arms I fall.” Here lies the man who is called the “Father of Modern Mission” and yet this is his sobering caption on his simple grave! Apparently, some of his last words that he spoke were, ‘’Do not remember Carey, but remember William Carey’s God.” I think here in lay his greatness.
It’s interesting to note that Carey’s beginnings were very simple and rather ordinary! He was a cobbler by trade but captivated by God to reach the lost in faraway fields. When he spoke of his intentions to his church eldership he was told; “Sit down young man, if God wants to reach the heathen he can do it without you!” But the conviction blazed on in his heart and not even a dumpster like this could drown out the irrevocable call.
Together the trio’s service was almost super human. Although Carey was under-schooled, he gave God the talent that he had, and Oh! how that was multiplied. Incredibly, the Bible, or parts thereof, were translated into 40 different languages. At one time, unbelievable horror unveiled before their eyes, when the whole printing press and all their work was burnt to the ground. Anyone would be tempted to give up. But not the trio, out of the ashes they once again took courage, and carried on. But there’s more! Despite the setbacks, they paved the way in the fields of education, standing against social injustice, botany, and preaching the Good News. You see, Carey spoke of himself as a ‘’plodder.” Maybe that was how he competed the task, just one step in front of the other.
Interestingly, the Father also called my husband and I to live and work in this historical town. The locals are very proud that the trio came. They didn’t put their western culture on them, but rather learnt from them and celebrated who they were. And so the Bi Centenary celebrations have begun. However, let us not forget Carey’s wish, ‘’That we will remember his God.” The same God that inspired Carey all those years ago is still on an urgent mission to save the lost. And who is he looking for? Ordinary people, who will trust him, who will put him first before all else, and just put one foot in front of another! He called Carey, he called us, is he calling you? He will take you into the deep and unexpected places. At times it will test you to the core of your being, but the rewards and joy of serving him outweighs it all!
Leonora serves with her husband Peter in South Asia.