I am almost half way through a biography about William Carey who was a missionary to India. I have been amazed and challenged by several things:
1. His willingness to press forward and step out in faith. Carey simply had to go forward with what he believed about God and bringing the message of the gospel to people in his day. He did not wait for circumstances to go well; he did not wait for an 'open door'. The steps forward that he and his team took were amazing and seem to border on reckless. It seems that people who do great things are willing to take risks and fail. Some of Carey's attempts were major failures, but at least they were trying. Rick Warren tells the story of one of the greatest harvests of souls in our generation in North America as they planted Saddleback Church in California. One of the things he emphasizes as he shares their history is the massive amount and grandeur of the failures they encountered as they worked to further God's work in their area. In fact, he feels this was one of the keys to their success. A willingness to try big things, fail, learn and keep trying.
2. The incredible sacrifices he made. Carey sacrificed all his money, his family, and his health for the sake of something far bigger.
3. The amazing trials he faced. Just because God was with him and he was doing God's work did not mean that Carey had a breeze as he went along his life's journey. His wife was mentally ill, he dealt with his own sickness and often depression, he had children die, he struggled to see any real fruit from his labours. But he kept on and persevered. Of course, his life has changed the course of history, but it must not have felt like much for many, many years.
4. The power and faithfulness of God. Although I am not there in the book yet, I know God will do great things for and through Carey's life. I love to see the love and beauty of God in these stories. Sometimes it seems to shine the brightest and be the most beautiful when it is preceded by brokenness and suffering.
“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” William Carey