This week at Captivate I will preach a text preached in a sermon that many consider to be one of the most powerful sermons in the history of Christian missions. The text is Isaiah 54:2 and the preacher was William Carey, a young preacher who stood frustrated that the pastors around him could not see the usefulness of funding and supporting missionaries.
As the story goes, Carey was a young and newly ordained minister who stood in a Baptist conference to argue for the necessity of foreign missions. Among this group of Particular Baptists was one older preacher who chided the young man with the exclamation
“Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.”
Flabbergasted but undeterred, the young minister went about studying, praying and writing. Ultimately he wrote an 86 page “booklet” entitled ”An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.” How’s that for a title? Essentially Carey laid out the biblical and moral arguments necessary for missionary groups to be founded. Ultimately in response to his sermon the Baptist group relented and William Carey became the missionary society’s first missionary to India where he saw God reach many thousands as Carey built schools and businesses among the native peoples. Additionally Carey would have a bible completely written in the native tongue and care for its printing. The story of what God did with this man’s life is rather amazing.
As I was refreshing my mind of Carey’s work I recalled a connection that is very personal to me here in Baltimore. You see, the year after Carey left his native England another preacher from across town who was influenced directly by Carey’s call for foreign missions decided that he too would lead a new work but in a different part of the world.
I went into the 200-year written history of “Second and Fourth Baptist Church”, my childhood home church, to find this information written by my former pastor, Rev. Calvin Hudson on the occasion of the churches’ bicentennial:
William Carey & John Healey
William Carey was called to pastor the Baptist Church at Moulton, England in 1786. One of the books that greatly impressed Carey was “Cook’s Voyages Round the World.” With a map of the world unrolled and reading about the various countries in the book, Carey became burdened for the souls of the countless multitudes who did not know Christ.
In 1789, Carey moved to Leicester to pastor the Baptist Church at Harvey Lane, started around 1750 by a group of members from Friar Lane Baptist Church.
Meanwhile, at Friar Lane, the mother church of Harvey Lane, John Healey, who was just three years younger than William Carey, was also concerned about the lost world. Healey was inspired by the reading of “Morse’s Geography” to chose Baltimore as a mission field. Carey went east and Healey went west.
William Carey left Harvey Lane and Leicester in 1793 to go to India as the first missionary of the Baptist Missionary Society, whose founding he inspired in 1792. John Healey left Friar Lane and Leicester in 1794 to sail to Baltimore by way of New York to start the Second Baptist Church of Baltimore at Fells Point. The world missions movement thanks Leicester for William Carey. We in Baltimore thank Leicester for John Healey.
What you may not know is that several years ago the Second and Fourth Baptist Church was gifted to Captivate Church to continue the Gospel ministry in East Baltimore.
What a phenomenal connection! William Carey was instrumental in John Healey leaving England and coming to Baltimore to start the church where we presently minister in East Baltimore! I have the tremendous honor to work to see the gospel advanced from a church that holds such a glorious history.
I am so thankful that in the face of pastoral opposition the young William Carey did not simply sit down. I truly stand on the shoulders of great men of God from William Carey and John Healey to Calvin Hudson. I pray the Lord grant me favor to see many more in Baltimore come to faith in Christ as we continue to carry on the legacy of these spiritual giants.
To whom do you owe your present standing? Who paved the way? Have no doubt that someone did. Be certain to thank God for their faithfulness!