The Back Page – I Can Plod


An impoverished 18th-century English shoemaker with an illiterate wife. What could such a man do for world missions?
Much, if the man is William Carey. It wasn’t easy; obstacles abounded. Many of the Baptist Dissenters among whom he worked did not even believe in missions. When he urged that they should, an elder minister rebuffed, “Young man, sit down. When it pleases Almighty God to convert the heathen, he will do so without your help or mine.” The shoemaker would not be deterred. He penned An Enquirey Into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, a manifesto that molded the Protestant church’s missionary vision for decades to come. His motto: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
Carey himself sailed for India in June 1793. After a terrifying passage around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, he arrived in November. India, entrenched in pluralistic Hinduism, did not welcome western missionaries. It took seven years before Carey could baptize his first Hindu convert, Krishna Pal, in the polluted Ganges River. Both Carey’s deranged wife, and his partner John Thomas, raved in the background as the baptism took place.
What did Carey accomplish during four decades in the subcontinent? He learned and translated the Bible into three languages, and the New Testament into several more. He founded Serampore College for the training of local leaders, and served as Professor of Oriental Languages at Calcutta’s Fort William College. He evangelized many, and encouraged communicating the gospel in culturally appropriate ways. He is known as the “Father of Modern Missions.” This impoverished shoemaker from England.
To what did Carey attribute his success? “I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.” Not brilliance or exceptional training—simply the ability to plod.
Perseverance is an unsung Christian virtue. But it is often the key to success. The seed in the good soil bears fruit with perseverance. In due season we shall reap if we faint not. If we hope for what we don’t see, with perseverance we wait patiently for it.
What vision or ministry has the Lord entrusted to you? Plod.

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