Inscribed on Carey’s Tomb is his simple epitaph—“A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, On Thy kind arms I fall.”

Long before his death at age 73, Carey had become a famous, even mythic, figure. Some of his acquaintances in England began collecting relics from his youth and early life: a cup from which he had drunk, a pair of shoes he had made, a wooden board advertising his cobbler business.

Carey would have none of it: “The less said about me the better,” he declared . And when he lay dying in 1834, he summoned fellow missionary Alexander Duff to his side and whispered, “Mr. Duff! You have been speaking about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey. Speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.”

In spite of Carey’s protestations, Christians have continued to be interested not only in Carey’s Savior, but also in Carey. More than 50 biographies of Carey have been published, representing many languages. Universities, mission societies, and publishing houses have been named for him.

Missionary Milestones

I believe Carey bears comparison with St. Francis or Martin Luther, persons of great faith who witnessed the death throes of one age and the birth pangs of another.

In particular, Carey and the Serampore Mission were catalysts for the Great Missions Century. Many of their initiatives have been imitated by missionaries since.

Systematic evangelization. Carey’s Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens offered a concrete plan for world evangelization. Furthermore, he laid the foundations for the modern science of missiology with his comprehensive survey of the world (cataloging each country’s landmass, population, and religion). Carey’s Enquiry was a forerunner to the World ...

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