William Carey is often called the “father of modern missions” because of his zeal to evangelize the world and his dedication to reaching the people of India with the gospel. He became a missionary at a time when very few were going to the field, and he had a long and dedicated ministry despite many hardships.
While Carey is very well known, those who helped train and send him are often not as well known – men like Andrew Fuller and John Sutcliffe. Andrew Fuller pastored a church in Soham, Cambridge from 1775 to 1782, and Kettering, Northamptonshire from 1782 to 1915. Fuller led the way in setting up a Baptist Missionary Society that helped raise funds for William and other overseas missionaries.
John Sutcliffe pastored Olney Baptist Church for thirty-nine years, from 1775 until 1814. During his time in Olney, he set up a seminary to train preachers in a couple of houses close to the church. Two of those trained there, were William Robinson, a missionary to Serampore, and William Carey, missionary to India. John Sutcliffe helped ordain Carey to the gospel ministry, and Olney Baptist was the church that commissioned Carey to the work in India.
The influence and investment of John Sutcliffe and others in the life of Carey are a great example and inspiration to local churches, pastors, and Bible college teachers. The work that goes on behind the scenes to train and support others is not in vain and is a vital part of getting the gospel around the world. If you are in the role, keep on investing, giving, mentoring, and training. It will be worth it in the end!
Bonus: Below is a short video I recorded recently while on a visit to Olney. I apologize for the background noise, but I hope this video encourages you as much as visiting the church encouraged me.
Note: Special thanks to Olney Baptist Church for their helpful history section. (source)
The China Inland Mission, founded with the humblest of beginnings on June 26, 1865, with 10 pounds, a prayer, and the opening of a British bank account, over the course of the following decades grew to become a missionary recruiting and sending “octopus” with tentacles that stretched from London to Chicago to the farthest reaches of the Chinese Empire. It eventually became the sending agency of over 800 missionaries before the turn of the century and over 1000 by the beginning of World War I.
The reasons for its rapid growth and success are many. There are of course the unrelenting passion of its founder, Hudson Taylor; the faithful support of ministry yokefellow noteworthies such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon and George Mueller; and the general missions fervor found in the late nineteenth century Western youth which gave rise to the likes of C.T. Studd, Montague Beauchamp, and Jonathan Goforth. Amid all of these reasons, however, the power of the written page perhaps had the most far-reaching effects.
The impact of the publication of Hudson Taylor’s China: Its Spiritual Needs and Claims fell like a bombshell in the missions world like none felt since the publication of William Carey’s Enquiry some seven decades previous. It was used in the recruitment of the initial members of the CIM in 1865 as well as others who didn’t make it to China until decades later such as Jonathan Goforth.
While China: Its Spiritual Needs and Claims was useful in igniting interest in missions, something had to be done to fan the flames and keep onlookers on the Homefront invested in the work. Hudson Taylor, after all, was a five months journey away in China for years at a time. How were hearts to be continually stirred to consider involvement in missions while those already involved were so far away? To this effect, perhaps no more was done to maintain a consistent stream of support and recruits for the CIM than the proliferation of the steady, faithful, and inspiring monthly publication known as China’s Millions.
In its infant form, China’s Millions, was a quarterly publication that ran from 1865-1875 under the name Occasional Papers. By the time it changed its name to China’s Millions, it had become a monthly magazine that was captivating the minds of both supporters and potential recruits throughout Britain. As the CIM grew to North America, the North American office in Toronto began publishing its own “American” China’s Millions as well. By the year 1919, the North American edition of China’s Millions boasted 4100 subscribers throughout the United States and Canada.
Here is what one historian has to say about China’s Millions:
China’s Millions was not primarily an anti-opium journal or a fund-raiser: it was a devotional text whose goal was to deepen the piety of its readers. Its message was reiterated in a hundred and one different ways: surrender your old life, “exchange” it for a new life of faith — and ‘step out on the promises’ of God. That message determined the type of applicants the CIM attracted. They were young people without “attachments” (engaged to be married) or “obligations” (in debt or looking after parents). Some were “so full of joy, it was the natural outcome of a heart full of the love of Christ that they should want to rush to the darkest unhappiest places in the world to tell it out. To others, and these perhaps deeper natures, the sense of sacrifice was so intense that the offer meant keenest pain…to break away from the tender ties of home.”1
“‘The Millions,’ as it was called, was an ‘effective tool’ with wide circulation among Christian leaders, politicians, and affiliated societies. With Taylor as editor, every issue had ‘a cutting edge, more than one, carrying its messages of many kinds deep into the awareness of readers. It must report to donors, inform and incite to action….It was also the conductor’s baton….So [Hudson Taylor] crystallized his messages in his own mind and re-echoed them in a hundred and one different ways, never tiring of them.’”2
“In 1875, just as he was scattering the Eighteen, Hudson Taylor started a new magazine, China’s Millions, and in its first issue he printed a map of China he had invented so that supporters in Britain could follow their itinerations.”3
“More significantly, [Frost] started a North American edition of China’s Millions that would be ‘more representative of our part of the work.’ The North American Millions was a different magazine, larger and better laid out, with photographs rather than the chinoiserie engravings that typified the British Millions. Canadian and American news was featured, less about England and Australia…Frost described the Millions as ‘ the chief deputation worker of the Mission in North America, being able to go to parts of the continent which missionaries cannot reach.’”4
May we do all that we can to stir up a passion for taking the gospel to China and around the world in our generation!
1 Austin, Alyvn. China’s Millions: The China Inland Mission and Late Qing Society, 1832-1905. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007). p. 203. 2 Ibid. p. 25. 3 Ibid. p. 140. 4 Ibid. p. 314.
On this day in 1829, John Livingston Nevius was born on a small farm in Western New York. The small son of a little-known father with few opportunities in life, he probably never imagined that one day, he would be traveling the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the age of 24, John and his wife, Helen, set sail for China under the American Presbyterian Mission. For six harsh months, they were confined to the space of the ship and their small cabin. When they finally arrived on their promised shore of China, the young couple was absolutely thrilled. They both immediately set about learning the language and culture. John took a special interest in the culture, learning as much as he could so he could connect with those he would be working under.
It wasn’t long before John was traveling all over his area, preaching and establishing missions. But the more time he spent doing the ministry among the Chinese people, the more he realized that he shouldn’t be doing it! They didn’t need some stranger leading their church. They needed their own men to step forward and do it.
He began to study the writings of men like Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson, 19th-century home-office leaders. These men both argued that native churches should be self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating (The three-selfs). John took these principles and developed what became known as the Nevius Plan. Nevius called for discarding old-style missions and the adoption of his new plan to foster an independent, self-supporting local church. He criticized the missionaries’ practice of paying national workers out of mission funds, believing the healthy local church should be able to support its own local workers. His goal was to build independent, local churches. The basic ideas of the plan were:
Christians should continue to live in their neighborhoods and pursue their occupations, being self-supporting and witnessing to their co-workers and neighbors.
Missions should only develop programs and institutions that the national church desired and could support.
The national churches should call out and support their own pastors.
Churches should be built in the native style with money and materials given by the church members.
Intensive biblical and doctrinal instruction should be provided for church leaders every year.
John was rejected by most of the other missionaries he was working with in China and they continued to do things in their old way. But when younger missionaries arrived in Korea to begin working, they begged John to spend a few weeks helping them get started. In 1890, he spent two weeks in Korea, teaching the new missionaries how to built truly “three -self” churches. As a result, these missionaries sought to create independent, indigenous churches from the beginning, stressing especially the importance of self-support. The churches in Korea grew strong and today, these churches are sending their own Korean missionaries around the world.
On this day in 1711, Matthew Stach was born in Mankendorf, Moravia.
Matthew’s father, Christain Stach, was a strong man who had a deep love for the Lord. Matthew tells of one instance where, as a young boy, he was unable to get some cake the other kids were eating. Angry and bitter, the boy stalked over to the corner and began to weep loudly, hoping to gain sympathy from his parents. Instead, his father sat down next to him and said, “Ah my son could I but once see thee weep as earnestly on account of thy sins.”
Many of their neighbors considered Christian a heretic, because he believed contray to the teaching of the Catholic Church. His son, however, just considered his father to be weird. That religious stuff wasn’t for Matthew. As soon as he could, he moved away from home and was living in sin and lasciviousness. The Lord was still protecting and leading this young man and, through circumstances, kept him close to his family.
After his father was arrested by the Catholic priest and escaped, the family became fugatives. They soon fled to Herrnhut, the Moravian refuge. It was there that Matthew tired to gain his salvation. He did everything he could. He worked for it, denied himself for it. But it never came. He wrote:
Wherever I was, I was wretched and miserable and that I could not procure peace of by any other means, I disclosed my situation to a confidential friend for advice. His answer was “If thou art hungry, eat. If thirsty, drink. All things are prepared for thee. I thought his advice very unsatisfactory, expecting that he dictate to me a greater exertion of denial upon which at that time I rested my hopes. Thus my distress remained and I spent a whole night in tears and prayers to the Lord for his help and direction humbling myself before him as a poor undone sinner. In the morning meeting the next day, I can say with truth that our Savior granted me such confidence towards him as my strength and shield and such a firm reliance on his merits and death that all my doubts and fears vanished and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost took place within my heart.
After his salvation, he joined the church at Herrnhut and began to grow rapidly. One day, while he was out with some friends, an incident occurred that helped to direct this young man’s life:
Once, as we were passing by the house of the late count Zinzendorf, he was just stepping out with Dr Schac fer, a Lutheran divine then on a visit to Hernnhut. On seeing us, he addressed the Doctor “Here sir you see future missionaries among the heathen“. I was much struck at hearing these words and a desire which I had felt for some time to preach the Gospel to the heathen began to increase within me.
In just a few years, Matthew would be leading the Moravian missionaries to the Island of Greenland, where a great would be be done for many years!
On this day in 1823, Beverly Blanckard, the sister of George Boardman, wrote a letter to her brother, describing to him some of the trials and difficulties that his family back in America had been facing and the way that God had brought them through it.
George, excited to hear the way that God was working not only in Burma but also in America and to see the way the faith of his family was strengthened through the ordeal, wrote back:
It would be well for us to remember that God is daily doing us good,—that his common blessings demand from us new and obedient expressions of obligation. It has often astonished me, that the profusion of his mercies, showered upon our dear family, should produce so little feeling in my stupid heart. What family has been so signally blessed as ours? Surely he hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. “I rejoice to learn that your recent sickness led you to take a nearer view of the eternal world, to consider whether your days were not well nigh numbered and finished, and to examine into the state of your heart,that you might know whether you are indeed united to Christ. What is there like feeling ourselves wedded to him in bonds of affection, that earth and hell cannot sever? The man who lives daily by faith in the Son of God, who like Enoch walks with God, stands firm and secure, though all around him be convulsed; though the mountains be removed, the earth tremble, and the sea roar. God is a hiding-place from the windy storm and tempest. How secure is the Christian in the folded arms of his covenant God. What, though the elements were melted into one solid mass of ruins, God, who is our refuge and strength, is still the same. This vital union to Christ will support us under every loss and bereavement we are called to sustain. If our souls are stayed on him, we can endure our trials without feelmg their poignancy. And though all the earthly objects of our affection were removed from our view, we should still feel that our great portion was left,—we could say with Jeremiah, ‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul;’ and with Job, ‘Yet surely I Know that myRedeemer liveth.’ This thought has often comforted me. Whatever we may lose, if we love and value Christ as we ought, we shall feel that our all is left
The first of January 1861 was a New Year’s Day ever to be remembered. Mr. And Mrs. Johnston, Abraham and I, had spent nearly the whole time in a kind of solemn, yet happy festival. Anew in a holy covenant before God, we unitedly consecrated our lives and our all to the Lord Jesus, giving ourselves away to His blessed service for the conversion of the Heathen of the New Hebrides. After evening family worship, Mr. And Mrs. Johntson left my room to go to their own house, only some ten feet distant; but he returned to inform me that there were two men at the window, armed with huge clubs and having black painted faces. Going out to them and asking them what they wanted, they replied, “Medicine for a sick boy.”
With difficulty, I persuaded them to come in and get it. At once, it flashed upon me, from their agitation and their disguise of paint, that they has come to murder us. Mr. Johntson had also accompanied us into the house. Keeping my eye constantly fixed on them; I prepared the medicine and offered it. They refused to receive it, and each man grasped his killing stone. I faced them firmly and said, “You see that Mr. Johnston is now leaving, and you must too leave this room for tonight. To-morrow, you can bring the boy or come for the medicine.”
Seizing their clubs, as if for action, they showed unwillingness to withdraw, but I walked deliberately forward and made as if to push them out, when both turned and began to leave.
Mr. Johnston had gone in front of them and was safely out. But he bent down to lift up a little kitten that had escaped at the open door; and at that moment one of the Savages, jerking in behind, aimed a blow with his huge club, in avoiding which Mr. Johnston fell with a scream to the ground. Both men sprang towards him, but our two faithful dogs ferociously leapt in their faces and saved his life. Rushing out, but not fully aware of what had occurred, I saw Mr. Johnston trying to raise himself, and heard him cry, “Take care! These men have tried to kill me and they will try to kill you!”
Facing them sternly I demanded, “What do you want? He does not speak your language. What do you want? Speak with me.”
Both men, thereon, raised their great clubs and made to strike me; but as quickly as lightening these two dogs sprang at their faces and baffled their blows. One dog was badly bruised, and the ground received the other blow, that would have launched me into eternity. The best dog was a little cross bred retriever, with terrier’s blood in him, splendid for warning us of approaching dangers which had already been the means of saving my life many times. Seeing how matters stood, I now hounded both dogs furiously upon them, and the two savages fled. I shouted after them,
“Remember, Jehovah God sees you and will punish you for trying to murder His servants!”
In their flight a large body of men, who had come eight or ten miles to assist in the murder and plunder, came slipping here and there from the bush and joined them, fleeing too. Verily, “the wicked flee when no man persueth.” David’s experience and assurance came home to us, that evening, as very real; – “God is our refuge and our strength, therefore we will not fear.” But, after the danger was all past, I had always a strange feeling of fear, more perhaps from the thought that I had been on the verge of eternity and so near the great White Throne that from any slavish fear. During the crisis, I felt generally calm, and firm of soul, standing erect and with my whole weight on the promise, “Lo, I am with you always.” Precious promise! How often I adore Jesus for it, and rejoice in it! Blessed be His name.
Following a victorious battle on November 12, 1815, Pomare destroyed all the idols and altars he could find. The great idol, Oro, was first made a post for the king’s kitchen and then cut up for firewood. Pomare took his own idols, twelve in number, to the missionaries and requested that they be sent to the headquarters of the London Missionary Society. Schools were established in all parts of Tahiti, the abominations of heathenism were largely discontinued and thousands flocked to hear the sermons by Nott and his fellow workers, for by this time some of the missionaries who had fled to New Holland and New South Wales had returned. Also, new recruits had arrived.