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)