There is one quote that I have placed in every book that I have written. It is by far one of my favorite quotes—I’ll get to it in a minute.
My favorite quote was stated by one of the most famous missionaries, known as the “father of modern missions.” His name? William Carey.
If you’re not familiar with William Carey, you should be—his story of what God can do with a humble and willing heart is profound.
Another one of Carey’s accomplishments, was that of a Bible translator. He was the first to translate the Holy Scriptures into Bengali. Carey also translated it into twenty-eight other languages. Amazingly, Carey was a self-taught man. He only had a fifth grade education!
Needless to say, it never hindered his passion for Christ.
When Carey desired to follow his calling into India, he had little—to no—support. The larger and more “established” churches would not recognize his desire to see foreign missions attached to the local church.
However, Carey knew that mission and church were inseparable. He would be way ahead of his time, asking for a collaboration of denominations. Carey desired to see Christ’s church set aside its ecclesiology for the aspect of evangelization and mission.
While in India, Carey was mostly viewed as a fanatic. His “enthusiasm” in wanting to see the world come to Christ and Christians work together for the gospel was viewed as abnormal.
Carey once declared, “Would it not be possible to have a general association of all denominations of Christians, from the four corners of the world…I recommend this plan, that the first meeting be in the year 1810, or 1812 at furthest…”
It never occurred in Carey’s lifetime—but it was established 100 years later, in 1910. Carey was a man before his time. Sometimes the greatest fault of visionaries is exactly that—they see what others cannot see and yet they press on with passion for what they see and believe.
John the Baptist was such a man. He paved the way for Christ; a man who only ate locusts and wild honey and wore garments of camel hair. The camel hair symbolized a coarse, itchy, and abrasive culture against God’s purposes.
Of course, John paid the ultimate price for his obedience by losing his head, but he gained eternity. The Baptist was never ashamed to call himself a servant of the Most High God. He was never afraid to confront the fears of being disliked or being less than someone else. John was humble; yet passionate that God was doing great things.
Likewise, Carey was eerily similar in his understanding of God’s calling.
This brings me to that famous and favorite quote of his; Carey once declared, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”
I have always tried to attempt great things for God, not out of compulsion, but love, and yet, I always expect great things to happen. One aspect of Carey’s statement that baffles me, and yet also inspires me, is that Carey believed we ought to “expect great things from God,” even before we “attempt” them.
Don’t misunderstand him, he wasn’t in the “name it and claim it” crowd, but believed that God was sovereign over all things. William lived his theology. He took such bold adventures because he believed in a God that had already overcome death and sin and given him life eternal.
So, let me ask you…do you expect great things from God and attempt great things for God? If not, what’s stopping you? As Carey said, “Go ye’ means me!”