You won’t read it in the secular history books or hear it on the nightly news, but judged by almost any standard, the modern missionary movement that began with William Carey’s departure to India in 1793, is the most important historical development in the last two hundred years. Stephen Neill, in his “History of Modern Missions” writes, “The cool and rational eighteenth century was hardly a promising seed-bed for Christian growth; but out of it came a greater outburst of Christian missionary enterprise than had been seen in all the centuries before.”
Most, if not all of us, are familiar with the name William Carey, but how many know the name of Andrew Fuller, a small-town pastor in central England? Well, for most of us, here is a greatly reduced “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say, of the beginning days of the modern missionary movement.
Before William Carey left as a missionary, his friends imagined him lowering himself into a deep mine that had never been explored. “I will go down,” Carey said, “if you will hold the rope.” Andrew Fuller, a friend of Carey, committed to holding that rope until his hands could hold it no more saying, “that as long as I live I shall never let go that rope.” Today marks the anniversary of his death, May 7, 1854. But Fuller did more than hold the rope, he was instrumental in preparing the way for Carey and the modern missionary movement.
Fuller lived in a time when “hyper Calvinism” was infiltrating the church, leading to little concern for reaching the spiritually lost. Though himself a Calvinist, as was William Carey, Fuller became most concerned about what he saw, and strongly opposed this lethargy. At serious cost to himself and family, he led an effort to correct this false doctrine by calling the church back to sound doctrine by a careful exegeting of Scripture that showed that true gospel preaching does not hinder, but advances concern for the lost. This would eventually lead to the greatest missionary movement in world history. He said that getting Christian experience biblically right, and getting the gospel biblically right, are essential for the power, perseverance and fruitfulness of world missions.
In His Own Words:
“I believe it is the duty of every minister of Christ plainly and faithfully to preach the gospel to all who will hear it; and, as I believe the inability of men to [do] spiritual things to be wholly of the moral, and therefore of the criminal kind — and that it is their duty to love the Lord Jesus Christ, and trust in him for salvation. I therefore believe free and solemn addresses, invitations, calls, and warnings to them, to be not only consistent, but directly adapted as means, in the hand of the Spirit of God, to bring them to Christ. I consider it as part of my duty that I could not omit without being guilty of the blood of souls.”
Thank God for the Andrew Fullers and the William Careys upon whose shoulders we stand today.
Anyway, anytime, anywhere Lord,
Serving you every day is my prayer.
Take me Lord, use me Lord, for your glory,
Anyway, anytime, anywhere.