God, My All-Sufficient Portion: How William Carey Found Strength to Plod

God, My All-Sufficient Portion: How William Carey Found Strength to Plod

Written by M. R. Conrad |
Thursday, January 5, 2023

Despite his abysmal circumstances and lack of key resources, Carey found his sufficiency in God. In desperation to feed and house his family, Carey moved east of Kolkata and took up farming in Debhatta near the border of modern-day Bangladesh. All the while, his wife’s mental condition deteriorated. On April 14, 1794, though struggling with discouragement, Carey again commented in his journal on God’s all-sufficiency.

William Carey’s heart raced as he leaned against the railing of the Kron Princess Maria.[1] The winds and tides had finally allowed the Danish ship to enter the Bay of Bengal on November 11, 1793. In the distance, Carey caught his first glimpse of the shores of India. He hoped it would not be his last. Beside Carey, Dr. John Thomas fidgeted. On his last stint in India, Thomas had incurred outstanding debts—debts he had failed to mention to his new coworkers. Soon, a flotilla of smaller boats surrounded the ship, their onboard hawkers clamoring to sell fish and other goods to the foreigners.

As the ship entered the Hooghly River on its way upstream to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), thirty-two-year-old Carey, his wife Dorothy, his children, his sister-in-law, and Dr. Thomas kept alert. Before reaching the dock and the required inspection, they slipped into a smaller boat which whisked them away. The British East India Company patrolled the harbor and sought to turn away any foreigners who could potentially interfere with their profit. Soon, the new arrivals mingled with the locals in a bustling market. The first missionaries of a new era had arrived on their field.

Alone and in Need

Though safely past the watchful eye of the British East India Company, Carey’s difficulties had just begun. Almost immediately, he discovered that daily expenses would far exceed their estimates. Then, his coworker, Dr. Thomas, panicked as creditors learned of his return to Kolkata. Thomas took the team’s remaining money and used it to set up a medical practice for European colonials to pay off his debts. In a letter that would not reach his supporters in England for many months, Carey wrote, “I am in a strange land alone, with no Christian friend, a large family, and nothing to supply their wants [needs].[2] The outlook seemed bleak.

For the next seven years, Carey and his family moved from one location to another as he tried to make ends meet, learn Bengali, translate the New Testament, and preach the gospel to anyone who would listen. Dorothy Carey and her sister, who accompanied the family to India, hated their new life. To make matters worse, Dorothy and their son Peter fell ill with severe dysentery. Peter soon died, and Dorothy began her descent into insanity.

Solace in the Promises of God

As trial after trial rocked his life, Carey kept his eyes on the goal.

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