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I Will Go Down The Well If You Hold The Rope

These are not the exact words of William Carey in 1792, the first Christian British missionary of the Baptist Missionary Society, but the meaning is the same. The society had begun to preach an uncomfortable subject in Britain, the idea that Christians had a moral obligation to send missionaries out into the world in accordance with “The Great Commission,” of the resurrected Jesus, the Christ, found in the Christian Bible, the book of Matthew, chapter 28, verses 16-20.

The idea was uncomfortable because the emphasis was on everyone’s conscience. Folks were asked to self-examine, to pray, and to decide if they had a calling from God to go do this thing outside of Britain. There was some politics at play. An offshoot of the British Anglican Church, called the Methodists, were off and running in world missions, and their version of the Christian Church was growing fast.

William Carey was a cobbler, a purveyor in used shoes, a very low profession in British society, yet, he felt sure that he was called to do this. The target for the first mission was India, a place that was described as “a gold mine that ran as deep as the center of the Earth.” In other words, an extraordinary number of people lived in India. The number of potential souls saved there was beyond calculation. But, when this cobbler stepped up to volunteer, he had something else in mind to say. He was aware that it mostly was poor men like himself, who did such things, while wealthy men felt satisfied that someone from their society had gone.

Carey looked squarely at Andrew Fuller, the founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, and told him that he would go, if he would hold the rope, which meant that the society had a responsibility to fund, and maintain the sustenance of the missionary. No one gets to sit in their church and live a comfortable life, sure that God alone will sustain the missionaries. By the way, there are Biblical passages that speak to this too. Web search and read the letters of the missionary called Paul. He wrote to the churches who supported him in his missions throughout the Mediterranean Sea area. Also, search Andrew Fuller and William Carey. This is a good news story. Carey’s experiences were recorded and they are worthy of book or film. Andrew Fuller did indeed hold the rope.

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