William Carey never received the equivalent of a high school or college education. But he has translated the Bible into six different languages.
The department of Christian studies hosted the first installment of the Manning Chapel Lecture series Oct. 17.
The stained glass windows in the chapel are dedicated to several great missionaries and are indicative of the giving of the Great Commission in the Gospel of Matthew. The lectures will focus on the evangelists honored in the windows.
“The unique aspect of this chapel are the four Baptist missions windows around you — a part of what that great cloud of witnesses which the New Testament book of Hebrews says surround us,” Dean of the College of Christian Studies Dr. Timothy Crawford said as he opened the address. “These lectures are being offered to tell the stories of these people celebrated and remembered in these windows.”
Professor in the department of Christian Studies Dr. Carol Holcomb took the podium next to welcome the guest lecturer Dr. David Bebbington. His lecture was about William Carey, to whom the back left window commemorates.
“He is indeed a distinguished professor and we are very grateful that he is able to take time out of his busy schedule and join us here to talk about William Carey,” Holcomb said.
Expert on the life of Carey, Bebbington jumped into his lecture after some quick jokes about the university, Baylor and Judge Baylor’s bones.
Carey, recognized as the father of modern missionary work, influenced the Baptist Missionary Society. His zeal for missions at the time was different from English Baptists, many of which thought evangelism was pointless.
The self-taught man formed the BMS and then moved to India, where he began his missionary work. It was here that Carey began working on translating the Bible into six languages.
For seven years, he had no converts. But the work took root and Carey and his team began to start churches in India.
Bebbington spoke in depth about the work and life of Carey. He also talked about his influence on American Baptists.
“He was a marvel to the American,” Bebbington said. “The Philadelphia Baptist Association, the best organized organization in America, soon gave him some … support. In 1810 the American board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was established. Its first missionary to India was Adoniram Judson.”
Senior Biblical studies major James Williams attended the lecture and really liked the additional information about Carey’s personal life, which Bebbington was able to relate.
“You can tell that he actually knows what he’s talking about because he’s taking time to take Carey on as a person,” Williams said. “He’s not just experienced him as a historical figure recorded with words — he’s allowed those words to come alive and to speak to him not as a book, but as a person. I really appreciated his touch on the personal aspects of Carey’s life.”
At the end of the lecture, Bebbington accepted several questions from attendees.
The next installment of the series is Oct. 24 and will focus on another window of the chapel.
In short, Carey’s ministry can be described with one of his quotes.
He said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”