William Carey  (1761-1834)

     It was February 1794 when Carey, 32, his wife Dolly, their four boys and Dolly's sister Kitty disembarked their river boat at the small village of Debhatta. The two women had complained nonstop about the other missionary deserting them in Calcutta. The two daily reinforced each other's bitterness at this terrible land. In Debhatta a British official took Carey aside.
     "Peculiar how far one can see back through the trees," noted Carey to the official.  "There is nothing but tree trunks from the ground - which is little more than mud - up to the first branches of the trees."
     "Lucky for us," grumbled the official. "We can see tigers a long way off."
     "But I thought tigers avoided people."
     "Not here in the Sundarbans they don't. Tigers killed 20 people last year in my district alone." He sighed. "Do watch for cobras and crocodiles too, reverend."
     William's heart sank. Oh, what plans he had made for missionary work. He was the first sent anywhere by the Baptist Missionary Society. All future activity probably depended on his success in India. And in just three months he had run out of money, lost his colleague and ended up in the most Godforsaken place on earth. If only he hadn't brought such a large family. Originally only Carey, his oldest boy and the other missionary were to come. The other missionary pressured Dolly into the trip. Now the other missionary was gone. Carey had to support a family of seven on this Sundarbans mud. Moreover, he must somehow protect them from tigers. He didn't own a gun. He didn't know how to use one anyway. And when would he find time to evangelize the Indians? Oh, how mightily he had failed his family, his mission and the Baptist Missionary Society!

William Carey: Father of Modern Missions by S. Pearce Carey, 1923]

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"But I thought tigers avoided people," gulped William Carey.

Amy Carmichael  (1867-1951)

     In 1892 Amy, comfortable as a guest in the manor of coal tycoon Robert Wilson, clearly heard God say, "Go ye." She never doubted for a moment God directed her to become a missionary. Even her rejection weeks later by doctors at the China Inland Mission headquarters in London did not stop her. She had powerful friends. Robert Wilson sent her forth as a 'Keswick missionary' to join a mission group in Japan.
     During 1893 Amy's work on the north coast of Japan was fruitful, though hardly a success by standards set by missionary giants like David Livingstone and Mary Slessor. Amy could not fathom the language. And she knew she never would. She resigned herself to forever using an interpreter. After one year her health began to fail. "The climate is dreadful on brain and eyes," she explained. But she worsened. Headaches were crushing. Often she was in a bed for a week, sometimes she awoke blind for hours! Could she be too frail for mission work, just as C. I. M. doctors had told her? Like Livingstone and Slessor, she persevered, even sailing to other side of Japan on a new assignment.
     Yet she had barely disembarked when she was brought low:
          …I collapsed...A touch of fever, then a fainting fit...a terrible
          comedown, for I always declared nothing could make me faint.
          All such weakminded nonsense I quite scorned...But this time,
          over I went and before I came back all the humiliating attentions
          attendant upon such departures had been showered upon me
          and they left me very wet…
     Amid 'wet towels, doleful faces and blurs' she feebly explained, "I lost my parasol aboard ship."
     No, Amy was no Livingstone, no Slessor. She was brought even lower yet. She was sent to China, so the C. I. M. doctors there could look after her. Oh, what a burden she had become at 27 in the missionary world, what a privileged weakling, what a failure...

A Chance To Die by Elisabeth Elliot, 1997, and Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton, 1953]

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"I lost my parasol aboard ship," explained Amy lamely.

How failure in Japan pained Amy! She versed her pain in verse as she often did:
               Will not the End explain
          The crossed endeavor, earnest purpose foiled.
          The strange bewilderment of good work spoiled.
          The clinging weariness, the inward strain.
               Will not the End explain?




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