Today in Church History

Baptist Missionary Society Formed in England

Baptist Missionary Society Formed in England

The gathering of young men who met in Mrs. Beeby Wallis’ parlor on this day, October 2, 1792 was not a likely group to begin major world-wide missionary work. The twelve ministers were all from small churches in the district of Kettering, England. Two had churches with congregations of less than 25 each. But they had become increasingly convinced that their churches should send the gospel message to the far-flung corners of the globe. Surprisingly, many Christians in the eighteenth century accepted the argument that the heathen had rejected the gospel and would be held accountable for their rejection on the coming day of judgment. Some even argued that if God wanted the heathen saved, he would enlighten them without any human help.

The young pastor William Carey couldn’t accept such views. He said the Apostles were commanded to teach all nations; and since the promise of the gospel was still true, surely the command to teach the nations was still true as well. Carey set down on paper his thoughts on the state of the world in his day, the need for missions, and the methods which should be used in carrying out the task. In May 1792 he published these as An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.

Point by point Carey answered objections which had been put forward against missionary activity. Were heathen lands too distant? Navigation had improved greatly in the last centuries. Were the heathen ways barbarous? Merchants and traders didn’t seem to mind the inconvenience of dealing with them. Was there physical danger to missionary activity or difficulties in procuring supplies or language barriers? If these all could be overcome in the interest of commerce and profit, surely they could be overcome for the Kingdom of Christ. Carey encouraged his readers to “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”

Carey’s pamphlet and impassioned address on missions at the semi-annual minister’s meeting at Kettering stirred the young men to action. When they met on October 2 in Mrs. Wallis’ parlor, they formed the Baptist Missionary Society for spreading the gospel among the heathen. Andrew Fuller was appointed Secretary, and a small snuff box with a picture of St. Paul’s conversion on the lid became the treasury. Each minister wrote down what he thought he could give, and £13 20s 6d was promised. It was very little for such a grand purpose, but hadn’t the Lord done much with a boy’s five loaves and two fishes?

The next year the society sent out William Carey to India. Carey translated the New Testament into Bengali; his influence alone extended throughout much of the East, to Burma, the East Indies, and China.

The Baptist Missionary Society was the first foreign missionary society created by the Evangelical Revival of the last half of the eighteenth century. In short order other missionary societies were established, and a new era in missions began as the faith was increasingly spread outside of the West, to the regions of Africa and Asia.

The work which began in Mrs. Wallis’ parlor continues today. Two hundred years later the Baptist Missionary Society still works in India in cooperation with the native church. There are 33 mission stations in the Indian sub-continent under its auspices with numerous churches, schools, hospitals, clinics, and agricultural programs. In 1981 the society had a total of 191 foreign missionaries throughout Asia and Africa. Carey was right–“Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”


Today in Church History

Conversion of John Ryland, Carey’s Friend

Conversion of John Ryland, Carey's Friend

Many Christians have heard of William Carey, the Baptist preacher and cobbler who became known as the “Father of Protestant Missions.” Few have heard of John Ryland but there is a strong connection between the two.

Born in 1753 into a godly Baptist home, John was the son of a Hebrew scholar and pastor who taught him to read Hebrew at an early age: he could translate Psalm 23 at five and had read Genesis through in the original language several times before he was twelve. Despite his scripture learning and his attendance at church, John was not a Christian. A friend, who may never have guessed the effect his words would have, showed John his need for faith. John read several books on conversion around this time and rode an emotional roller coaster as he either hoped or despaired of salvation, recognizing that he lacked the intense desire for God that he felt he should have.

John finally was converted under George Whitefield’s preaching on this day, September 8, 1767 when he was fourteen. Five days later he was baptized in the Nene River by his own Father.

John, jr. was seventeen when he began to preach. He eventually took over as pastor of his father’s church at Northampton when his father moved on to other duties. It was John, jr. who baptized Carey in 1783–in the same river where he himself had been baptized.

John wrote several books and a number of hymns, including, “O Lord, I Will Delight in Thee,” two verses of which read,

When all created streams are dried,
Thy fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied
And glory in Thy Name.

No good in creatures can be found
But may be found in Thee;
I must have all things and abound
While God is God to me.

Along with a few friends, John began to urge the Particular Baptists to move away from their hyper-calvinist view of God’s sovereignty toward a more modern understanding of the need of human agency in missions. Nonetheless, when Carey urged the commencement of a mission work, it was John’s father who is supposed to have said to Carey, “Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine.”

John, however, became a close associate and sponsor of Carey in his successful mission work. Highly regarded throughout England as a sensible, godly, hardworking man, he died at the age of 72.


Today in Church History

Moravians at Herrnhut

Dan Graves, MSL
Moravians at Herrnhut

The village of Herrnhut, “The Lord’s Watch,” (in present day Germany) came about because on this day June 17, 1722 a little band of religious fugitives from Moravia (in the modern Czech Republic) asked Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf if they might settle on his land. The Count agreed. One Moravian leader was Christian David, a potter who burned with zeal for the things of the Lord.

Zinzendorf, too, was a man of deep religious conviction and piety. At six he had written love letters to Christ. Deeply influenced by Francke and Spener’s Pietism, the Count was only kept from becoming a minister by the raw exertion of family and state authority. Nonetheless, he and his wife had dedicated their lives completely to Christ. Eventually he would be chosen bishop of the Moravians. Zinzendorf was appalled at the divisions between churches and hungered to unite the different factions in a spiritual peace. He was the first to speak of “ecumenism.” At Herrnhut he learned what the Holy Spirit could accomplish in breaking down denominational walls.

Herrnhut had become a gathering place for many religious exiles. These spoke different languages and had differing customs. Creeds varied. Lutherans, Schwenkfelders, Separatists, Reformed and Brethren lived side by side. Squabbles developed. Zinzendorf found himself moving from home to home speaking with families of their spiritual need. The people began to study the Bible, hold all-night prayer vigils and confess their sins one to another. Zinzendorf established “bands,” groups of two, three or more who would encourage each other spiritually. Plans were drawn up to reorganize and unify the community. A sense of expectancy grew.

On August 13, 1727, at a baptism and communion service, the Holy Spirit moved through the room. Differences dissolved. All embraced one another in forgiveness and a spirit of love. Christ became central to their thinking. They established a twenty-four hour around-the-clock prayer vigil which lasted one hundred years. The fervent prayers resulted in the sending out of missionaries to many lands–the first Protestant missions outside Europe and North America. Thus Herrnhut reached out and touched other lands. Moravians influenced John and Charles Wesley. Moravian missionary zeal prompted William Carey’s efforts to reach India for Christ. “See what these Moravians have done,” he said in his appeal to have missionaries commissioned.

Herrnhut was a busy and industrious place. Spinning, weaving, carpentry, pottery, farming and missionary training went on unceasingly. Each evening Zinzendorf selected a scripture to be the watchword for the next day. Often he wrote a hymn to accompany the word. Saturdays and Sundays were days of prayer and worship. Almost every day, each band met to exhort, reprove and pray for one another. Single women and single men lived in separate buildings. In a special home, the children of missionaries were cared for. Truly Herrnhut became a remarkable experiment in Christian community as well as a major catalyst for Protestant missions.

The Problem Isn’t the Great Commission

The Problem Isn’t the Great Commission

 | MARCH 13, 2019

This is another thought provoking article about the modern social justice movement in evangelical circles. I have posted the opening and closing sentences you will have to go to the source (which I highly encourage) for the rest) – Mike

Anthony Bradley has been a loud voice in the social justice movement among reformed and evangelical Christians in America. He actually helped awaken me to the threat of this movement to the gospel….

…The problem isn’t with the great commission. The problem is with those whose cultural agendas have so shaped their perspectives that they fail to appreciate the significance of what it means to make disciples of all nations.

Source: The Problem isn’t TGC