• W. Austin Gardner

The Mother of Modern Missions?


William Carey, the “Father of Modern Missions.”

Although Carey had long been avidly interested in missions, the decision to offer himself for overseas missions was nothing less than rash. That his church was distressed at losing its pastor and his father judged him “mad” might be overlooked, but his wife was also strongly opposed. With three little ones and another on the way, it is no wonder Dorothy was adamantly opposed to leaving her homeland to embark on a hazardous five-month voyage (complicated by France’s very recent declaration of war against England) to spend the rest of her life in the deadly tropical climate of India. Other women had willingly made such sacrifices, and thousands more would in the future, but not she. If there is a “Mother of Modern Missions,” it was not Dorothy Carey. She refused to go.

However, if Dorothy thought her refusal to accompany her husband would change his mind, she was wrong. Carey was determined to go, even if it meant going without her. He went ahead with his plans, which included booking a passage for Felix, his eight-year-old son. In March of 1793, after months of deputation, Carey and Thomas were commissioned by the Society; and the follow-ing month they, along with Felix and Thomas’s wife and daughter, boarded a ship on the Thames River that was to take them to India. But the trip to India ended abruptly at Portsmouth, England. Officials boarded the ship and refused to allow the party to leave the country until Thomas had satisfied his creditors.

The delay led to a dramatic change in plans. Dorothy, having delivered her baby three weeks before, grudgingly agreed to join the mission party with her little ones, provided that Kitty, her younger sister, could accompany her. Obtaining funds for the additional passengers was a difficult hurdle, but on June 13, 1793, they boarded a Danish vessel and set sail for India. The long and dangerous voyage around the Cape of Good Hope was at times terrifying, but on November 19 they arrived safely in India.

Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 124–125.

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