The story of William Carey and his ministry in the Indian sub-continent in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries has been told and retold many times. It captured the imagination of untold numbers of evangelicals in his own day, sparked the formation of a host of missionary societies and generally initiated what has been termed the modern missionary movement.
What is often forgotten, however, is that Carey did not set out alone, nor would his ministry or that of his colleagues in India have been possible without the faithful support over many years of a circle of friends back at home. As one of these men later recalled, when they contemplated the possibility of a mission to India they thought of it in terms of a gold-mine. Carey said that he was prepared to “venture to go down” the mine to explore its possibilities but, he told his close friends, Andrew Fuller, John Sutcliff and John Ryland, they “must hold the ropes.”
This book is a tribute to that circle of loyal friends, who saw themselves as being so closely bound together that they were all “of one heart and one soul,” and in particular to one of them, John Sutcliff, the pastor of the church at Olney which originally set apart Carey for the ministry. As well as remaining a lifelong friend of Carey, he was one of the founders of the Baptist Missionary Society, one of the joint authors of the Prayer Call which initially led to the interest in overseas missions and a faithful pastor and teacher in whose home many candidates for the ministry, both at home or abroad, received valuable training for the work to which they were called.
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