Again, John Appleby and his biography of Carey: ‘I Can Plod…’ William Carey and the early years of the first Baptist missionary Society (London: Grace Publications Trust, 2007). This time I was impressed by a partial sentence from one of Appleby's quotes from Carey. The Baptist missionary is writing back to England in January, 1795, and comments about his friendship with Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, Jr., John Sutcliff, and Samuel Pearce: "I am fully satisfied of the firmness of their friendship that I feel a sweet pleasure in writing to them…” (cited p.109).
Does this not lie at the heart of most successful Gospel ministries? The bonds of friendship that unite co-workers in great ventures for God are markedly present in so many great turning points in Church History. So it was with Paul and his apostolic band, the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine and his band of brothers at Hippo Regius, Columbanus and his fellow Celts tramping through Merovingian Gaul, and Calvin and his friends during the Reformation.
From one perspective, these bonds uniting co-workers in the Gospel are a pale imitation of the ontological and social bonds uniting the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. And so we should not be surprised that friendships in God and for God are common to great advances of Gospel truth.