When William Carey went to India, he began a lifelong program of learning about the culture and history of India. So enamoured did he become of Indian literature that he eventually engaged in a systematic re-printing of much of their classical literature. And today he is partly remembered in eastern India as one of the figures responsible for a renaissance of Bengali litertaure. Not surprisingly, some of his close friends in England, like Andrew Fuller, under whose patronymic I serve in part, were surprised and somewhat nonplussed. They had sent Carey out to be a witness to the Christ among the millions of the Indian subcontinent and here he was wasting time on literature. But Carey was wiser than they. He realized that for the gospel to make any headway in his adopted Indian culture, there had to be some understanding of that culture, and the best way to do that was to systematically study the world of India.
I personally do not think Carey's strategy mistaken. A careful examination of the history of mission would show that this strategy was usually far more successful than any alternatives. One of the reasons for the ongoing strength of the Patristic witness, for example, was the amazing ability of the Fathers to transplant the gospel into the soil of Hellenism, a transplant that by and large was accomplished without major compromise of the Faith, though there were many temptations to so compromise.