May 23, 2012

Amy Carmichael

Missionary who fought Temple prostitution in India

Amy Beatrice (a.k.a. Wilson) Carmichael (December 16, 1867–January 18, 1951) was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur.

She served in India for fifty-six years without furlough and authored many books about the missionary work.
Early life

Amy Carmichael was an Irish Lioness, born in the village of Millisle, Northern Ireland, in 1867. She grew up riding her pony along the Irish sea shore and exploring the world around her with a child like wonder for life and everything in it. She would lay down beside tide pools for hours, and watch the little creatures caught in them. She emptied her beautiful doll house and put in moss and beetles and earwigs, fascinated by God’s creatures and feeling sympathy for the least of them.
When Amy was still a young lady, she heard God’s audible voice while helping a poor woman carry her heavy bundle through town on a Sunday after church.

 “Gold, Silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble. Every mans work shall be made known. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the character and worth of the work each person has done. (1Cor 3;12)”.

Amy was so moved by the experience, she spent that entire afternoon in her room with God. When she came out she was not the same.
She began gathering kids in her neighborhood to talk about God.

She took trips with a friend through the city streets on Saturday nights to see how other people lived. She started the “morning watch” to encourage kids to spend time regularly in worship/prayer.

This book is available for 99/- in India

After her family lost the grain mill, Amy had to go to work.

While she was working at the YWCA she started a class for “shawlies”; girls who worked in the mills and were too poor to buy hats. They covered their heads with shawls. She invited the “shawlies” to come to her church, but some of the members were uncomfortable with such “common” folk invading their fellowship.

Amy saw an ad in the paper one day for “tin buildings” that you could buy for 500 pounds and have them built.

She soon received a donation and was offered land to put it on. The Tin Tabernacle was built. It was called The Welcome Hall. The sign read,
“come one, come all and come in your work clothes!”

Amy continued at the Welcome until she received a call to work among the mill girls of Manchester in 1889 before moving onto missionary work.

In many ways she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work.

She suffered neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for weeks on end.

It was at the Keswick Convention of 1887 that she heard Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission speak about missionary life. Soon afterwards, she became convinced of her calling to missionary work. She applied to the China Inland Mission and lived in London at the training house for women, where she met author and missionary to China, Mary Geraldine Guinness, who encouraged her to pursue missionary work.

She was ready to sail for Asia at one point, when it was determined that her health made her unfit for the work.

She postponed her missionary career with the CIM and decided later to join the Church Missionary Society.

Work in India 
Amy was a risk taker and not afraid to go or do what she felt the Lord telling her to.

 After a short time in Japan and China, at the age of 28, Amy went to India. She spent the next 53 years there without returning home. She was commissioned by the Church of England Zenana Mission.

Hindu temple children were young girls dedicated to the gods and forced into prostitution to earn money for the priests i.e Devadasi. Much of her work was with young ladies, some of whom were saved from forced prostitution.

The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship.

 Dohnavur is situated in Tamil Nadu, thirty miles from the southern tip of India. The fellowship would become a sanctuary for over one thousand children who would otherwise have faced a bleak future.

The Dohnavur Fellowship is still in operation today and has grown to include schools and a free medical clinic.

In an effort to respect Indian culture, members of the organization wore Indian dress and the children were given Indian names.

She herself dressed in Indian clothes, dyed her skin with dark coffee, and often travelled long distances on India's hot, dusty roads to save just one child from suffering.

While serving in India, Amy received a letter from a young lady who was considering life as a missionary. She asked Amy,
"What is missionary life like?"

 Amy wrote back saying simply,
"Missionary life is simply a chance to die."

One story of Amy's early life tells that as a child, she wished that she had blue eyes rather than brown.

She often prayed that Jesus would change her eye colour and was disappointed when it never happened. She loved to pinch her brother's cheeks to make the prettiest colour blue in his eyes. But she always repented afterwards for hurting her brother. As an adult, however, she realized that, because people from India have brown eyes, she would have had a much more difficult time gaining their acceptance if her eyes had been blue.
Dear friends and children died before her, but she never lost her faith in the Lord or her ability to worship Him through it all.
 Final days and legacy

In 1931, Amy was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death.

Of the nearly 3 dozen books she wrote, many were written during this time. She died in India in 1951 at the age of 83. She asked that no stone be put over her grave; instead, the children she had cared for put a bird bath over it with the single inscription "Amma", which means mother in the Tamil.

Her biography quotes her as saying:
 "One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving." 

Her example as a missionary inspired others (including Jim Elliot and his wife Elisabeth Elliot) to pursue a similar vocation.

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