Friday, October 2, 2009

Christian Heritage - Amy Carmichael

"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."
Amy Beatrice Carmichael

Amy Beatrice Carmichael was born to a North Ireland family living in a small village called Millisle in 1867. Her family was rather wealthy due to the many flour mills, which filled the small village. Amy lost her father when she was eighteen years old, and the family suffered financial troubles after his death and were forced to move to the city of Belfast. However, God touched Amy's life in her new home and she began serving in city missions. Inspired after hearing Hudson Taylor speak and in spite of suffering health problems due to neuralgia, she began her missionary life in earnest. In 1883, she set out for Japan with the support of the Keswick Convention.
Her initial introduction to missionary life was a disappointment. She was frustrated by the fact that the missionaries, in her opinion, were no different from other men and women of her acquaintance. "..we are here just what we are at home- not one bit better - and the devil is awfully busy . . There are missionary shipwrecks of once fair vessels." Her desire to live a pure life before God and to bring that light to the world separated her from her fellow missionaries in Japan. She left for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) without notifying a single person from the Keswick Convention. Then, she returned home, shortly after arriving in Ceylon, to care for a sick family friend.
She had such a heart for God, though, that she did not stay home for long. Less than a year after returning home, she returned to the mission field. She felt led to go to India. She found her life's work in serving the children, especially in her work with the temple children. Amy was instrumental in saving these children from becoming temple prostitutes. She went to such great lengths to save these children that she was even known to disguise herself as Indian - making her thankful that God had NOT answered a childhood prayer to change her eye color from brown to blue, her brown eyes made her disguise more believable - so that she could steal the children away and take them to safety. After twelve years of finding these children, she had one hundred thirty children in her care. She named her organization the Dohnavur Fellowship. The Dohnavur Fellowship was unique in the fact that everyone wore Indian dress and the children were given Indian names - unusual for missions of that time period. Amy Carmichael cared for the spiritual and physical needs of God's children and claimed, "...One cannot save and then pitchfork souls into Heaven . . . Souls are more or less securely fashioned to a body . . and as you cannot get souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together."
She lived the rest of her life in India, serving fifty-five years in the mission field without a furlough. Amy passed away in 1951 at Dohnavur at the age of eighty-three and was known to thousands as "Amma" or Mother.

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