Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Amy Wilson Carmichael Indian Christian Missionary Life History

Amy Wilson Carmichael indian christian missionary
Amy Wilson Carmichael (16 December 1867 - 18 January 1951) was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for 55 years without furlough and wrote many books about the missionary work there.

Name :: Amy Wilson Carmichael

Born :: 16 December, 1867


Birth Place :: Millisle, County Down, Northern Ireland

Died :: 18 January, 1951(aged 83)

Died at :: Dohnavur, Tamil Nadu, India

Orphange Location :: Dohnavur, Tamil Nadu, India

Amy Wilson Carmichael indian christian missionary at her young age

History ::
Amy grew up in a big house in Ireland and had lots of fun with her brothers and sisters. But one day her father died, and the family had to move to a big city and a smaller home. They could no longer afford help with the house our garden. And since Amy was the oldest child, she had to help her mother raise the younger children. 

But that wasn't too hard. Amy had learned to love God first of all, and she wanted more than anything to know and follow Jesus.  She loved His Word and believed all His wonderful promises. She wasn't afraid, for she knew that Jesus would be with her always.

She also knew that God wanted her to show His love to others. Once, before her father died, she had traveled to a big city with her mother. They stopped at a tea-room for lunch.  While they were eating, Amy noticed a little girl outside. Her face was dirty and her hair was straggly as she pressed her nose against the window. Her sad eyes looked right into Amy's. 

Amy could never forget the poor little girl. So when she was back home again, she wrote her a special promise. She gave it to God, since she couldn't deliver it to the poor child.
When I grow up and money have,
I know what I will do,
I’ll build a great big lovely place
For little girls like you.
Amy didn't know that one day, God would send her all the way to India to fulfill that promise.

Amy Wilson Carmichael indian christian missionary with children
Walking home from church one Sunday, something else happened that forever changed Amy's life. She and her two oldest brothers -- dressed in their best clothes -- were way ahead of the others, when she spotted a poor beggar woman, dressed in tattered old clothes. Her feet were wrapped with strips of rags, now heavy with mud. Over her bent shoulders  hung a large bundle of sticks.

When Amy and her brothers saw the old woman stagger and almost fall, they hurried to catch up with her. The older boy lifted the bundle off her back, and hung it over his shoulders. The other two each took the woman's arms and helped her along.

Since they couldn't move very fast, other church people caught up with them. A special book titled "Amy Carmichael Rescuer of Precious Gems" tells us what happened next:

    "One by one, church members stared at the strange sight as they walked by. Amy felt her face getting hotter as each person from church passed them, especially when one woman hurried her children to the other side of the road to avoid the four of them altogether.

    "Embarrassed, Amy and her brothers kept their heads down, not even looking at each other and hoping no one important came along and saw them. There was a fountain in the center of the road, and trying to take her mind off walking along beside the beggar woman, Amy studied it closely. It was made of blocks of cut stone, and the water sprayed out from three spouts at its center. As she studied it, Amy suddenly stopped. Someone was talking to her. She clearly heard a voice say,

        “Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.. . the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.”

    "Amy turned to see who was speaking. There was no one there. But she had heard a voice, plain
    and clear. Puzzled, she walked on with the old woman on her arm. As she did, something felt very different inside. Amy was no longer embarrassed. In fact, she walked with her head held high for all to see. The trio escorted the old woman to where she wanted to go and then ran to catch up to their mother and the other children to finish the walk home.

    "After lunch, Amy went to her room. She knelt down by her bed. She knew the words she’d heard at the fountain were from the Bible.... The words were from 1 Corinthians, chapter three, verses twelve through fourteen. Amy read them again. What was their meaning to her? ...

    "After several hours of praying and thinking, Amy finally decided she knew what the words from the verse meant to her. For one thing, she would no longer waste time on things that weren’t important in God’s eyes. When all the things she’d done in her life were finally judged by God, she wanted them to be found worthwhile. She wanted them to be seen as gold and silver, not hay and stubble. For another thing, she would never again worry about what people thought of her. If what she was doing was pleasing to God, that would be enough for her. If other people, even other Christians, didn’t want to walk with beggars, that was their business, but Amy would walk with them."

How did Amy know what was "important in God's eyes?"  She read and learned from His Word. She discovered what God loved! And her goal was to please God, even if it upset some people. She could trust God in all things  because she remembered God's wonderful promise:

     "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

 Work in India :: 
Initially Carmichael traveled to Japan for fifteen months, but after a brief period of service in Sri Lanka, she found her lifelong vocation in India. 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. 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.

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."     ”

Carmichael's work also extended to the printed page. She was a prolific writer, producing thirty-five published books including Things as They Are: Mission Work in Southern India (1903), His Thoughts Said . . . His Father Said (1951), If (1953), Edges of His Ways (1955) and God's Missionary (1957).

The Widow of the Jewels by Amy Carmichael was first published in the year 1928. By this time, Christian missionaries and the Church in India had laid out a network of secular schools in India that changed the traditional caste-restrictive schooling to caste-neutral schooling. Gandhi had come into prominence in the Indian struggle for freedom from British rule. But he was not yet the unquestioned leader of the Indian masses. The Muslims had not yet orchestrated their demand to carve a Muslim nation for themselves out of British India as soon as the British would leave India. The 1921 Census of India showed that there was less than two percent of total population of India who professed the Christian faith. The English language was well established as the lingua franca among the educated classes cutting across ethnic groups. The zeal for social and religious reform of Hindus evinced in the nineteenth century was being replaced by the zeal to attain political freedom. In southern India, the non-Brahmin social movement was taking roots in a very significant way. There was already talk among the Hindus themselves to abolish the dreadful practice of temple prostitution and the ill treatment of the widows. However, the legislation to ban this practice would come only later on. Amy Carmichael's fictionalized true story happens in this context in the far south, among the Tamils. Unfortunately, the practice of temple prostitution is still practiced in some parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in south India.
Amy Carmichael teaching to poor children
In 1931, Carmichael was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. 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.

Works ::
  • From Sunrise Land: Letters from Japan, Marshall 1895
  • Things as they are; mission work in southern India, London: Morgan and Scott (1905)
  • Lotus Buds, London: Morgan and Scott (1912)
  • Ragland, pioneer, Madras: S.P.C.K. Depository (1922) (biography of Thomas Gajetan Ragland)
  • Walker of Tinnevelly, London: Morgan & Scott (1916) (biography of Thomas Walker)
  • Candles in the Dark, Christian Literature Crusade (June 1982)
  • Rose from Brier, Christian Literature Crusade (June 1972)
  • Mimosa: A True Story, CLC Publications (September 2005)
  • If, Christian Literature Crusade (June 1999)
  • Gold Cord, Christian Literature Crusade (June 1957)
  • Edges of His Ways, Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade (1955)
  • Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael, Christian Literature Crusade (August 1999)
  • Whispers of His Power, CLC Publications (June 1993)
  • Thou Givest They Gather, CLC Publications (June 1970)
  • Ploughed Under : The Story of a Little Lover, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) (1934)
  • Kohila: The Shaping of an Indian Nurse, CLC Publications (July 2002)


Website | Amy Songs | Amazon | Books | Fellowship

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