Amy was a Christian missionary in India who is remembered for her devotion to rescuing Indian children from prostitution. A vital part of her mission included becoming a surrogate mother to them – work that she did with all her heart.
Amy considered her sacrifice as a missionary to be nothing compared to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
"When I consider the cross of Christ, how can anything I do be called sacrifice?" ― Amy Carmichael
Amy Carmichael was born in Ireland on December 16, 1867, to David and Catherine Carmichael. She was the first of the couple’s seven children. Her parents were devout Christians and raised their children in the fear of God.
Amy’s father ran a flour mill business that had been owned by the family for many years. As a result of this business, the family never lacked. Amy attended Harrogate Ladies College in her youth, and it was there that she gave her life to Christ at the age of 15.
When she was 18, Amy’s father passed away. His death affected the family finances greatly, and Amy would spend the next years of her life helping her mother to raise her young brothers and sisters.
One day; as the family was heading back home after a church service, Amy had an experience that changed the course of her life. An old beggar woman had come out of an alley wearing torn and mud-soaked clothes. Amy felt so sorry for the woman that she and her brother decided to come to her aid.
It was embarrassing to be seen by the other church people helping the woman carry her belongings, so she hid her face. Suddenly, Amy heard a voice say, "Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw -- the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the foundation survives, he will receive the reward."
“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” ― Amy Carmichael
Amy looked around and saw no one. She immediately decided to hold her head high; no longer embarrassed. Reaching home, she searched her Bible and found the words she had heard in 1 Corinthians 3: 12-13. It was then that she made a promise to God that she would henceforth only do things to please Him.
Amy then began reaching out to a group of girls known as the “Shawlies” who worked in the mills. They were too poor to afford hats and used their shawls to cover their heads instead – a practice that was offensive to the ‘proper’ church members.
“Nothing could ever matter again but the things that were eternal.” ― Amy Carmichael
Amy didn’t care about her reputation by associating with the Shawlies. She considered herself to be dead to self and alive in Christ. Her ministry to the Shawlies enlarged, and Amy soon needed a building for them, a challenging task for a girl her age (she was 22). But she continued to trust God for the provision of both the land and the building, and in His time, He provided.
“It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates” ― Amy Carmichael
A banner was hung at the front of the building with the words, “That in all things HE might have the preeminence.”
Her missionary call came through contact with the Keswick movement. She volunteered with the China Inland Mission in 1892 but was denied acceptance on health grounds. However, she managed to sail to Japan as the first Keswick missionary in 1893. Her stay in Japan was short, and she was back in England before the end of 1894.
The following year, she volunteered with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society and travelled to South India. Amy was sad to leave behind her loved ones, but her heart was firmly committed to missionary work.
In India, God used Amy to minister to children. She had become progressively more aware of the fact that many Indian children were dedicated to the gods by their parents. It became her mission to rescue and look after them as a mother would care for her own children. This practice earned the name ‘Amma’ which means ‘mother’ in the native Indian dialect.
“He said "Love...as I have loved you." We cannot love too much.” ― Amy Carmichael
In 1931, Amy had a serious fall. She also suffered from arthritis which kept her an invalid for the remainder of her life. She quickly identified missionaries to take over her work. She also founded a mission in the Dohnavur fellowship which still continues today.
During her later years, Amy also wrote many books (over forty) detailing her missionary work and experiences.
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