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Amy Carmichael :: Ponnamal—Chapter VI: The Time Appointed

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It was early January, 1904, and we had now settled in Dohnavur. The Walkers were in England, and we were more occupied than ever, as their absence weighted every anxiety; for by that time many converts had come out, and whoso would know anxiety let him take charge of converts. Among the most serious of the time was the care of a lad of eighteen, who could not be sent elsewhere, and who sickened with pneumonia soon after his arrival. If he had died before his people could be summoned, there was reason to anticipate trouble; a Court case, probably, for the circumstances leaned that way. Nursing him meant sitting up at night, as there was nobody who could be depended upon to change the poultices. I left him on the morning after the crisis had been safely passed, and lay down for an hour, leaving him, as I trusted, in safe hands. Before the hour was up, a messenger came post‐haste: 'He is going to die! So says the village barber. All his three pulses are talking together! He will shortly have convulsions and die.' Down I fled to the converts' quarters, found the boy had struggled out, called for the village barber, and was now fairly committed to fulfil that gentleman's predictions. He lived, remarking in English when he emerged from another crisis, 'I am too much very tired;' so that anxiety passed; only to open into another, beside which the first was as nothing.

Ponnamal meanwhile kept all going peacefully on the girls' side, and when we could we went out as before.

While things were so, unknown even to Ponnamal, who had now dropped any idea of saving the Temple children, feeling the utter hopelessness of attempts in that direction, thoughts about them were rising round me like a sea of waters that rose above my head. I could not push those thoughts away; I saw the perishing children, I heard them call. How to do anything vital I knew not; I only knew I had to try again.

Within a week I had the first Temple baby we were ever able to get. Ponnamal welcomed it; but her eyes were holden, as indeed mine were. We did not know we were on the edge of new things, and must soon stop our usual work, and, turning from the familiar ways, carve a path through the jungle, where all the way along sharp thorns would be ready to stab us as we passed-a path ending in what? New responsibilities, graver, heavier, than any we had ever undertaken. No, not ending there-ending in joy, blessed eternal overflowings, inexhaustible wells of delight.

Shortly afterwards we heard of another child. Here again it was possible to get her; she was in a Temple house, for her father had dedicated her in order to acquire merit, but the conditions were such that we were able to redeem her. This meant refunding the expenses incurred in connection with her dedication. We paid them, and she came.

Then Ponnamal was troubled. The whole thing was so new, so strange in its accompanying circumstances, that she could not feel in sympathy with it. Nor, I was sure, would the friends at home, with whom I was accustomed to talk over all new thoughts before committing them to action. And so it proved when the first letters came; for I read the doubt through all the kindness. This new adventure was assuredly to go unspeeded, and I could not wonder.

For that curious and uncomfortable faculty which not only invites but compels one to see an action from every possible point of view, and to appreciate and to sympathize in a quite uncanny fashion with what its detractors are going to say, was quick in me; I could have sat down and written the letters that were written to me by almost everyone who wrote at all. Letters which looked at things otherwise shine in my grateful memory. So I spent some days, difficult to the spirit which saw its course open before it and knew it had to travel therein, speeded or unspeeded.

But Ponnamal-I had never before for one moment been out of touch with her. I prayed for a sign from heaven to show her what had been shown to me, and it was given. Gideon's fleece we called it ever after. From that day Ponnamal never looked back. Valiant to the last, my comfort, my inspiration in darkest hours, she said as she left in what, despite the dear presence of comrades about me, felt for the moment a desolation, 'I see into the future'-and her eyes lit up with a wonderful glorious fire-'I see God with you. This work is of Him, whatever man may say. He has never failed it: He will not fail it.'


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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