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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael

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Amy Wilson Carmichael was born in the small village of Millisle, County Down, Northern Ireland to David and Catherine Carmichael. Her parents were devout Presbyterians and she was the eldest of seven siblings. Carmichael was the founder of the Welcome Evangelical Church in Belfast that ministered to 500 mill girls in the church hall of Rosemary Street Presbyterian. She was called to similar work in Manchester in 1889 before moving onto missionary work. She was an unlikely candidate for missionary work as she suffered from neuralgia, a disease of the nerves. She heard Hudson Taylor at the Keswick Convention of 1887 and became convinced of her calling to missionary work. She applied to the China Inland Mission, underwent training in London, and met and was encouraged by Mary Geraldine Guinness, author and missionary to China. Due poor health, she postponed her missionary career with the CIM and later joined the Church Missionary Society. Initially Carmichael traveled to Japan for fifteen months, but she found her lifelong vocation in India. She was commissioned by the Church of England Zenana Mission.

Much of her work was with young ladies (over one thousand), some of whom were saved from forced prostitution. Hindu temple children were young girls dedicated to the gods and forced into prostitution to earn money for the priests i.e Devadasi. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship, and is situated in Tamil Nadu, thirty miles from the southern tip of India.

In an effort to respect Indian culture, members of the organization she founded (known as the Dohnavur Fellowship in Tamil Nadu, thirty miles from the southern tip of India) 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.”

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