I used to have a quote (which I now can’t find anywhere) from Amy Carmichael on my bedroom wall in my undergraduate days. It was from her book “His thoughts said, His Father said”. I can recall in the quote God’s reply was that the smoke of the earth could not reach so high as to where he dwelt and that our response should be to ‘walk softly’.
I found it an encouraging. Even if we are disturbed by sin, God’s purity cannot be tainted by what goes on in the world ‘below’, even if it is wrong and worse still, done in his name. Instead, there are times when God instructs us to just quietly keep on keeping on.
‘Keep on keeping on’ describes Amy Carmichael rather well. A missionary for 55 years, she never took furlough. Even when mostly bedridden from a fall (for the last 20 years or so of her life), she continued writing.
Born in 1867, she heard Hudson Taylor speak at Keswick (UK) and was compelled to become a missionary: despite her ill health, which some may have thought would render her unfit for such a calling. However, instead of China, Amy went to India after a few years in Japan.
Like Hudson, she wore Indian cultural dress (possibly got the idea from him) and even dyed her skin dark so that she looked as similar to the people she served as possible.
However, despite her respect for Indian culture, there were elements she abhorred: child brides and the sexual exploitation of children. Her life’s work (literally, she never returned to Ireland) was to rescue children from Hindu temples where they were suffering: young girls dedicated to gods and forced to be prostitutes for the priests.
In 1901 she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship which originally was an orphanage for the rescued children.
An interesting fact about Amy was that she had brown eyes, which when her skin was darkened, made her look like she was Indian and not Irish. Whilst some might think painting your skin dark is racist, it’s questionable whether she would have gained such easy access into the temples from which she ‘stole’ the children, had she looked more like a foreigner. You could argue that her disguise was actually critical for her work.
Though she never married, Amy was a mother to many children. They loved her and called her Amma – mother in Tamil.
The Dohnavur Fellowship continues her work today, allowing her legacy to continue.
Yours in admiration,
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