Monday, July 28, 2008

Amy Carmichael - An Irish Missionary who became "Amma" to the Tamil Children

Amy Carmichael who was lovingly called "Amma" or mother in the local language by the people of South India was born on December 16, 1867 in Northern Ireland in an Irish Christian Family as the oldest of the seven children. Amy was considered as a rebellious, mischievous girl, but when she was 13 she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior and that made a roundabout change in her life.

As a prelude to Amy Carmichael's ministry, a breakthrough incident took place on a rainy, Sunday morning when Amy and her two brothers were returning home from church. They saw an elderly, frail, ragged woman struggling to carry a heavy load. Amy instantaneously helped her although with a feeling of disgrace, with all the church people walking home looking down on her. At that moment, a verse from the Bible came alive -"Gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light and the fire will test the quality of each man's work if what he has built survives. " - I Cor 3:12-14. The last part of the verse was so audible that she stopped awhile to look for the owner of the voice, but she could not find anyone. The rest of the day she spent in prayer and pondered over the mysterious event that had changed her values.  Thereafter, she started involving herself in various services to the downtrodden and the needy.

In 1892, she was called to the mission field. She initially thought that her mission field was Japan and so she served there for 15 months. However, she realized that God had a different destination for her, and eventually, she landed on the Indian subcontinent in 1895, where God established her ministry.

One of her remarkable services is among the abused female children of South India. She rescued the children from a horrible life of being destined to temple prostitution. She reared them, taught them the Word of God, and showed them the wonderful love of Jesus in obedience to the Lord who said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them." - Matthew 19:14. Amy Carmichael opened a refuge home for children in Dohnavur, a town named after the German Christian Count Dohna. She also started the Dohnavur Fellowship, which became famous worldwide in later years.

Amy Carmichael exhibited the qualities of Jesus and followed his footsteps all through her life. Some Christian pastors of that time commented that the rearing of children was "demeaning work" but this did not stop Amy, as she had in mind that Jesus once washed the feet of his disciples.“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” - John 13:4. She also had a conviction that bringing up Indian children in the love of Christ would cause greater results than what a foreigner could do to evangelize India.

Amy Carmichael does not fail to remind us that we Christians are appointed unto afflictions, “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.” {there unto: or, to sufferings, or, to persecution} - I Thessalonians 3:3 through her poems –

Onward Christian soldiers
Sitting on the mats;
Nice and warm and cozy
Like little pussy cats.

Onward Christian soldiers,
Oh, how brave are we,
Don't we do our fighting
Very comfortably?

Also, the Spirit of God encourages us by bringing to our remembrance that "our light affliction is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." - II Cor 4:17.

Amy Carmichael was a woman of faith, and she looked only to God for all her needs and the needs of her ministry for "without faith it is impossible to please God” - Heb11:6 and “everything that is not from faith is sin” - Roman 14:23. "Faith never wonders why." This she often quoted, practiced, and led others to practice it.

Amy became ill and was confined to bed after an accident. Nevertheless, she was a channel of blessing to many people through several books that she wrote in her bedridden state. Her life revealed that if a person is dedicated unto the Lord regardless of the state or situation, his/her life will surely be a blessing to others. Through her dedicated, devoted, sacrificial life, she exhibited true discipleship to the nations of the world.

It is not important how much we do for the Lord, but how we do, for the fire of God will test the work of every man. In his great love, God has designed wonderful plans for each and every one of us. If we keep our hearts open before Him and completely surrender our lives to His sovereign will, He will unfold His plans to us. The Love of Jesus helps us to become dead to self and world and enables us to obey Him with joyful willingness. His eternal, infinite, earthly, and heavenly blessings are upon them who love Him and serve Him.

Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my namesake shall receive hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. - Matthew 19:29

Written By: Shanta S. Daniel

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