Monday, January 21, 2013

Amy Carmichael

Few would have expected David and Catherine Carmichael’s eldest daughter, Amy, to grow up to become one of the world’s most famous missionaries. Born in 1867 in the small village of Millisle, Northern Ireland, there was nothing particularly unusual about this girl, who was known for her wilfulness, tomboyish and propensity to get into mischievous pranks. Little did the Carmichael parents realize that their daughter would be God’s tool for rescuing hundreds of children from a life worse than death in the darkness of the Indian jungles.
 
Though Amy’s father died when she was five, the gap was amply filled by the widower Robert Wilson. Cofounder of the Keswick Convention, Wilson was a catalyst for the holiness movement in England and a support for many missionaries around the globe.
 
When she was in her young twenties, Wilson asked to be allowed to adopt Amy, for whom he felt a special fondness after the loss of his only daughter. Thus it was that Amy moved in with Mr. Wilson and his sons to work as his secretary. The job put Amy in direct contact with many of the missionaries around the world, including Hudson Taylor, Theodore Monod and F.B. Meyer. This was no doubt instrumental in pressing upon Amy the call to mission work.
 
An Unlikely Missionary
 
Amy was an unlikely candidate for the life of a missionary. She suffered from neuralgia, a disease that stimulates the nerves to feel pain and forced Amy to spend entire weeks in bed. Moreover, she felt reluctant to leave Robert Wilson, as the two of them had grown extremely attached to each other. Yet the call of Jesus upon her would not go away. Around this time she wrote to her mother that

“Everything, everything seemed to be saying ‘Go’, through all sounds the cry seemed to rise, ’Come over and help us.’ Every bit of pleasure of work which has come to me, has had underlying it the thought of those people who have never, never heard of Jesus; before my eyes clearer than any lovely view has been the constant picture of those millions who have no chance, and never had one, of hearing of the love which makes our lives so bright.”

Amy initially had no idea where she wanted to go, only that she needed to go somewhere. Rejected by the China Inland Mission because of her frailty, she was eventually able to go to Japan as a Keswick missionary with the Church Missionary Society. In the providence of God, however, Amy was only able to stay in Japan for fifteen months because of ill health. God had other plans for this young woman.
 
Amy remained restless, eager for a new assignment. The opportunity presented itself nine months later when she was accepted by the Church of England Zenana Mission to go as a missionary to India. Sailing for India in 1895, little did Amy realize that she would remain there for the next fifty-six years.

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