Amy Carmichael was born in Ireland on December 16, 1867. As a young girl, she would often pray for her brown eyes to turn blue so she could fit in with everyone else.
In 1887, Carmichael went to the Keswick Convention. There, she heard Hudson Taylor, a missionary from China and founder of the China Inland Missions. From that time on, Carmichael dedicated her life to being a missionary.
For an aspiring missionary, Carmichael had an unconventional background. At that time, it was unheard of for single women to be a missionary. The role of women was to take care of homes, not to go into a foreign country to preach the Gospel. In addition, Carmichael had an illness, which would temporarily make her weak.
Carmichael did not have any experience in Bible school like so many other missionaries. After the Keswick Convention, Carmichael decided to start a slum ministry in Belfast, Ireland, among women and girls out on the street.
On to Japan
At first, Carmichael wanted to be a missionary with China Inland Missions. She decided to apply with the Church Missionary Society and was accepted. Her first assignment in1892 was Japan. Carmichael found Japan to be a rough country to adapt to. The language was difficult for her to pick up. In addition, the missionaries seemed worldly to Carmichael. They would gossip with each other and hardly ever reach others with the good news. Every day during her time in Japan, Carmichael asked God for a certain amount of converts that day. There were times when it seemed to her like she had made a mistake in asking for a certain number, but each time God was faithful to save the exact amount of people she had asked for. In 1893, Carmichael returned to Ireland convinced it was not God’s will for her to be in Japan.
Rescuing Temple Prostitutes
Several years after returning to Ireland, Carmichael felt God was calling her to India. As soon as she got to India, she started learning the Tamil language. She dyed her skin brown with coffee, and her brown eyes helped her fit right into the culture. She formed a group of women to reach out to others with the Good News, mainly through evangelism.
In 1901, to the dismay of the Hindu priests, Carmichael started rescuing children from temple prostitution. The priests were furious at Amy. They pressed charges against Carmichael, which were not dismissed until 1914. Not only were the priests upset because of Carmichael’s ministry, but even the missionary community condemned Carmichael’s work.
Carmichael provided a home for the former child prostitutes. She showed unconditional love to each child she took into her house. Eventually, the children started calling her Amma, their word for “mom.” Even after she died, the children had fond memories of her love for them. Carmichael was the only one who really cared for them. Her work originally targeted girls, but eventually boys were included in Carmichael’s rescue efforts.
Injury and Death
In 1931, Carmichael fell and injured herself. For the next 20 years, Carmichael was bedridden. During this time, she wrote multiple books about her work in India and having faith in God. Twenty years later, at the age of 83, she died peacefully.
Even after her death, the work of Carmichael continues. The Donhovar Fellowship, which Amy Carmichael founded to help orphans in Southern India, continues to impact the lives of thousands in India. The body of Carmichael is buried in the middle of the campus under a fountain that simply says, “Amma.” Without the work of one Godly woman, these children would have never known what it meant to be loved.