Sometimes it takes awhile for young people to find themselves. Amy Carmichael grew up in Belfast, enjoying a carefree life until her father died and left the family debt-ridden. The ensuing pressure helped direct her attention to spiritual things, and in 1886 she gave her life to Christ. She struggled vocationally till the words “Go Ye” so impressed her that on January 13, 1892, she yielded to overseas service. She sailed to Japan.
But she didn’t seem to fit there, and Amy struggled to find her place. She left for Shanghai, then, to the dismay of family and friends, abruptly sailed for Ceylon. Returning to England, she decided on India. But for several years, she couldn’t find her niche there, and she was often criticized by fellow missionaries.
But she gradually noticed that children were drawn to her, so much so that Indian parents feared Amy was “bewitching” their youngsters. One day, she met a girl who had escaped from the Hindu temple with stories of horror. The Hindus were secretly using children as temple prostitutes. Evidently, parents sold baby girls to the temple, and when the children were eight or nine, they “married” the idol and were pressed into harlotry.
Most people disbelieved such stories, and for several years Amy worked as a detective, assembling evidence to prove the atrocities real. She rescued several more children, and by 1904, was responsible for 17 youngsters. Amy was occasionally hauled into court for kidnapping, and death threats were common.
But children multiplied on her doorstep, and by 1945, thousands had been placed in Amy’s Dohnavur Fellowship, a series of homes for outcast children. Many youngsters grew up becoming Christian husbands, wives, and leaders.
During these years, Amy Carmichael also made time for another ministry—writing. By the time of her death at Dohnavur in 1951 at age 83, she had written 35 books on her work in India and on the victorious Christian life. She had found her place and filled it well.
The ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?” The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:37-40)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Jan. 13.