Dear Gentle Reader,
Have you ever wondered about Abraham? Moving from place to place. A few years in Haran, a stopover at Bethel, a trip south, a trip north … what was accomplished by all that upheaval?
By Faith … Amy Carmichael followed the still small voice that seemed to take her on many detours and dead ends.
Amy was born in the middle of the 19th Century—a time far different from our own. David Livingston had died during her childhood after his efforts to make the gospel available to Africa. Hudson Taylor had started his Inland Mission in China in 1860’s. When Amy was eighteen, her father died. But Amy turned her grief into service.
In 1887, Amy listened to Hudson Taylor speak of the 50,000 souls perishing daily without having heard about the Messiah—and felt a deep longing to make a difference. For a time she worked in the slums of Belfast, and later as personal attendant a dear old man who became her second father. It was he who helped arrange for her first assignment, and at 24 she set out for Japan as a missionary. But that was cut short by illness. She spent a few months in Ceylon before being called back to England.
A year later she was off to India. Northern India was not a good match, but finally she found her niche with the Walker family in Southern India. Here she, along with the Walker’s daughter and other Christian women, began an itinerant ministry through the villages in the south tip of India in the state of Tamil Nadu. Amy had a high regard for George Mueller, and so the members of this little band received no salary but looked to God to supply needs. Their attitude was “How much can I do without that I may have more to give?”
Coming face-to-face with temple prostitution and child prostitution lead eventually to the establishment of the Dohnavur Fellowship. Over the years literally thousands of temple children have been rescued. Then at 64, a fall left her an invalid for life—the most difficult challenge in a life of challenges. Yet this too was God’s sovereignty, again she was “learning obedience through suffering” (Hebrews 5:8)
Amy Carmichael’s life looks like a lot of detours. Does it remind you of Abraham? Forever packing up his tent and moving … but Abraham is called the friend of God in Scripture, and those who knew Amy could say that “her life was the most fragrant, the most joyfully sacrificial that I have ever known.”
When I read her story, I wonder if I would persevere in the face of such difficulties: the language, wild animals, snakes, tropical diseases, the scorn of other missionaries. But the challenges and detours were part of her preparation, so that she could become mother to countless children. Abraham’s wanderings prepared him to be a father to multitudes. And so we see again that God is interested in family. So wherever you build your L’Abri, know that God will send “children” to fill it.