Born Dec. 16, 1867, in Ireland, Amy Carmichael, was commissioned in 1895 by the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society to go to Dohnavur, India. There she served 56 years without a furlough. A major part of her work there was devoted to rescuing children who had been dedicated by their families to be temple prostitutes.
The year 1913 was "a year of stripping" for Amy. As a single missionary in India, she had learned to lean upon the spiritual strengths of her mission leader and other missionaries, besides her mother in the States. In addition, she found rejoicing and comfort in some of the children cared for by the mission-especially little Lulla, who was "the sort of child who nestles into the heart."
But one after another, in that fateful year, God took away her earthly supports. The stripping-away began in July, with the death of her mother.
Then, on Aug. 13, her "spiritual mother in India," Mrs. Hopwood, died. She had been the hostess at Ooty, in the hill country of India, where Western missionaries found cool relief during the hottest time of the year, and for 15 years she had ministered to Amy's spirit as well as her physical being.
Just four days later, little Lulla died-and Amy surely felt that a part of her heart died also.
A week later, the strong leader, Thomas Walker, on whom Amy leaned for fatherly guidance and support, died of ptomaine poisoning.
A week after that, one of the girls died also. But it was the progress of cancer in one of the beloved staff which took a much deeper toll. For three months, Amy nursed her at the Salvation Army hospital at Nagercoil, while she herself suffered from neuralgia. During this same time, 70 of the 140 children in the home at Dohnavur came down with malaria.
Truly, God was tempering her spirit in a mighty forge.
"How was she to go on? She had not known life without such support. Nor has the child, when weaning time comes, known life without its unfailing source of nourishment. Like the weaned child, Amy knew that the lesson assigned now was to learn to do without."*: This prayer-poem shows how well she learned the lesson:
"And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But, no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.
"I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire--
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging-
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.
"And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Well-Beloved's leisure,
At last, at last, even as a weaned child."
Amy Carmichael died Jan. 18,1951, in Dohnavur. So determined was she that all glory go to its rightful Owner she never referred to herself by name in her books, either omitting all references to herself or disguising her presence by saying, 'A person who was there.'
*From A Chance to Die-the Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael,
by Elisabeth Elliot, c. 1987