Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary (Part 1)

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  • Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary (Part 1)
  • **This week we continue our quarterly theme of Elisabeth Elliot’s Heroes of the Faith with Part 1 of 2 on Amy Carmichael.

    As an old woman I find myself often in a quiet reverie, pondering the countless blessings of my long life, and marveling at the way the Lord God has led me. I think very often of my lovely mother, who sang to us—“Jesus, tender Shepherd hear me,” and “I went to visit a friend one day—,” and of my earnest father, who taught us the great hymns of the faith such as “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “It Is Well With My Soul.”

    We six Howard children were well acquainted with missionaries. My little brother once noted that “suitcases are forever bumping up and down the stairs,” as our parents managed to keep an open home even during the Great Depression. We were often held spellbound at the dinner table, listening to missionary stories. I remember Mr. L.L. Legters telling of his years in Mexico, translating the Bible for illiterate Indians, and Miss Helen Yost, a delightful red head who worked for years alone with American Indians in Arizona and New Mexico. We loved the thrilling and scary stories—Sir Alexander Clark knighted by Queen Elizabeth) told of his being treed by a Cape buffalo, said to be the fiercest animal in Africa. For hours he sat in the tree as the buffalo circled the trunk, looking balefully at his prey, and seeming to say, “Come down!” I’ve forgotten how long the missionary had to cling until the animal sauntered away.

    When I was fourteen I learned of an Irish missionary named Amy Carmichael whom I never met—a down-to-earth mystic whose beautiful writings captivated my imagination. She had gone first to Japan, where in her room she had two words written on the wall: Yes, Lord.

    In the providence of God she went then to South India, where, as an itinerant evangelist, she soon discovered the evils of the Hindu temples where little girls and boys were used in unspeakably wicked ways. At first she could not believe such treatment of innocent children but soon discovered that things were far worse than she had imagined. She prayed earnestly for their deliverance and was able, over some fifty years, to make a home for many of these children.  

    She wrote, “I would never urge one to come to the heathen unless he felt the burden for souls and the Master’s call, but oh! I wonder so few do. It does cost something. Satan is tenfold more of a reality to me today than he was in England, and very keenly that awful home-longing cuts through and through one sometimes—but there is a strange deep joy in being here with Jesus.

    “Praising helps more than anything. Sometimes the temptation is to give way and go in for a regular spell of homesickness and be of no good to anybody. Then you feel the home prayers, and they help you to begin straight off and sing, ‘Glory, glory, Hallelujah,’ and you find your cup is ready to overflow again after all.”

    **Excerpt originally published in the May/June 2002 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.