Learn more about the fascinating life of a famous missionary and writer in India
Amy Carmichael, Carmichael, Amy
Amy Carmichael was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She was born in 1867 and died in 1951. She served in India for 55 years and wrote many books about the missionary work there.
A statue in memorial to Amy Carmichael can be viewed at Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, Bangor. There is also a Blue Plaque to commemorate her life on the Baptist Church, Main Street, Millisle.
Who is Amy Carmichael?
Amy was born in the small village of Millisle, to David and Catherine Carmichael. Her parents were devout Presbyterians and she was the oldest of seven siblings.
One story of Carmichael's early life tells that as a child, she wished that she had blue eyes rather than brown. She often prayed that Jesus would change her eye color and was disappointed when it never happened. As an adult, however, she realized that, because people from India have brown eyes, she would have had a much more difficult time gaining their acceptance if her eyes had been blue.
Amy's father died when she was 18. He was the founder of the Welcome Evangelical Church in Belfast. The Welcome’s story begins with Amy in the mid-1880s starting a Sunday morning class for the ‘Shawlies’, i.e. the mill girls who wore shawls instead of hats, in the church hall of Rosemary Street Presbyterian which proved to be very successful.
Amy continued at the Welcome until she received a call to work among the mill girls of Manchester in 1889 before moving onto missionary work.
Work in India
She was commissioned by the Church of England Zenana Mission. Hindu temple children were young girls dedicated to the gods to earn money for the priests.
When the children were asked what drew them to Amy, they most often replied It was love. Amma (Amy) loved us. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship.
The fellowship would become a sanctuary for over one thousand children who would otherwise have faced a bleak future.
Respecting Indian culture, members of the organization wore Indian dress and the children were given Indian names. Amy dressed in Indian clothes, dyed her skin with dark coffee, and often traveled long distances on India's hot, dusty roads to save just one child from suffering.
While serving in India, Amy received a letter from a young lady who was considering life as a missionary. She asked Amy, "What is missionary life like?" Amy wrote back saying simply, "Missionary life is simply a chance to die."
Her work also extended to the printed page. She was a prolific writer and poet, producing thirty-five published books including Things as They Are: Mission Work in Southern India (1903), His Thoughts Said . . . His Father Said (1951), If (1953), Edges of His Ways (1955) and God's Missionary (1957).
Final days and legacy
In 1932, Amy was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. She died in India in 1951 at the age of 83. She asked that no stone be put over her grave; instead, the children she had cared for put a bird bath over it with the single inscription "Amma", which means mother in the Tamil language.