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Amy Carmichael

By Todd Temple


Todd Temple

First Published: 2016/03/09

As a young Irishwoman working in England in the late 1800s, Amy Carmichael decided to answer God’s call to serve in the mission field. Twice rejected for medical reasons, she eventually found a mission agency willing to put her on a ship and send her to India. She arrived with a tropical fever and a temperature of 105. Some missionaries who met her believed she wouldn't last six months. But Amy recovered, and she never went home.

The young missionary soon discovered that the way to reach the Indian people was not through preaching but through sacrifice. She wrote, “If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me, if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

So she reached out to the poorest, youngest, and most despised among them, especially the babies and children given to the Hindu temples who were forced to serve as slaves and were tortured if they were caught trying to escape. She said, “There were days when the sky turned black for me because of what I heard and knew was true. Sometimes it was as if I saw the Lord Jesus Christ kneeling alone, as he knelt long ago under the olive trees. And the only thing that one who cared could do was to go softly and kneel down beside him, so that he would not be alone in his sorrow over the little children.”

Amy not only felt sorrow for the children, but she was spurred to action. She rescued them, built a home, and recruited a staff to care for them. The ministry became known as Dohnavur Fellowship, and the children called its headmistress Amma—the Tamil word for mother. To those who profited from the enslavement practices, she was known as “the white woman who steals children.”

Amy Carmichael’s mission trip ended 55 years later, when she died at the age of 83. During that time she rescued over 1,000 abused, abandoned, and enslaved children. And though her stories, prayers, and devotions filled 35 books back in Britain, not once did she return to hear the praises of her friends and supporters. To Amy anything that called attention to herself stole attention from the God she served. In fact in 1919, her name was published in a British honors list. When she found out about it, she wrote back to England asking to have her name removed. It troubled her to “have an experience so different from his who was despised and rejected—not kindly honored.”

Ironically, the woman who wanted no honor other than that of being Christ’s servant became famous nonetheless, as tens of thousands of readers in Britain and America were moved by her writings. Her example of sacrificial love has encouraged countless numbers of Christians to follow her into the mission field.

Where to Take It from Here...
Many around the world are crying out right now against injustice, poverty, and prejudice. As God's children we are called to carry each another's burdens (Galatians 6:2). Jesus himself told us that when we care for “the least of these,” we do it for him (Matthew 25:31-46).


Almeida, Caiky Xavier. ""One Year in Mission" Project, South American Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 27, 2021. Accessed March 05, 2024.

Almeida, Caiky Xavier. ""One Year in Mission" Project, South American Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 27, 2021. Date of access March 05, 2024,

Almeida, Caiky Xavier (2021, November 27). "One Year in Mission" Project, South American Division. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved March 05, 2024,