Amy Carmichael

Posted on 19th January 2021 under The Rectory Bulletin | Church History


Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)

Amy Carmichael was born in a small, coastal village on the east coast of Northern Ireland in 1867. The eldest of seven children, she was reputed to have been full of life and the happy child of devout parents. She herself was converted when she was fifteen at a mission at Harrogate (she had been sent to a boarding school in Yorkshire) and when she returned to Northern Ireland - this time to Belfast - she threw herself into missions, not least amongst the factory girls (or ‘shawlies’) in Belfast.

In 1893, in response to a call to overseas missions, she left for Japan. A year later, though, she had fallen ill and so she ended up in Bangalore where she had been told that the climate would be healthier for her. Joining the Church Missionary Society (a Church of England mission) she began her work, mainly amongst girls and young women in villages. However, a meeting with a girl who had run away from a Hindu temple, soon changed the direction of her work as she became more aware of the practice of temple prostitution.

In 1901 Carmichael founded the Dohnavur Fellowship to work with girls caught up in temple prostitution - some having been sold to the temples as small children.. She was careful to be sensitive to Indian culture, the children were given Indian names and the workers wore Indian dress. In time the work was extended to include boys, and a hospital added. At the time of her death, there with 900 people in her care.

She died on this day in 1951, having asked that her grave in Dohnavur have no stone. The children instead put a bird bath on the grave which carried the simple inscription: “Amma” (which means ‘mother’ in the Tamil language).

Amy Carmichael once wrote of God that “it is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfil the desires which He creates”. Her life bore testimony to the truth of that statement.

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