100 years ago, if you asked a little girl in Dohnavur, India about Amy Carmichael, her eyes would light up as she proclaimed “Ammai!” or “Mommy!” in the local Tamil language.
And everything a Godly mother is to her children, Carmichael became to the many desperate orphans of Dohnavur, many of whom she rescued from the demonic practice of child sex-slavery at the local Hindu temple.
Despite facing her own debilitating health conditions, Carmichael’s heart overflowed with the love of God as she rescued children from lives of spiritual and physical prostitution.
And it all started with one little girl named Preena.
“Please help me! Please don’t send me back!”
Preena had just escaped the local Hindu temple where she had suffered horrors the likes of which no little girl should ever have to face.
But she knew just where she needed to go. She had overheard a foreign woman with a cross around her neck speaking to locals about a God who loved everyone regardless of their caste.
Desperate for that kind of true love, she banged on the door of Amy Carmichael seeking refuge and salvation.
Amy Carmichael was born in 1867. Her Irish homeland was the place where her imagination and creative spirit was born as she enjoyed the companionship of her six younger siblings.
God began cultivating her compassionate spirit from a young age when her father died in her 18th year, leaving her to take much responsibility to help run the household.
Faith became her own and was firmly established for her through Keswick conventions. These conventions were part of the Keswick movement, which was booming in those later 1850 years.
Also known as the Higher Life Movement, these conventions and the movement itself were birthed out of a book published in 1858. It called Christians to a life of high calling and adamant, active holiness. This movement is still influential today.
As a result of this influence, Carmichael promptly began local missions work in Belfast and began to seek opportunity for larger missions abroad.
For a while, she was turned away from foreign mission work for health reasons. Carmichael suffered from neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and would confine her to bed for weeks at a time.
But as soon as God cracked a door open for her to volunteer in Japan, she burst through and took her first journey abroad.
After two years, her health became an issue again and she returned to England saddened by what seemed to be more closed doors.
Why would God have pressed His work for major missions so deeply within her, His compassion so strongly burning in her spirit – and then not allow her to stay when she finally made it across the seas?
Still, Carmichael trusted God and continued to serve where He had now planted her.
As she waited on the Lord, He blessed her obedience with a major opportunity – her life’s work that would’ve never come had she stayed in Japan.
When Carmichael landed on South India shores in 1895, she leaned in full force to all God allowed her to do.
She became a known name amongst the Indian women, joining teams to evangelize as she gave every effort to familiarize herself with the difficult Tamil language. The work was not easy, but Amy gave her whole soul.
By 1901, God led her to transfer to Dohnavur, India, and in a very short period of time, Carmichael learned of a horrific practice occurring all over the land — young girls dedicated and sacrificed to Hindu gods and becoming known as “temple children.”
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
These young girls, abandoned to the temple by their parents, were forced into ritualistic sex-slavery by the temple priests and leaders in order to fund their false-god religion.
No sooner had God made Amy aware of this that He give her a vision, a mission greater than any she was part of thus far.
And in fact, it was a mission that culminated all her strength from past trials and every skill her life journey had built in her. Every closed door had prepared her for the tenacity to boldly thrust this door open.
Amy was determined to rescue and raise these children in the Love of Christ.
The first girl to be rescued was Preena who had fled the temple and escaped sex-slavery that fateful day. But she wasn’t the last.
As a result, the Dohnavur Fellowship was born.
Carmichael’s work became well known across the ocean.
She never solicited money, yet God continually showed Himself to be the Great I Am, the Sovereign Lord, His Grace sufficient to cover all of their needs.
People from everywhere helped convey the Providence needed, and the work expanded.
Everyone knows that a mother’s words are some of the most power-filled words ever spoken.
Proverbs calls a mother’s wisdom “a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8-9).
Here are some beautiful words showing the overflow of compassion, love, and tenacity that God’s Spirit worked through this humble Ammai, mother of Dohnavur:
“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
“Give me the Love that leads the way
The Faith that nothing can dismay
The Hope no disappointments tire
The Passion that’ll burn like fire
Let me not sink to be a clod
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God”
“It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates.”
“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”
“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.”
“He said ‘Love…as I have loved you.’ We cannot love too much.”
“We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don’t wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has.”
“Satan is so much more in earnest than we are–he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.”
“There is only one way of victory over the bitterness and rage that comes naturally to us–to will what God wills brings peace.”
“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”
The Dohnavur Fellowship mission still exists today.
To learn more about this amazing work that Carmichael built as a labor of True Love, visit http://dohnavurfellowship.org/.