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January 07, 2010

learning from Amy Carmichael

india//amy charmichael
The name Amy Carmichael has been familiar to me for many years. Had you asked me about her six months ago, I might have been able to tell you that she rescued children in India. I knew that she had once wished to have light eyes, but once in India realized why God had given her dark eyes. In the past few months I "met" Amy through her biography, A Chance to Die by Elizabeth Elliot. I now understand why this tenacious, spiritual woman still speaks, though she is dead.The following themes from her life impressed me.
  • Prayer was the foundation of her life and ministry."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." (p223) Would I have a ministry that would last and bear fruit? I need to labour in prayer.
  • To Amy, harmony and love between coworkers was not optional. Other missionaries deemed this impossible. "To and never about" was the policy for talking about problems in relationships. If you weren't talking to the person you had the problem with, you shouldn't be talking about it.
  • Silence before men in regard to her financial needs. She brought these to the Lord Himself. He was Author of the work, and He was also Provider. Oh, but sometimes she must have wished to put a bug in a wealthy human's ear.
  • Consistent discipline and self sacrifice: these were not only Amy's message, but her lifestyle. She practiced what she preached. "It must be come and never go. We cannot ask another to do what we have never done or are not willing to do." "Leaders must climb the steep hills first."
  • Adherence to God's Word above trends, even "Christian" trends. "Books that whitewash [a particular religion] are turned out by the dozen now, and its terribly unfashionable to feel as we do (that [a particular religion] is "slime, filth, sin"). Along with this, Amy showed a willingness to become "of no reputation", like her Lord. "Was our reputation ashes to us?" (p246)
  • High standards for the people of God. "Amy felt that the world had far too many run-of-the-mill Christians, cool, respectable, satisfied with the usual, the mediocre. Why bother to lay down one's life to multiply the number of those?" (p251)
  • Value given to both common work (burping babies, clipping toenails) and spiritual work (preaching, teaching). These two can be hard to balance. She knew that souls with needs come with bodies with needs, and made provision for both. "Souls (in India at least) are more or less securely fastened into bodies." (p247)
Although I look back in admiration, I wonder if I really understand the cross that Amy carried. She was disgusted when she heard that her writings were "popular," because she knew that the path of the cross was not popular. Why should her books be?

Amongst the legendary stories of Carmichael's zeal and discipline, Elliot sprinkled stories of Carmichael's falliable side as well. At times she was short-sighted. She seemed to have a low view of men, marriage and even the nuclear family. Favouritism leaked out from time to time. Others thought her pig-headed. These weights pin the story of Amy to the ground. She was a sinner. But what a work God did in and through one tenacious servant. Will we have the discipline and zeal to see if He can and will do great things again?


  1. I'm excited to see you back to blogging! I look forward to reading your posts and being encouraged in what the Lord is teaching you. Thanks for sharing. Also, I appreciate your theme :)

    Amy Charmichael is not someone I'm familiar with; I'll have to get a copy of Elizabeth Elliot's book. I always find books like this to be encouraging as well as challenging to my own walk. ~Les

  2. Les, thank you for your encouragement. I really recommend Elliot's bio of Charmichael, it was a life-changing read for me, I think.

  3. Julie, Julie, Julie! Thank-you for writing again and sharing. Your maturity in Christ encourages me to tears. You are truly an artist with words. ~ Renee

  4. Renee, you are too kind. Love & miss you!

  5. I saw that you posted about Amy Carmichael. She’s fantastic and I actually work for the publishing company that produces a lot of her books! I was wondering if you would be interested in doing a review on a new one we have out, called Plowed Under.
    Email me if you are interested at!
    Thank you for your consideration,
    Geli Ziegler

  6. Hello! I've been enjoying your blog over the past year or so and just now saw this post on A.C. She also is a "dear friend" of mine. I hope that over the past few years you've found some of her own books to read. Several are available for free downloads. I love Gold Cord, Kohila, If, His Thoughts Said His Father Said, Mimosa, Things As They Are, and Overweights of Joy. Those I can remember off the top of my head.

    We live not far from you in Nepal and your posts often remind me of our life there.


    1. Hi Joy! Thanks for the recommendations! I haven't read many of her own books, just "If" and "Ploughed Under", I think. I should get some of the free ones you're mentioning. Glad you visit here (I'm curious how you found me, but glad you did :) ) - I'm sure Nepal has lots of similarities to my country.
      Be strong and blessed!

  7. Julie - Thank you so much for your recommendation! I love your expression, "These weights pin the story of Amy to the ground." It was really hard to read the chapter on her view of marriage, but it was part of who she was. And I am thankful that Elisabeth Elliot included it.