Founder, Dohnavur Orphanage
A Brief History
Amy Carmichael was the founder of the Dohnavur Mission Orphanage in India, where she served for 55 years without a furlough. From Ireland and of Presbyterian stock, she was the oldest of seven children. She founded the Welcome Evangelical Church in Belfast for the mill girls who worked in the area. Eventually she built a church that seated 500 people in the mid 1880s. In 1889 she began a similar work in Manchester. An unlikely candidate for mission work, she suffered from neuralgia, which sometimes left her prostrate for weeks at a time. In 1887 she attended the Keswick Convention where she heard Hudson Taylor’s appeals for missionaries for China. She enlisted with Taylor’s China Inland Mission and trained in London. Illness delaying her going to China, she eventually joined the Church Missionary Society. Her mission journey initially took her to Japan for 15 months, then brieﬂy Sri Lanka, and eventually India. Situated at the very southern tip of India, her Dohnavur Fellowship especially worked with the girls who had been forced into prostitution at the Hindu temples. Similar to Hudson Taylor, the Dohnavur missionaries wore native dress and followed native customs as much as possible. Amy also dyed her skin with dark coffee. She once famously asserted that “mission life is simply a chance to die.” An inveterate writer, Carmichael wrote 35 books. In 1931, a fall conﬁned her to bed most of the time until she died twenty years later at the age of 83.
What is the point of telling people to do a certain thing if we have no concern in whether they do it or not? The angels and the martyrs and the saints, to whom we appealed before, have crowned Him long ago. Our singing to them on the subject will make no difference either way; but when we turn to every kindred and tribe, the case alters. How can they crown Him Lord of all when they do not know about Him? Why do they not know about Him? Because we have not told them. It is true that many whom we have told heard "their one hope with an empty wonder"; but, on the other hand, it is true that the everlasting song rises fuller to-day because of those who, out in this dark heathendom, heard, and responded, and crowned Him King. But singing hymns from a distance will never save souls. By God's grace, coming and giving and praying will. Are we prepared for this? Or would we rather sing? Searcher of hearts, turn Thy search-light upon us! Are we coming, giving, praying till it hurts? Are we praying, yea agonising in prayer? or is prayer but "a pleasant exercise "—a holy relief for our feelings?
Objections to Work in India
Though we sympathize with everything that tends towards life and light in India, and rejoice with our brothers who bind sheaves, believing that though all is not genuine corn, some is, yet we feel compelled to give ourselves mainly to work of a character which, by its very nature, can never be popular, and possibly never successful from a statistical point of view, never, till the King comes, Whose Coming is our hope. (Read the entire chapter on objections)
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