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She served God and the children of India for 56 years without a furlough and was known as “Amma” (mother) in the Tamil language.

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AMY WILSON CARMICHAEL (1867–1951)

Missionary to India; founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, a society devoted to saving neglected and ill-treated children

Amy Beatrice (a.k.a. Wilson) Carmichael (December 16, 1867–January 18, 1951) was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for fifty-six years without furlough and authored many books about the missionary work.

She was born in the small village of Millisle in Northern Ireland to devout Presbyterians, David and Catherine Carmichael and was the oldest of seven children. After her father's death, she was adopted and tutored by Robert Wilson, cofounder of the Keswick Convention. In many ways she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work. She suffered neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for weeks on end. It was at the Keswick Convention of 1887 that she heard Hudson Taylor speak about missionary life. Soon afterward, she became convinced of her calling to the same labour.

Initially Amy travelled to Japan for fifteen months, but she later found her lifelong vocation in India. She was commissioned by the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. Much of her work was with young ladies, some of whom were saved from forced prostitution. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. Dohnavur is situated in Tamil Nadu, just thirty miles from the southern tip of India. Under her loving guidance, the fellowship would become a place of sanctuary for more than one thousand children who would otherwise have faced a bleak future. In an effort to respect Indian culture, members of the organization wore Indian dress and the children were given Indian names. She herself dressed in Indian clothes, dyed her skin with coffee, and often travelled long distances on India's hot, dusty roads to save just one child from suffering.

In 1931, Carmichael was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. Amy Carmichael died in India in 1951 at the age of 83. She asked that no stone be put over her grave; instead, the children she had cared for put a bird bath over it with the single inscription "Amma", which means mother in the Tamil.

Amy Carmichael's work also extended to the printed page. She was a prolific writer, producing thirty-five published books including His Thoughts Said . . . His Father Said (1951), If (1953), and Edges of His Ways (1955). Best known, perhaps, is an early historical account, Things as They Are: Mission Work in Southern India (1903).
 
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