People

Real Heroes – Amy Carmichael

How did Amy become Amma?

Amy_Carmichael_with_children2

Amy grew up in a wealthy family in Ireland where she attended the best school and had all that she wanted. However things were soon to change. Mr. Carmichael’s business began to lose money and her father was so worried about his business that he became ill and died. The family could no longer afford to live such a grand life and Amy had to leave her school to help her mum look after the younger children.

It was one cold night when Amy was leaving church that she saw an old woman staggering down the road. Her clothes were torn and mud soaked rags covered her feet. Amy felt sorry for the woman and carefully went over to help. As she continued to walk with the woman, Amy heard a voice say, “Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw — the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the foundation survives, he will receive the reward.”

Amy knew that the voice was from God and she also knew that even though she appeared kind by helping the old woman, she knew her heart was wrong as she felt ashamed to be seen with her. When she got home Amy prayed a promise to God that in the future she would only do things to please Him. This prayer was to shape the rest of Amy’s life.

Amy begin to work alongside the pastor of her church with the poor in her own town but at the same time she felt an even stronger call on her life. Amy believed that God wanted her to go and work in other countries and eventually she moved to India to work with the poor there.

In 1901, Amy met a 7-year-old girl named Preena who had escaped from slavery in a Hindu temple and begged Amy to help her. She told Amy that often children were taken to the Hindu temple and “married to the gods” in religious ceremonies. These children were not allowed to leave the temple and were badly mistreated. Amy was so angry when she heard about this that she started Dohnavur Fellowship. For years, despite coming up against serious opposition to her work, Amy attempted to rescue many children from abusive and dangerous situations. By 1913 the Dohnavur Fellowship had housed and educated 130 children whose lives would have been a disaster without Amy. During her lifetime, over 1,000 rescued boys and girls were housed, fed, and educated at Dohnavur. Amy became known as Amma – the Tamil word for mother as became just like a mother to the children she took in.

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