Amy Carmichael

Why did Amy set up the Dohnavur Fellowship?

Amy Carmichael was an amazing Christian woman. She lived between 1867 and 1951. In her life she helped lots of children who needed a home in India.

Amy grew up in a rich family in Ireland where she went to 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 family could no longer afford to live such a grand life. 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. Eventually she moved to India to work with the poor there.

In 1901, Amy met a 7-year-old girl named Preena who had no home or family. She told Amy about many children who were living the same way as she was. Amy was so sad about this that she started the Dohnavur Fellowship. By 1913 the Dohnavur Fellowship had been home and given education to 130 children.

During Amy’s 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. She was just like a mother to the children she took in.

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