|Amy Carmichael (1867-1950)
Prior to her life as a missionary, Carmichael had grown up in a prominent North Ireland family. Shortly after her father's death when she was 18, her family experienced financial pressures due to unpaid debts owed her father's estate, and the family moved to Belfast. This was a providential move, for in Belfast Carmichael became involved in city mission work which awakened in her a desire for missionary service. Upon making her decision known to Mr. Wilson, the chairman of the Keswick Convention, he gave her his blessings, and Carmichael was on her way to the mission field.
Responding to God's call on her life, Carmichael headed for Japan at the age of 24. Working with the Keswick Convention, she took off running only to be halted by her health and the Japanese climate. It took her a little over a year to decide that God did not want her in Japan and she headed for Ceylon-without the prior approval of her board. She was not able to stay long though, since she was called back to Ireland to care for Mr. Wilson, her "second" father, who was seriously ill. Carmichael was a nonconformist from the start, yet a person of such fine character that it was hard to find a detractor among her fellow workers. Returning to the mission field after caring for Mr. Wilson, she arrived in Dohnavur, India, which would be her home for the next 55 years. It was there that she realized her life's work-rescuing children from the "secret" Hindu practice of temple prostitution.
Dohnavur Fellowship, the name of her organization, was soon actively involved in the rescue, care, feeding, and education of hundreds of children. She and her coworkers, primarily converted Indian women, adopted Indian dress and voluntarily forsook marriage for the sake of their work. This eventually became the Sisters of the Common Life-a Protestant religious order. The women were not bound by vows and could leave if they later decided to marry.
Though a serious fall left her an invalid, for the remaining 20 years of her life, Carmichael continued to appeal for her children and write books. She died in Dohnavur in 1951.
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