March 6, 2010

My Spiritual Sister, Amy Carmichael

I stumbled upon Amy Carmichael's writings earlier this winter and have had the joy of burying myself in them during my devotional reading time. I have officially designated her a "Spiritual Sister."

How much could I, an African-American woman living in post-modern North America, have in common with Carmichael, born in the mid-nineteenth century in County Down in Northern Ireland? Carmichael spent most of her life (1867-1951) in India as a missionary, creating and sustaining a community of worship (The Dohnavur Fellowship) among those who escaped domestic violence and child abuse.

Today it is typical to criticize missionaries from previous years on the grounds that they should have stayed at home and taken care of those nearby, instead of traveling around the world to impose an alien set of beliefs on others.The record is clear: some, perhaps many, missionaries brought hubris, a superior attitude, and a lack of regard for the humanity of those they claimed to serve. Still, that is not the total story. Many of us are "at home" and are not caring for those nearby--even if those nearby look and act just like us-- so if someone had the bravery to travel afar, I'm not going to knock it. All of us will be judged by history and during our own lifetimes, it is too soon to say what long term impact our lives may have.

An excerpt from Carmichael's writings, from her book, Gold by Moonlight:

"To accept the will of God never leads to the miserable feeling that it is useless to strive any more. God does not ask for the dull, weak, sleepy acquiescence of indolence. He asks for something vivid and strong. He asks us to co-operate with Him, actively willing what He wills, our only aim His glory. To accept in this sense is to come with all the desire of the mind unto the place which the Lord shall choose, and to minister in the name of the Lord our God there -- not otherwhere. Where the things of God are concerned, acceptance always means the happy choice of mind and heart of that which He appoints, because (for the present) it is His good and acceptable and perfect will."

Many of Amy Carmichael's books are available at

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