Amy Beatrice Carmichael was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1876 to a devout Christian family. She was the eldest of seven children. As a teen she attended Wesleyan Methodist girls boarding school, until her father’s death. Amy’s father died when she was 18 years old. She was later further educated at home and in England after her father’s death.
The missionary call came when she attended the Keswick Movement. Amy had the opportunity to attend this convention twice. It was there that she met Robert Wilson, whom she developed a very close relationship with. He later invited her to come and live with him and his family.
Soon after she felt the call to become a Missionary. She applied to the China Inland Mission. Because of health concerns she was unable to attend. However, in 1893 she was later able to go to Japan to join the Church Missionary Society, which was led by Barclay Buxton. Amy spent less than two years there before returning home to England.
Upon her return to England, she accepted a position with the Church of England’s Zenana Missionary Society, where she would end up serving in India. She arrived in India in November of 1895, which would end up becoming her permanent home. From 1895 – 1925 her work with the orphans in Tinnevely (Tirunelveli) was supported by the Church of England.
While in India and trying to learn the language of Tamil, she began evangelism with a group of Indian Christian women, which was guided by the Church Missionary Society’s Thomas Walker. She was soon put in charge of newly converted Indian women. Amy settled in Dohnavur in 1901 with the Walkers and her Indian colleagues.
At first, the orphanage cared for just girls, who were used as temple prostitutes, and also girls and babies who were abandoned by their families. The orphanage would later go on to also accept boys. It also became her mission to rescue and raise the children with the proper love, care and most importantly, the proper spiritual upbringing.
According to sources, there was fierce opposition against her crusade to rescue these children. She also took children from families that did not want to keep their children. Amy was also accused of using witchcraft to lure the children away from their families. There was also heavy protest and violence.
At this time, Amy had permanently moved to India. In 1927 The Dohnavur Fellowship was created. She was known at Dohnavur as (Amma), which means mother. Amy was a prolific writer who wrote nearly 40 books. She was well known for her writings. Amy ran the orphanage with the help of God through the financial assistance she received in order to help her carry out her assignment. Amy did not solicit money from anyone. She was able to run orphanage with the help of volunteers, who also helped her to carry out her assignment with the hand and help of God.
In 1931 Amy suffered a serious fall, coupled with Arthritis she was disabled for the rest of her life. However, she continued to write. She would also later go on to select leaders and missionaries to take her place.
In 1951 Amy Carmichael died at the age of 83 at Dohnavur. Amy worked at Dohnavur for over 50 years. Each day she longed for the day she would be able to see her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Heaven. She was buried in an unmarked grave under a tree where a bird bath sits on her final resting place with the word inscribed “Ammai”, revered mother, which the children of Dohnavur called Carmichael.\
Amy’s memory lives on in her writings and also at Dohnavur Fellowship where the work Amy began with the help, grace and mercy of God. The orphanage still continues to care for rescued children. In August of 2016, the Amy Carmichael Center was opened.
Books by Amy Carmichael:
- From Sunrise Land: Letters from Japan,
- Things as they are; mission work in southern India
- Beginning of a Story
- The Widow of the Jewels
- Towards Jerusalem
Books on Amy Carmichael:
- A Chance to Die: the Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael (Elisabeth Elliot)
- “Amy Carmichael; Beauty for Ashes, a Biography. (Iain Murray)
- Amy Carmichael: A Life Abandoned to God (Sam Wellman)
- The Wild-Bird Child: A Life of Amy Carmichael (Derek Bingham)
- Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur (Frank Houghton)
- Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems. (Janet & Geoff Benge)
Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, 2017 – Roger Carswell https://www.evangelical-times.org/40214/the-life-and-legacy-of-amy-carmichael/#event-j-h-newman
Amy Carmichael – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Carmichael