Monday, 8 February 2010
Are You One of the Few?
Over the last few weeks, I read A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot. Amy Carmichael, lovingly known as Amma to those close to her, was a remarkable woman. It took Elisabeth Elliot near 400 pages to put her life into words so this short post will hardly do her justice, but I will try my best.
To describe or write a review on this book, I must describe Amy herself. She was born on December 16, 1867 and grew up in Ireland where she was raised in a Christian home. Even as a child, she was a girl of courage and bravery, qualities that would prove to be very beneficial in her future work. She also possessed the heart of a servant.
Her missionary work began in Ireland, primarily in Belfast, where she devoted herself to helping and ministering to the people around her, especially the lowest members of society. It also took her to Japan, Ceylon, and eventually to India. In India, her initial intention seems to have been to simply spread the Gospel. However, she soon found herself rescuing children from temples where they were raised to live lives of immorality and she established the Dohnavur Fellowship.
In the Fellowship, the children were raised, educated, taught to love and serve the Lord and Amy was, of course, their Amma (Mother). Over the years, the work grew and Dohnavur also came to include a House of Prayer and hospital, or Place of Healing, as it was called. The work of the Fellowship still continues today and is run primarily by the people of India, many of who came to Dohnavur as infants.
If Amma had to be described in one word, it would be love. Love was at the core of all that she did. Next to that there were many qualities that she valued and her life clearly displayed. Among these were loyalty, unity, commitment and service. Indeed, everyone was a servant.
Commitment was very important to her. Commitment to the work, children, workers and above all, to God was absolutely necessary for anyone who wanted to be a part of the work at Dohnavur. They had to be prepared to live for the Lord and pour themselves out in service to Him no matter what the cost.
Amy was a woman who experienced intimate communion with God and embraced the beauty of God's creation. This is best revealed in her poetry, lines filled with the beauty, wonder, and majesty of God. Everything was taken to Him in prayer and every step she made was taken in faith.
In 1931, Amy had an accident which confined her mostly to her bedroom for the rest of her life, years that were marked by much illness and pain. Even so, she kept on working, leading and directing. She maintained a personal relationship with each of the workers and children, always writing notes and letter to individuals and spending time with them. This is also when she wrote many of her books.
After almost 20 years of illness and pain, Amma went to be the Lord on January 18, 1951. Her body was humbly laid to rest in the Garden of God with a simple bird bath to mark the place of her burial. Her desire was that people would see it and look to God instead of her.
Although I'm well aware this brief summary does not do her life justice and I left many details out, I fear that many more words would still fail to adequately describe this woman of faith. I would encourage you to read this book for yourself, or better yet, some of Amy's personal works. I hope that you are also blessed, encouraged, and challenged to a deeper relationship with God and to pour out your life in service to Him.
1 Corinthians 3:12,13
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--
each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test which sort of work each one has done.
I like what Elisabth Elliot said in one part of the book:
"The preoccupations of seventeen-year-old girls--their looks, their clothes, their social life--do not change much from generation to generation. But in every generation there seem to be a few who make other choices. Amy was one of the few."
Are you one of the few?