Amy Carmichael was called to India as a missionary to bring the Gospel to those who did not know Jesus. Convinced God didn’t want her to marry and have children of her own, Amy became a mother to unwanted Indian children.
A Christian, Amy was raised in a wealthy family in Ireland. Her father owned a flour mill business. She went to the best boarding schools and had many fine things, but the call of God was on her life.
Amy began to sense that God wanted her to tell people in other countries about him. There was one problem though. Amy had an illness that made her so sick she had to stay in bed days at a time. Despite her health, she knew she must obey God.
Amy travelled to the India countryside telling anyone who would listen about Christ.
One day Preena, a little Indian girl, was collecting water for the temple near where Amy was speaking. Preena stopped to listen as Amy told the ladies about her God who loved everybody the same. She did not put people in different classes as the Indian caste system did. Preena was very interested in what Amy was saying but knew she must not be seen listening to the stranger. She tucked Amy's words into her memory and hurried back to the temple.
Indian girls were often unwanted and were given to the temple to serve as prostitutes. Because of this, when Preena arrived at Amy's door, Amy knew she could not send her back. The little girl would be beaten, even killed, if she were returned. Amy could have been charged with kidnapping and thrown into prison. But it was a chance she was willing to take.
Over the 50 years she spent in India, Amy Carmichael took in hundreds of unwanted children. She became known as "Amma" or mother to them.
But where did her formal training and even desire to be a missionary in India originate from?
After her father's business began to lose money and it closed. Mr. Carmichael worried so much about his business that he became ill and died. The family could no longer afford expensive things and Amy had to drop out of school. She spent the next ten years helping her mother take care of her younger sisters and brothers.
One wintry day as the young Amy, her mother and brothers left church, she had a life changing moment. A woman came staggering out of the alley. Her clothes were torn and mud soaked rags covered her feet. Amy felt sorry for the woman. She and her brother helped the old woman down the alley. When she saw other people from church pass by them, she was embarrassed to be seen with the woman and hid her face.
Later Amy felt convicted and knelt by her bed and promised God that in the future she would only do things to please him. Shortly afterwards, both she and her mother stopped to have tea and biscuits in a restaurant. As they ate, Amy saw a dirty little beggar girl with her nose pressed against the window. The poor little girl, with no food, touched Amy so much that she made another promise. She promised that when she grew up she would give her money to the poor. Amy Carmichael became very excited about doing what God wanted her to do.
On Saturday evenings, Amy would go with her pastor to the impoverished neighborhoods and hand out tracts and food to the poor people. The poor girls were known as the 'Shawlies' because they made so little money that they could not afford hats and had to use their shawls to protect their heads from the cold.
But these girls were eager to learn about God. Amy's heart went out to them. She moved into their neighborhood and slept in bug-infested beds to be closer to the people.
She prayed about building a church for them to attend but didn't know where she would get money for such a large job. She did not want to ask the rich people in her old church who didn't seem to care about the Shawlies. Instead she and the Shawlies asked God to provide it. God answered their prayers and a new church was built and an international ministry soon followed.