Grow: Amy Carmichael (May Missionary Series)
This week’s spotlight is on Amy Carmichael, “mom” to orphans and missionary to India. I first read a biography about her high school, upon recommendation of my aunt. And I couldn’t put it down- I read the whole thing in a weekend. I was captured by her courage and perseverance in the face of suffering and discouragement. She was committed to following the Lord’s calling in her life, and she fiercely loved the children who did not have parents to care for them.
Amy was a fiesty woman. As a child, she loved adventure and was always finding herself in some sort of trouble. In the Torchlighter’s book about Amy, Can brown eyes be made blue? (again, GREAT BOOK), they highlight some of her troubling antics- stealing a boat and getting lost at sea, getting stuck on a roof, and eating things that made her sick, just to see if it would actually make her sick. Amy wasn’t one to sit back and let life pass her by. She also wasn’t one to allow other people to tell her what to do…well, except God, that is.
When reading this book, I couldn’t help but think of one of my daughters, and how her personality and spirit already remind me a lot of Amy’s. While parenting a child like this can be trying and worrisome (what in the world is this child going to be like as a teenager?!), it’s also exciting to see an example of a wild child who has matured into a woman who lives surrendered and in abandonment to the Lord.
Amy Carmichael was an unmarried woman who gave her life to the Lord, and through her life, He did many different things. One of the things that she is most known for is her work with helping rescue children caught in sexual slavery to the Hindi temples in India. Working with people who are being trafficked has gotten a lot more attention these days (yes!), and teaching our kids about Amy could lead to some natural conversations about what it means for a human to be trafficked, and what kinds of trafficking exist. Of course, these conversations have many layers, depending on how old our children are.
Some questions to ask (older kids):
– Does God care about human trafficking? Why or why not?
– Where in Scripture do we see evidence of his concern or unconcern for this?
– What is our role in helping people who are being trafficked?
– Does human trafficking exist here in America?
– What are some local organizations that we could partner with in helping people who are being, or have been, trafficked?
While human trafficking is probably a topic for older kids, orphan care is one that naturally flows out of Amy’s life, and is something that small children- preschool age- can grasp. We can explain that orphans are kids who have no mom and dad. When introducing this concept for the first time, kids are normally taken aback. When Asante and I first talked about orphans, he was surprised and filled with questions…and not just for a few minutes, but the questions kept coming over a series of days.
Asante was quick to suggest that maybe we could invite an orphan into our family. We talked about how much of a sacrifice that would be for everyone- including the kids- because they’d have to share attention, their room, toys, clothes, etc. He was fine with it (in theory) because he felt deeply that it would be something that someone should do- so why not us? While adopting an orphan isn’t on our radar right now, I think those conversations are formative to our child’s sense of what it means to love God and love people.
|Jake, Asante and I back in 2009. Liaram is in the red.|
A good first step for any family is to sponsor a child through an organization like Compassion. Although not all kids are orphans (many still have a mother living), they are still in extreme need. Through a relationship with the child (letters, pictures, and maybe someday a visit!), kids can learn about and be friends with another kid somewhere across the world. We sponsor a child named Liaram and was even able to visit him while we lived in Kenya! It was a sweet sweet experience that bonded our hearts together even more. For us, it has become more of a family-to-family relationship where we keep up with each others lives and pray for one another.
Living a Life of Sacrifice
I love this story from Amy’s life (as told by christianity.com):
Another time 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’s encounter with this girl in need- a girl her own age, just like her in so many other ways- did something so significant in her heart that her whole life purpose was changed. It reminds me that if my husband and I are so careful to shelter our kids from “the wrong part of town”, we are sometimes sheltering them from a spiritually formative encounter that God desires for them to have so that He can create a compassionate heart in them.
On Mother’s Day, we went down to the city for a dinner at my favorite restaurant. While parking, a man sitting outside of a 7-11 called me over, asking me for money to buy a hotdog. I came back to the car to see if Jake had cash on him, and then went back to talk to the man. Asante (age 4) came over, curious as to what was going on. The man engaged Asante in conversation and we all had a good laugh at the exchange (Asante told the guy that he wanted to be a video game maker when he grew up. The guy thought that was hilarious, but agreed that it would probably be a fun job). While I didn’t plan that event, I knew in my heart, as it was happening, that the Lord was using this exchange to help form Asante’s heart. One thing I’ve been praying for him is that he would be able to see people as people like him, and not think that “people in need” are a project or a person who is “not like me.” But instead, he would be able to see them as someone just like him, made in God’s image, and someone that he can interact with in the same way he would interact with someone who didn’t have physical deformities or extreme need. Basically, to not be afraid, but to be able to love and lean into relationships with people who may live a different life than him.
Anyway, all that to say- studying the life of this woman could lead to all kinds of conversations and formative moments! Here are some more resources that I’ve come across. If you know of more, be sure to leave a comment with a link!
Torchlighters has a kid’s movie about Amy’s life. Here’s a snippet I found:
Also from Torchlighters, an Amy Carmichael resource page with puzzles, online painting, coloring pages, etc. When registered, you can also download leader and student guides that are filled with fun activities, crafts and questions.
Be sure to check out the post about George Muller from last week if you haven’t already! Next week will be our last week of the May Missionary series. We’ll be talking about Jim and Elisabeth Elliot!
** Thank you, Christian Focus Publications, for your generosity in sending me this copy of Can brown eyes be made blue? to review!