Three of Amy Carmichael's Orphan Girls

Three of Amy Carmichael’s Orphan Girls

As part of her ministry in Dohnavur, southern India, Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) helped rescue children who had been sold as slaves and prostitutes for use in the immoral practices that commonly took place in Hindu temples.  Early in her years in India, she began rescuing young girls from that fate, then caring for them at her Christian orphanage.  Only slowly did she become aware of the fact that young boys, too, were sold and used in those same degraded ways.

She spoke to her ministry colleagues about the boys’ plight, only to be told why it was impossible for her to do anything about it:  Her hands were already more than full.  Boys were harder to rear than girls.  Boys’ and girls’ work had to be kept separate in India.  Where were the men who were needed to help with ministry to boys?  Surely God would have to raise up someone else to lead a boys’ work.

Amy would not settle for that verdict.  Instead, in 1911, she began to pray fervently about the matter.  One day while walking in the forest she pondered the perplexing problem of men being needed for a boys’ ministry.  She paused by a waterfall.  Then, as she watched the ceaseless cataract pouring down from above, she “heard a voice from heaven, the voice of many waters” saying: “Can I who do this, not do that?”  She later revealed, “Spiritually, in that hour, the work for boys began.”

Seven years of ceaseless prayer passed before the first baby boy was entrusted to the care of Amy’s orphanage.  She immediately took action by surveying a field next to the girls’ compound, then coming up with a design for a boys’ orphanage that could be located there.

She also asked the Lord for a specific sign that His blessing was on the new venture—a donation of 100 pounds.  She shared that request with her ministry associates.  The very next day a legacy of exactly 100 pounds was received in the mail.

Eight years later, in 1926, between seventy and eighty orphan boys were being cared for at Dohnavur. By the summer of the following year, plans were also being made to build a hospital at Dohnavur.  It was to be named “Place of Heavenly Healing,” and Amy Carmichael insisted it be not only functional but also an attractive, even beautiful, facility.

“Do you think we could manage without a maternity ward at first?” queried the compound’s new doctor, May Powell.  Dr. Powell strongly desired to include such a ward but was well aware that steep construction costs might require corners to be cut.  Her nursing staff thought it would be absolutely necessary to include maternity facilities.  So they decided to leave the matter to God’s providential guidance.  If He desired them to have one He would cause the money to be sent.

Amy and her colleagues sometimes celebrated family feast days with the children entrusted to their care.  On one such day the children sat on the floor with delicacies piled on a green leaf plate in front of them.  Garlands of bright flowers festooned the walls.  Presently a child ran up to Amy with a yellow envelope in her hand.

Opening it immediately, the missionary found a check and a short note that said simply, “One thousand pounds for maternity ward.”  She later admitted, “I stood like Rhoda, and opened not the gate for gladness” (Acts 12:13-14).

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These are just two of many examples of trusting God that appear in the chapter on “Faith” in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. The incidents in that chapter illustrate that we can trust the Lord, for His own glory, to supply various needs that we have as we seek to live for and serve Him: finances and other material needs; spiritual fruit; ministry workers; healing and health; strength to face overwhelming difficulties; even weather intervention. I believe our own faith in our almighty, attentive God can be stimulated and strengthened as we prayerfully ponder these outstanding instances of exercising strong trust in the Lord.

Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie

About Vance Christie

An avid fan of historic Christian biography throughout his ministry, Vance has published nine books.

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