Even though the “no” answer disappointed her she never lost her faith in God. Service to Him became the passion of her life leading Amy to start classes and prayer groups for Belfast’s many poor and homeless children, known as “ragamuffins.” Her Sunday classes were also attended by "shawlies", factory girls so poor that they could not afford hats to wear to church and wore shawls instead. Believe it or not this was enough for “respectable people” to refuse to have anything to do with them.
In the years following her father’s death the Carmichaels found themselves in tough financial circumstances, so Mrs Carmichael decided to move to England and work for Uncle Jacob. Amy and another sister joined her. Uncle Jacob asked Amy to teach his mill workers about Christ and she threw herself into the work, living near the mill in an apartment infested with cockroaches and bed bugs. However, she was constantly sick with neuralgia and had to lie in bed for days at a time. Her bad health eventually forced her to give up the work.
When she announced she was going to be a missionary, her friends thought she was being foolish and predicted that she would soon be back in England for keeps. Nevertheless, in 1892, she answered the call to the mission field and made her way to India.
In Dohnavur, India, Amy Carmichael became a kidnapper. According to local custom young girls dedicated to the Hindu gods were forced into prostitution to earn money for the priests. Amy heard about a five-year-old girl named Kohila who faced just such a fate. Dressed in a sari, her skin stained brown, Amy could pass as a Hindu. Disguised in this way she rescued the little girl and gave her shelter. Now she understood why God had given her brown eyes. Blue eyes would have been a dead giveaway!
When the child’s guardians discovered what had happen they demanded the child’s return. Amy refused to return the little girl to a life of certain abuse and arranged for Kohila to "disappear" to a safe place. Technically that made her a kidnapper. Over the years, Amy would rescue many other children, often at the cost of extreme exhaustion and personal danger. Charges were brought against Amy. She faced a seven year prison term.
Amy did not go to prison. A telegram arrived on February 7, 1914, saying, "Criminal case dismissed." No explanation was ever forthcoming, but those who worship Amy's Lord have no doubt that He had a hand in the decision.
Amy would continue her mission for the next fifty years until her death in 1951. Her first under-cover mission, to rescue little Kohila from the temple, happened on March 9, 1901 — 106 years ago this week.
Other things that happened this week - March 4 - 10.
March 4, 1866 - Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ and the Church of Christ, dies. He sought desperately to get back to a "simple evangelical Christianity," founded on the Bible and the Bible alone. Campbell believed that creeds, confessions and liturgy could only bring division, not unity to the universal Christian church. To use his words, "The testimony of the Apostles is the only and all-sufficient means of uniting Christians.”
March 7, 203 - Perpetua, a Christian about 22 years old, her slave, Felicitas, and several others are martyred at the arena in Carthage. They were flogged, faced hungry leopards loosed by Roman officials, and finally beheaded by a gladiator. She remains one of early Christianity's most famous martyrs.
March 8, 1915 - The US Supreme Court finds religious education in the public schools in volitation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
March 10, 1302 - Pope Boniface VIII sentences politician, Dante Alighieri, to be burned to death for political reasons. He avoided the fate by living in exile, but he never saw his wife again. During his time of exile Dante turned to writing poetry and eventually penned his most famous work, The Divine Comedy.