Friday, June 26, 2009
A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael
A Chance to Die is a fascinating look at a complex woman. Amy had to have incredible faith and character to go against the cultural norms for missionaries and Indian nationals as she began her ministry of rescuing little girls from becoming temple prostitutes. She was often misunderstood and called “dictatorial” by her critics. But those who knew and loved her used much kinder words. Certainly she was strong-willed, but the overpowering emotion that her “family” felt from her was love. Her standards of holiness and purity were so high that many a missionary recruit was dismissed without much ado, yet her thousands of letters to friends and supporters are filled with absolute kindness and tenderness. She refused to go on missionary furloughs “because the work was too important”, yet she had a rustic cabin built in the hills where she and her workers and orphans could get away to rest. She loved poetry and nature yet eschewed the “untruthfulness” of fairy tales. Her love for truth caused her to write prayer letters which emphasized the hardships of India much more than the victories.
As I read I couldn’t help but think that just as Amy Carmichael took pains to be “nobody”, never allowing anyone to glorify her, only Elliot could have succeeded in writing a book that neither deified nor vilified her. Elliot, in her own book Through Gates of Splendor, shocked me with her adamance that she'd made no difference among the Auca Indians with whom she had worked. She seemed to share Amy's philosophy of life: "Let’s serve the Lord no matter what it costs while never letting anyone know how we’ve suffered. All the victory and the glory belong to Him.”
Quite a motto!