Mothers and Missions

Amy Carmichaelby Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International

A little girl prayed fervently each night, “Dear Lord, please give me blue eyes.”  Each morning, upon waking, she eagerly went to the mirror and looked.  Behold her eyes were still brown!  And so they remained the rest of her life.  God often says ‘no’ to a request,  but delays giving an explanation for doing so.  In the case of this little girl, who grew up to become famous, there was a very good reason.


Last week, I shared in an earlier post, “God places in every woman a mothering instinct.  It’s part of her DNA.”  I admit someone might counter, “What about women who never marry, give birth to children or raise families of their own?”  I’d like to answer this challenge with the following.

Back in the 1950’s, for some reason, there seemed to be more single, female adults in the church than single men.  And many of these single women made it to the mission field.  We used to joke by saying that a man’s response to God’s missionary call often turned out to be, “Here I am, Lord.  Send my sister.”

And, it did seem that sisters responded to ‘the call’ more readily than their brothers.  Many went as teachers and nurses, two primary vocations that build heavily on the ‘mothering DNA.’ It resulted in many more single women missionaries than single men.  This may partly have been the case because major agencies required that a man marry before his candidacy be considered.  The reverse requirement for women was not made.

Probably many hundreds of thousands of single women have made missionary history, and only God’s records will reveal the full extent of their powerful impact for good.  It would seem that God’s feminine gift to nurture and protect can blossom outside of marriage and it often does.  One of the most famous examples of this is the life work of Amy Carmichael.

Here is some information taken from the dust jacket of one of her biographies.* “…a woman who understood true discipleship and lived it out, Amy Carmichael is a role model.  She is far more than that.  She demonstrates to those who read about her the shape of godliness.

“Born in Ireland in 1867 and called to missions as a young woman, Amy Carmichael joyfully responded, first traveling to Japan, then China, Ceylon and finally India.  There she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a work to rescue children in moral danger.  Amy Carmichael was a woman who offered up her singleness for God’s service and found true fulfillment.

“She spent 53 years in South India without a furlough.  Known by hundreds as ‘Amma,’ her mission was to rescue children – mainly little girls – who had been given to service in Hindu temples.”

And the significance of the prayer for blue eyes?  Often, especially in the beginning, she wore full Indian dress, passing as a native to gain entrance into places where she could rescue children.  Blue eyes would have blown her cover and foiled her efforts.

One of Amy’s best legacies is the fact that Dohnavur Fellowship still exists today carrying on the work God began through Amy.   It is staffed mostly by Indian women doctors, teachers and administrators, whose names we can’t know but whose dedication to the Savior, who invites children to come to him, is embodied in capable womanly singleness.

*A Chance To Die.  The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot


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