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Amy Carmichael – Beauty for Ashes

By Iain H. Murray
August 2015 | Review by Ben Epps
  • Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
  • ISBN: 978-1-84871-552-3
  • Pages: 168
  • Price: 6.50
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Book Review

This is a brief, heart-warming and balanced biography of a great woman of God. Her enormous love and firm resolve remain an inspiration to the church worldwide.  Even before reaching India Amy demonstrated her resolve to serve Christ on the mission field by refusing to give in after a severe bout of neuralgia at the age of 26. To a friend urging her to return home, she wrote: ‘Did ever a soldier, worth calling one, run away at the first shot! Praise Him — the pain is gone now, and I am strong for the battle again’ (p.14).

A year later Amy went to India and discovered not only great darkness in the culture but also ‘wheat and tares’ in the church. Undaunted, she helped with itinerant preaching and began rescuing young children from temple prostitution. The latter ministry soon swamped all others and she eventually became the head of a huge ‘family’ of rescued children in Dohnavur.

She sought to give her children an education, not merely to further their prospects, but to prepare them to serve Christ. Therefore the foundation of all her work was not knowledge, but love and the learning of Scripture, along with plenty of song. Without being naive about suffering and opposition, ‘she wanted them to see Christianity as the source of a truly happy life’ (p.55).

Ultimately she yearned for conversions and dreaded losing fervour: ‘Perhaps our love has cooled … God forgive us and make us more in earnest’ (p.77).

Through quotations from her poetry, books and letters, Murray gives us plenty of insights into Amy’s heart, yet avoids idealising her. He mentions her dangerous approach to guidance, which often used Scriptures taken out of context. However, he also reveals countless gems, such as her understanding of the need for long-term ministry becoming indigenous and the vital importance of regular times of quiet with the Lord.

Murray highlights Amy’s firm stand for the inerrancy of Scripture and for the unity of believers in the biblical gospel.

What shines through most in the life of this loving, joyful and humble servant of the Lord is that the source of all her vigour was the love of God, conquering all apathy and rising above all frustration and pain. That alone makes this book well worth a read!

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