LEW WALLACE

Born APRIL 10, 1827

Lew Wallace: 1860's [PD-1923]

Lew Wallace: 1860′s [PD-1923]

In 1876, former Civil War General Lew Wallace and other Union veterans were on a train on their way to a soldiers reunion. A man who, like Lew, was also a lawyer, invited him to a conversation. That man, Robert Ingersoll, was also America’s best-known atheist. Lew would later describe Mr. Ingersoll’s command of that discussion: “He vomited  forth ideas and arguments like an intellectual volcano.” Lew returned to his sleeping berth ashamed of his inability to articulate his views in favor of the Christian faith. That would change. Within a few years, Lew would write the novel Ben-Hur.

A FIGHTER FROM INDIANA

Lew was born to David and Esther Wallace of Indiana. Ten years later his father became governor of the state. From his father and others, Lew would learn there were causes worth fighting for. Some causes called for physical strength while some demanded mental prowess.

At age nineteen, Lew served Indiana in the Mexican War. He returned home to pursue a career as a lawyer. In 1856, he was elected to the Indiana state Senate. By then, he had married and had a son. His family settled in Crawfordsville, where Lew resided for the rest of his life. Life was good, but storm clouds were gathering for bigger battles than Lew had ever fought.

Painting of the battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup.           [PD-1923]

Painting of the battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup.
[PD-1923]

The Civil War erupted on April 15, 1861. Lew coordinated the Indiana state militia. He entered his first skirmish as Colonel Lew Wallace. The following year, as Major General Wallace, he led troops through battles in Tennessee, including the battle of Shiloh. When placed in charge of Baltimore’s 8th Army Corps in 1864, Lew successfully defended the nation’s capitol from Confederate forces.

FROM SHAME TO FAME

Lew wasn’t always liked. He received blame for the outcome of some of the battles he fought in. More than once, he found himself relieved of his command. But God always had another important job waiting in the wings. In 1865, Lew returned to Mexico to hinder that country’s efforts to supply arms to the Confederacy. On the train ride home, he learned President Lincoln has been killed.

President Lincoln on his death bed. [PD-1923]

President Lincoln on his death bed. [PD-1923]

The new president, Andrew Johnson, established a commission  to oversee the trial of the assassination conspirators. Lew became second in command on that board of military leaders. The following year, he was  placed at the head of another war-related trial. It found Confederate Captain Henry Wirz, commander of Andersonville Prison, guilty of torturing and starving the Union soldiers he’d held as prisoners.

Then in 1873, Lew published his first novel, titled The Fair God. He would publish his third novel, Prince of India, in 1893. Both were well-received, but neither reached the status of his 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

THE SON OF HUR AND THE SON OF GOD

A number of things attracted readers to Ben-Hur: the pomp and splendor of Rome, the rise and fall of one man’s fortunes, social and political injustice, and romance, told on an epic scale. But the heart of the story is Judah Ben-Hur’s gradual realization of the person of Jesus Christ and how it transformed his life.

An 1880 copy of Ben-Hur.  [PD-1923]

An 1880 copy of Ben-Hur. [PD-1923]

Judah first meets Jesus when he’s one of many thirsty slaves of the Roman Empire on their way through Nazareth. Jesus, as a carpenter, gives him a drink of cold water. Later, when he’s a resistance fighter against Rome, he sees John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. Still later, when their paths cross, he realizes Jesus, the wise teacher and healer, is the Messiah. Judah is in the crowd the day Jesus struggles up Via Dolorosa, falling under the burden of His cross. Judah attempts to give Jesus cold water in His moment of need.

From the Lord’s birth to His crucifixion, Jesus, the Son of God, is the central figure of Lew’s novel, his personal statement of Christian faith.

JESUS, FROM BOOKSHELVES TO BROADWAY

People bought and read Ben-Hur. The novel was praised by political leaders as well as the general public. Its readers included former president Ulysses S. Grant and President James A. Garfield. The latter wrote to Lew, “With this beautiful and reverent book you have lightened the burden of my daily life.”

In four years, the novel outsold all others published by Harper & Brothers. By its ten-year mark, Ben-Hur had been printed in multiple languages and sold 300,000 copies. It would reach sales of one million after three decades. A lot of people have been able to be touched by its message; for most of 50 years it reigned as the best-selling novel of all time.

For most of the  decade bewteen 1880-1890, Lew resisted letting Broadway turn his story into a play. He changed his mind on one condition. Out of reverence for Jesus, no actor would portray Him. When the curtains rose in 1889, a shaft of light stood in for Jesus. In those days, people who attended church didn’t normally attend the theater. The play Ben-Hur changed that, receiving high marks from Billy Sunday and other spiritual leaders. As a play, Ben-Hur drew audiences for the next twenty years.

Ben-Hur play poster. [PD-1923]

Ben-Hur play poster. [PD-1923]

NEW LIFE AFTER DEATH

Lew Wallace didn’t live to see Ben-Hur on film. He died of stomach cancer in 1905. A silent film version in 1925 became a public favorite. But it was the 1959 production starring Charlton Heston that was best received by viewers and critics.

Ben-Hur movie poster- 1959 . [PD-US]

Ben-Hur movie poster- 1959 . [PD-US]

Reverence for Jesus was portrayed in 1959 by showing His body, but never His face. When Judah Ben-Hur and others saw Jesus’ face, it greatly effected them. (Watch some of the film’s inspiring scenes via the YouTube links below.) At the time, that film version was the most expensive Hollywood production ever. It went on to out-earn any previous film at the box office. At the 1960 Academy Awards ceremony, Ben-Hur set a new standard as the first movie to ever win 11 Oscars.

The powerful story continues to be remade. Charlton Heston lent his voice to Judah Ben-Hur in 2003 for an animated made-for-television version. In 2010, a Ben- Hur mini series from Canada aired on ABC TV.

The book continues to sell. To date, as many as 50 million copies have been purchased. While the chariot race, the slave ship at sea, and other descriptive and dramatic scenes draw people into the story, it will always remain an influential tale about Jesus, the Christ.

LET ME KNOW: How has Lew’s story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.

Bibliography————————————————————————————————-

Websites-

YouTube: you can watch these inspiring movie clips from the 1959 version of  Ben-Hur-

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40 FAVORITE QUOTES

The Christian leaders I’ve written about the past couple of years had plenty to say. I recently reviewed all the quotes I included in their biographies. I chose what I consider the 40 best. Here they are on a single page.

To learn more about any Christian leader quoted below, you can link to their biography by left-clicking their name.

Anxiety- “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” – Charles Spurgeon

Bible- “You may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in His Word, He intended to be conspicuous in our lives.” – Charles Spurgeon

Character- “Your reputation is what people say about you. Your character is what God and your wife know about you.” – Billy Sunday

Character- “A good character is the best tombstone.” – Charles Spurgeon

Christian service- “And when God asks us to do something, He doesn’t ask for one hand or one foot or one day. He asks for the complete you.” - Gladys Aylward

Christian service- “The world asks, ‘What does a man own?’ Christ asks, ‘How does he use it?’” – Andrew Murray

Christian service- “Work as if everything depended on you and pray as if everything depended on God.” – D. L. Moody

Christian service- “They who neglect their duty to God never really fulfill any duty to man.” – Charles Finney

Christian service- “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” – William Carey

Christian service-  “We have all eternity to celebrate victories, but we have only the few hours before sunset in which to win them.” – Amy Carmichael

Courtesy- “Courtesy is the one coin you can never have too much of or be stingy with.”        – John Wanamaker

Discipleship- “If we love our neighbor we shall without doubt tell him the good news of Jesus. But equally if we truly love our neighbor we shall not stop there.” – John Stott

Drawn to God- “When we are lost in the woods, the sight of a signpost is a great matter.” – C. S. Lewis

Faith- “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” – Oswald Chambers

Faith- “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand; but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.” – Ira Stanphill

Faith- “Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.”- George Muller

Faith- “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Facing Problems-  “All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power and love.” – Hudson Taylor

Forgiveness- “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Giving- “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” – Amy Carmichael

Giving- “God judges what we give by what we keep.” – George Muller

Jesus’ Love- “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” – Anna B. Warner

Living for God- “Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards

Living for God- “Being in Christ implies that we commit ourselves to him, to be pardoned by his blood, quickened by his grace, controlled by his will.” – Charles Finney

Living for God- “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” - Albert Brumley

Living for God- “Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.” – Jonathan Edwards

Living for God- “Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man.” – Oswald Chambers

Obedience- “A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.” – Charles Finney

Perseverence- “With perseverance the snail reached the ark.” – Charles Spurgeon

Prayer- “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie Ten Boom

Prayer- “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” – Oswald Chambers

Prayer- “Prayer is the most formidable weapon, the thing that makes all else we do efficient.” – E. M. Bounds

Prayer- “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.” – E. M. Bounds

Surrender- “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Surrender- “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” – Bob Pierce

Temptation- “Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.” – Billy Sunday

Temptation- “Many of us suffer from temptations from which we have no business to suffer.” – Oswald Chambers

Witnessing- “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” – Hudson Taylor

Witnessing-  “When we keep near to Jesus it is He who draws souls to Himself through us.” – John Hyde

Worry- “Worry is like a rocking chair-it keeps you moving but doesn’t get you anywhere.”  – Corrie Ten Boom

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CHARLES SHELDON

Born FEBRUARY 26, 1857

Charles M Sheldon in  1913.  [PD-1923]

Charles M Sheldon in 1913.
[PD-1923]

The sermon ended. Singers prepared for the final song. A voice from the back of the church startled the congregation. The stranger in shabby clothes talked his way up the center aisle to the front of the church.

He faced the worshippers. Having introduced him-self and his sad circumstances, he made his point: “It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sang such songs (about surrendering everything to Jesus) went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following His steps?”

Then the stranger keeled over. He died a few days later. The following Sunday, the pastor told his congregation to accept the man’s visit as a message from God. He challenged as many as would to pledge for the next year to do only what they thought Jesus would do. Those scenes launched the book In His Steps. The novel quickly became one of the best-selling Christian books of all time.

Who was Charles Sheldon, the man who wrote the book? What influence has he and his novel actually had on Christianity?

JESUS-HEARTED PASTOR

First Congregational Church in the early 1900s. [PD-1923]

First Congregational Church in the early 1900s. [PD-1923]

Charles began pastoring the First Congregational Church in Topeka, Kansas, in 1889. He preached for salvation and discipleship. His own conversion experience took place in his teens in Yankton, South Dakota. The sense that “a great burden rolled off my back,” caused him to feel “strangely happy.”

Charles was convinced that when God transforms us, we’re to have a positive impact on the world around us. As a pastor, he saw numerous situations within Topeka that needed God’s touch and set about to make a difference.

SOCIAL IMPACT IN TOPEKA

Charles detested how alcohol destroyed families and individuals. When he moved to Kansas in the late 1880s, it was a dry state prior to Prohibition. However, drugstores sold alcohol disguised as medicine. He worked hard to overthrow that and other practices in Topeka.

Pastor Sheldon saw another need for the church to rise up and address. He led a campaign to help part of the city’s African-American population. The Tennesseetown community sprang up in 1880 when hundreds of migrating ex-slaves settled in Topeka. They struggled to be fully accepted and to improve their financial and social standing.

Tennesseetown kindergarten in 1893. [PD-1923]

Tennesseetown kindergarten in 1893. [PD-1923]

The First Congregational Church visited the sick, provided food and clothing, and sought to help the men of Tennesseetown find work. The most successful endeavor Charles led to help Tennesseetown was starting a kinder-garten. The church operated it for eighteen years, until the Topeka Board of Education began its own kindergarten system.

OTHERS-MINDED AUTHOR

The First Congregational Church’s Sunday evening attendance was waning. Charles didn’t want the evening services to cease. So in 1891, the writer in him (who’d sold his first magazine article in his early teens) began reading novelized versions of sermon ideas to those who showed up on Sunday night. Each week’s chapter ended with a cliffhanger. That drew listeners back the following Sunday. The evening attendance grew, remaining strong from 1891 until Charles retired in 1919.

Charles began reading In His Steps in October of 1896. It was his seventh Sunday evening sermon story. Like the six previous ones, In His Steps reminded listeners that true Christianity touches and changes the world around us.

In the story, a number of parishioners agree to take the pledge to make decisions based on what Jesus might do in their circumstances. They include a singer, a railroad superinten-dent, a property owner, and a newspaper editor. Each face tough ethical decisions during the year. They weigh their desire for wealth, fame, and acceptance with their peers against honestly following Jesus’ teachings.

A BEST SELLER

 Image in public domain.

Image in public domain.

A denominational magazine began publishing installments of In His Steps in November of 1896. The next year, a book version followed. But the magazine didn’t copyright the story. Publishing companies discovering it was in the public domain sprang on the opportunity. Copies of the non-copyrighted story sold well in the United States and around the world.

The novel’s popularity remained strong during the 1900s. It’s reported that in the 1960s, sales figures averaged 100,000 copies per year. Total sales into the new millennium are estimated at 40 million-plus copies.

One of the book’s storylines follows the decisions of a newspaper editor. In 1900, fiction became reality. The Topeka Daily Capital offered Charles an opportunity to serve as editor for one week. During its week as a converted “Christian” newspaper, the Topeka Daily Capital sold over 3,ooo percent more copies. From the profits, $5,000 was given to Charles to distribute among his choice of charities.

HIS FINAL STEPS

The publication of In His Steps had brought Charles recognition outside of Topeka and beyond the United States. His stint at the Topeka Daily Capital increased his status as a high-profile ambassador for Christianity. He used his national and international clout to push the causes closest to his heart.

Charles retired from First Congregational Church in 1919, increasing his freedom to travel and speak. His topics most often ran against alcohol and for Christian unity. He wrote articles and editorials, many in his role as a contributor to the Christian Herald magazine.

He passed away in February of 1946 following a stroke. His funeral was held on what would have been his 89th birthday.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO TODAY?

Photo by CrazyLegsKC.

Photo by CrazyLegsKC.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Christians breathed fresh life into the nearly century old question “What would Jesus do?” The renewed interest began in 1989 with a Holland, Michigan youth group. After reading In His Steps and discussing it with the group, the leader had an idea for helping the teens remember to let Jesus’ teachings guide their actions. She had bracelets made with the initials WWJD.

After Paul Harvey reported the story in 1997, there was a large demand for the bracelets. The company that made the initial ones, expanded production. Sales abounded. Soon, those four letters were imprinted on all the standard Christian merchandise: ink pens, key chains, bumper stickers, Bible covers, etc. The letters WWJD spawned a marketing sensation, but more importantly, helped people stop and think before acting.

In the 1990s, the WWJD movement (along with new youth-based events and ministries such as See You at the Pole, True Love Waits, and Dare 2 Share) helped a new generation define their personal faith in Jesus Christ.

The question “What would Jesus do?” continues  reverberating within Christianity. In 1997, a number of Christian singers recorded a CD titled WWJD  (with Big Tent Revival covering the title track). A movie What Would Jesus Do? was released in 2010.

LET ME KNOW:  How has Charles’ story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.

Bibliography————————————————————————————————-

  • Miller, Timothy. Following in His Steps: A Biography of Charles M. Sheldon. Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee Press, 1987.
  • Petersen, William and Randy Petersen. 100 Christian Books That Changed the World. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2000.
  • Sheldon, Charles. In His Steps. Lincoln, VA: Chosen Books, 1984.
  • Shepherd, Sandy. “What Would Jesus Do?” Christianity.com. Retrieved on February, 24, 2014. http://www.christianity.com/11622298/.
  • “WWJD, Part 1: Origin of the Phrase.” The Jesus Question. January 6, 2012. http://thejesusquestion.org/2012/01/06/wwjd-part-1-the-origin-of-the-phrase/.

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YouTube-

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YOUR FAVORITE IRA STANPHILL SONGS

The results are in. On February 3, 2014, I posted a poll on this blog, on Facebook, and through e-mail, asking for your favorite songs written by Ira Stanphill.  I listed 8 songs, also allowing for write-ins. The most votes went to the following 5 songs, listed with the year Ira wrote them.

#1 “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow” (1950).                                                                                    #2 “Room at the Cross for You” (1946).                                                                                             #3 “Mansion Over the Hilltop” (1949).                                                                                           #4 “He Washed My Eyes with Tears” (1955).                                                                                 #5 “Suppertime” (1950).

According to the poll, how well-liked was “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”? It received 1 out of every 3 votes cast.

Had Ira lived he would have turned 100 on February 14, 2014. He died in 1993. Thank you for taking part in the poll as part of celebrating God’s gifts to Ira which haved blessed the rest of us.

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IRA STANPHILL’S 100th BIRTHDAY

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2014: THE LIST CONTINUES

2014 New Year

(Revised January, 28, 2014)

I want to introduce you to some people. They are Christians whose words and actions  touched thousands for God. Not only while they were alive; after their journeys ended, their positive influence lived on.

You know some of them. You’ve probably sung the songs of Fanny Crosby and Elisha Hoffman. You’ve possibly read books by C. S. Lewis and Catherine Marshall. You’ve very likely heard of evangelists D. L. Moody and Charles Spurgeon. For those spiritual heroes whose names you know, I offer inspiring details that you may not have known.

Then there are names you’ve heard whose lives of faith you may not know about. For instance, what made Helen Cadbury, Henry Heinz, and William Colgate such good Christians?

There are still others whose names aren’t familiar. They’re Christians worth knowing.

So far (2012-2013), I’ve written biographies about 66 outstanding Christian leaders from the past 300 years. Now its 2014! People I want to feature this year include authors, Charles Sheldon (“In His Steps”) and Lew Wallace (“Ben Hur”), Cameron Townsend (founder of Wycliffe Bile Translators), and missionaries Lillian Thrasher (Egypt) and Mary Slessor (Nigeria). Other missionaries, ministry leaders, and hymn writes are in line. I’ll also be drawing attention to special anniversary dates for some of those whose biographies I’ve already posted.

I hope you’ll allow their  stories to enrich your life. I hope you’ll let the anecdotes of their faith in God and faithfulness to Him improve your walk for God. Let the pictures I add take you to the places where they walked. Adopt some of their sayings as slogans for your own life.

You may want to dig deeper. I include resources at the end of each biography. There are books to read (some online), videos to view, websites to explore. If you discover some- thing helpful at Lights-4-God, please pass specific links of posts on to friends.

For a quick reference to the Christians I’ve written about so far, here’s an alphabetical listing of their names that will link you to their individual pages—

Gladys Aylward,

Philip Bliss, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Booth, E. M. Bounds, David Brainerd, Paul Brand, Billy Bray, Bill Bright, Albert Brumley, Larry Burkett,

Helen Cadbury, William Carey, Amy Carmichael, Oswald Chambers, William Colgate, Fanny Crosby,

Thomas Dorsey,

Alfred Edersheim, Jonathan Edwards,

Charles Finney, Elizabeth Fry, Millard Fuller,

Henry Heinz, James Hepburn, Eliza Hewitt, Elisha Hoffman, John Hunt, Paul Hutchens, John Hyde,

Adoniram Judson,

C. S. Lewis, Eric Liddell, Thomas Lowry

Catherine Marshall, Walter Martin, Cyrus McCormick, Henrietta Mears, D. L. Moody, Lottie Moon, George Muller, Andrew Murray,

John Newton,

John W. Peterson, Bob Pierce, Jessie Pounds,

Robert Raikes, Evan Roberts,

Warner Sallman,

Hannah W. Smith, Rodney “Gypsy” Smith, Charles Spurgeon, Ira Stanphill,                    John Stott, C. T. Studd, Billy Sunday,

Hudson Taylor, Corrie Ten Boom, R. A. Torrey, Dawson Trotman,

John Wanamaker, Anna B. Warner, Charles Wesley, Alexander Whyte,                                William Wilberforce, David Wilkerson.

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AMY CARMICHAEL

Born DECEMBER 16, 1867

Amy Carmichael.  [PD-1923]

Amy Carmichael.
[PD-1923]

It began with Preena. The 7-year-old girl fled the Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu, India in fear. She found Amy Carmichael, an English missionary. Hearing Preena’s story and learning the truth about female temple slaves gave Amy’s ministry new direction. She began sheltering girls from lives of temple prostitution.

FAITHFUL AND FEARLESS

The Ireland-born Amy became a Christian at age 15. She served God by holding Bible studies for poor female factory workers. They were nicknamed “shawlies” because, unable to afford hats, they kept their heads warm by covering them with their shawls. Amy’s Bible class of shawlies grew so large she had a meeting hall built where she could teach them. She christened it “The Welcome.”

In 1887, Amy attended a meeting to hear Hudson Taylor of China Inland Mission. She sensed God calling her to serve in a foreign land. In 1892, she was packed to leave for China, but at the last minute received word she hadn’t passed the physical.

Believing God uses even our disappointments to shape us, Amy once said, “All life’s training is just exactly what is needed for the true Life-work, still out of view but far away from none of us.”

Her life’s work wasn’t far away. She began her missionary service in 1893. Amy became the first missionary appointed by the spiritually vibrant Keswick Convention. Following a year in Japan, Amy served a short stint in Ceylon. She left both places to recover from illness. In 1895, Amy set sail for India, a place that better suited her health needs. She would remain there until her death 56 years later.

GOD’S NON-CASTE SYSTEM

Lower caste laborers. [PD-1923]

Lower caste laborers. [PD-1923]

Amy moved to India’s Tamil Nadu region. She made converts from the poverty-stricken lowest caste. They accepted Christianity with little to lose and much to gain. The highest caste, Brahmin, rejected her; she was a meat-eater and she consorted with India’s lower castes. A female Brahmin, keeping her distance so Amy wouldn’t defile her by touching her, told the missionary, “Your god is no god. Go away and tell your lies somewhere else. Who asks you to tell them here?”

Amy’s philosophy was, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” She devoted herself to give to all who would receive. God rewarded her.

Dohnavur cottage nursery [PD-1923]

Dohnavur cottage nursery [PD-1923]

Even before providing a better life for Preena and other children in danger, those she helped fondly called her “Amma,” the Tamil word for mother. Beginning in 1901, Amy housed girls, including babies, brought to her. As they aged, she trained them through a disciple-ship program she called Sisters of the Common Life.

TELLING THE WORLD THE TRUTH

Amy was constantly writing. She kept a journal and wrote detailed letters home about her life in India. She penned hundreds of poems and songs. Her words filled no less than 40 published books. Many are still available (see links below).

At first, her book Things As They Are (1903)  was not well received. It was too honest. The reading public expected a missionary to share only dynamic conversion stories and tales of miracles, not the difficulties of their work. Amy defended the descriptions of her less glamorous struggles.

She said the truth should spur her readers to action: “We have all eternity to celebrate victories, but we have only the few hours before sunset in which to win them.”

DOHNAVUR FELLOWSHIP

Temple in Tamil Nadu, India. Photo by AnitaMarie.

Temple in Tamil Nadu, India. Photo by AnitaMarie.

The work God gave her grew. On a sweltering hot day in 1909, Amy stumbled upon a Hindu parade full of pageantry and color. She saw hundreds  of shirtless, sweaty men pulling a wooden tower on wheels. The tower representing a Hindu god was bedecked with flowers and held a boy who was declared married to the god. That made him, like the girls that Amy rescued, subject to every whim of his controllers. Amy began praying for God to send her boys to save from that degrading life-style. He did.

During her 56 years of uninterrupted missionary service in India, Amy rescued at least 1,000 children. She eventually added a hospital to the missionary compound. All the buildings at Dohnavur were built and all the provisions supplied not because Amy made public pleas for finances. Like Hudson Taylor in China, she chose to trust God to supply the need.

In 1927, Amy changed the name of her ministry organization to Dohnavur Fellowship.

DOWN BUT NOT OUT

In 1931, Amy suffered a fall that injured her back. It slowed her pace, but not her work. While bedfast, she finished writing a book that told the story of Dohnavur Fellowship, titled Gold Cord. Other books followed, including the best-selling If (1938).

Amy Carmichael with children in 1909   [PD-1923]

Amy Carmichael with children in 1909
[PD-1923]

Amy once prayed, “Do not let me be ill and a burden or anxiety to anyone. Oh let me finish my course in joy and not in grief.” She lived another 20 years after her fall, continuing to improve India’s spiritual climate. She died January 18, 1951.

“Give me the Love that leads the way
The Faith that nothing can dismay
The Hope no disappointments tire
The Passion that’ll burn like fire
Let me not sink to be a clod
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”

God answered Amy’s prayer.

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LET ME KNOW:  How has Amy’s story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.

Bibliography—————————————————————————————————————

  • Elliot, Elisabeth. A Chance to Die:The Life and Leagacy of Amy Carmicael. Old Tappan, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1987.
  • Kooiman Hoosier, Helen. 100 Christian Women Who Changed the 20th Century.  Grand Rapids MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2000.
  • Temple, Todd and Twitchell, Kim. People Who Shaped the Church. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.

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