IF by Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael’s missionary labours extended over five decades beginning in the late Victorian period and sweeping through the Edwardian period of Britain’s history. Though she began her work in Japan, the majority of her years were spent ministering to women and children in India.

A serious evaluation of her soul’s health was a daily habit with Amy. She understood clearly that to minister effectively to others one must first tend to his own relationship with the Lord. She realized that though we cannot always control what comes into our lives, we can, and should, control our responses to those events as we daily yield our lives to the Lord.

Amy Carmichael wrote profusely about her experiences and the lessons she gleaned from walking closely with the Lord. One of her best-loved books is entitled IF, a small volume that cuts right to the heart of those seeking to show the love of Christ to the world. Some poignant excerpts include the following:

 If I do not feel far more for the grieved Saviour than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

 If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude forgetting ‘Who made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received?’ then I know nothing of Calvary love.

 If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, ‘You do not understand,’ or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

 If I refuse to be a corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies (‘ is separated from all in which it lived before’), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

IF is a book all Christian workers should read prayerfully. Out of print blue-covered copies may be found in second hand stores. More recently Christian Literature Crusade Publishers has reprinted a number of Amy Carmichael’s works. IF is well worth reading through from year to year.


Mary Slessor Missionary to Africa

Last year it was my great privilege to visit the McManus Museum of Dundee Scotland.  There we saw a display about the brave redheaded missionary, Mary Slessor.  We were saddened to observe that much of the display touted her humanitarian efforts and downplayed her evangelistic zeal.  Mary Slessor was a godly woman who served the Lord and her African brothers and sisters whole-heartedly.  The following article summarizes an excellent biography of her life and ministry, Mary Slessor of Calabar by W. P. Livingstone.  It was originally published in the early 1900’s and can be found used online.  Modern reprints, or rather copies, are available but do not always contain clear renditions of the photos from the original, so you may want to check on that before ordering one.

Mary Slessor:  Brave Missionary Example

Mary Slessor was a sensible, thrifty Scottish lass born in 1848.  Her father’s alcoholism ruined the family financially and forced Mary to begin working at the mills when she was just eleven. An elderly neighbour woman was burdened for the souls of area children, earnestly urging them to forsake their sins and come to Christ.  Mary responded and soon began gathering street children to attend religious meetings.   A missionary spoke of the great need in Africa, particularly the Calabar region and Mary’s heart grew burdened for missions. After arranging for the care of her mother and sisters, Mary left for service in Africa.  She was 28 years old.

Mary Slessor window in Dundee, Scotland

Mary’s spent time on the African coast training under veteran missionaries.   A survey trip to the Calabar region caused her to observe, “Calabar needs a brave heart and a stout body.”[1]  Possessed of a stout heart, Mary found her body weakened by the many tropical diseases she was exposed to, but she persevered in her desire to work inland.  Mary was finally left in charge of her own station at Calabar (Nigeria).  Her earnest, winsome concern for the souls soon won the affection and admiration of the mission staff and the natives.  Mary exercised extreme frugality – eating native food, sleeping in a native house, and doing all her own work.  She quickly learned to speak the language.  Mary often travelled barefoot or by canoe to minister to various tribes, and campaigned tirelessly to end the superstitious and evil practices that often meant death for the innocent.  Her efforts were so joyful and devoted that her field directors noted, “Her labours are manifold, but she sustains them cheerfully – she enjoys the unreserved friendship and confidence of the people, and has much influence over them.”[2]

When Mary learned in 1886 that both her mother and sister had died, leaving her without family in this world, she commented, “Heaven is now nearer to me than Britain, and no one will be anxious about me if I go up-country.”[3]  She moved further inland to Okoyong.  The inhabitants were wild, fearless, and superstitious with no regard for life. Slowly Mary influenced the tribesmen to make changes by introducing the gospel and gently but staunchly standing against the vile tribal rituals and vengeful reprisals enacted when death or illness struck.

The “White Ma” was called upon to intercede to save lives and prevent tribal warfare.  “Run, Ma!” her friends would urge her when hearing of trouble brewing in a nearby area.  Mary would run to the area of conflict and bravely and calmly argue for the life of those facing certain unwarranted death. Her basis of argument was “the Book” and the words of the great God.  Many lives that would have been carelessly cast away at a whim or superstition were saved by the timely intervention of Mary.

When requests came from other interior tribes for White Ma to come to them with the stories of the good book, Mary longed to go.  Though her spirit was more than willing, her body was increasingly frail.  Years of privation and extreme frugality had left her body weak and unable to function and she entered heaven in her sixty-sixth year.  Mary Slessor was a faithful servant of her beloved Saviour who cared more for the souls of the lost than for any personal recognition or comfort in this life. Her unselfish work is responsible for numerous Africans coming to know the Lord.

[1] Livingstone, W. P., Mary Slessor of Calabar Pioneer Missionary (London:  Hodder and Stoughton, 1923), p. 32

[2] Livingstone, p. 35

[3] Livingstone, p. 51

Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose

Evidence Not Seen
by Darlene Deibler Rose is the autobiographical work of a young missionary wife imprisoned during WWII. Darlene McIntosh was only 19 years old when she married Russell Deibler, a veteran missionary and a man twelve years her senior. After six months of church meetings in North America and six months of language study in Holland, the Dieblers eagerly returned to the field to Russell’s pioneer missionary work in the interior of New Guinea. Darlene accompanied Russell into the jungle to establish a new mission station near a previously unevangelized tribe. Darlene was the first white woman any of them had ever seen, and she grew to love these child-like primitive people.

WW II reached them in January 1942 after the Deiblers had served in New Guineafor three years. The Japanese took control of the area and herded all foreigners into prisoner of war camps, interring the men in one location and the women and children in another. As no communication was allowed between the two camps, Darlene learned of her husband’s death three months after a fatal illness. When Darlene was informed of Russell’s death, God gave her a miraculous opportunity to witness freely to the Japanese commander of the prison camp

All types of abuses and atrocities were inflicted on the imprisoned women and children, and many of them died as a result. Despite being so young, Darlene was a recognized leader among the women and was soon appointed as barracks head. Her Christian testimony was clear and unwavering in the face of many privations and troubles.

Near the end of the war Darlene was accused of being a spy for the Americans against the Japanese. She was moved from a prisoner of war camp to a death prison where she was the only female inmate. Severe malnutrition, serious illness, and discouragement engulfed her as she was tortured, deprived and humiliated in that prison. She could not sense God’s presence and was despondent until God reminded her of a verse she had learned as a child, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Still in her twenties, her hair whitened, and so ill she was unable to stand on her feet, Darlene called out to God with renewed faith.

One day Darlene was able to hoist herself up to look through a small window in her prison cell. She saw an outsider sneak a few bananas through the fence to another prisoner. Starving after years of receiving only a tiny amount of spoiled rice as a daily ration Darlene longed for and dreamed about bananas. She pled with God to provide just one banana for her. In His mercy God laid it on the heart of the commander of her former prison to come and visit Darlene. Shocked by her spectre-like appearance, the commander left without speaking to her, composed himself, then returned a short while later and spoke kindly to her. When he asked what word she had for the other women prisoners, Darlene sent the message that she was still trusting the Lord. Soon after the commander left, a guard came to her cell and left her 92 bananas, a gift from the commander. She was absolutely humbled by God’s exceedingly abundant provision for her, and because of the provision her faith was strengthened.

In reading this book I was impressed by how frequently a memorized Scripture verse or stanza of a godly hymn came to Darlene’s mind as she suffered fear and abuse. We are reminded by Darlene’s experiences of God’s presence with believers even when we may not sense it. Difficulties in our lives may be part of a purifying process and not simply chastening for sin. This book challenges us to godly living in the midst of our circumstances.

Evidence Not Seen, a 1990 Harper Collins publication, is still in print and available in bookstores or online.