Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review: A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot

This is a biography of Amy Carmichael, an Irish woman who was a missionary in India during the first half of the 1900s. Though she didn’t start out in India, through various way and means she ended up there and started an orphanage to help rescue young girls from forced prostitution in Hindu temples. It started with just a few girls, but it grew to nearly a thousand children over her lifetime. It’s a fascinating story of God’s work through one individual who simply wanted to live for Christ. Carmichael wrote many books and poems during her lifetime, and Elliot quotes often from her writings. 

Amy viewed missionary work as “a chance to die”. “If it were possible to poll all the missionaries who have worked in all the world in all of Christian history, it would be seen that missionary work, most of the time, offers little that could be called glamour. What it does offer, as Amy wrote to prospective candidates in later years, it “a chance to die”- or, as Winston Churchill put his challenge during World War II, blood, sweat, and tears. It offers a great deal of plodding and ploughing, with now and then a little planting. It is the promise of rejoicing, given to those who “go forth weeping, bearing precious seed” that gives heart. So it was with Amy.” I definitely identify with this, even if at a far lesser level than what she experienced in terms of setting aside worldly comforts and approval to pursue missionary work. 

This book is wonderful on so many levels. Even at the most basic level, it’s so encouraging to read about other missionaries and the work they’ve done. I feel like such a nerd, but I really have come to believe that Missionary Biographies Are Great. And challenging! Amy lived in India as a single woman, and I identified with a lot of the joys and struggles that came with that for her. Certainly after reading about her life and how she handled so many challenges and trials, I just think that I should never complain about ANYTHING. Ever again. I also was so challenged by how she did not allow room for compromise, laziness, or lack of discipline in her life. Certainly others will take away other lessons and nuggets depending on where they are in life. Worth a read for sure.

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