William Carey (1761-1834)
Carey was an astonishing visionary and worker, but neglected his family. Many missionaries neglect their families due to the demands of spreading the Gospel. But Carey's neglect was not due to his principal work of translating and evangelizing. His principal work did not keep him from indulging his botany. So his neglect of family was a choice. It may have stemmed from his ineptness at social conversation, which a family requires. 'He had no conversational talent,' admitted a close colleague. Carey was very reserved, unable to relate warmly or even openly to close family members. For he could not bring himself to discipline either. Many thought he spoiled his boys because of the trauma they endured in the same house with an insane, raging mother. But surely it was equally due to his own reticent personality.
Carey once lamented in a letter to England, "A want of character and firmness has always predominated me. I have not resolution enough to reprove…"
His Serampore colleague Joshua Marshman was appalled by the four boys when he first met them in 1800. Aged 4, 7, 12 and 15, they were unmannered, undisciplined, even uneducated. Carey had not spoiled them so much as ignored them. Marshman and his wife Hannah, as well as the printer William Ward, took the boys in tow. Those three shaped the boys as Carey pampered his botanical specimens, performed his many missionary tasks and journeyed into Calcutta to teach at Fort William College. Carey's three colleagues offered the boys structure, instruction and companionship. To their credit - and little to Carey's - all four boys went on to useful careers.
[source: Dorothy Carey by James R. Beck, 1992]
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Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)
To members of Amy's Dohnavur Fellowship her only real flaws seemed her indulgences in self-pity and imperious demands during her confinement from 1931 to 1951. "Your last word will be pain, pain, pain," grumbled one of her nurses bitterly. Another nurse said Amy would call her in the middle of the night to take dictation. Then upon reading the typed draft later Amy would throw it away. "The Lord has given me something else," was Amy's curt explanation. Around the clock small children fanned her. If one of the tykes paused Amy would snap, "Did you fall asleep?"
Her other indulgences they tolerated. For a long time Scamp, a nasty-tempered Scottish Terrier, resided on her bed. Amy merely smiled at her 'dear little man' as he snapped and snarled at visitors. Finally, however, he was replaced by Tess, a friendlier dog. Perhaps Amy worried that Scamp would bite one of her birds. For she often had small birds from her aviary released in her room. She beckoned them to her bed. Her nurses fumed at the mess they would have to clean up later.
Her bluster they learned to ignore. "If I had been there I should have torn up a bush by the roots and laid it on (the offender's back) like a fishwife…I'm not a pacifist!" she boomed once. When she was 80 she read a reviewer's comment that her books were popular. "Popular? Lord, is that what these books written out of the heat of battle are? Popular? O Lord, burn the paper to ashes if that is true…" And possibly she might lay some lashes on the reviewer's back too!
Amy had certain prejudices that in no way could be considered inspired by the New Testament. Like many British she had a deep, abiding contempt for Americans. She categorically refused to consider Americans for the Fellowship. All Americans were too spoiled for service. But her prejudice against airplanes was inspired by the New Testament. In Paul's book of Ephesians the devil was the 'Prince of the Power of the Air'. Therefore to Amy airplanes operated in the realm of the devil. "Birds only can be trusted in those regions," she concluded.
[sources: A Chance To Die by Elisabeth Elliot, 1997, and Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton, 1953]
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