Mission Work in Southern India: Amy Carmichael

You will experience India through the eyes of Amy Carmichael, veteran missionary of the early 1900s and founder of Dohnavur Orphanage in this collection of her early narrative writings. In this book,  you will find an honest and raw view of  India and Hinduism that was written to share with Amy Carmichael’s supporting churches who were having difficulty believing her ‘real’ missionary story.

Things As They Are by Amy Carmichael


Things As They Are is an amazing book written by Amy Carmichael, missionary to Southern India and first published in 1905.  It has been out-of-print for many years and is now available through Conjurske Publications.

This book will stir your heart to fervently pray for missionary work in India and in your own corner of the planet.

Even though this book was written many years ago, some things never change.

Mostly the door is still closed and those within are still lost in a dying world.

Things As They Are will take you into the lives of Tamil Indian women, girls, boys and sometimes men who are waiting to hear about Jesus Christ but often slam the door shut.


This book is a battle-book written from the battle-field where the fighting is not pretty play but stern reality. (pg 3)


Amy Carmichael was born in Belfast, Ireland to a godly family of Scottish ancestry. A few years after she finished her education in England, she arrived in South India in November of 1895, never to leave.

In a day when most missionaries would write exaggerated reports of their mission work, this book stunned the evangelical community because Amy related things truthfully and tastefully as they are.



The Cover


The cover is what attracts you to open a book and turn the pages and start reading. A drab book cover will most likely be left neglected on the shelf!

When I was first handed the book, Things As They Are, by my daughter Naomi, the beautiful shimmering silver-cover filled me with anticipation to curl up on the sofa and start reading.

The skillfully sketched picture is indented on the cover, causing you to trace the shut door and the Tamil priest who stands beside it. The title of the book is on a sign, hung above the shut door with a vine twisting around beautiful flowers.

Things As They ‘Were’ in Southern India


Paul did not hesitate to write things as they were of the idolaters to whom he preached, even though the picture was very dark. It is all the more needful now, when so many are deceived and being deceived as to the true nature of idolatry, that people at home who give and pray should be told plainly that what Paul wrote of idolaters in Rome and Corinth is still true of idolaters in India. (TATA pg x)


We were not able to get the photo of that special girl in the blue seeley, but this girl is so like her that I put her here. She is a Vellalar. The jewels worn by a girl of this class run into thousands of rupees. They are part of the ordinary dress. This girl did not know we were coming, she was “caught” just as she was. She had a ball of pink oleander flowers in her hands and white flowers in her hair.


Old India was a land where the Tamil people lived. They were held in bondage by their Hindu religion and the power of the caste system.

There were men of the higher caste who were well educated and they could be found sitting on the verandas of their houses discussing ancient literature.

In stark contrast was their custom of marrying little girls to grown, even old men. Some of these girls were married to the gods in the temple.

Unthinkable things would happen to these girls and nothing, even government authorities had the power to save these children from the terrible evil that they endured.


About ‘Things As They Are’


The early chapters bring out with vivid, striking, almost startling reality the wayside hearers in India. One can almost see the devil plucking away the words as fast as they fall, and hear the opposers of the Gospel crying out against it. (TATA pg x)

These are three of the mourners, but they were only mourning ceremonially; and so, released for the moment from their duty, they quite enjoyed themselves.


This book will prick your heart deeply, stirring you to pray like someone’s life depends on it.

You will be taken back in time and into the lives of the people Miss Carmichael loved so deeply.

She tells a vivid story in each chapter about different Hindu people. You will be captivated by the startling evils that were faced by a person to follow Christ.

Unimaginable things happened when an individual responded to the gospel. In the Book, Miss Carmichael shares heartbreaking situations that occurred when someone desired to follow the truth of the gospel.

Many bright young girls suddenly were married into a horrible existence and became unresponsive. Others were mysteriously poisoned and died with everyone turning a deaf ear.

You are given only glances and glimpses but never fully seeing the horror that abounds in the lives of these precious Indian people.

A Closed Door


Compromise is the open door back into the old home, and God only knows what it costs when the choice is made and that one door is shut. (TATA pg 285)


It was rare to be invited into a Tamil woman’s home. Often, Amy would sit on the veranda talking and listening with the women.

They would ask her questions and when she had the opportunity she would share the gospel of Jesus with them. It was rare that anyone, man, woman, or young person, would accept Jesus as Savior.

It meant they had to break caste. Their family would reject them and terrifying things would happen to them. Often through poison, death, or they would be married into an unspeakable situation.

The whole story was rarely ever known.

It was impossible to know what actually went on behind the closed door.

Once the door was opened and a little glimmer of the light of Jesus came in and it was rejected, it was as if the door would slam shut forever.

The door was shut to the individual’s heart and an endless eternity.


My Honest Response to this Book


Things As They Are was a very sobering book that drew me page after page into the depths of these precious southern Indian people.


Another widow. She was never a wife; and, moved by some sort of pity, they let her keep one jewel in each ear. She is a Vellalar; her people are wealthy landowners. She was ashamed of having yielded to the weakness of letting us take her photo; and when we went to show it to her, she would not look at it. She has no desire whatever to hear; and she and the young girl on the step at her feet are resolute in opposing the teaching.

I kept thinking as I read it that things aren’t so different today!


The culture of Old India may not be as unrelenting as it was then. Little girls and young women may not be forced into a marriage and treated so harshly.

But . . .

Things may not be so different even today in our modern western culture.

Hinduism is sneaking into our culture and we aren’t even batting an eye!

There are mandalas in coloring books and on women’s clothing and we buy them and think nothing of it!

It has found its way into textbooks and public schools. Hardly anyone raises a question!

A few months ago when I was having therapy, two Hindu idols showed up in the room where they teach yoga. I don’t do yoga but I was stunned!

This book will leave a deep impression on your heart of what Hinduism does in the lives of people. It never goes into details that are too dark to know.

We are in a Battle-Field


Over and over again, Amy Carmichael related a story in her book where there was ‘no success’ and ‘no conversion’ of a soul to Jesus.

We are in a battle-field and we are called to pray!

This book tells ‘things as they are’ in southern India in the early 1900’s but ‘things are not so different’ now when it comes to prayer.

Are things that different today?

We don’t pray fervently.

We are unconcerned about missions and that people are dying without Jesus at a rate of more than one person a minute.

It was nearly impossible to reach the Indian women for Christ. Hinduism had a claw-like grasp clenched down on their souls.

This book will stir your heart to pray like never before.


  • To pray for missionaries and the people they serve!
  • To pray for those little girls you know who are in a terrible situation!
  • To pray for your unsaved husband or friend!
  • To pray for your unsaved child or one you know!


There are still lost souls and for many, the door is still shut!


Did you enjoy this book review of Things As They Are: Mission Work in Southern India by Amy Carmichael? You may purchase this book in a set of two by clicking the image below or clicking through to Conjurske Publications.



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  1. I loved the raw realness of this book. A great reminder to continue to pray for missionaries and the souls they minister too. Glad you are sharing about it here!

    1. Thank you Cathy! I loved how you described it saying you loved the ‘raw realness of this book.’ That really describes it so well. It is so relevant to today in reminding us to pray for missionaries. Things are really much different and the need to pray is still so needed.

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