“With Daring Faith: A Biography of Amy Carmichael” Celebrates Thirty Years (My First Book)

With Daring Faith, the “new”cover

Thirty years ago this month, my first book was published.

I was thirty years old.

An astute observer might notice that was half my life ago.

These days when those who’ve been abused in a Christian context connect with me, it’s not uncommon for me to hear, “Are you the same Rebecca Davis who wrote With Daring Faith? We read that in our homeschool.”

It’s one of those moments of extreme pain and great joy that I get to experience fairly often in my life these days (living in vibrant color as I do rather than in pale pastels).

Extreme pain to learn that much of the audience I was writing for was such a different one from what I envisioned, since at that time I was completely ignorant of the great cruelty running rampant in homes that claimed to be Christian.

But great joy because I hear things like, “I read that book over and over. It was one of the few bright spots in my life.”

With Daring Faith, the old cover

I can’t really take credit for that, of course. I was writing a biography, and the bright spots were the hilarious moments in the life of Amy Carmichael . . . and her determination, and her adventures, and her love for her Lord and for souls. All I did was make it accessible for children (for the first time, though at the time I didn’t know I was writing the first U.S. children’s biography of Amy Carmichael).

She rescued children, you know.

She rescued little children from lives of sexual slavery in the Hindu temples of India.

When Amy Carmichael wrote letters back to her people in England to tell them what was going on in this British colony of India, at first they didn’t want to believe her. It seemed impossible that anyone would live so barbarically, especially in a British colony, right under the noses of British businessmen and British soldiers.

But it was true. Amy wrote Things as They Are to convince them.

At the time I wrote With Daring Faith, when I was just thirty years old, I had no idea of all the ramifications of sexual abuse. But for the majority of those little children, being rescued from the sex slavery of Hinduism and being taken into the loving arms of a Christian, it was quite obvious what the true God was like, and the love and care and safety shown by His people facilitated their healing.

For the precious children in homes of great cruelty who read this biography, the distinction has been far less clear.

Those former children, the ones who read my book who have contacted me, some of them have been abused, cruelly, horribly, in homes that claim the very same Christianity as the missionary who rescued children. Sometimes it was the very parents who were beating them fifty times with a two-inch thick wooden paddle . . . or requiring superhuman work from them . . . or sexually abusing them at night . . . who gave them the book.

So what are they to think of that God then?

And so my heart breaks.

And yet I have hope.

I have hope that these young adults and older adults (because in fact, sometimes it has been the wives and mothers in the homeschooling families who were treated so cruelly and remember this book) . . .

will see and know that the god of their cruel, abusive past (patriarchal or even matriarchal) . . . .

. . . and the God of Amy Carmichael, who dauntlessly rescued children . . .

. . . are not the same God.

 And they will be released, fully released, to follow the true God in Spirit and in Truth, in all the joy and freedom and fullness He promises in His Word.

Jesus said in John 10:10 (His great “Good Shepherd” sermon),

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

It is my joy, by whatever means I can, to point to Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Way to this new life. Those who have gone before serve as examples and encouragements to me.

Thank you, Amy Carmichael.

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4 years ago

Yes. Sometimes it is so much easier to see the injustices and brutal practices in other cultures than in our own context.
I also used to think that Islam was the most cruel and oppressive system of beliefs (and I have not changed my mind about their dogmas), but in the last ten years I have come to see the spiritual oppression that is so rampant in many churces and religious communities.
One of the effective weapons that is used to silence those who want to speak out about injustices done in the Lord’s name is unity.
‘All Christians should just work as one Body and not accuse each other of any mistakes, we all are fallible humans and need God’s grace’. It is such a heavy blow administered at those who may want to stay true to their conscience and struggle to find words for what they see around them…
Speaking out to defend the victims is the most unpopular ministry, but also very close to our Father’s heart. Just as needed as having revival meetings in other countries.

4 years ago
Reply to  Rebecca Davis

Somehow it is socially accepted within the church to give money for charity in India/victims of trafficking/persecuted Christians in the Middle east. All of which of course are important, and should not be forgotten…
Sadly, so often it is not seen as important to help people who are near by – other believers, who might need help and comapssion in their lonely life situations. There is much more ‘glory and glamour’ in speaking about the plight of those far away. (and yes, I have been so guilty of this myself!!!!)

2 years ago
Reply to  NGl

Join the discussion…dear Rebecca, thank you for the encouragement your blog is to me.i have age and homeschooling in common with you and am very thankful that I home schooled in Australia where the influence of certain now notorious homeschooling *leaders* was not quite as strong as it was in the USA, in my opinion. Nevertheless I did read a few of their writings eg TTUAC and was somewhat troubled by them so did not fully put them into practice.anyway, I am going to get your book on amy Carmichael for my grandchild…to read when they are old enough. For Sunday School prizes as children we were often given the Stories of Faith and Fame series, published by Lutterworth in the UK, which is why you might not be aware of their children’s biography of Amy written perhaps 45 or more years ago…God’s Madcap: The story of Amy Carmichael.

4 years ago

I am grateful that I had this book to help me through a dark childhood, and so glad that, almost 30 years after I first read the book, I got to meet its author.

Rachel Nichols
4 years ago

I have a real issue with the way (some) churches make an effort or at least seem to try to freeze the poor and outcasts out. As an eccentric single woman who lives in poverty I have experienced this once or twice.

Usually I’m allowed to attend on the outskirts because my Dad’s a preacher, I dress nicely in clothes given to me by my wealthy sister-in-law, and observe social niceties that are more important than godliness in today’s church. Most people have no idea how poor I am or how the food bank supplies 25% of my monthly groceries.

The Church is the last place I would ask for help if my power were shut off or I had nothing to eat. They seem to think poor people are lazy or did something evil to deserve their horrible situation.

Just like those “failures” the spinsters–or worse–battered wives. 🙁 I’m glad I am not the latter, lonely as I am sometimes.

4 years ago
Reply to  Rachel Nichols

Oh Rachel, to read this breaks my heart, and it’s also very familiar. I am also somewhat ‘in the fringes’ of local church circles, and my involvement is very sporadic at best (mostly non-existent). I just am tired of trying to fit among people who do not want me, and who already have their happy well-established group. Being a part of any ministry team or any Christian activity seems to require social standing in the inner circles that I do not have.

There simply is no place where I would feel loved and welcomed at the moment, and the often touted ‘just be active, and begin to serve’ is very unhelpful in the real life – trying to force oneself to become a part of something does not work.
How I long to be a part of a loving community / group, where I could honestly use my gifts and encourage others, be loved and give it out to others. Sadly, at the moment it is not my reality, and in many ways I feel it’s so much against everything that God designed. Still, He is my hope and I am seeking Him for ways that I could serve and help others – He can open doors outside any ‘established’ church or recognized ministry teams 🙂

4 years ago

As a child, I wanted and needed to be rescued. It didn’t happen in such a concrete way as Amy Carmichael’s very definite rescue of children, and I resented that for many years. I turned my anger I had towards God, to being angry that there was no one like Amy Carmichael to rescue me when I was in such need.

I’ve been scornful of Christian biographies, especially those for children, because I wanted the “reality” of the harshness of life to show. I really wanted the message to be, “Don’t count on being rescued by anyone.” These Christian biographies are full of hope, but I haven’t been. I’m starting to have more hope and also recognizing places I’ve kept anger towards God hidden away and mislabeled.

Thank you for writing these biographies Rebecca. With my youngest ones still at home I get to read them all over again, but without the anger and despair underneath as I read aloud.

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