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.”
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.