Amy Carmichael's 'giving heart' continues to inspire
A sculpture to honour the life of inspirational missionary Amy Carmichael has been unveiled in her native Co Down.
The bronze statue is the fruition of seeds that were first sown years ago in conversations between the late evangelist Derick Bingham and the celebrated artist Ross Wilson.
With a shared admiration for Amy, who was born in Millisle in 1867, they wanted to commemorate her Christian witness and faithful service in Japan and India.
Mr Bingham died in 2010 but the idea lived on, and on Saturday, 150 years to the day after her birth, the statue of the young Amy was unveiled by his wife Margaret outside Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church.
"The sculpture celebrates the childhood beginnings and the spiritual inspiration that helped inform Amy's young heart," said Mr Wilson.
"It portrays Amy in the tenth year of her life looking out from below her hat towards a purposed future that would be filled with devotion to others, a serving life, a giving heart that would impact generations of children to come.
"For me as a sculptor I found the process of translating the life of one of my Christian heroes a profound experience.
"Visually reshaping a life, its personality and identity is a deep responsibility."
For me as a sculptor I found the process of translating the life of one of my Christian heroes a profound experience
Mr Wilson said it was important to "encourage our children to have positive dreams that will help inform a positive future".
"In the sculpture Amy is holding her diary where she recorded her dreams, her hopes, her future.
"Because of Amy Carmichael's vision countless children were given the hope of a new beginning and a future."
In 1901, Amy established the Dohnavur Fellowship in India to provide a safe home for young girls. Today, it works with around 120 children as well as 60 senior citizens.
Amy didn't return to Northern Ireland and she died in India on January 18 1951.
Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention has a strong link with Dohnavur Fellowship, sending donations from the 1940s.
Tom Clarke, Chairman of Bangor Worldwide and clerk of session in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, said Amy "was and still is an inspiration to those who want to serve God in other parts of the world".
"We hope that the many children and people who see the sculpture will be challenged by Amy's story and selfless sacrifice to travel and live and die in a foreign land, all in service to the Lord Jesus Christ," he said.