Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Amy Carmichael, Derick Bingham and a Pen

On March 6th, Derick Bingham died. He was one of Belfast, Northern Ireland's best known Bible teachers, and also author of one of my favourite books, The Wild Bird Child: A Life of Amy Carmichael. The book is a treasure to me, having fallen in love with Amy Carmichael's poetry after Susan introduced me to it. Derick Bingham was also a treasure to the Kingdom.

I honour his memory this morning with a post by my dear friend Claire who introduced me through her tribute, to the man who wrote the book. Below Claire's post is a link to an interview with Derick Bingham that is about 40 minutes long. If you have time to listen to it you will be enriched and blessed.

By Claire Alexander
“Grace groweth best in winter” (Samuel Rutherford to Lady Culross)

The rotating strobe of a lighthouse brings back such memories.*

My girlhood in West Vancouver, B.C., called Hollyburn in those schooldays, reminds me of Point Atkinson. I recall stories my dad told of the revered native Siwash Rock, which under great controversy and marvelous engineering had to be blasted out. Ships approaching the Vancouver harbour, near the Prospect Point lighthouse, and the Lions Gate Bridge, foundered on it.

Nostalgia sets in, as I smell the tang of salt, and of seaweed knotted in giant clumps of bulbous kelp with waving, slippery ribbons of leathery green, more than an adult hand-breadth wide, and metres long. I shiver with excitement, turning over boulders rounded by the smashing waves, to find the tiniest crab of the day – barely millimeters in size, skittering off sideways to safety. And just what is it now that triggers such a kaleidoscope?

An Irishman. A writer. Someone whose life touched others – and after his death this month leaves words that continue to touch me.

His words merely say, “I particularly want to use the simile of a pen being as a lighthouse.”

The words make a simple statement, but they tug a word or two out of memory, words that have lain dormant many years. He also ties them to my style of visual learning.

When Derick Bingham in Belfast heard he had acute myeloid leukemia, he found his career change direction, and courageously wrote, “I now have a remarkable opportunity to write more letters.”

His blog, written on rare occasions through his cancer, shows me a lighthouse, with its light faithfully revolving, comforting me afresh as in my childhood.

During the last few years, this pastor just “happened” to be following up research in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, at Millisle, near Belfast. In his timing, he says he “stumbled” on the recent D-4060 placement in Amy Carmichael’s hometown of her records, 41 books, and about 200 letters, by Miss Margaret Wilkinson and the Dohnavur Fellowship in southern India.

And, he says, “In reading those letters I found spiritual gold.”

The resulting “Wild-Bird Child,” summarizing Amy’s life from wildly riding her pony on the beach, to her role as social reformer in India to “compel the Government to act” (to conquer the evil traffic in young children), captivated me with its gentle but indomitable Irishness.

Today in God’s Garden at Dohnavur, a birdbath marks Amma’s grave (1867-1936).

Belfast holds a memorial for another beloved friend on March 28, 2010. The pens have been set at rest – but the light from the letters and thoughts of Amy Beatrice Carmichael and Derick Bingham keep flashing pictures on my mind, pictures of a lighthouse, even in winter.

*The quotations I have used from my ‘lighthouse’ accompanying this blog are taken by kind permission from The Complete Gathered Gold by John Blanchard and published by Evangelical Press (

Post Script:
By Belinda
Coastal Pastor the pastor of Portstewart Baptist Church on the north coast of Northern Ireland interviewed Derick Bingham on December 31st 2009. You can listen to the interview here


mercygraceword said...

Not only was this wonderful, but I found out about another Amy Carmichael biography.
Thank you so much!


Belinda said...

Dear Deborah, fellow friend of Amy Carmichael!:) You will LOVE this book.I treasure my copy.

mercygraceword said...

Ordered from Amazon Wednesday, arrived today! Wonderful weekend reading ahead!

Belinda said...

Yahoo! I love Amazon.:) But it is almost TOO convenient. :)

Angelika Ziegler said...

I saw that you posted some work by Amy Carmichael. She’s fantastic and I actually work for the publishing company that produces a lot of her books! I was wondering if you would be interested in doing a review on a new one we have out, called Plowed Under.
Email me if you are interested at!
Thank you for your consideration,
Geli Ziegler