March is officially Women’s History month and since this blog is about women and for women, I thought I would give patronage to some Christian women who have paved the way for the 21st century woman. These women are single, married, missionaries, martyrs, theologians, living, and dead. They all have different backgrounds and even vary theologically at some points, but one thing they have in common is their life-long devotion to God. They gave up their lives unto service to Him. Let’s take a cue from those who have gone before us.
Women of Yesterday:
Perpetua and Felicitus (181- 203)
Perpetua lived in North Africa with her maidservant Felicitus. She was born of noble birth, very young, and the mother of an infant son. They were arrested in Carthage after the Roman edict prohibited Christians from teaching or making converts. Perpetua refused to deny her faith and thus, they were both sentenced to death by being thrown before wild beasts in an arena. After she was mauled by the first animal, she begged her brother to take back a message to her family. “Tell them they must love one another and not allow our suffering to keep them from the faith.” These were her last words.
Monica, mother of the theologian Augustine (331-387)
Augustine said of his mother, “She shows herself such a peacemaker between differing and discordant spirits.” These characteristics and 18 years of constant prayer made her the woman in 1 Peter 3:1-6. Her husband was won over to the faith because of godly conduct and her rebellious son, Augustine, later repented and helped save Christianity when the Roman Empire fell.
Paula was a noble, Roman Christian woman who earned her reputation by being the friend of the famous scholar Jerome, making many pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and most importantly for aiding Jerome in translating the Bible into Latin, which became the basis of most later Roman Catholic translations.
Katherine Luther (1499-1552)
Katherine began as a humble nun who later on became the wife of a former monk named, Martin Luther. She was truly a Proverbs 31 woman who made sure she was a help mate to her husband whilst he was leading the German Reformation and posted his ninety-five theses against the Catholic Church. Her husband trusted her because she brought good to him all the days of her life. Luther even said this about his “Beloved Kate,” “ I would not change my Katie for France and Venice, because God has given her to me, and she is true to me and a good mother to my children.”
Anne Askew (1521-1546)
This young woman took a brave stand against the great Roman Catholic Church. Anne believed that Christ’s real body and blood were not in the sacraments (Lord’s Supper) and stated she would rather read five lines of Scripture than hear five masses in the temple. Because she would not deny these true beliefs of hers, the Church imprisoned and tortured her until she would recant. But she would not and therefore, they took her crippled body and burned her alive at the stake. She never wavered in faith or stopped going to the Lord in prayer, even while in chains.
Susannah Spurgeon (1832-1903)
Faithful wife of one of the greatest evangelical preachers in history, Charles Spurgeon, Susannah also had some notable characteristics. One of her greatest contributions, in her time, was the setting up of the Book Fund where Susannah arranged for local ministers to receive books to help train and grow them in their ministry. Not only did she give her physical life to this ministry but she also gave much of her monetary means, of which she had little but she gave much. Many have said, “If greatness depends upon the amount of good which one does in the world, if it is only another name for unselfish devotion in the service of others then Susannah Spurgeon will go down as one of the greatest women of her time.
Mary Slessor “The White Ma of Africa” (1848-1915)
Mary was Scottish born, but after becoming a missionary to Africa for 38 years she was African at heart. Not only was she an evangelist but she helped settle arguments in the villages, encourage trade, built homes for the people and aided in bringing them a better education. Mary was also passionate about campaigning against injustices against women, taking in the outcasts of Nigeria and adopting unwanted children. She was never married, nor did she ever have any children of her own but she did become a “Ma” to the children of Nigeria.
Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)
Amy gave 35 years of service as a single, pioneer missionary in India. While there she opened an orphanage, founded a mission, and started the Dohnavur Fellowship. This fellowship helped save over 1,000 young children from forced prostitution in the Hindu Temples. Her heart can be seen through this famous quote of hers: “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”
Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)
The Ten Boom family opened their home to give refuge to dozens of Jews fleeing the Nazis. This led to their imprisonment in the Ravensbruck Holocaust concentration camp. Corrie was the only survivor of her family and was known for her heart and teachings on forgiveness. She personally lived this out when she had to face-to-face forgive one of the cruelest Ravensbruck camp guards when they met later on in life.
Women of Today
Dr. Dorothy Patterson
Not only is Dr. Patterson a famed homemaker and help meet to her husband, but she is also one of the most educated in Christian Women’s Studies today. She was one of the first women to get a Masters of Theology, Doctorate of Ministry, and Doctorate of Theology. She is also known for battling for the authority and inerrancy of Scripture despite open opposition and countering the cultural norms. Dr. Patterson is helping pave the way for women to study the biblical languages, theology, and womanhood from a biblical perspective.
Mary is a keen mind in uncovering the feminist theology and its history. Her most popular book “Feminist Mistake” has given Christian women a solid, biblical critique of the feminist thought. She is one of the members on the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, helping Christians understand what God’s Word says about the roles of men and women in the family and Church.
Rifqa is famously known in America for seeking refuge from the Florida courts after fleeing her Muslim home when she became a Christian and becoming an intended “honor killing” by her father. Despite her young years and threats from her family and Islamic community, she never faltered from her faith in Jesus Christ.
Though these women come from all times, places, and backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: their devotion to their Heavenly Savior. They never stopped learning and reading God’s Word. They never stopped praying. They never stopped proclaiming the Gospel and they never let the world come between them and their relationship with Christ.
Who are the Women of Tomorrow?
YOU AND ME
Our faith will be reported all over the world (Rom. 8:1). We will not be ashamed of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). We will be women who value the family and Church, teaching sound doctrine to other women, so that the Word of God will not be reviled (Titus 2:5).
I pray that, we, as the next generation of Christian women, will rise up and become like those we’ve just read about. Let’s be women that the younger generation can look to as an example. Let’s be women that never stop growing in knowledge, faith, and love of our Lord Jesus Christ! Let’s be a step above the rest!
Great Women of the Christian Faith by Edith Deen.