Over the years I have read with great appreciation and benefit the biographies not only of many great men of faith but also of numerous outstanding Christian women. The abbreviated biographies of five such noteworthy Christian women (Susanna Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor and Corrie ten Boom) are featured in my book, Women of Faith and Courage. To follow is a thumbnail sketch of each of their lives to pique your interest.
Susanna Wesley (1669-1742) was the godly mother of John and Charles Wesley, key players in England’s evangelical revival and founders of the Methodist movement in the eighteenth century. She faithfully supported and helped to strengthen the ministry of her oftentimes-difficult husband, Samuel, a clergyman in the Church of England. She also poured her life into the educating and scrupulous spiritual upbringing of her numerous children. Her life models the shaping of an exceptional character through assorted trials, including religious persecution, financial deprivation, family heartache and poor health.
In an era filled with prominent Gospel song composers, Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) became the world’s premiere hymnwriter. Blind from six weeks of age, she wrote nearly 9,000 hymns in her lifetime, including a number that are still sung today – to name but a few, ‘All the Way My Savior Leads Me’, ‘Blessed Assurance’, ‘He Hideth My Soul’, ‘I Am Thine, O Lord’, ‘Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross’, ‘Redeemed’, ‘Rescue the Perishing’, ‘Tell Me the Story of Jesus’ and ‘To God Be the Glory’. A Presbyterian by upbringing, she ministered in various denominational settings as an adult. Well into her eighties, she traveled widely, ministering in churches, Bible conferences, rescue missions, YMCAs, patriotic rallies and various other settings.
Catherine Booth (1829-1890) is commonly thought of as the mother of the Salvation Army, having co-founded it with her husband, William. Before that time they were involved in itinerant evangelistic ministry with the Methodists. The Salvation Army, which experienced explosive growth and spread to a number of countries in the Booths’ lifetime, emphasized ministry to the spiritual and material needs of the lower classes of society. For over three decades Catherine carried on a powerful public speaking ministry, becoming the preeminent female preacher of her generation. The pronounced influence she and her husband had on their nine children (including an adopted son) resulted in all of them growing up to become devoted believers, most of whom entered vocational Christian service.
Mary Slessor (1848-1915), a Scottish Presbyterian, overcame a difficult childhood that included coping with an alcoholic father, grinding family poverty and exhausting labor in a textile mill as the primary provider for her mother and siblings. She went on to invest thirty-eight years of her life in carrying the Gospel to savage, degraded tribes in the dense forests of Calabar (southern Nigeria), West Africa. She courageously pioneered in areas where other missionaries and even traders avoided, planting churches and schools in several locations. Through her efforts, a variety of unthinkable pagan practices were eliminated or greatly reduced, and many individuals were led to saving faith in Christ.
Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) is well known as one of the brave Dutch Reformed Christians who assisted and sheltered Jews and other fugitives during the German occupation of Holland in World War 2. After being arrested for their underground work, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, carried out a phenomenal ministry of Christian witness and mercy in the Nazi concentration camps where they were incarcerated. Following her providential release, Corrie returned to Holland where she established a recovery ministry to victims of the war. She devoted the final three decades of her life to itinerant evangelistic ministry in more than sixty countries throughout the world.
I think you’ll be spiritually encouraged and benefited by reading the life stories of these dedicated Christian women. I would enjoy hearing how you’ve been inspired and challenged by their examples.
Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie
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