“It is not strange, my countrymen, that my voice is small,” Pandita Ramabai began when she had the audience’s full attention, “for you have never given a woman the chance to make her voice strong!”
But Michelle DeRusha makes the voices strong.
I hear them loud and clear in her latest book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know.
It’s not just a collection of brief biographies, although it is that. It’s also a motivating voice for each of us to speak up now in our own times, like these 50 women did in their times. Each one differently. Often reluctantly. And many times scared. But speak up they did.
It shouldn’t have amazed me, but it did surprise me how far back in time that women were speaking up for their freedom to respond to God in their own ways. The first woman in the book is Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) and even then this radical woman was hearing, “Say and write what you see and hear.”
Now don’t get me wrong; this is not a book about rebels inciting trouble. It truly is a book of marvelous things that women have done throughout history for the love of Christ, some in bold ways, some in quiet ways. Some women I knew (Julian of Norwich, Susanna Wesley, Amy Carmichael); most I didn’t (Anne Askew, Jarena Lee, Josephine Butler).
But the book also sheds light on the backstories of these women. No one grows their faith in a vacuum. The more we understand someone’s story, the more we see God’s hand in their lives. I loved this tidbit about Mother Teresa that Michelle shares:
Mother Teresa remembered her mother’s response to her brother’s question about the strangers who shared their table: “Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.”
If I could still dictate what books my children read (which I can’t, alas), I’d put this on their required reading list and expect a book report at the end.
For the rest of us, I can only recommend it as worthy of your time, female and male. Books about women are often perceived as for women, but just as books about men can inform and inspire women readers, so books about women can inform and inspire men readers as well.
As believers, we all want to be more courageous in using our opportunities to love God more and love others better. These heroines encourage us to do just that.
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Who is one of your heroines of the faith? Please share in the comments.
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