I love reading the stories of women who have followed Jesus wholeheartedly — ordinary women who have found themselves doing all kinds of extraordinary things for His kingdom and His glory! Women in Scripture, women in history, women today.
These women humble me and teach me and challenge me and inspire me in so many ways…
Which is why I’m so excited to have my friend Michelle DeRusha share with you today from her latest book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know.
“Go forth without fear.”
Back in the fourteen century when Catherine of Siena heard these words directly from God, she answered. She stepped onto a path rarely traveled by women in her time, and she embraced her God-given role as a powerful and influential political envoy.
Take note: this command was not unique to Catherine. Every one of the women featured in 50 Women Every Christian Should Know heard God’s command, “Go forth without fear,” and every one listened, obeyed and answered yes.
The stories in this book illustrate that circumstances don’t matter as much as obedience itself, because God calls his daughters to answer right where they are.
For some, that entails stepping out of the uncomfortable, the familiar and the routine into the unexpected, the frightening, the foreign and the unknown.
Catherine Booth, for instance, feared preaching more than anything else, yet when she heard the call to rise and walk from the pew to the pulpit, she answered.
Ida Scudder never intended to follow in her parents’ footsteps as a missionary, yet when she heard God call her to serve as a doctor in India, she answered.
Mary McLeod Bethune felt unqualified to serve in President Roosevelt’s administration, yet when God called her as a voice for African American people, she answered.
For others, God’s call demands that they answer and act exactly where they were.
Katherina Luther impacted and influenced Martin Luther’s ministry in more ways than we’ll ever know, simply by working tirelessly behind the scenes as a wife, mother and businesswoman.
Susanna Wesley ministered largely inside her own home, nurturing and educating her children, including two sons who made a lasting mark on Christian history.
Corrie ten Boom never anticipated her ministry would be born amid the horrors of a concentration camp, yet that’s exactly where God called her and her sister to share His hope.
Obedience is the common thread that weaves these fifty women together across nine centuries, dozens of countries and myriad callings as writers, speakers, abolitionists, educators, social workers, missionaries, activists, mothers and wives.
God called, and these fifty women boldly answered.
And sisters? Let me tell you, the call doesn’t end with these fiftywomen. God asks each one of us, those of us living right here, right now in the twenty-first century, to answer him as well.
He doesn’t demand perfect skills or a flawless character. He doesn’t expect immovable, unwavering faith. He doesn’t even require unshakable courage – many of the women in this book battled deep, near-paralyzing fear, even as they stepped forth in obedience.
In fact, if you look closely at the women who have walked before us, you’ll see that none is perfect, none is flawless or sinless. All are human broken and fallible, just like you and me.
Yet in spite of all their imperfections and flaws, God used them to change the world, directing them to situations unique to their gifts, talents and temperaments – in prisons, classrooms, brothels, homes, churches, mission fields – and asked them to go forth in trust.
They answered yes. Every single time.
This post is an edited excerpt from the Afterward of Michelle DeRusha’s recently published book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith (Baker Books). From Catherine of Siena and Anne Hutchinson to Susanna Wesley, Harriet Tubman and Corrie ten Boom, this book of engaging narratives spans more than 900 years and brings into focus fifty incredible heroines of the faith – women who inspire and encourage us; women who remind us that we are not alone, that the battles we face today are not new, and that God is always with us in the midst of our struggles.
Michelle is also the author of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and their two boys. You can connect with Michelle on her blog and on Facebook and Twitter.