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Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on women who impacted society. Other media outlets will honor famous female humanitarians, politicians, doctors, teachers, inventors, entertainers, and businesswomen. As Christians though, Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the women who came before us, defying tradition and sometimes risking their lives to impact Christianity today.
In the Charisma News blog “12 Trail-Blazing Christian Women You Should Celebrate,” author J. Lee Grady writes, “When I think about the empowered women of my generation I'm reminded that they stand on the shoulders of brave women pioneers who didn't have today's advantages.”
These women preached the gospel, freed slaves, protected children, and helped the poor. Their work for Christ is certainly worth celebrating this month.
1. Mary Magdalene
Who She Was: A follower of Jesus, Mary Magdalene was with Jesus at the crucifixion. She was the first person Jesus appeared to after resurrection and she was told to spread the good news to others.
Why She Matters:
As Grady writes, “She was the pioneer of pioneers and the forerunner of all forerunners.” Mary Magdalene was the first person to be commissioned to preach the gospel, a sign that God can use women in ministry.
2. Jarena Lee (1783-1855)
Who She Was: Lee was best known for being a preacher for the African Methodist Episcopal Church, travelling hundreds of miles to teach others about Jesus.
Why She Matters: She was an adamant supporter of women’s right to preach. When challenged about the matter, Lee would say, "If the man may preach, because the Savior died for him, why not the woman, seeing He died for her also?"
3. Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Who She Was: A slave-turned abolitionist, Truth became a Methodist and was called to ministry.
Why She Matters: Truth delivered a speech entitled “Ain’t I a Woman?” in 1851 that demanded equality for women and African Americans. As a preacher, she said that Jesus overcame her hatred of white people. Her faith gave her the ability to love everyone.
4. Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874)
Who She Was: Palmer was a Methodist revivalist, contributing to the holiness movement of the mid-1880s and the Pentecostal revival.
Why She Matters: She preached alongside her husband, but was more popular because female preachers were unusual for the time period. She spoke in support of women in ministry and founded a mission for alcoholics in New York City.
5. Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)
Who She Was: A hymn composer, Crosby did not let her blindness stop her from writing 8,000 Christian hymns including “Blessed Assurance,” “Rescue the Perishing,” and “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.”
Why She Matters: Crosby’s incentive for writing hymns was to bring others to Christ. She was criticized for “feminizing” church music, but continued to write music, believing that her work was divinely inspired.
6. Catherine Booth (1829-1890)
Who She Was: As a street preacher in London and co-founder of the Salvation Army with her husband, Booth had a heart for those in poverty.
Why She Matters: Crosby sparked a movement to help the poor, in addition to making huge strides in women’s rights in ministry. She wrote Female Ministry: Women’s Right to Preach and led hundreds of women known as “Hallelujah Lassies,” female evangelists in the Salvationist movement.
I encourage you to go to Lee’s blog at Charisma to read about six more female Christian pioneers. Learning about their work will leave you truly inspired and grateful that they followed God’s call.
In the Crosswalk.com piece “Is It Selfish to Pursue My Calling,” author Cindi McMenamin encourages women to follow the calling God puts on your heart.
“I wouldn’t say it’s being selfish to pursue a calling that God has placed on your heart,” she writes. “I would say it’s being obedient. If a calling is truly from God, to not pursue it is to not believe He will equip you to where He has called you.”
Has God placed a calling on your heart to do work for Him? How do the Christian women listed here inspire you to further God’s Kingdom?
Carrie Dedrick is the Family Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: March 4, 2016