Extraordinary Women in Church History, Part 4

Michelle Rabon

iBelieve Contributor
Updated May 16, 2023
Extraordinary Women in Church History, Part 4

Don’t be lured into thinking the only way to matter as a woman is by burning your bra, climbing the ladder, or belittling a man. The greatest way, as Christian women, that we can matter and make an impact is through radical obedience to Christ alone. 

The church is not just a man-only historical record, contrary to secular belief, just like world history isn’t only about men. Even in times and cultures when women were silenced or not taken seriously, women still found a way to accomplish the task ahead. Especially in the church. 

By worldly standards, a woman needs to be a CEO, full of power and autonomy. She needs to resist the patriarchy and sacrifice family for her success. A biblical woman, however, sees things a bit differently. She is not viewing her life based on selfish gain but is willing to give it all for the cause of Christ. 

Patriarchy isn’t the downfall of women; today’s cultural ideation of women is. 

There are so many women across the history of the church who have made incredible impacts. Susanna Wesley was a faithful mother who devoted her life to her home, her children, and to sharing Christ around her kitchen table. At the end of her life, she was proclaimed the Mother of the Methodist church because her sons went on to raise the banner of the Methodist church. 

By today’s standards, she would have been viewed as oppressed or a slave to man, but I bet if you asked her, and you can via her writings, she was joyful in Christ. 

The difference between women today and women then is which voice is the loudest. 

A million voices are vying for our attention. Social media has millions of users, and each one has something to say about feminity, gender, race, religion, government, etc. But right now, today, the topic that is capivitating the culture is gender, especially womanhood. 

We currently live in a world where women shout at men that they have no say in abortion because they do not have a uterus. Yet, in the same breath, welcome the men who want to be a woman. 

I share these women of church history to inspire you as you seek to follow Christ in a world full of nonsense and hypocrisy. These women, to me, are the epitome of what it means to be a woman. 

We should take a lesson from their playbook, Scripture. 

Throughout this series, we have looked at a variety of women throughout the centuries and the contributions they made to the gospel. These final four women make their way into the modern day with hearts that long to be the hands and feet of Christ. 

Lilias Trotter

This name may be unfamiliar to you, but this young woman led a profound life for Christ. Lilias was born in Victorian England to a wealthy family. She was raised in a home that prized following Christ as the first importance. 

Lilias was a talented artist and prolific journaler about her life. She had a promising art career before, but the call of God on her life took her in a different direction. 

In 1888, Trotter, along with two friends, landed in Algeria with no mission support or training. They immersed themselves in learning the Arabic language and committed to sharing the gospel for as long and as far as they could. She served the Muslims of Algeria for forty years. She poured out her life and skills to bring the gospel to unreached parts of the world. 

Gladys Aylward

Gladys was a missionary to China. At 26, she desired to serve but failed to pass the examinations to serve with the China Inland Mission Center in London. She did not give up but saved her money in hopes of reaching the Chinese mainland. 

She finally made her way and served alongside an older missionary seeking to hand her mission over to a younger missionary. The two women opened an inn together, and it became a sought-after place. They were able to share the gospel with those who stayed with them in the Inn. 

The most extraordinary part of Gladys’ story happened during her second year in China. She was summoned by the Mandarian when a riot broke out in the man's prison. They sent her in to break up the rioting men who were murdering each other. The Lord strengthened her, and she was able to calm the riot and speak to the men in the prison. After this, she became known as the “virtuous one.”

Corrie Ten Boom

This is a name you may know–a World War II hero by the name of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch clockmaker. Corrie and her family hid Jews in their home during the war, and it was often a home for those who were passing through the underground to safer places. 

The Boom family had immense faith. Her father each morning would gather everyone around the table to read the Scriptures together. The gospel of Christ was their greatest hope. 

When their underground hiding was discovered, Corrie and her family were imprisoned, and ,along with her sister, they were sent to the concentration camp Ravensbruck. Corrie’s sister never made it out. After the war was over, Corrie was on a mission to preach God’s forgiveness to the world. Especially to the Germans, even coming face to face with one of her concentration camp tormentors in 1947. 

This same man confessed after hearing her speak that he had come to know Christ and sought her forgiveness for the pain he caused. Her story is incredible and inspiring. 

Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth was the wife of Jim Elliot, the missionary murdered by the tribe he was seeking to minister to in 1956. After her husband's death, she continued the mission to the very people who killed her husband in Ecuador, with her 10-month-old daughter in her arms.  

Upon her return to the States in 1963, she became a critically acclaimed author and speaker. Elisabeth went on to write 24 books.

The entirety of her life models the love of Christ. Her mission, as she says on her website, is to share the trustworthiness of God, the blessings of obedience, the hope of joy in the midst of sorrow, the call to love your enemy, purity, and biblical manhood and womanhood. 

So many of these women are marked by one thing, and that is radical obedience. No matter where they found themselves or what devastation they may have faced, they remained steadfast, ever fixed on a life obedient to Christ and His Word. 

Don’t be lured into thinking the only way to matter as a woman is by burning your bra, climbing the ladder, or belittling a man. The greatest way, as Christian women, that we can matter and make an impact is through radical obedience to Christ alone. 

For more, check out parts 1, 2, and 3.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Tofotografie

Michelle Rabon is helping women be disciples who make disciples.  Michelle has her MDiv in Ministry to Women from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently serving as Women’s Ministry Director in her local church. She is also the author of Holy Mess. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee. You can connect with Michelle at www.michellerabon.com