From presidents to great military heroes, there are many important figures throughout history who are recognized for their strength, character and impact. While many think of men first when it comes to strong historical figures, there are countless women who are just as important, not only because of how they lived their lives but also because of their rock-solid faith, even in some of the toughest of circumstances. Unfortunately, too often, women’s stories are not acknowledged but this doesn’t mean they weren’t incredibly impactful, especially in the eyes of God. By definition, a strong woman is fearless when it comes to facing hard situations. They are confident in who they are and what they believe. In their example of fearlessness, they encourage others to be courageous and make a difference. That’s exactly who these women are – influential and grounded in their faith. Here are the seven Christian women who shaped history and what we can learn from them.
While Mary Magdalene continues to be one of the most controversial figures in religious history, she was the most important woman disciple in the movement of Jesus. Magdalene has been portrayed throughout the centuries in a number of ways and many of these depictions don't do her story justice or speak her truth as a true disciple of Christ. Though she has been reinterpreted over and over again, she remains a compelling figure. When Mary and the other women, along with the twelve joined Jesus, they were taking a serious risk. Jesus was spurred into action after the arrest of John the Baptist. Much of John the Baptist's ministry took place on the east bank of the Jordan in Herod's territory of Parea. When John was imprisoned, Jesus took up his ministry in Herod's territory of Galilee which was viewed by Herod, not only as a challenge but also a threat. Despite the risk, Mary Magdalene was committed to Jesus' ministry.
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was a military leader and acted under divine guidance to lead the French army over Britain during the Hundred Years’ War. She was just 13 years old when she said that she had a vision from God that she would lead the French Army to victory against England. She was involved in several battles that appeared to substantiate the truth of those visions. While Joan of Arc was executed as a heretic when she was 19 years old; however, her story lives on through her bravery and her faith. She lived her life for God because of her deep love for Him. In fact, this love influenced everything she did when she was alive. Her final words were, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” which speak to the importance of God in her life. She always prayed to God and followed the instructions He placed before her. Joan of Arc is also an example of an independent woman who didn’t rely on the opinion of others. She stayed true to her faith by following her beliefs. Millions of people now look to her a symbol of courage and an example of how to keep the faith.
Catherine Booth co-founded The Salvation Army with her husband, William Booth. The Salvation Army in the late Victorian period was unique for the employment of women in its ranks and among its highest officers, often playing active roles in evangelical and social work. The “Hallelujah Lasses” who preached the streets and provided social work to the poor, were highly influential in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. She was a revolutionary woman for her time, believing in the God-given right of women to preach. She once wrote, “If the Word of God forbids female ministry, we would ask how it happens that so many of the most devoted handmaidens of the Lord have felt constrained by the Holy Ghost to exercise it…The Word and the Spirit cannot contradict each other.” Her faith was highly influential and she set a standard for future women in church and leadership.
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery to ultimately change history. Her story is so inspiring it became a featured film. Tubman's faith in God was a major force in her life and helped her fulfill her God-given mission to help others escape the bondage of slavery. She was not satisfied with her freedom alone. After her own escape, she made 19 return trips to the South and helped deliver at least 300 other slaves, known to say, “I never lost a passenger.” She earned the nickname Moses for guiding so many to freedom. She told her friends, including fellow abolitionists that her strength came from her faith in God as deliverer and protector of the weak. Tubman also shared that she listened carefully to the voice of God as she led slaves north and would only go where she felt God was leader her. Thomas Garrett, a fellow abolitionist said to her, “I never met any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God.”
Sojourner Truth was born into slaver but fled, inspired to run away from her conversations with God which she held alone in the woods. At one point, she was tempted to return to return to the Dumont farm to attend Pinkster, a celebration of New York slaves but was struck by a vision of Jesus, during which she felt “baptized in the Holy Spirit,” according to PBS. Following this, she gained the strength and confidence to resist her former master. She relied on the supernatural power of God to survive oppression and injustice. Following her escape, she traveled across the nation to preach on human rights. Once during a preaching engagement, she asked the crowd, “Does not God love colored children as well as white children? And did not the same Savior die to save the one as well as the other?" Her faith and preaching helped her to network with many abolitionists and women’s rights activists, allowing her to become well-versed and highly influential in both areas.
If you don’t know her name, you should. Lottie Moon was a missionary who spent decades devoting her life to spreading the Gospel. She established several Gospel-focused schools in China, while also entering thousands of homes in China to tell others about Christ. She is most commonly associated with the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, an offering that she helped start by sending letters from China to her constituents in the States. Her inspiring words and work opened the door for a special offering that funded the appointment of new missionaries. Her first few years in China were not easy. In fact, they were filled with hardship. Even during the first Sino-Japanese War, Moon made regular trip to rural areas to evangelize, sharing the Gospel. What was incredible about Moon was her life and ministry, a figure that was completely devoted to Christ.
Mother Teresa was a figure who believed the world could be changed through love and compassion. She lived a life of sacrifice, love and kindness; she devoted her life to helping others. Mother Teresa was so committed to helping people in need that she kept going and going until she could give no more. She was also a woman of intense faith who fervently believed the world could be a better place, person by person. Mother Teresa was committed to uplifting society and empowering the disenfranchised in a way that few leaders have even been able to demonstrate in this century. Through her actions, we see the importance of cultivating and living an attitude of faith. She shared many life lessons throughout her earthly ministry centered on love, compassion and humility. She may have passed on years ago, but her incredible love and wisdom still lives on today. Her life proves that you’re never too old and that it’s never too late to make a difference in the world.
We can learn a lot from these seven Christian women. History richly affirms their value. We learn can learn important lessons through their lives and each put down the foundation for incredible ministry. Many of these God-fearing women lived in other times than us. Some even lived in different societies than us but regardless of their background, they teach us a great deal about the power of faith. They trusted in God, proclaimed the Gospel and history was changed because of it.