About This Blog

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"50 women every Christian should know" (Michelle DeRusha)

TITLE: 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith
AUTHOR: Michelle DeRusha
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014, (384 pages).

Spanning more than 1000 years starting from the start of the 9th Century, hard choices are made with regards to which women to highlight in this book to be among the "50 women every Christian should know." What makes this book truly personal and meaningful is not what one should know, but who we most connected with. From Europe to India, from Africa to North America, women across various industries have their stories dramatically told as readers are invited to learn about their beginnings, their faith journeys, their struggles, and their accomplishments in society, and especially their testimonies for God through the work they do. Some of the women are well-known figures that most of us will know. People such as Mother Teresa whose work in India is often highlighted as the model for charity work. Or the English mystic, Julian of Norwich whose deep devotion to Christ gives the world a classic work of spirituality through "Revelations of Divine Love." Or Catherine Booth, whose husband (founder of Salvation Army) seems more famous than her, but plays a significant part in the establishment and faith of the world famous organization. There is Susanna Wesley, the mother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. The late Ruth Bell Graham is also selected as one of those women that every Christian ought to know.

What sets these women apart from the rest? DeRusha describes each woman based on an apt title, a brief introduction of each, a short background, the struggles and the significant achievements of each. Each woman's life is compressed to around 4-6 pages long in this 384 page book. Written like a reference book of who's who, readers will see each person up close and personal. Many of us would probably relate to the tough and dark times people of faith typically face. We see how Hildegard von Bingen, the German nun got banned from singing, and overcame all odds to found another convent, and be made one of the only four women to be named a Doctor of the Church (the others are Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, and Thérèse of Lisieux). The English martyr, Anne Askew was burned at the stake, accused of being a heretic, had given up a life of luxury and class, to fight for truth with conviction. Known as the only woman ever to be burned and tortured in the Tower of London, her battle to declare the faith is moving. On the Education front, there is Hannah More who recovered from a tragic death of a close friend and mentor, and accusations of plagiarism, to become a great writer who pens one of the most important contributions leading to the abolition of slavery. Several of the women like Katharina Luther, Catherine Booth, Edith Schaeffer, and Ruth Bell Graham are also listed, partly due to their more illustrious husbands, Martin Luther, William Booth, Francis Schaeffer, and Billy Graham respectively. Reading their stories helps us appreciate a little more of what makes their husbands so famous.

What makes these stories really engaging is how these heroines overcame their respective struggles and downtimes to become staunch testimonies of faith in both life and death. Some are martyrs. Others are wives of their famous husbands. A few other names like Saint Birgitta of Sweden, Lottie Moon, Phoebe Palmer, Pandita Ramabai, Ida Scudder, among others are not as well known, this book reveals more about their role and why we should know them. Of course, there will always be disputes surrounding the names and why others were not chosen. That to me is not so important. For as we learn to appreciate the 50 women in this book, we can learn to cast our net wider and to see how God works in the lives of other great believers, in the past, present and future.

Michelle DeRusha is an avid reader of women who inspires. Her repertoire of stories from the past is staggering. She is also a keen writer of faith matters and is in the ministry of encouraging others in their faith. This book is one of her contributions to the community of faith. Read this book and be encouraged!

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment