This post last updated on December 28th, 2021
Much has been written about the men who had an impact on Christianity and on the church, but what about some of the women of faith?
I don’t know about you, but as I read through the Bible, I’m noticing a lot of reference to some quite influential women. There’s Deborah, a prophetess who judged Israel in the Old Testament. Then there’s Lydia, Euodia, and Syntyche, the women of the church at Philippi. The latter 2 having “labored side by side” with Paul, Clement, and other workers for the sake of the Gospel (Phillipians 4:3).
Throughout history, women have continued to play vital roles in all kinds of places for the sake of the Gospel. In fact, I can think of 3 right away that have been instrumental, instructive, and exceedingly encouraging in my spiritual formation and in my own work for the Lord.
So to honor them and all of those who I do not know, I came up with a by no means complete list of 10 extraordinary women who had an impact on the Christian faith!
Biblical Examples of Faithful Women
|Mary, the mother of Jesus
What more can be said of this extraordinarily faithful woman? “And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
|Rahab the Prostitute
A woman who modeled hospitality, mercy, faith, patience, and repentance. “And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” Joshua 2:11 (Joshua 2:1-3; Joshua 6:17-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).
|Ruth the Moabitess
A great example of obedience, servitude and sacrifice. Ruth’s faith stands as a stunning example to all who follow God. “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:16-17
|Deborah the Judge
Wise, God-fearing, loyal. One of only 5 women in the Bible described as a prophet, and the only female judge of Israel that we know about, Deborah exemplified leadership and courage in the face of adversity. Deborah’s story can be found in Judges chapters 4 and 5. “Now at that time Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. And she used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites went up to her for judgment.” Judges 4:4-5
|Lydia of Thyatira
A woman who responded immediately and soundly to the calling the Lord placed in her heart. Lydia is also regarded as the first European convert to Christianity and consequently, the church at Phillipi the first on that continent. “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Acts 16:14
Women of Faith in Modern Times
|Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997)
Who, after leaving the comforts of her native home worked in India with the poorest of the poor, or in her own words, “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” Mother Teresa experienced and overcame doubt, loneliness and the temptation to return to the comfort of her convent.
|Susanna Wesley (20 January 1669 – 23 July 1742)
Another woman of extraordinary strength. Because of her husband’s frequent absence, Susanna Wesley was responsible for her families finances as well as her 19 children’s education (9 of which died as infants). The hardships she and her children faced were massive, including their house burning down twice. The letters, meditations and commentaries Susanna wrote were fundamental to educating her children, that happened to include John and Charles Wesley earning Susanna Wesley the title of the “Mother of Methodism.”
|Katharina von Bora (January 29, 1499 – December 20, 1552)
Though little is known of the wife of Martin Luther, this former nun was fundamental in helping to define family life and marriage following the Reformation. An example of her wisdom and influence on Protestantism, Luther occasionally consulted Katharina on church matters. Katharina also was administrator of the monastery, the breeding and selling of cattle and operating a brewery, all of which supported Martin Luther’s work in the Reformation.
|Elisabeth Elliot (December 21, 1926 – June 15, 2015)
Elisabeth Elliot “was one of the most influential Christian women of our time. For a half century, her best selling books, timeless teachings and courageous faith have influenced believers and seekers of Jesus Christ throughout the world. She used her experiences as a daughter, wife, mother, widow, and missionary to bring the message of Christ to countless women and men around the world.” (From her website, http://www.elisabethelliot.org/)
|Irena Sendler (15 February 1910 – 12 May 2008)
A Polish Roman Catholic nurse and social worker who, assisted by about 2 dozen others led the efforts that smuggled approximately 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. These babies and children were saved from the Holocaust by being smuggled out of the Ghetto in packages, suitcases, ambulances and even toolboxes. Sendler was eventually captured and tortured by the Gestapo and sentenced to death, which she managed to avoid. Irena Sendler was a tremendous example of courage, faith and creative perseverance during one of the most horrendously evil events in human history.