Billy Graham once said, "The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith."
What is your legacy? What are you sewing into the lives of others around you? Are you passing down love, peace, mercy, and grace? Are they going to remember what you said and how you made them feel? Are you giving them Jesus?
In Part One of "Ten Christian Women Who Changed the World," we looked at the lives of Mary Magdalene and Susanna Wesley.
Mary Magdalene was the first follower of Jesus to obey the call to preach the Gospel. She did so, and along with the disciples of Jesus, changed the world.
Susanna Wesley may not have written any great books or preached any great sermons, but she left a legacy. Her children became the fathers of the Methodist faith. Her legacy lies in her children, and because of their influence on the world, her voice still speaks.
In Part Two of this series, we look at two incredible women who accepted the call of God on their lives and changed the world.
3. JERENA LEE
Jerena Lee was born on February 11, 1783, in Cape May, New Jersey. She was born a free girl and went to work as a maid at a young age. As a teenager, she moved to Pennsylvania and attended a worship service at Bethel Church. There, the founder of the A.M.E Church, Bishop Richard Allen, was preaching. Although she didn't grow up in a Christian household, the sermon that Richard Allen preached so filled her heart with the Holy Spirit that she gave her life to Christ.
In 1807, Jerena heard God's voice calling her to preach the Gospel. However, she was afraid to speak up because, at the time, only men preached. One night, she gained the courage to ask Bishop Richard Allen to minister. He turned her down because the A.M.E Church had a ban on female preachers.
Although she was turned down, her spirit would not let go of the call of God on her life. Twelve years later, in 1819, Jerena was at another worship service at Bethel when the guest preacher got up to speak. He suddenly lost his words unable to finish the sermon. The door opened. Jarena had a choice. She could walk through the door that would give her a chance to preach God's word, or she could continue to sit letting her gift remain dormant.
Jarena BRAVELY stood up and finished the guest preachers sermon. Bishop Richard Allen did not rebuke her. Instead, he noticed God's call on her life and allowed her to preach the word.
Jerena was finally released to preach the word, and she could not be silenced.
In a world where women were silenced, Jerena's voice was strong, powerful, and mighty. She was the first woman authorized to preach in the A.M.E Church.
Even though she was allowed to preach, she still faced incredible hostility because she was black and a woman. But the word of God cannot be silenced, and she continued with her calling. In one of her journals, Jarena wrote that in one year alone, she traveled "two thousand three hundred and twenty-five miles, and preached one hundred and seventy-eight sermons."
A writer, a woman, and a preacher for over twenty years, Jarena Lee is a trailblazer for women in ministry. Her legacy shows us that you may face opposition, you may be rejected, your voice may be silenced, but if God has a calling on your life, and you are willing to follow, anything is possible.
4. FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE
Florence Nightingale was born in England on May 12, 1820. We know her as the founder of modern nursing. She was born to a wealthy upper-class family that encouraged her to follow the social norms of the time. She received a home-education from her father, attended socials, met with male suitors, and did everything a that was required of a woman in polite upper-class English society.
But then, God placed a call on her life, and she was never the same.
In February of 1837, Florence heard God's voice speaking to her. He called her to "a future of service". Although she wasn't religious, Florence could not let go of the call on her life. What did it mean? How was it to be fulfilled? Her heart was drawn to nursing, and although her family strictly disagreed with her choices, she went forward with the call and began studying.
In her diaries, Florence wrote, "God called me in the morning and asked me would I do good for him alone without reputation." She stayed true to His call on her life, and because of her obedience, Florence Nightingale became a nurse that changed the world of modern medicine.
Before her, nurses were seen as "drunken hussies" (source) unable to properly care for the ill. But because of her obedience and hard-work, she changed the face of nursing and showed the love of Jesus to all of those who had the honor of being cared for by her. Because of her, we have modern nursing. We have schools, we have hospitals, we have awards, and we have a legacy that continues to live.
Although her religious views changed throughout her life, one thing can be taken from her example. Florence Nightingale heard God's voice and followed His voice. Nothing got in her way; not angry parents, suitors, or discrimination could stop her from obeying God's call.
Both Jarena Lee and Florence Nightingale heard God's call on their lives. But it isn't enough to just hear His call. It isn't enough to just listen. We must obey the call of God on our lives, and go forward in the calling.
Let these two amazing women be an example to all of us. We have all been given a God-given call. We have all been given a purpose. Are we hearing the call? Are we listening to the call? And are we obeying?
I pray that through this series, you will find ordinary women who answered an extraordinary call. I pray that you will also see yourself in these women. All of them have accepted God's plan and purpose for their lives and as a result; changed the world.
Your name could be next for the generations ahead of you to learn from.
YOUR TURN: Out of the four women we have written about so far, who resonates with you? Let's talk about it in the comments below!