There are so many beautiful women who have inspired me throughout my life. They have taught me how to be a mother, a wife, a friend, and a follower of Jesus. These women were willing to pass on their legacy to me, and in return, I strive to give what they taught me to others.
Throughout history, there have been Christian women, who through their example left an incredible mark on the world. Their lives, their hardships, their triumphs, and their sacrifices have been left to us; and from them, we learn to grow.
This month at The Felicity Bee, we are featuring ten of these extraordinary women. Of course, this is just a small glimmer of the many Christian women who have changed the world, but I am hoping that in these ten, you can see yourself and emulate the traits that you admire.
In Part 1, we discovered the beauty and grace of Mary Magdalene and the mother’s heart of Susanna Wesley.
In Part 2, we found the courage and strength of Jarena Lee and the healing hands of Florence Nightingale.
And now, in Part 3 of “Ten Christian Women Who Changed the World,” we see two more women who through their strength and tenacity changed the course of history.
5. SOJOURNER TRUTH
Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree around 1797. She was born into slavery, but escaped with her infant daughter in 1826. She changed her name from “Belle” to Sojourner Truth in 1843 after the Lord told her to “testify the hope that was in her.” Her most famous speech, “Ain’t I A Woman” was delivered without preparation in 1851 at a Women’s Convention in Ohio. Truth was a remarkable woman who worked with the Union Army to recruiters black troops for the Civil War. She was a speaker, an abolitionist, and a follower of the Lord.
When Truth escaped slavery, the Lord showed her a vision of the home of a Quaker couple named Issac and Maria Van Wagener.
The couple bought her from the owner she escaped from and then set her free.
A couple of years later, Truth had an experience that affirmed her Christian faith. According to her autobiography, “God revealed himself to me, with all the suddenness of a flash of lightning, showing me, in the twinkling of an eye, that he was all over, that he pervaded the universe, and that there was no place where God was not. I jes' walked round an' round in a dream, Jesus loved me! I knowed it, I felt it."
There is a story that one evening the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe was having a dinner party with prominent ministers and abolitionists. Sojourner Truth knocked on the door to Stowe’s home and told this writer, “The Lord has made me a sign unto this nation, an' I go round a'testifyin' an' showin' on 'em their sins agin my people.”
When asked by one of the ministers if Truth preached from the Bible her response was no because she couldn’t read. “When I preaches," she said, "I has just one text to preach from, an' I always preaches from this one. My text is, 'When I found Jesus.'”
When I found Jesus. What a powerful message!
Sojourner Truth fought against the injustices of slavery. She fought for the rights of women and the rights of her people. She preached the truth. After she found the Lord, she was swayed by different religious groups claiming to tell the truth about the Lord. It turns out, many of them were cults.
Breaking free from the sway of these religious cults, and desiring to start a new life, Isabella asked the Lord for a new name. She says that in a vision, God renamed her “Sojourner; because I was to travel up an' down the land, showin' the people their sins, an' bein' a sign unto them." She asked the Lord for a second name "and the Lord gave me Truth, because I was to declare the truth to the people."
Sojourner Truth left an incredible legacy; preaching and teaching the truth about God’s word and His people. She spoke on abolition, supported women’s rights, and prison reform; and met with President Abraham Lincoln which was quite an honor. She retired to her home in Michigan in 1875, and stayed there until her death in 1883, but not before giving us an incredible legacy of God’s amazing truth.
6. FANNY CROSBY
Fanny Crosby wrote nearly 9,000 hymns, many which are still sung every Sunday in churches around the world. Fanny was born in 1820 right outside of New York City. She lost her eyesight at six weeks and lived the rest of her life blind. Crosby was a composer of spiritual and secular music, a writer of patriotic and political songs, a lyricist, and a poet as well as a writer of hymns.
She wrote her first poem at just eight years old and put into verse how she would never feel sorry for herself because of her blindness . . .
Oh, what a happy soul I am,
although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t,
To weep and sigh because I'm blind
I cannot, and I won’t!
Fanny wrote for presidents and politicians, Christians and non-Christians, and devoted her life to the musical arts.
Fanny Crosby faced many hardships in her life, but they didn’t deter her from her calling to create some of Christianity’s most famous hymns. Perhaps it was through the struggles the songs were birthed. Fanny once said, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”
What an outlook Fanny had on this life? She did not allow her blindness to paralyze her gifts. Instead, she answered the call of the Lord and wrote the music of Heaven.
In 1835, just before her 15th birthday, Crosby enrolled in the New York Institute for the Blind where she spent years as a student, and then as a graduate student. When a cholera epidemic hit New York City in November of 1849, Fanny stayed at the school to nurse the sick. It was during this time that she became depressed. According to Bernard Ruffin, the author of Fanny Crosby, “Fanny became increasingly introspective over her soul’s welfare. She began to realize that something was lacking in her spiritual life. She knew that she had gotten wrapped up in social, political, and educational reform, and did not have a true love for God in her heart.”
Fanny re-devoted her life to the Lord and went on to write some of the world’s greatest hymns. When you read the following words of her most famous hymn, you read the words of a woman who knew the Lord intimately and who found His great love for her . . .
The legacy of Fanny Crosby lies in hymnals all across the world. Funny enough, Fanny did not start writing hymns until she was in her forties. This gives great comfort to my heart as I near forty! No matter how old you are, God’s purpose for your life will prevail no matter where you are or how old you are. God had a purpose for Fanny Crosby to write His word into music; she answered the call in her forties and became America’s Hymn Queen.
Of her writing process, she said, “It may seem a little old-fashioned, always to begin one's work with prayer, but I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration.” That is our answer as well, my friends. No matter what task we are undertaking, we must first go to the Lord in prayer asking Him for inspiration. He will open our eyes and open our hearts to see things that will inspire us to answer His call for our lives.
For Fanny, who died a month before her 95th birthday, she refused to let her blindness be a stumbling block to the call on her life. She saw her blindness as a blessing and gave us Heaven’s music right here on earth.
Sojourner Truth and Fanny Crosby are such different women, but both who captured the heart of God and helped to pave the way for so many generations. Sojourner Truth heard God's call on her life, and despite everything she had gone through, she overcame in HIS power.
Fanny Crosby lost her sight as an infant, but that didn't stop her from writing the music of Heaven. She didn't allow her lack of sight to hinder God's calling on her life, and she also overcame in HIS power.
So many in our world today play the blame game. They can't do this, that or the other things, because of this, that or the other thing. They blame government, they blame God, they blame their parents, they blame others, they blame their cirumcstances for why they can't live out the life God has for them. If there is ONE THING we can learn from these two remarkable ladies, they didn't blame anyone, anything, any circumstance, any situation, or any infirmity for what they did or did not have. They used their God-given talents and pushed on to become two remakable Christian women who changed the world.
Your name could be next for the generations ahead of you to learn from.
YOUR TURN: What lessons to you take from Sojourner Truth and Fanny Crosby?