To conclude Women's History Month, we wanted to share with you three more of our favorite stories of women of faith throughout history. We hope you are encouraged by these today!
Thecla of Iconium:
During the history of the Church, we see God using many women to grow His kingdom. During the first century just years after Christ lived, Thecla of Iconium was born. History tells us that she became a Christian after hearing the apostle Paul preach in her city. The Bible records Paul's visit to her city in Acts 13:51. But history gives us more information. Thecla turned away from a life of wealth and ease to devote herself to Christ. She suffered much for her faith. Thecla did not give up running her race, even though it cost her greatly, and we don’t give up either.
There are two churches that were dedicated to Thecla. And Gregorius, one of the church fathers, spoke of "Peter, Paul, James, Stephen, Luke, Andrew and Thecla as those who fought for the faith with fire and sword, beasts and tyrants."
Marcella and Macrina:
Much has been written about the early Church Fathers from the first centuries after Jesus’ life. But there were also many active Church Mothers whose stories need to be told. During this period, many women, such as Macrina and Marcella, were active in founding and sustaining religious homes where women were instructed in the faith and where they came together to serve those in need through hospitals and other services. Other women, such as Paula, were active in copying Scripture so that others could read the word of God. Women such as Hilda served as leaders of religious communities where both men and women received Bible training.
In 327AD a woman named Macrina was born into a family with a great history in the church. Macrina dedicated her life to God's service. Her brother, Gregory, said that Macrina carried the Psalms with her wherever she went - when she was getting up in the morning, when she was working or resting, while eating her meals and getting up from the table, when going to bed at night; she always carried the Psalms with her like a good traveling companion. (Christian History Institute, Issue #123)
Then there is Marcella; a wealthy Roman woman who lived about 300 years after Christ’s death, who went against the norms for women of her time. Although it was fashionable for wealthy Roman women to dress in very elegant clothes and spend hours on their faces and hair, she turned her palace in Rome into a Christian retreat center and began to wear a coarse brown dress to show that she was devoted to Christ, rather than to her own beauty.
As other wealthy Roman women saw how Marcella lived, they too decided to adopt her style of dress and, along with Marcella, dedicated themselves to prayer, to studying the Bible, to singing the Psalms in Hebrew and to helping the poor. Marcella’s life is known, not for her wealth, but for her love of the Bible. Marcella founded many religious homes for women who wanted to live a deeply Christian life. She was a close friend of Jerome, the man who wrote the Latin translation of the Bible, called the Vulgate. Marcella discipled a woman named Paula, who helped Jerome to copy his manuscripts and, in this way, began the careful preservation of the Bible for the next 1,000 years.
In the 1600's, we find a woman named Candida Xu working very hard to spread the Gospel in China. As an upper class woman in Chinese society, she was supposed to live a very secluded life. But this did not stop her from doing the work the Lord called her to. Candida used her influence with local officials to gain their good will toward the missionaries in this area. She raised a private income, which she used to support these missionaries and to build almost forty churches. Can you imagine – 40 churches? I’m so glad that Candida is in the cloud of witnesses cheering us on! She also gave the funds to publish Christian literature in the Chinese language.
The missionaries called Candida, "the Apostle of China" and her faith and good works became known to those in the western world when one of these missionaries wrote her biography. (Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, edited by Gerald H. Anderson, pg 752)