#TellHisStory: What our Faith Heroines Teach Us (Guest Post from MichelleDeRusha + A Giveaway)

October 1, 2014 | Books, Guest Post | 65 comments

DeRushaheadshotI am so excited to have Michelle DeRusha hanging out with us today.

You guys ... she has written a most spectacular book about 50 Christian women that we seriously NEED to read.

And it might be your lucky day: we're giving away a copy of that book today in celebrate of the release of Michelle's book! Read her post, and then enter below for a chance to win her book.

(If you're here for #TellHisStory, the linkup is at the bottom of Michelle's post.)

Learning from Heroines of the Faith – When No Doesn’t Mean No
By Michelle DeRusha

SusannaWesley-1024x682

One of the things I noticed in researching and writing about the lives of 50 Christian women was just how many of these women refused to take “no” for an answer.

I think sometimes as Christians, and particularly as Christian women, we assume “no” is the last word. We hear “no,” and we wonder if we’ve misinterpreted our calling or taken a wrong turn on the path. In the word “no” we often hear a reprimand. We wonder if it’s a sign signaling that we’ve strayed.

But what if “no” is not, in fact, the final word? What if the “no” we hear is simply a God-ordained detour?

Mary McLeod Bethune, Gladys Aylward and Mother Teresa lived and served in vastly different places and circumstances, but all three shared something very important in common. They didn’t accept “no” for an answer, and that decision impacted not only their lives and faith, but the lives and faith of thousands of others.

Mary McLeod Bethune – Refocusing Her Mission

Of the approximately 1,000 students enrolled in Chicago’s renowned Moody Bible Institute in 1887, only one was black. Mary McLeod Bethune had set her heart on serving as a missionary in Africa when she graduated from the Institute. But when she applied to the mission board, she learned there were no openings for “Negro missionaries” in Africa.

Refusing to abandon her dream, Bethune simply shifted her focus closer to home.

“Africans in America needed Christ and school just as much as Negroes in Africa,” she said later. “My life work lay not in Africa, but in my own country.”

With $1.50 as the down payment on a two-story rental building, Mary went on to found the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls in Florida. When the school opened in 1904, she had six female students, plus her own son.

Today, the school, now known as Bethune-Cookman College, enrolls 3,500 students on an eighty-acre campus in Daytona Beach. Mary McLeod Bethune served as the college’s president until she retired in 1942. She also worked as director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration and as special advisor on minority affairs for President Franklin Roosevelt.

“Love, not hate, has been the foundation of my fullness,” said Bethune, who fought racism on the front lines for her entire life. “Faith and love have been the most glorious and victorious defense in this ‘warfare’ of life, and it has been my privilege to use them.”

Gladys Aylward – Taking Matters into Her Own Hands

Gladys Aylward dreamed of working as a missionary in China. But when the director of the China Inland Mission determined she was neither smart enough nor young enough for overseas missionary work, Aylward took matters into her own hands.

For two years Aylward worked as a maid and practiced evangelizing on London street corners. When she’d finally saved enough money, she slipped her passport into her corset, purchased a ticket for the Trans-Siberian Railroad and began the long journey east, across Russia and into China.

In the mountain village of Yangchen, China, Gladys founded the Inn of Eight Happinesses, which first offered food and shelter to travelers and later became home to more than 100 Chinese orphans.

“I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China,” she said. “There was somebody else…It must have been a man – a wonderful man, a well-educated man. I don’t know what happened…God looked down and saw Gladys Aylward.

Mother Teresa – Persistence Pays Off

Sister Teresa, as she was first known, spent 19 years in a secluded convent before she heard the call from Jesus to relinquish her life as a cloistered nun and follow Him into the slums of Calcutta. “I knew it was His will and that I had to follow Him,” she said. “There was no doubt that it was going to be His work.”

The papal authorities in Rome, however, disagreed.

For two years Teresa wrote dozens of letters to her mentor and spiritual director and to the archbishop and cardinal in Rome. She was not beneath outright begging, but time and time again, her pleas were answered the same way: she was told “no.”

“I must go – and go quickly…Souls are being lost in the slums and in the streets,” she pleaded to the archbishop. “The Sacred Heart of Jesus is more and more suffering – and here I am waiting – for just only one “Yes” which the Holy Father I am sure would give, if he knew of it.”

Finally, Teresa received news that Pope Pius XII had granted her permission to leave the convent. Nine days later, wearing a simple white sari and carrying five rupees in her pocket, Teresa walked out of the convent and toward the Calcutta slums, where she served the poorest of the poor for the rest of her life.

Mary McLeod Bethune, Gladys Aylward and Mother Teresa found the courage and the conviction to answer God’s call, even when outside forces threatened to stymie their progress. Their trust in God allowed them to persevere past roadblocks and persist along lengthy detours in order to fulfill the calling they heard for their lives.

: :

50WomenCoverMary McLeod Bethune, Gladys Aylward and Mother Teresa are three of the fifty Christian women featured in Michelle DeRusha’s recently released book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith.

From Catherine of Siena and Anne Hutchinson to Susanna Wesley, Harriet Tubman and Corrie ten Boom, this book of engaging narratives spans more than 900 years and brings into focus fifty incredible heroines of the faith – women who inspire and encourage us. Women who remind us that we are not alone, that the battles we face today are not new, and that God is always with us in the midst of our struggles.

Michelle is also the author of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and their two boys. You can connect with Michelle on her blog and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Book Giveaway

We are giving away one copy of 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. It's easy to enter, using the Rafflecopter below. (Click here, if you can't see the Rafflecopter in your email.)
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So, what's your Story?

A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

You're invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.

Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, ... your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.

Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.

Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?

#TellHisStory

For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here. Share the love of story by visiting someone else in the community!

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by | October 1, 2014 | Books, Guest Post | 65 comments

65 Comments

  1. Anita

    Grace Livingston Hill–her love for God has inspired thousands of women over the years (her books STILL sell)–and she was no stranger to poverty and hardship (just like many of her characters).

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I haven’t heard of Grace- I can’t wait to check out her – thanks for the head’s up, Anita!

      Reply
      • Anita

        She and her aunt, Isabella Alden wrote during the end of the 1800s and the early to mid 1900s ;).

        Reply
        • Michelle DeRusha

          Darn – I’m kind of bummed I missed her for this book. I’m going to have to investigate – maybe 50 More Women Every Christian Should Know! 🙂

          Reply
  2. Holly Solomon Barrett

    One of my faith heroes is Corrie Ten Boom. Her ability to forgive is remarkable and an example to us all.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Corrie ten Boom is in the book, Holly – amazing, amazing woman…and her sister, Betsie, too, such courage.

      Reply
  3. Kim

    I love the photo and quote from Susanna Wesley. It’s a good reminder when the world tells me that bigger is better (unless we’re talking numbers on a scale – and that’s a whole other story). I’m always inspired by reading both Michelle’s blog and yours, too, Jennifer. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I love that quote, too, Kim. I think sometimes we feel compelled to do something huge for God – like make a radical sacrifice or go live and serve overseas. But Susanna Wesley taught me that God’s work for the good of his kingdom here on earth can be performed right at my own kitchen table. Such important wisdom to impart. Thanks, Kim!

      Reply
  4. Ginger Daniel

    Michelle, what an exciting work you’ve completed! How much fun that must have been to read and write about women we all admire so much. Thank you for treating us all to one book about all of them. Blessings!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      It was a huge project, and at times a bit daunting, but so, so rewarding. And now I finally have the time to go back and dig more deeply into the women who wowed me the most. Thanks for stopping by, Ginger.

      Reply
  5. Michelle Anderson

    I did a couple of travel nurse contracts in Daytona. The hospital I worked in was right next to Bethune college. I had no idea the significant history of that college. Amazing!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Mary Bethune is one of my absolute favorites in the book, Michelle – what a story of perseverance and courage – and LOVE, in the face of so many obstacles and such pervasive racism. She really was an A Mazing woman!

      Reply
  6. ro elliott

    love love Gladys Aylward… I read so many of these stories to my oldest daughter… I really think they helped form the woman she is today!!!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Gladys Aylward is THE woman – isn’t she amazing? And yes, yes, yes, I can absolutely see how some of these stories of strength, courage and faith would impact a young woman – that is so cool, Ro.

      Reply
      • ro elliott

        You probably already know this… But there is an old movie based on her life…”Inn of the Sixth happiness” … It’s pretty good…they did take liberty with a romance thing…but over all it was good

        Reply
  7. Michelle DeRusha

    Yay, Jennifer – I am SO excited to be here for #TellHisStory – my very favorite link up on the Internet! Thank you so much for hosting me, sister – I so appreciate and love you to pieces. Go Women of Valor! 🙂

    Reply
  8. Kelly Schulz

    Visiting for the first time following my radically rich read-through of #loveidol!
    Eager to add this intriguing title to my book list! Thank you for the guest post!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Welcome to Jennifer’s place, Kelly – you are going to find so much inspiration and strength in her rich, rich words – Jennifer is one of my very favorite bloggers and writers – keep coming back here for more!

      Reply
  9. Abby

    Michelle, you have no idea how much I needed to read this today. I hear “no” and I want to cower and run the other way. Yet I know I am pursuing the dream that God placed within my heart. I trust in his perfect timing and will continue to press ahead, and know that he takes great delight in these small beginnings. I definitely am going to check out this book and so look forward to reading it! Thank you Jennifer, for featuring this wonderful guest post today. So inspired.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I am right there with you, Abby. I am currently in a season of no right now, and it’s hard, hard, hard. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that God has me turning toward these particular women and these particular stories right now. I wrote this post before I heard my big, fat no, and now I am re-reading my own words and finding hope and strength in them. God is so good. Peace to you on your journey, friend, and keep pressing on.

      Reply
  10. Michele Morin

    This book is on my must-read list, and I plan to use it as a resource for our Ladies Missionary Fellowship meetings. Thank you for your hard work and research to enrich so many of us!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I love that you are going to use this book as a resource, Michele – cool! Thank you!

      Reply
  11. Susan

    50 Women is on my winter reading list! A woman who influenced me? Not famous in the world’s eyes, but it would have to be my Aunt Lou. She lived her faith and taught me so much when I was young and forming habits and likes that would stay with me through the years.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      So sweet, Susan – everyone needs and Aunt Lou. My Aunt Lou is my mom – that’s who I dedicated this book, to – hers is a quiet but deep faith. BTW, this book would make a great winter read during those long, cold months – curl up with a cozy blanket and a cup of tea! 🙂

      Reply
  12. Sandra Heska King

    It kind of cracks me up that there was no opening for a “Negro missionary” in Africa. Crazy!

    On Sunday, (the past president of Moody) spoke at church about broken expectations and how sometimes God narrows our field to broaden our field. I’m guessing Mary Bethune–and so many others–can give a witness.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I know, the sad irony of that, eh?

      And yes – that is exactly right, Sandra! I am teaching a class at my church on this book and talked about these 3 women last week and said something similar – sometimes God’s no leads to His biggger yes. Amen. I am trusting in that.

      Reply
    • Lynn Morrissey

      Exactly, Sandy: I thought….. she can’t serve in Africa?! But God had other plans. And i love that…..hmmm….narrow fields leading to broader fields. Doncha love the paradox and purpose of God?

      Reply
  13. Lyli Dunbar

    Great books like this make me I wish I was still teaching high school. I would have loved to have shared this book with my girls.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I know of several people who have told me they are reading this book, or parts of it, together with their daughters – I love that!

      Reply
  14. Mary Hill

    Such an inspirational story. I love the stories of all of the women featured today. I hope I win or if not I can check out this book on my Kindle. It looks like a great reference book for anyone’s library.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting today, Mary – I appreciate that so much.

      Reply
  15. Alecia Simersky

    These women sound fascinating!Even if I don’t win, it’s on my list of books to read.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I pray you find inspiration, encouragement and hope in the stories of these amazing women, Alecia!

      Reply
  16. Lisa notes...

    I’m so thankful for all the times in my life that no has not been the final word. I’m also thankful that I have a copy of Michelle’s book sitting on my shelves now! I look forward to reading it soon. I know it will be so encouraging.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      I’m so glad you won a copy over at Jean’s place, Lisa – it made me smile to put that book in the mail to you last week! 🙂

      Reply
  17. Lynn Morrissey

    Michelle, this is so strengthening. THere are times God says no, and other times, He is really leading us to His better YES! You write these stories of faith, courage, and perseverance in the face of no so well! I needed to read this today, as no doubt, did many other women. And you know what I wrote to you? Detour, Michelle….just detour.
    Love you so much!
    Lynn
    PS Jennifer, thank you so much for how you generously share your platform. You grace our lives in so many ways!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Detour, yes, detour. I am trusting in the God-ordained detour right now, Lynn! Thank you, friend. Love you.

      Reply
      • Lynn Morrissey

        Reading your words here hearten me. And I just had the most magnificent thought, Michelle! Detours are not devastating. Because of detours we often get to see glorious new vistas, refreshing roadside rest-stops, meet fascinating people, and take totally interesting and unexpected adventures. God is orchestrating this detour, as you suggest, so it will be a glorious one. Take courage, which I know you obviously are!!!
        love,
        lynn

        Reply
  18. Amber Kemp

    I cannot wait to read this-it’s absolutely on my book wish list! To win it would be wonderful! My heroine would have to be my sweet grandmother, Reba. She passed away this last July, and her legacy of love she left behind carries on through our family. She loved her family, her God, and loved others with no abandon.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Your great-grandmother Reba truly sounds like a godly woman and a woman of valor, Amber- how blessed you were (and are!) to have her as a spiritual role model in your life.

      Reply
  19. soulstops

    Michelle,
    Thank you for writing this book…the perseverance these women showed is inspiring!

    Reply
  20. saltshakmk@msn.com

    Glad to see Michelle guesting here this week with excerpts from her new book! What an inspiring treasure this will be to any Christian library – and a resource for dramatists like myself! I have been moved by some of the literary Christians who used story and metaphor to illustrate biblical principles – as they lived out the story first in their own lives. Hannah Hurnard’s “Hind’s Feet in High Places” was especially instrumental in forming my own writing style. Steadfast, faithful and intimate in relationship with the Lord – touching lives then, when you tell the story. Joy to you!

    Reply
  21. Shelly Hendricks

    My faith heroine is my Mom. She just loves people so well. Quietly and steadfastly. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Same with me, Shelly – I dedicated this book to my mom!

      Reply
  22. Joan

    It is good to be reminded of these inspiring women and the challenges they faced to accomplish what they felt God was directing them to do.
    That it was very hard on every level. And very lonely at times. Thank you for making us aware of this wonderful book and talented author.

    Reply
  23. Trudy Den Hoed

    These stories sound inspiring, Michelle. Another book for my wish list. I love Susanna Wesley’s quote!

    Reply
  24. Lisa Buffaloe

    I so love hearing faith stories! Thank you for sharing Jennifer and Michelle!

    Reply
  25. kwoj1

    My faith heroine was my precious CeCe (my grandma). She taught me that He loves deeply loves all of us, that regardless of our imperfections He can shine through us. I value the example of imperfection she set, while at the same time showing time and time again her immense love for her Savior.

    Reply
  26. Kathy

    I have always been in awe of Corrie Ten Boom for her faith and total reliance on God’s Word during her years in a Nazi Concentration Camp. Through this trial, she and her sister Betsy were able to share the Lord Jesus with all they came in contact in their barracks. After her release,due to a clerical error, Corrie proclaimed the Gospel throughout the world and wrote books that radiated her love and commitment to the Lord Jesus. She is the ultimate role model of a person who is sold out to the Lord and willing to lay down her life for others in order that Jesus be lifted up and glorified.

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      Corrie ten Boom is in this book – she was AMAZING!

      Reply
  27. Laura Boggess

    I love this book. Michelle, I’m amazed at the amount of research that must have gone into this. I’m so grateful for all the hard work you did to give me the cliff notes on these remarkable women. Beautiful work, my friend.

    Reply
  28. June

    So inspiring, Michelle. I’m reading The Hiding Place right now and I know you include Corrie Ten Boom in your book. I cannot wait to read it!

    Reply
    • Michelle DeRusha

      The Hiding Place is an incredible book – I couldn’t put it down. I also read ten Boom’s letters from prison, too, for the research for her chapter, and they were equally riveting.

      Reply
  29. Mary T

    Thank you Jennifer for hosting Michelle! I thought about the many women of the bible and in history, but other than my faith-filled Mom always my heroine! I thought of another woman, a friend, who lost her battle with cancer, but in the end was a victor in Christ, Ann. She was an inspiration toall whose lives she touched. She brought true joy and happiness, always encouraging me to reach up…to look up…to surrender all to God’s glory! I will never forget her or the life lessons I learned from her…all to the glory of our Sweet Hope, our Lord Jesus!

    Reply
  30. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Martha from Scripture has always been an inspiration to me because she reminds me that even though I must be about the tasks of Mary, I need to remember to sit at His feet. Thanks for the link-up and the chance to win!

    Reply
  31. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    I also love Corrie Ten Boom and Mother Teresa so much that I have entire posts dedicated to them on my blog. This book sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to read it.

    Reply
  32. Monica Sharman

    I’ve read so many quotes by Mother Teresa, but it would be so much better to read more about her. Thanks for your writing and research!

    Reply
  33. Cheryl Smith

    My precious Mom was the biggest faith heroine of my life. I miss her SO much…Jesus took her home with Him in 2012. I miss her prayers the most! She taught me to love God with all my heart and to go to Him first and to trust Him with every need. She laid the very foundation of my faith in Him, and I could never give her enough credit for that. Now that she is gone, I have come to understand more than ever just how precious that faith is, as I must carry on without her and without the comfort of her unceasing prayers. Thank you so much for the chance to win this amazing book…it sounds like one I wouldn’t be able to put down!! So grateful for you and the encouragement you are to me!

    Reply
  34. Leah Adams

    Sounds like an incredible book. Can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

    Reply
  35. Jolene Underwood

    Michelle – I love that you have written this book and brought these stories together. I believe that reading about others lives is such a powerful way to remind us of how God works. It also tells us how his people have come through challenging circumstances to see the good He wanted to work out, because they were willing to let Him lead the way. By reading of others who have faced much and still turned their eyes towards God our faith can grow too. May we seek Him in every “no”. May we not be deterred in our endeavors that are meant for His glory.

    Reply
  36. Katie Brewster

    Yes, yes, yes!!! Mary, Gladys, Teresa – all inspiring us – just as you do, Michelle, my faith heroine:)
    Katie

    Reply
  37. Tamalyn

    These are wonderful women! All inspirational and all such great representatives for Christ. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton I love. Can’t tell if she’s mentioned in this book or not. Thanks for the opportunity.

    Reply
  38. Kimberly Sullivan

    I absolutely adore Church history so this is a MUST read for me! Michelle, I am so blessed for you and so many of my blogging friends who have done what seems to me an equally impossible feat: written and published a book. This makes you a hero in my book!

    Reply
  39. Megan Willome

    Y’all, this is such an awesome book! I only knew about half the women in it, and even then, I knew so much less of their stories than I thought I did. These women represent our heritage as Christians–one that’s messy and yet comforting. This road of suffering? It’s the main road.

    Reply

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