“Women are an essential element in church history.” So begins Rebecca VanDoodewaard in her book “Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth.” The author shares with us twelve biographical sketches on women that are widely neglected in other reformation books. Most of the women in this book came from royal families but each of them had different personalities and roles in which God used them to further His kingdom. The author lists five characteristics that these women had in common and that we would do well as women to also heed:
- They were devoted to the Protestant church.
The church was the center from which their lives revolved.
- They were married to believers.
They were devoted to the work of their husbands.
- They were given to hospitality.
From orphans, to refugees and visiting pastors, these women had open homes and open hearts in caring for the needs of others.
- They stewarded their intellectual abilities.
Education, whether through schooling or self-taught, was a God-given means to equip others to bear fruit.
- They were brave.
Obediently they followed the path that honored God even in fearful circumstances.
Each concise biographical sketch leads us through the women’s birth and death with their various ministries in between. The book concludes with seven ways in which the commonalities of these women could help fortify the church today. As much as I enjoyed reading about these women who helped shape the church, the conclusion was my favorite chapter because of the application for women today in serving the church. The author exhorts:
“These women were not hanging out on social media or mommy blogs, waiting for spiritual maturity to happen. They actively pursued it: Bible reading, prayer, attendance at worship (often several times a week), fellowship with the saints, theological study and discussions, and conscious self-denial matured them into usefulness that God blessed. Personal projects, comfort, and plans were subservient to the mission of the Great Commission.”
I highly recommend this book as a way, not to just learn about the history of these faithful women, but to apply their faithfulness to our own lives.
I received this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a honest review.