These are they which follow the Lamb….
Women, in their devotion to God’s cause over the world, have never been deterred by any form of heathenism. With cultured intellects, womanly tenderness, and spiritual devotion they have gone into unhealthy climates, suffered privations, isolation, and even death at the hands of those for whom they labored. (Page 167)
This quote is from the book, Eminent Missionary Women written by Annie Ryder Gracey in 1898. Mrs. Gracey was a missionary herself and thus was well able to present these stories of women who sacrificed so much to take the Gospel to the lost in many lands including India, China, Greece, the South Seas and Mexico.
The women featured in this book all lived during the nineteenth century. In spite of obstacles due to the fact that they were women, they did not let that stop them but answered the call of God in their lives to minister to the lost in the way that Jesus did – healing both physically and spiritually.
Dr. Fanny Butler (Page 132) and others braved the scorn of their contemporaries to get an education with only one thought in mind – to serve their Lord Jesus. Many other women went to some of the harshest places to live and opened schools. All used whatever gifts God gave them to serve.
In this book you will find the biographical sketches of many women. You will be thrilled and maybe a little convicted as you read them. Here are brief summaries of just three of the amazing women whose stories are told.
Melinda Rankin – Missionary to Mexico — (1811 – 1888)
She was a remarkable woman, combining great strength and independence, womanly tenderness and religious devotion, and was a power in any position. Born among the hills of New England, she found her life work in the sunny land of the Aztecs. She never shrank from duty or from danger in all the varied and trying experiences that came to her, and in writing up some of these experiences she says, “I tell them because I hope to prove by actual facts which have occurred in one woman’s life that our divine Master has still work for woman to do in his kingdom on earth.” (Page 58)
The United States and Mexico had been at war in the 1840’s. Protestant missionaries were not allowed in Mexico so Melinda Rankin moved to Brownsville, Texas and opened a school for Mexican girls. There were many Mexicans on the U.S. side of the border. Melinda gave away bibles to Mexican women who carried them into Mexico even though that was illegal. Melinda spent her time getting as many bibles across the border as possible. She cared more for the Word of God than the laws of man.
Eventually Melinda was able to be part of opening one of the first Protestant churches in Mexico. By 1872 the church in Zacatecas had grown to one hundred and seventy-two members. The Mexicans themselves began to oversee the work of the church.
Melinda’s health began to fail around age sixty. She returned home after more than twenty years of faithful service to convalesce. She visited the churches occasionally until her death on December 7, 1888 in her seventy-seventh year.
Mrs. H. C. Mullens – “The Apostle of the Zenanas” — (1826-1861)
Hannah Catherine Mullens was one of the most successful missionaries in the Zenana mission work in India. This work was named after the “zenanas”, women’s quarters where men were forbidden to enter. It became really important then for female missionaries to go to India – only women could reach these neglected Indian women.
Of all the population in India women have most felt the wrongs and burdens of heathenism. Despised at their birth, subject to chances of infanticide in earliest years, or bartered to some unknown husband, condemned by custom to lifelong imprisonment, ignorance, and ill treatment, neglected in sickness, shut out from the enjoyment of nature, without education, without hope in Christ of a joyful hereafter – such is the condition of women in civilized heathendom. (Page 92)
It seemed an impossible task to overcome so much prejudice against women, but Hannah Catherine Lacroix Mullens was up to the task.
Hannah was born in Calcutta, the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. A. Lacroix, missionaries to India. She was bright and intelligent. She spoke the Bengali language fluently. She was later able to write religious works for the native women in their own language.
Hannah prayed for an opening to visit the Indian women in the zenanas. Her chance came one day when an Indian man saw the slippers that Hannah had made. The needlework was intricate and very beautiful. He told her that he would like his wife taught how to do the needlework. Hannah leaped at this chance and soon began to visit women in the zenanas to teach them needlework and to talk about Jesus.
Many other opportunities came and eventually Hannah was able to visit in many Indian homes taking the good news of the Gospel with her. Soon the word got out and women began to come to hear Hannah and her missionary mother, Mrs. Lacroix speak the “new words”. At one time she had charge over many zenanas and some small girls schools that educated over eighty women and seventy girls.
Hannah toiled on with her work among the women of India for many years. She went home to England in 1858 to speak about the work in India. When she returned to Calcutta she found that public opinion about education for women had begun to change.
In 1861 while working on a book for women, Hannah was suddenly taken ill and died. She was only thirty-five years old, but her work had been completed. She had opened the doors for missions to women in India. One hundred and fifty Hindu converts attended her burial. Truly Hannah earned the title given her of “The Apostle of the Zenanas”.
Charlotte Maria Tucker – “A Princess in Israel” — (1821 –1893)
Charlotte was born in England in 1821 to prominent wealthy parents. Her father had an important position in the government and was at one time the director of the East India Company. Though Charlotte grew up in luxurious circumstances she always had a missionary heart.
Charlotte’s nom de plume of A.L.O.E. (A Lady of England) became familiar all over the English-speaking world. Charlotte wrote more than 150 stories for young people that were collected into many books. She very often gave away the earnings from her books to missions or other charity work. Popular titles include, “The Rambles of a Rat” and “Pomegranates from the Punjab”. These and many more are in print today and available.
Charlotte is remembered for being a missionary to India as well as a writer. She worked in the Punjab region, first in Amritsir and then in Batala for the rest of her life. She learned the language of the Punjab and was thus enabled to go into the zenanas and to visit the women in the surrounding villages.
She was probably the first Christian writer to issue religious story books in the languages of India. With wonderful ease she adopted the native modes of thought and language. Her books, tracts, and leaflets – of which she wrote over one hundred while in the country – were translated and circulated, and have become very popular – sought after by native women and by young girls in mission schools. (Page 117)
At the request of the Christian Vernacular Education Society for India Charlotte wrote an explanation of the parables of Jesus entitled, “Pearls of Wisdom”. It was also published in individual tracts so that even the poorest could afford to buy them.
God called this precious daughter home in December 1893. Charlotte had contracted a cold earlier in October that then worsened and she never recovered. She asked to be buried in native style in a little village cemetery near her home. On December 5 the boys from the high school that she had supported carried her to her rest in Batala. Hymns, some of which she composed, were sung in the procession.
Charlotte considered her greatest work to be the Christian literature that she prepared for the women of India. This was a great legacy for which many women in India were very grateful. After her death the Christian Literature Society for India republished many of her books and translated them into more Indian languages.
There are many more great stories in the book about courageous women who went into all parts of the world taking the love of Jesus to share. You will be encouraged and uplifted when you read it.