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Archive for November, 2015

Our People must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. (The Apostle Paul in his letter to Titus, chapter 3, verse 14)

One person whose life was certainly far from unfruitful was Josephine Butler (1828-1906).jos butler

History has forgotten Josephine Grey Butler but many thousands today should be thankful that she worked hard to improve the lives of women in the late nineteenth century.

Josephine was the daughter of John Grey a cousin to the famous Earl Grey. She grew up in a wealthy household. John Grey was a strong advocate for social reform. He was an unusual father in Victorian England. He believed in education for his daughters. Josephine absorbed her strong religious and moral principles from her father.

At the age of seventeen Josephine became a committed Christian after struggling to understand why God allows suffering. Later she would see this period in her life as God’s preparation for the work that He had for her.

Like other young women in her comfortable station in life, Josephine spent her time horse riding and going to parties and balls with her sister. She enjoyed discussing politics with her father at home but had no thought of pursuing her political interests until later in life when she would learn of the unjust laws that were enslaving women and fight to help women have a better life.

Josephine married George Butler in 1852. He lectured at Durham University and was soon ordained as an Anglican minister. They moved to Oxford where he obtained a position at Oxford University.

Later they moved to Cheltenham. George and Josephine had four children. The tragic death of Josephine’s youngest child and only daughter left her paralyzed with grief. Eva died at the age of six from a fall down the stairs. Cheltenham then had such bitter memories that the couple moved again.

George was offered the job as a principle of Liverpool College in 1866 and so they moved there. Liverpool was a huge seaport. There were many brothels there to service the sailors. Liverpool had the reputation in England of being the most immoral city in the country.

In the meantime, Josephine decided to throw herself into charity work to overcome her grief. She joined a Christian mission to the Brownlow Hill Workhouse in Liverpool. Many of the female inmates were former prostitutes. Josephine had compassion for these unfortunate women and began to show the same kind of love and care for them as the Lord Jesus did. She starting inviting the sick and starving women into her own home. She also went around asking businesses for money to buy a house for a women’s refuge so they did not need to return to the brothels.

Of course, the women needed some other way to make a living besides prostitution so Josephine set up a workshop where the women could make and sell envelopes. This enabled them to meet the expenses of their stay in the refuge.

Josephine quickly realized that girls from poor families were at a disadvantage. She began to support a campaign for better education for girls. In 1867 the North of England Council for Promoting the Higher Education of Women was initiated. Josephine became the first President. For six years she helped to organize public lectures. Several of her accomplishments were:

  1. A pamphlet called ‘Education and the Employment of Women” (1868)
  2. Cambridge University began to admit women in 1869.
  3. A work was published, “Woman’s Work and Woman’s Culture” (1869) Josephine advocated not only for education for poor women, but for property rights for married women and for the right to vote.

Unlike modern liberal feminists, Josephine did not see men as the enemy. She herself was happily married to a good man who supported her efforts in all that she did in spite of the fact that he was warned that her activities would damage his career as a minister.

Josephine merely wanted more harmony between the sexes:

“I wish it were felt that women who are laboring especially for women are not one-sided or selfish. We are human first; women secondarily. We care abut the evils affecting women most of all because they react upon the whole of society, and abstract from the common good. Women are not men’s rivals, but their helpers. There can be no antagonism that is not injurious to both.” (From her 1869 book.)

Soon after her works were published Josephine received a request to help with a national law that was very damaging to women.

Parliament had passed the Contagious Diseases Act (CDA) in 1864. It was in response to the amount of venereal diseases that were spreading in the British army and navy. The idea of the CDA was to regulate prostitution in order to protect the men. In 1866 and 1869 further acts were passed strengthening the regulation of prostitution and making some things worse for the women.

In effect what happened was that the sex trade was legalized. Any women living near a port town such as Liverpool were to register and to go through internal examinations at any time that an official asked them to.

What the CDA’s really amounted to were a pass for the men. Men were not asked to change their immoral behavior. Instead, women’s rights were violated. A woman who looked suspicious to a policeman could be sent for an examination. She was guilty until proven innocent. These exams were painful and humiliating. If a woman did have VD she was forcibly sent to a special hospital for up to three months (9 months in the 1869 Act) until she was cured. Refusal to cooperate was punishable by imprisonment.

Abuses were rampant. Josephine found that many innocent women and children were being arrested on the whims of corrupt police officers. Once branded as a prostitute, guilty or not, these women’s reputations were ruined. Now only a life of prostitution was open to them.

Josephine realized that battling the unjust laws was her God-given calling and she went to work to help these women. She now knew that God had allowed her to suffer so that she could sympathize with these women and girls. Josephine would need all of the courage that the Holy Spirit could give her for the task ahead.

joseph. butlerImagine living in Victorian England and speaking on these subjects. People were afraid to speak about such things behind closed doors let alone in public. But Josephine withstood ridicule and slander, heckling and harassing as she spoke publicly against the CDA’s. She was pelted with dung as she walked through the streets. Once a mob threatened to burn down the hotel where she was staying. Her compassion for justice enabled her to press ahead.

In 1870 Josephine became the head of the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of he Contagious Diseases Act. She emphasized the gender discrimination inherent in the CDA’s. She pointed out that it was unjust to punish the victims of vice and leave unpunished the sex who are the means and cause of the vice and the diseases that went with it. By legalizing the sin of sexual immorality men got off the hook. Women became the slaves to this evil institution. (This is not very different from modern human trafficking.)

Furthermore, Josephine warned that if Parliament could get away with violating the rights of female citizens, no one’s rights could be protected.

Finally, in 1886 after many years of toil, the Contagious Diseases Acts were repealed. Looking back Josephine could see the hand of God in the victory.

In 1890 after battling a long illness, George died. Josephine cared for him through his illness though she was in poor health herself.

Josephine settled in London. She wrote a biography of George, also a “Life of St. Catherine of Siena” (1898), and various tracts and her own memoirs.

In her later years Josephine moved in with her son George at his estate at Galewood in Northumberland. On Sunday December 30, 1906 she died.

Josephine Butler had tremendous faith in God’s goodness and love. She was strong and followed her Savior in His love for the poor and the downtrodden and those who were shunned by society. Like Jesus, she looked past their shame and into their hearts. Josephine saw women as humans made in the image of God. Josephine “walked the walk” of love and compassion. I pray that many will follow her example today.

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It is sweet to be somebody’s sunshine. (From a letter by Charlotte to her sister.)

 Charlotte Maria Tucker (May 8, 1821 – December 2, 1893) was born in England to prominent wealthy parents.ALadyOfEngland
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.

Starting in 1851, at age 30, Charlotte wrote many books under the pen name of A.L.O.E. (A Lady of England). Her books 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. She lived at home until age 54. Then she went to India never to return again.

Charlotte is remembered for being a missionary to India as well as a writer. Most missionaries go to the field when they are young. Charlotte went in the last quarter of her life.

Indian womanIn 1875 Charlotte traveled to India, in the Punjab region, first in Amritsir and then in Batala. 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.

A Zenana was a harem in India usually reserved for the high cast women. The women were not allowed to leave to go anywhere. They were not allowed to have visitors unless the husband gave permission. Charlotte managed to befriend some men and receive permission to visit the women. She was very bold on her visits. Charlotte read the Bible. She learned Hindustani so that she could tell the women about Jesus. The women in the Zenanas loved to get visits from her. By the time she died Charlotte had access to 170 homes.

Another reason that Charlotte was able to visit in the Zenanas was because she did her best to fit in with the Indian people. The other missionaries tried to get her to dress as in English fashion but Charlotte insisted on dressing as the Indians did. When Charlotte would visit in Zenanas or go to church she sat on the floor as the Indians did in spite of her age.

Charlotte considered her greatest work for the Indian people 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. Charlotte’s books were translated into many Indian languages – Urdu, Panjabi, Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil. They were sold at exceedingly low prices so that many could afford them. Hundreds of thousands of copies were sold. Some titles include, “A Wreath of Indian Stories” and “Pearls of Wisdom.” This latter book was written at the request of the Christian Vernacular Education Society for India. It was an interpretation of the parables of Jesus.

Charlotte was probably the first woman to write story books in the Indian language. Her family thought that if anything the books were better in Hindustani. Charlotte’s style of writing suited the Eastern way of thinking. She believed that God had prepared her during her earlier life to leave this lasting legacy for the Indian people. Charlotte wrote over 100 books while in India, the last book within a year of her death (“The Forlorn Hope”).

Charlotte thought highly of doing her duty and rarely took a break. When she did she visited other parts of India. A_Lady_of_England_the_Life_and_Letters_of_Charlotte_Maria_Tucker_1000265708She said that the reason she never went home to England was because saying “good-bye” was too painful. Instead she kept in contact with her family, especially her beloved sister by writing hundreds of letters which are still available to read. Many are collected in her biography by Agnes Giberne, “Lady of England: The Life and Letters of Charlotte Maria Tucker”.

Day in and day out Charlotte lived in an old building which had become her home. She loved the “little brown boys” at the Indian high school where she helped. Year after year she persisted in her round of Zenana visits never giving up even though the results were small. “She had to plough for the Master of the harvest; and she was content to leave results with Him.” (Pg. 331)

Though Charlotte had had numerous trials in the course of her seventy-two years she had led a very happy life. She had freedom from money cares, success in her many interests, and an abundance of loving and steadfast friends. She was close to many friends because of her natural buoyancy and a keen sense of fun.

Many unmarried women in her place would have been more morose, but Charlotte was so unselfish that she was grateful and happy to be where she was. She experienced real joy in giving. Disappointments only spurred her on to try harder.

Above all Charlotte had a strong sense of the “other world”. Spiritual things were absolutely real to her. Christ’s love meant more than the love of all of her friends. It was not that she could not enjoy this world, but that she longed for the next world. She believed that the next world was higher, brighter, and nearer to God.

After eighteen years of faithful service in India, God called this amazing woman home on December 2, 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 “little brown” 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. As death approached Charlotte was excited about going to be with the Lord. She composed this hymn in Urdu and left instructions with friends that it be sung at her funeral:

The beloved Jesus sleeps in the grave;
Morn breaks, and He Who came to save
Has risen, glorious King of Kings,
Victorious o’er all evil things.
It is Christ’s power, Christ’s glorious Crown;
His rule shall spread with much renown;
Christ has risen, ne’er to die;
Hallelujah! Victory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love, kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

“…to stand by the great cause of poor, oppressed humanity. …This has been my ‘call’ from the beginning, by frances willardnature and by nurture; let me be true to its inspiring and cheery mandate even ‘unto this last.’” (From France Willard’s autobiography, “Glimpses of Fifty Years”, p. 694.)

“’Except the Lord build the city, they labor in vain that build,’ and she has always sought to commit her work and her ways to the keeping of the Divine Master in a simple child-like faith that He would lead her in the way she should go and would make all her paths straight before her” (“Introduction, pg. ix”)

Though her name has been forgotten today Frances Willard was the most famous woman in America, and was even well-known in Europe, during the late 19th century. Frances Willard died in New York in 1898, and her body was transported by rail to Chicago, pausing for services along the way like a presidential funeral train. In Chicago, 30,000 persons filed by her casket in one day. Ruth Bordin wrote, “The nation mourned her with a grief, admiration, and respect it would have bestowed on a great national hero or martyred president. No woman before or since was so clearly on the day of her death this country’s most honored woman.” Flags flew at half-mast in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D. C.

I recommend two books on the life of this fascinating woman:

1. Anna Gordon’s The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard. I am privileged to have an original 1898 Memorial edition (Women’s Temperance Publishing Association, Chicago, IL, 1898). There are still original books available as well as reprints in online bookstores.

  1. Frances Willard’s autobiography, Glimpses of Fifty Years: The Autobiography of an American Woman. Again, there are beautiful reprints available.

In a previous post, January 23, 2013, I listed the many accomplishments of Frances Willard including her temperance work, her aid to poor and destitute women, her aid to the refugees from the Armenian Christians who were being persecuted in Turkey, and the advances she made in education. In her day women struggled to get into college; women today can be grateful for equal opportunities in education thanks to women like Frances Willard.

In this post I would like to present just a sampling of the wisdom of this great woman.

To be busy doing something that is worthy to be done is the happiest thing in all this world for girl or boy, for old or young. (pg. 70)

Frances’s learned a valuable lesion from her blind friend. This young girl maintained a cheerful attitude because … “happiness is from within; that the real light shines in the heart, not in the eyes, and that everybody who will be glad may be” (pg. 91).

On Christian fellowship – I honestly believe that I regard all the churches, the branches rather of the one Church, with feelings of equal kindness and fellowship. … The churches are all fighting nobly and zealously to make the world better and happier. Oh, I earnestly pray that as I grow older, the kindly, all-loving, catholic spirit may more deeply ground itself in my heart! (Pg. 127)

friction:peaceAnd – How much of life’s present friction will be avoided when the average mind discovers that the central aim of any life is best conserved by choosing for one’s motto “In non-essentials, liberty”! (Pg. 201)

 

On perseverance – But I have come to believe that it is well for us, well for our characters, those beautiful fabrics we are weaving every day, to do those things that do not make us happy, but only make us strong. (Pg. 147)

As a young woman, Frances sought for satisfaction in life. She believed that the answer is in Christ.  Christ has in His nature the elements that will make all this true when we behold Him face to face. We do not know that we are seeking here when we strive so hard and fret so much. … we shall erelong awake to life and be restless and hungry and thirsty no more! (Pg. 184)

It broke Frances’s heart to leave behind her girls at Evanston College where she had labored for years, giving the best of her life. She was forced out by the new president who refused to examine his lax rules for the students as she advised. She could no longer stay there in good conscience lying to the parents that their daughters were not at risk spiritually. Though she was more “in the right” and agonized over the decision to leave her young women behind she received peace when she rested in God. She heard His voice saying, good to forgive, best to forget. (Pg. 239)

In the turning point in her life, when Frances stepped away from a secure job for an unknown future she turned to her Bible for comfort. This verse gave her assurance, Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. (Psalm 37:3) (Pg. 337)

More on forgiveness: Frances met Pandita Ramabai. (See my posts on this amazing woman from India, Dec. 22, 2011 and Sept. 6, 2012). Frances was very impressed with the gentleness of Ramabai. This seems to be her motto. “Has any wronged thee: Be bravely avenged; slight it, and the work’s begun; forgive it, and ‘tis finished.” (Pg. 558)

In her religious journey Frances sought to lead others to Christ. In her day Unitarianism was on the rise. She struggled with the idea of a Trinity as many do, but finally she decided to adjust myself to the idea of “Three in one” and “One in three.” … I translate the concept of God into the nomenclature and personality of the New Testament. What Paul says of Christ, is what I say; the love John felt, it is my dearest with to cherish. (Pg. 624)

On Companionship – “Tell me with whom thou goest and I’ll tell thee what thou doest.” No precept was ever more frequently repeated and enforced by my parents than this. (Pg. 637)

On knowing ourselves – I wonder if we really know ourselves in respect of discount as well as we do in respect of advantage? It seems equally important that we should, else our undertakings will be out of all proportion to our powers, and failure a foregone conclusion. I have always believed that in a nobler state of society we should help each other by frank and kindly criticism, couple with equally frank praise, and have held, in the face of steady contradiction from my friends, that Christian people ought thus to help each other here and now. (Pg. 646)

Finally, I cannot help but include this piece of “prophecy”. Frances lamented the fact that the newly invented “phonograph” would ruin the beauty and intimacy of good conversation.

To my thought, conversation is the filling and soul of social life, the culmination of the spirit’s possible power, the giving of a life-time in an hour, though its form and method certainly have changed in this electric age when the phonograph has come into being. I half suspect that there will be a strike in the physical manufactory one of these day; the muscles of the face will refuse to do their duty, the tongue will make believe paralytic, and the lips will join the rebellion. (Pg. 686)

Frances said this before radio or television or computers or I-phones or texting or tweeting!! How far we have traveled! Do today’s teens even know how to have a conversation that is more than 10 seconds long?

I pray that at the end of my life I will enjoy the old hymn so much loved by Frances Willard and be able to sing its words truly:

May the Lord He will be glad of me,
May the Lord He will be glad of me,
May the Lord He will be glad of me,
        In the heaven He’ll rejoice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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