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Churches all over the world have been celebrating the 500th anniversary of one of the most momentous times in history – The Reformation. Historians often credit the beginning of the Reformation with the nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517.

Last week we posted the stories of the wives of two of the most famous Reformers – Katherine Von Bora Luther and Idelette de Bure Calvin. Luther and Calvin both praised their wives and thanked God for the blessings these remarkable women were to them in their lives.

Speaking of pastor’s wives, two other women made contributions to the Reformation as well. Katharina Schutz Zell was known as the “mother vicar of pastor’s wives”. A really interesting woman was Wilibrandis Rosenblatt who was the wife of four men, three of which were pastor’s!!!!

Here are their fascinating stories:

Katharina Schutz Zell (1497 – 1562?)

Katharina Schutz, wife of Matthew Zell, is called the “mother vicar of pastor’s wives”.

Katharina married as a young woman; she was 20 years younger than her husband.

When Katharina married Matthew in 1525 the Reformation had begun. The Zells ministered as a team to their congregation. Katharina was a brilliant woman. She had the ability to put Scriptural truths into words for the common people. Katharina became the Reformation’s leading female author. Martin Bucer said that Katharina was “a trifle imperious” but he also said that she was “God-fearing and courageous as a hero.”

In addition to her writing, Katharina enjoyed a happy family life. Her parents and siblings lived nearby. The family was overjoyed when Katharina gave birth to a child in 1526. But sadly the child died in a few months. Katharina struggled to cope with the loss. Matthew and good friends, like Bucer, tried to comfort her. Katharina gave birth again in 1531 but this child died within two years. Katharina began to worry that God was punishing her. She did come to realize that God gives challenges to his children for their spiritual growth. She could rely on her own experiences to sympathize with others. And there were plenty to sympathize with.

During the German Peasants’ War refugees poured into Strasbourg. Katharina helped to organize Strasburg to deal with 3,000 refugees for a period of 6 months. Katharina opened her own home to care for as many as eighty at one time. Katharina cared for these refugees and wrote to their wives, encouraging them to stand firm in their faith.

At various times, Katharina also hosted other Reformers at her home – John Calvin, Oecolampadius, and Zwingli. During a period of persecution for the Reformers, she hid Bucer and Fagius in her home for several weeks until they could escape to England. Like Bucer said, she was a very courageous woman!

Katharina traveled frequently with her husband, unusual in that day. She showed tolerance and concern for Anabaptists and made frequent visits to those who were imprisoned.

Katharina was widowed in 1548, and spoke at Matthew’s funeral. Bucer sent her to Basel to recover from her grief in the home of Myconius, and then to Zurich. When she felt better emotionally, she returned to Strasburg. Her physical health was failing, but not her zeal.

In 1558 she cared for a Magistrate stricken with leprosy, and a nephew with syphilis. She gave an address at a funeral of a wife of a follower of Schwenckfeld shortly before her own death in 1562. There were no other pastors at the funeral so she just did it herself.

Katharina was praised for developing women’s ministries. She also published a book of Psalms for women to sing. She was constantly entertaining and worshipping in her home.

Katharina produced many other works. Some samples of her writings are: On the Priesthood of Believers (1534) which contains an important, relevant truth – “Teach your household to know that they do not serve human beings but God when they faithfully keep house, obey, cook, wash dishes, wipe up and tend children, and such-like work which serves human life, and that they can also turn toward God with the voice of song. And teach them that in doing this, they please God much better than any priest, monk, or nun in the incomprehensible choir song.”

On Christ Alone and Grace Alone (1548 and 1553) – She wrote – “Christ has power to save us from sins, death, and hell, and to give us eternal life. In Him is all salvation, and in no other creature or work in heaven and earth, for no one comes to the Father, or dares to think of coming to Him except through this living Son of God, who should be honored as the Father is. The one who has Him has everything; He is the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6, 5:23)

The date of Katharina’s death is uncertain. A letter survives dating to March, 1562. But sometime before she died she had written a letter to a friend summarizing her faith in Christ:

“That is my glory . . . in God and Christ, not in myself. I glory that God the Father gave me the gift of faith in His Son (which is not given to everyone), solely out of His gracious love, without any ability or merit on my part.” (Eph. 2:4-8, 19)

Many thousands came to thank the Lord for Katharina’s faithful service in caring for them. Today we can still be blessed by her writings.

 

Wibrandis Rosenblatt

One of the many women who had a significant impact on the Reformation was Wibrandis Rosenblatt (1504 – 1564). Wibrandis was such a gifted and compassionate woman that four men were ready to marry her in order to have someone who was so intelligent and diligent as a life companion.

Wibrandis lived in Basel, Switzerland. She was the daughter of a knight who was frequently off fighting the Emperor’s wars. She lived in the exciting and challenging times of the Reformation.

Because she had four husbands, all Reformers, she has sometimes been jokingly called “The Merry Widow of the Reformation”.

But, Wibrandis deserves much more respect as a woman who supported the goals of the Reformers. Obviously at least four men noticed her strength and godly character and considered her companionship to be very valuable to them in their lives and work. Each one of Wibrandis’s husbands are famous as Reformers. These great men of God knew that their life’s work would be blessed by having such a wife.

Here are the four husbands:
First, Wibrandis married Ludwig Keller around 1524.This marriage lasted about two years. Wibrandis was widowed in 1526 for the first time. During this marriage Wibrandis had one child.

Next, she married Johannes Oecolampadius. Oecolampadius was an older man, probably around 45 years old. He was sickly, but they had three children together before he died leaving her a widow again in 1531.

After this, Wibrandis came to the notice of Wolfgang Capito who had been widowed himself and was still grieving. He took comfort in such a godly woman as Wibrandis and they were married in 1532.  They had five children together before he succumbed to the plague and died in 1541.

Lastly, Wibrandis married the very famous Martin Bucer in 1542. During Reformation times life was often dangerous. Martin and Wibrandis Bucer had to flee to England at one time to save their lives. During this marriage Wibrandis had two more children and they also adopted a child. In 1549 Martin died leaving her a widow for the fourth time.

Wibrandis moved back to Strasbourg with her family. She then relocated to Basel where one of her sons was studying theology. The plague was still rampant and it claimed her as one of its victims in 1564. She was buried next to her second husband. Wibrandis is remembered not only for being such a fine and gifted wife and mother, but also for her years of hospitality. She was always willing to open her home to the less fortunate. In addition to caring for her large family she nursed her mother.

She is truly a model for Christian wives everywhere.

 

 

This week churches all over the world are celebrating the 500th anniversary of one of the most momentous times in history – The Reformation. Historians often credit the beginning of the Reformation with the nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517.

Everywhere you look you can find materials with the story of Dr. Luther and many of the other Reformers. Most of these pioneering men were married to equally brave wives.

This week we will focus on the stories of the wives of two of the most famous Reformers – Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Here are their stories:

Katharine Von Bora Luther

Katherine came from a noble family of Boras. We don’t know too much about her childhood, except that her mother died when she was 5 or 6. She was then sent to a Benedictine cloister. She received a good education there, and then at age 9 or 10 she went to a Cistercian convent in Nimbschen. When she was 16, she took the nun’s veil. During her 20 years at the convent she learned self-sufficiency, discipline, religious habits, singing, and the art of prayer and reading Scripture. She learned Latin. This would prove very important in her life where God was leading her.  She was an excellent reader and somehow obtained the writings of Luther which she read. She was convinced and converted.

On Easter Sunday night in 1523, in a plan masterminded by Luther, 12 nuns escaped from the cloister with the help of a city councilor named Leonard Koppe. Abducting nuns was a capital crime, so Mr. Koppe helped them escape secretly in a fish wagon. When they got to the town where they were going, they had to marry quickly or try to work on their own. Luther helped them all to find respectable jobs or husbands. All except Katherine.

Katherine had befriended a man whom she wished to marry, but his family would not accept an ex-nun. She was heartbroken. Luther tried to match her with someone else; she refused that man.

Finally, in 1525 he decided to please his parents and irritate the pope and the devil by “getting married with the last ex-nun available in town.” Some people rejoiced in the marriage; others were scandalized. This was not just because it was Luther, but because clergy were only just beginning to get married.

Katherine and Martin had six children of their own. Sadly, two died in childhood. Katherine also cared for six or seven nieces and nephews, and four orphans, along with many others who came under her roof.

Katherine’s home was a Pastor’s and professor’s home, and she set the standard for reformer’s wives. Her convent training enabled her to help Luther run a boarding school for theology students, a hostel for visitors and occasionally her house was turned into a hospital, receiving refugees, providing meals and beds for all, and finding money to cover all the costs. She also made tasty beer.

Katherine managed to finance all of this by raising vegetables and fruit. She raised animals, fished, baked bread, and brewed beer. She increased their wealth by buying land. As an aristocrat, she understood the value of land and talked Luther into buying

two farms and two orchards.

Katherine enjoyed participating in “table talks.” She knew enough Latin and Scripture to join in, much to the annoyance of some at the table who thought her behavior inappropriate for a woman. Apparently though, Luther made no effort to stop her.
     While Katherine was submissive to her husband, it is certain that she contributed much to his ministry.  She certainly helped with his understanding of marriage, love, gender roles, and family life. Martin Luther became a model father, teaching and playing with his children. Katherine remains a model of  the ideal Christian woman.

 

Idelette de Bure Calvin

Not a lot is known about Idelette. Her first marriage was to Jean Strodeur and she had 3 children with him. He died tragically leaving her a widow to raise the children on her own.

When John Calvin decided to marry, he put together a committee in Strasburg (where he had gone in exile from Geneva) to find him a wife. Their attempts failed several times. It seemed that John might remain single.

Then John noticed Idelette, a widow with 3 children. She had a godly character. John realized that she was the widow of the former Anabaptist that he had converted. She was strong in her faith and John knew that she would make a good wife.

 

Their marriage would last nine years, though they both were frequently ill. Further complications arose from family members of his that did not like her, producing periods of family strife.

Idelette and John had two children but one child of theirs died while an infant and she miscarried another. In the process, Calvin, who spoke little of his married life, was deeply touched.

Their relationship softened his heart as a pastor. When she died, he did not remarry, though he would return to Geneva for fifteen more years of reforming work. Idelette’s contribution to the Reformation should not be underestimated. As a wife she helped John Calvin to understand many things about ministering to people that he would have otherwise missed.

 

 

 

In the next few weeks we will talk about some other godly women who contributed to the Reformation through their work with their husbands.

 

 

 

 

This week I watched a beautiful production of the life of Lilias Trotter.

Video:
“Many Beautiful Things: The Life and Vision of Lilias Trotter:

Featuring the voices of Michelle Dockery (Downtown Abbey) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones)

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson

Original Music:  Sleeping at Last

This video was released in 2015 by Oxvision and is 70 minutes long.

Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

I am going to do a full post on the life of Lilias Trotter in the near future. In the meantime, her story is beautifully told in the video. Below is the description from the video, since I could not improve on their summary.

Description (from the DVD):

Could you give up a dream to pursue your true calling? That’s exactly what Lilias Trotter did.  The documentary Many Beautiful Things shares her life story, explaining the heart-wrenching decision she made to give up comfort and potential fame in Victorian England to serve women and children in Northern Africa.

Lilias was a gifted artist who found favor in the eyes of respected art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin mentored Lilias in her artistic endeavors, seeing such potential that he claimed her work could be “immortal.”  She wrestled mightily with the decision, but eventually moved to French Algeria to share God’s love with the people there—a choice that was almost unheard of for a single woman of that time.

This artistically produced documentary uses Lilias’s paintings and journal entries to share her story. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) provides the voice of Lilias Trotter and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones) portrays John Ruskin in this 70-minute documentary. The DVD also includes special features, such as “behind the scenes” with Michelle Dockery and a theatrical trailer.

 

Commentary:

I was so entranced by Lilias Trotter’s life and vision that I researched where one could find more about her including some of her drawings on the Web.

You can get a Miriam Huffman Rockness’s biography, “A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter” on Amazon.com. You can also get books containing reprints of her many inspirational drawings.

There are many places available where you can find prints of her inspirational drawings. I purchased a beautiful print on wood from:

FineArtAmerica.com

Richard & Sabina Wurmbrand: The Underground Pastor and His Wife

Produced by the Christian History Institute and Voice of the Martyrs

Distributed by Vision Video
50 minutes

 

The story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand is very moving. While some say that it is “out of date” because the Soviet empire has come down, the story of Christian persecution is just as real today as it ever was.

 

Thousands of Christians are dying each year in Muslim countries and many other places. Please subscribe to “Voice of the Martyrs” newsletter and read the stories monthly of the brave Christians who will suffer torture and/or death rather than deny their Savior.[1] Give thanks to God for your freedom.

The video tells the story brilliantly. There is great narration, wonderful pictures, live interviews with their son, Mihai, and above all film footage of testimony from Richard and Sabina. The Wurmbrands relate the horror of their experiences at the same time as they praise God for seeing them through the torture. Their testimony is a wonderful inspiration to all. Both Richard and Sabina were able to show the love of Christ in the ultimate way – by forgiving their torturers.

Here is some background to the story:

Sabina Oster Wurmbrand was born on July 10, 1913 in Czernowitz in what was then called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today her country is known as Romania.

Sabina was born into a Jewish family. She was very intelligent. After graduating from high school in Czernowitz she attended the Sorbonne in Paris where she studied languages.

In 1936, at the age of 23, she met Richard Wurmbrand who was also born in a Jewish family. Richard and Sabina were soon married. In their early lives they sought to live the high life. They were virtually atheists. God was nowhere on their radar screens.

Then a miracle happened. While spending time in the mountains of Romania they came to Christ. They joined the Anglican church. Richard eventually was ordained as an Anglican minister. They were both on fire for Christ and began a successful ministry witnessing for Christ in Romania.

During WWII Sabina’s Jewish parents, two sisters, and one brother were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Richard and Sabina rescued many Jewish children from the ghettos where the Nazi’s were forcing the Jews to live. They also spent a lot of time in underground bomb shelters teaching the Bible.

They had a son, Mihai (Michael) during this time.

At the end of WWII the Russians poured into Eastern European countries. They forced everyone into communism. The communists took control of the churches and attempted to use them for propaganda purposes. They organized a “Congress of Cults.” Many religious leaders attended including Richard and Sabina. One by one the religious leaders began to swear loyalty to the communists. They praised the communists even though they knew that religion was really being repressed.

“Richard and Sabina were disgusted by the actions of their fellow leaders. Sabina said, ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ.’ Richard replied, ‘If I do, you’ll lose your husband.’ But Sabina said what Richard knew in his heart: ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’ Richard stood up in front of the four thousand delegates as so many had done before him. But instead of praising communism, he bravely declared that the church’s duty is to glorify God and Christ alone.”[2]

Then on February 29, 1948, Richard was arrested by the secret police and put into solitary confinement. He was tortured for many years in the prison, but he didn’t let his time go to waste. He found a way, using Morse code, to communicate the Gospel to other prisoners.

Sabina was also arrested and spent three years in prison, leaving Mihai, now nine years old, homeless. Sabina worked on the Danube Canal project doing slave labor. During this time she was also tortured by being made to stand continually in a small room. No bigger than a closet, the walls had spikes on them so Sabina could not even lean over for comfort.

Eventually Sabina was released. Authorities told her that Richard was dead. This wasn’t true. Richard was being moved around from prison to prison all the while suffering horrible torture.

During this time Sabina carried on the ministry. She shared the Gospel and gave away bibles whenever she could.

After about 8 years a Christian doctor contrived Richard’s release. Imagine how happy Sabina and Mihai were to see him! He was warned not to preach. This did not stop the Wurmbrands. They just went back to the underground church and continued their ministry.

In 1959 Richard was betrayed by an associate who accused him of preaching against communism. Richard was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. This time the captors used psychological torture as well as physical torture.

Sabina was told that Richard had died, but this time she didn’t believe it. Shae carried on their work believing that God was with them.

In 1964, hearing about his illegal treatment, Western countries began to put political pressure on the communists to release Richard. The Norwegian Mission to the Jews negotiated with the Romanian government to release Sabina and Richard for $10,000. The Wurmbrands left the country so that they could be a voice for the persecuted church in the West.

In 1967 Sabina and Richard formed an organization to help the persecuted church; they called it “Jesus to the Communist World”. Later it became a world wide organization and the named it “The Voice of the Martyrs.” It is still active today. My husband and I give financial support and I strongly recommend that every Christian should give something out of thanksgiving for our freedom in the United States. There are still many thousands of Christians being persecuted around the world. You can go to this site:

https://secure.persecution.com/projects_feature.aspx?categoryID=72&source=WEB

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Richard and Sabina were finally able to return to Romania. They were happy to be able to do more for the Christians there. The new mayor of Bucharest offered to let them use the basement of the palace of the former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, to store bibles. This was the same building where Richard had been housed in solitary confinement for three years. They continued to be a voice for the helpless for many years.

Sabina went to be with the Lord in 2000. Richard followed his beloved, wise, and strong companion in 2001.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Go to their website and sign up: https://www.persecution.com

 

[2] From “Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand: Founders of Voice of the Martyrs”, http://www.plough.com/en/topics/faith/witness/richard-and-sabina-wurmbrand

 

 

Amy Carmichael: Mother to the Motherless

Produced by Christian History Institute

Distributed by Vision Video

58 minutes in length, with a special 29-minute abridged version, Spanish language and English and Spanish subtitles.

 

 

This is one of the most moving videos I have ever seen. Amy Carmichael’s life has always been an inspiration to me. In this production, the story is beautifully told with photographs and drawings. Narrators include:

– Jonathan Clarke, pastor of the Welcome Church, established by Amy in Belfast
– Margaret Holland of the Dohnavur Fellowship
– Dr. Nancy Robbins, who nursed Amy during her final years of illness
– Elisabeth Eliot, who considers Amy Carmichael as a chief influence in her life also adds commentary.

The story is told well and doesn’t need much background or introduction, but here are some notes to share with others. This video would be great for any Bible study or Sunday School class for adults and especially children!!

One of the truly great, faithful missionaries of recent times was Amy Carmichael. Amy was born in the small village of Millisle in Northern Ireland, December 16, 1867, to devout Presbyterian parents, David and Catherine Carmichael. She was the oldest of seven children. In many ways she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work. She suffered neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for many weeks at a time. Her friends thought that she was foolish for wanting to go on the mission field. They didn’t think she would be able to take the strain for very long, but Amy was certain that God was calling her to go overseas.

Amy was a bright child, but a bit rambunctious. God would use this strong personality in His plans for Amy’s work on the mission field. She always went to God in prayer first, but then proceeded to do whatever it took to accomplish her task.

Influences in her life:
Her father died when she was young. She helped her mother care for her siblings.

Amy worked among the female millworkers sharing Christ with them.

Robert Wilson, founder of the Keswick Convention, cared for her during one of her bouts of neuralgia. He helped her to go to Japan as one of the first missionaries sponsored by the Keswick’s. She left there due to illness.

Amy searched for another missionary opportunity. With the help of the Zenana Missionary society she went to India.

Amy worked with the poor children. When she heard about the temple children she tried to find a way to get into the temples. She put on a sari and stained her skin brown so that she could pass as a Hindu. This was a bold move, but definitely in line with her stubborn and adventurous personality. God had made her this way, and she was up to the task.

 

 

Amy knew that the Lord was in charge of her life. She nearly went to prison for the rescue, considered a “kidnapping” in India, of one young girl. Amazingly, the case was dismissed. God was protecting and working through this faithful woman.

After thirty years of work among her beloved adopted people, she went on to found a place of safety for the young children in India. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. Dohnavur is situated in Tamil Nadu, just thirty miles from the southern tip of India. She rescued more than one thousand children who would otherwise have faced an uncertain, but probably dismal future. She desired to build a hospital as well. The hospital she founded is still there today and works with the aged people in India. There is also a school for the mentally and physically disabled.

In 1931, Amy was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. Even when she became old and infirm, she would praise God for her circumstances, because it would give her a chance to pray and write books and poetry. Prayer was the center of her life, and she became a great spiritual witness for thousands of others.

Amy Carmichael died in India in 1951 at the age of 83, after twenty years of being bedridden. Many people in such trials might complain to God about their illnesses. But Amy had learned to trust God in whatever circumstance He put in her life. Though she longed to be working among her people, she allowed God to use her where He put her. She did not waste time feeling sorry for herself. Many people were inspired by her cheerfulness and kind words. She used the time to write over thirty books, and now many people can be blessed by her work, thanks to her faithfulness and love for Christ.

“He hath never failed thee yet.Never will His love forget.O fret not thyself nor let Thy heart be troubled,Neither let it be afraid.”                                        Amy Carmichael

 

 

 

“Hildegard: One of the Most Remarkable Women of the Middle Ages”
Distributed by: Vision Video
52 minutes.

Hildegard was an astonishing woman who left us her remarkable legacy in books, drawings, songs, and plays. Her works are beautiful and lasting. They have also stood the test of time because of the spiritual comfort that they still bring to thousands today.

The setting of the video is at the monastery of St. Disibod on the Rhine in central Germany. The events portrayed are those leading up to Hildegard’s examination and trial for heresy in 1148. Hildegard cared for people the way she believed Jesus would care for them. The abbot, concerned only with his legalistic rules, disagreed with the way Hildegard cared for these people and put her and the abbey under interdict – a punishment. They were commanded not to sing. They could not receive the sacraments. Hildegard did not back down. Eventually she lodged a protest with the superior of the Abbot. A trial was held where she was completely vindicated.

Later in a vision Hildegard realizes it is time to move. The video ends with Hildegard and the nuns and their priest making the move to Bingen where she would found a monastery. There, Hildegard continued her labors until her death in 1179 at the age of 82.

This production of Hildegard’s life includes illustrations in a beautiful and stunning fashion that portray what some of Hildegard’s visions may have looked like. They are based on Hildegard’s drawings in the Scivia. A group of nuns (female actors with beautiful voices?) perform some of Hildegard’s music. You will be uplifted as you hear the praises to God sung by these women.

 

 

Some background before you watch the video:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) is best known as a twelfth-century abbess with an extraordinary mind and she is known for her visions. Whatever one thinks about the subject of visions and dreams, certainly Hildegard was a wise, talented, intelligent, dedicated, and devout Christian woman who rose above her circumstances to serve God in extraordinary ways. She has been authenticated by the pope in her day (Eugene III) and recently by Pope Benedict.

Hildegard became a nun while just a young girl. We do not know much about her next few years, except that she must have been a good assistant to the mother of the abbey who was also her aunt, Jutta. When her aunt died in 1136, Hildegard was chosen to be the abbess in her place. Hildegard was thirty-eight years old.

As the mother of the abbey Hildegard sought to lead a life of holiness and to encourage the other nuns to do likewise. Of major importance to her was caring for the poor as Jesus did. Though she tried to stay within the church’s rules sometimes she went her own way out of compassion. In the video you will see two incidents that were typical of how Hildegard cared for the humans under her protection – a young persecuted girl that she rescued, and a dying soldier from the Crusades. The abbot wanted to just toss these people out as heretics, but Hildegard showed them the love of Jesus.

Later Hildegard moved to a place where she could run the abbey without interference from less than spiritual men who only loved control. She personally oversaw the construction of the new convent at Rupertsberg, near Bingen, Germany. They moved into the new convent in 1150, and she became known as Hildegard of Bingen.

One of her many talents was writing. Around 1141, she had begun to write a book, Scivias, (or Sciens Vias, “Know the Way”), which eventually took her ten years to complete. This book included 26 drawings of things that she had seen in her visions.

You will see some of these drawings and visions illustrated in the video. She claimed that these visions helped her to understand the Old and New Testaments. Men and women of her day, including the well-known Bernard of Clairvaux, endorsed her visions. Many believed that she could understand the past, present, and future. She astonished people by claiming things which later came true.

Here in her own words is a description of one of her visions:

It happened in the year 1141 of the Incarnation of God’s Son Jesus Christ, when I was forty-two years and seven months old, that the heavens were opened and a fiery light of great brilliance came and suffused my whole brain and set my whole heart and breast afire like a flame – yet not burning but warming, as the sun warms an object on which it sheds its rays. And suddenly I came to understand the meaning of the book of Psalms, the Gospel, and the other canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments — … in a marvelous way, I had sensed the power and mystery of secret, wonderful visions in myself from girlhood, from the age of five, even to the present time.”   

After Scivias, Hildegard wrote other books, including the Book of Life’s Merits, and the Book of the Divine Works. She wrote these in Latin, the language of educated men, even though she had not been formally trained in it.

Many people sought Hildegard’s wisdom. Archbishop Philip of Cologne was repeating what many Christians thought when he said that Hildegard had divine gifts including the gift of prophecy.

During her lifetime, Hildegard composed over 70 vocal works. In the 1980’s they were rediscovered and many have now been recorded. She had composed the music and the lyrics. Her works show her love and her longing for Christ.

When she was about sixty years old, retirement age for many people today, Hildegard undertook several preaching tours. As she traveled around, she even preached to men, a fact which shows how much respect she had gained by this time. Her sermons sound much like many we hear today; she taught on the corruption of the Church and how it needed cleansing. She gave a tongue lashing to those who were “lukewarm and sluggish” in living the Christian life. She berated those who were slow in justice for the poor.

Hildegard died at age eighty-two on September 17, 1179. With her lifelong learning and perseverance, she overcame many obstacles for women in her day. She had seized the opportunities placed before her and worked to her limits. She became one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages and is still loved today.

 

To be a living sacrifice will involve all my time. God wants me to live every minute for Him in accordance with His will and purpose, sixty minutes of every hour, twenty-four hours of every day, being available to Him. No time can be considered as my own, or as “off-duty” or “free.” I cannot barter with God about how much time I can give to serve Him. Whatever I am doing, be it a routine salaried job, or housework at home, be it holiday time and free, or after-work Christian youth activities, all should be undertaken for Him, to reveal His indwelling presence to those around me. The example of my life must be as telling as my preaching if He is to be honored.  Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare (1925 – 2016) knew from early childhood that she wanted to be a missionary. And she did indeed give all of her life to God.

Helen made the decision at a Sunday School class on her eighth birthday. Her teacher had put together a project for the students involving pictures of Indian children. As Helen looked at the pictures and learned that most children in India had never heard about God she felt sorry for them. Helen could not imagine what it would be like not to know God.

Helen began to pray and study the Bible daily with other Christian women. She spent six and a half years getting a medical degree. Then she spent six months in missionary training and six months in Belgium studying French and tropical medicine. She was going to a place in Eastern Africa that was known as Congo in that time. In 1953, Helen sailed for the Congo with the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade whose motto was, “If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” Little could Helen know that she would be called on to make a horrendous sacrifice for Christ.

Helen was the only doctor for two and a half million people. Her initial hospital was made of mud and thatch. Helen learned to make bricks and build walls. She would not ask others to do something that she would not do herself. She learned the Swahili language to enable her to accomplish more.

A few years later a 14-acre plot of land had been converted into a 100-bed hospital and maternity complex. Now tens of thousands of patients could be treated. A medical school had also been started and Helen was very busy teaching the nursing students. The Africans would have their own trained medical personnel to help with the tremendous work.

In the early 1960’s the Congo underwent a revolution. The former colony received its independence and renamed itself Zaire. The transition was a very hard time. Many missionaries went home rather than face the danger from roving bands of rebels. News of murders in other villages was occurring daily.

Helen decided to stay. This meant that she now was only one of two doctors in a very large area. Her African friends were very grateful to her but she was taking a grave risk.

On the night of October 29, 1964, rebel soldiers took her away and abused her horribly. She was humiliated and suffered fierce physical pain. She later testified, “They were brutal and drunken. They cursed and swore, they struck and kicked, they used the butt-end of rifles and rubber truncheons. We were roughly taken, thrown in prisons, humiliated, threatened.” Helen felt that God had failed her. Why didn’t He step in earlier? Why did things have to go so far? She began to be tempted to doubt God’s existence.

Even as Helen was questioning God, she remembered when she gave her life to Christ. God reminded her, “You asked Me, when you were first converted, for the privilege of being a missionary. This is it. Don’t you want it? These are not your sufferings. They’re Mine. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.”

Finally, after five long months of cruel treatment Helen and the others were released. She went back to Britain to recuperate. On this furlough Helen testified all over the United Kingdom about the sufficiency of God. She felt privileged to be an ambassador of Christ, a missionary, and one who identified with His sufferings.

No one would have blamed Helen if she decided not to go back to Congo (Zaire). But she wanted to return and finish the work she had started. The African people still desperately needed doctors. And so Helen returned in March 1966.

Besides work at the hospital and the nursing school, Helen helped to establish 48 rural health clinics in the vicinity. Patients were hearing the Gospel from Helen and the missionary chaplains.

Eventually Helen became exhausted form overwork and not enough rest. She returned to Britain in 1973. She began speaking at conferences all around the world.

In 1989 Helen returned to visit her people in what was then called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

A film was made about her life of service at this time. It is called, Mama Luka Comes Home. “Luka” was the name given to Helen by the Congolese because it is the feminine form of Luke, the gospel writer who was a physician.

My copy of the video was distributed by Vision Video. It is 60 minutes long. It is beautifully photographed. Helen is very honest about her feelings as she revisits the places where she served and suffered for her faith. Helen’s testimony is one of love and forgiveness.

 

 

Helen has also written – Give Me This Mountain (1966), He gave us a Valley (1977) and Digging Ditches (2005) besides numerous articles. She has been a speaker at Urbana at least three times.

Helen died on December 7, 2016 at the grand old age of 91 in Northern Ireland.

“It would seem that God had merely asked me to give Him my mind, my training, the ability that He has given me; to serve Him unquestioningly; and to leave with Him the consequences…. How wonderful God is, and how foolish we are to argue with Him and not to trust Him wholly in every situation as we seek to serve Him!”

Praise the Lord for this wonderful woman’s life and testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God.