Making History

Many of us are familiar with the quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” The women whose legacies have influenced my life, my passions, and my ambitions were not “well-behaved,” as society in their respective times would have defined it. They didn’t sit idly by while injustice reigned. They spoke truth when others preferred to sit in silence, and they suffered so that those who came after them might reap the rewards of their perseverance.

Of these women, Sojourner Truth stands out in my mind. Maybe it was her six-foot-tall stature and powerful voice or maybe it was her boldness in preaching the gospel. Born a slave who later fled to freedom, she abandoned physical comfort and security to become an evangelist, abolitionist, and supporter of women’s rights. She preached Christ wherever she went and she was not easily intimidated or discouraged. In her words, “The Spirit calls me, and I must go.” I long to have her drive and focus – nothing could stop her.

Fannie Lou Hamer became a hero of mine after reading about her role in the Civil Rights Movement. She was an impoverished sharecropper who fought for voting rights in the south. She endured horrendous physical abuse during her imprisonment (refusing to go along with a “whites only” restaurant policy), but that did not deter her from her mission to obtain the right to vote for African Americans. Hamer’s strength came from her deep faith in God. She once quoted Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” She knew that she could not fight the battle without the Lord’s strength.

It isn’t only women from the past who have shaped who I am today. I am constantly impacted by the women in my community and those in our church plants of whom I serve alongside. These precious warriors of God teach me what it means to serve, give generously, and endure trials.

Last but certainly not least, I am most influenced by my own mother, a woman who has blazed a trail for me and other inner-city missionaries. She has shown what it means to open up your home to the “least of these.” She has discipled countless women, some of whom are church leaders today! She leads and shepherds with boldness, truth, and compassion. But she still has that spark – that indefineable quality – that pushes her onward to the next challenge despite the hurdles.

I am blessed and encouraged by the stories of the women who came before me as well as women who serve alongside me. Their obedience to Christ, their perseverance, and their unwavering devotion to justice for all is an inspiriation to me, especially when I feel ill-equipped for what the Lord has called me to. My hope and prayer is that through the Lord’s grace, I can help empower other women to make a difference for the Kingdom.

Tina Busenitz is a World Impact missionary in Wichita, KS.