Two of the women from church history I admire the most share a name but seemingly little else. Catherine of Siena lived in Italy in the 1300s; Catherine Mumford Booth in England in the 1800s. Catherine of Siena was a mystic who never married or had children and died at just 33; Catherine Booth was a down to earth, practical woman who was married for 35 years and had eight children. Catherine of Siena wrote a dense theological treatise; Catherine Booth preached without notes and was reluctant for people to write her words down lest they lose their passion.
But each of the Catherines demonstrated boldness in following their calling, despite the obstacles and opposition of others around them. Both saw the needs of the people around them and met them with compassion and practical support. Both proclaimed words of truth and hope with power and conviction. Both learned to accept their gifts and passions and use them boldly them for the work of the gospel. Both were in many ways women ahead of their time, stepping out into roles usually reserved for men with humility and even trepidation, but with the sure knowledge that their obedience to Jesus required them to be who they were called and made to be.
I have loved learning about these two women and reading their words. Their stories resonate with mine in different ways but God has used each of them to encourage me, to inspire me, and to rebuke me. I pray that like both Catherines, I may always be willing to trust in God’s gifting and calling on my life, stepping out in obedience into whatever ministry he has for me, knowing that it is His work and it will bear fruit to His glory. I’m so thankful for these Catherines! If you are a woman who is seeking to be all that Jesus has called you to be, I’d encourage you to find out more about them and let their stories speak into yours.
Melinda is an ordained Baptist pastor. She is currently a full time PhD student researching the Old Testament Psalms. She teaches biblical studies at Tabor Adelaide. Melinda blogs here