This past week I read about two amazing women of faith who changed the course of history for many people. Each one overcame difficult circumstances in her own life and stepped out in faith to make a difference in the lives of others.
The first one is Abigail. Abigail’s story can be found in the Bible in the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 25. Abigail was married to a wealthy, mean-spirited, and prideful man named Nabal, who lived in Maon. David, who was not yet King, and the troops he was leading, had been in the wilderness near Maon for some time. They had been kind to Nabal’s shepherds, and even provided them protection. When David heard that Nabal was celebrating sheep shearing time, he sent a message to Nabal asking for him to share some provisions with David and his men. Nabal rudely refused, and the messengers returned to David with news of the refusal. David was angry and vowed to kill Nabal and all of his household.
When a servant alerted Abigail to what had happened, she was appalled and asked her servants to help pack up food and wine to take to David. She sent the servants ahead with the provisions, and followed behind them to present the gifts to David and his army. When Abigail met David, on his way to kill Nabal and his household, she bowed humbly at his feet and pleaded for mercy for herself, her foolish husband, and his household. She reminded David that vengeance was for God to carry out, not him.
Abigail had the courage to do what she knew was right. In doing so, she saved her husband and his household from death by the sword, and saved David from committing a terrible sin that may have changed his future. When Abigail’s husband died a week later, David sent a messenger with an offer of marriage. Abigail accepted and became one of David’s wives.
The second amazing woman is Gladys Aylward, who lived from 1902 to 1970. Gladys was a tiny, dark-haired housemaid from England, who felt called to be a missionary in China. In her own words, she was “insignificant, uneducated, and ordinary in every way.” She was removed from a missionary training school because of poor performance and told she did not have what it would take to be a missionary. She was hired to work as a live-in housemaid for two missionaries who had just returned from China. While she was living with them, Gladys learned as much as she could about China, studied the Bible, and saved almost every penny she earned.
Gladys finally earned enough money to pay for her passage aboard a Trans-Siberian Railway train to China. The journey was long, difficult, and dangerous. Gladys’s life was jeopardized on more than one occasion, but she trusted that, if God wanted her to go to China, He would get her there safely. And He did.
While she was in China, Gladys endured suffering, loss, hardships, fear, and physical pain. But this small British woman was determined to do what God asked of her. Because of her faith, her strength, her amazing courage, and her hard work, Gladys did great things in China. She converted many Chinese people to Christianity, stopped a prison riot, brought about prison reform in one village, provided food and medical care to many, and saved the lives of about 200 orphans. Wow!
Did these women work completely on their own? No. Abigail had the help of her servants and Gladys encountered many helping hands along the way. But each woman was one person willing to take that first step into action. Each one bravely stepped into the unknown.
If God calls you to do something, but you don’t think you have what it takes to make a difference, remember these women. With God’s help, one person can make a difference. You can make a difference and so can I.