I love reading about the history of the church. Even though there have been many horrific times of Christians persecuting each other and huge moral failures, the church is our family, our heritage.
Along with the disgraceful behaviours are the countless acts of selflessness, courage and steadfastness in face of huge opposition. Many of those who confronted the powers of darkness were women and often these women have not been remembered, but God knows and some of us have been privileged to read their stories and praise God for these people who are our predecessors in faith – a valuable inheritance!
Perhaps you have not heard of Nettie McCormick who in 1884 became a very wealthy widow who wanted to use her inheritance to further the work of the gospel.
She established McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago for young Presbyterian ministers. John Mott of the Student Volunteer Movement was enabled to go to the ends of the earth to organise student missions and later Nettie helped form the World’s Student Christian Federation.
D.L.Moody was another beneficiary as was Wilfred Grenfell who was a missionary to Labrador. Nettie funded Tusculum College in Tennessee and gave generously to educational efforts in Appalachia.
She absorbed herself in Asian missions and her house in Chicago became a Christian half-way house between the Orient and the West, a centre of international Christianity. It was always full of missionaries and overseas Christians.
In one country she improved the water supply, provided a hospital in another and a Christian college in yet another. She built a women’s clinic in Persia and a seminary in Korea as well as sending agricultural machines to India.
All this was done in the name of Christ and Nettie never thought of herself as a great giver – others, she felt, did more. She said “I can give money, but the greatest gift of all comes from the self-sacrifice and devotion of the missionaries.”