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Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God Paperback – June 7, 2005
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"A fine work of drawing the reader into the historical and spiritual life of these early pioneer missionaries. Well worth reading as a family."
—Lars and Elisabeth Gren (Elliot)
"Noël Piper tells the stories of five women whose lives declare something we have almost forgotten-what it means to be a Christian. May the influence of this book cause that awareness to burn brightly again in our generation!"
—Ray and Jani Ortlund, Renewal Ministries
"I highly recommend this book as one of the great sagas of missionaries and Christian biography."
—David M. Howard Jr., Professor of Old Testament, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota
"We live in a Christian subculture that can intimidate women from stepping out in faithful risk-taking for God. Noël Piper challenges all of us to move away from intimidation to imitation: 'Remember your leaders . . . imitate their faith' (Hebrews 13:7)."
—Dr. Rick and Fran LoveDr. Rick Love, Intl. Director, Frontiers, and Fran Love, editor of Longing to Call Them Sisters: Ministry to Muslim Women
About the Author
Noël Piper (BA, Wheaton College) and her husband, John, ministered at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for over 30 years. She is the author of Treasuring God in Our Traditions and Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God.
Top Customer Reviews
Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God is Noel Piper's second solo effort that is targetted at an adult audience (she has previously authored Treasuring God in Our Traditions and has written the children's book Most Of All, Jesus Loves You.). The book contains five short biographies of five faithful women: Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim and Helen Roseveare.
I particularly enjoy short biographies of this type as they provide only a glimpse of a person. If one of the people particularly intrigues me, I can seek out a more exhaustive biography. This book serves as an introduction to five particularly fascinating servants of the Lord - women who have in some way had a significant impact on the author. While the women are bound by a common thread, their zeal in serving the Lord, they represent several countries and hundreds of years of Christian history. Sarah Edwards lived in the New World during the mid-1700's and was best-known for selflessly supporting and extending the ministry of her husband, Jonathan Edwards; Lilias Trotter grew up in Victorian England but served God as a missionary in North Africa; Gladys Alward left her native England in 1932 so she could serve the Lord in China; Esther Ahn Kim stood strong among the persecuted ranks of believers during the Japanese occupation of Korea; Helen Roseveare became a doctor to the native population of the Congo, remaining there through years of war and bloodshed. Each of these women suffered in their own way, but did so joyfully, knowing that they suffered for the Lord.
A great deal of the value of this book lies in the author's closing comments for each of the sections. Piper adds a personal touch to each biography, describing what it is about the person that has so touched her. She ends each of the chapters with a dedication to a person whose life and faith exhibits the same qualities as the woman just described. For example, at the end of the first chapter she writes, "Just as Sarah Edwards had little idea of the ongoing generations she would influence through her interaction with Samuel Hopkins, there are two women who probably have little notion of their impact on me and therefore also on my husband, children, friends, and church. Long before my husband was called to a pulpit ministry, I admired our pastors' wives, one in California, one in Minnesota. God used them to help prepare me for my future role that none of us yet expected. And so this story of Sarah Edwards is dedicated to Deloris Hoeldtke and Ann Ortlund."
I was transfixed as I read of these faithful women, and in some ways was also transformed. As I came to understand the faith of these Christians who gave so much, I came to see where I have been holding back. I came to understand that the religious freedom we enjoy as North Americans sometimes allows us to have a lazy faith. As I came to understand these women, I came to understand God just a little bit better. And if that is the ultimate purpose of any Christian biography, which I believe it ought to be, Noel Piper has done well with Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God. I am glad to recommend this book to you.
While this book has equal appeal for men or women, I would suggest it may make an excellent text for a five- or six-part study for women's groups. My wife is reading it right now with a view to using it for just that purpose.
My hesitation led me to miss out for too long on a great book which is valuable at least three reasons:
Mrs. Piper chose wonderful women to profile. Only Sarah Edwards is really "intimidating," and I suspect that's just because her husband was Jonathan Edwards. The others are real enough that it's easy to imagine yourself in their shoes, responding (or rather, reacting) to a difficult situation the same way they did. It's that very approachability that helps you find your own hope in their hope, repentance in their repentance, joy in their joy. For instance, in the profile of Helen Roseveare, Mrs. Piper notes that at least twice she is rebuked for a wrong attitude toward circumstances or the people to whom she was called. I've seen that in myself, so Mrs. Piper's recounting of Helen's humility in accepting the rebuke and repenting was a great encouragement and example to me. Though it's most likely that no one will ever examine our lives to write biographies about us, FAITHFUL WOMEN AND THEIR EXTRAORDINARY GOD is a very effective tool to help us live our lives for the glory of God.
This is also a great place to start because the profiles are just that: profiles. They're not in-depth (though they're detailed). They don't take forever to read, which makes this a nice book to read in a week. You could maybe read one chapter each night before bed. It goes quickly so you feel like you've accomplished something, but you've spent your time profitably and learned something valuable along the way. And who knows - you may be left wanting more! Mrs. Piper's footnotes are complete and a great resource for reading more about any or all of these faithful women of God.
The last major reason I love FAITHFUL WOMEN AND THEIR EXTRAORDINARY GOD is because Mrs. Piper doesn't satisfy herself with just telling us about someone else's life:
"As with any biography, we'd be wasting our time if we were satisfied just to nose around in their lives for interesting tidbits. So I have prayed that this story would turn our eyes and affections toward biblical truth, that we would be edified and encouraged."(pp. 36-37)
Each profile concludes with Mrs. Piper's own thoughts about the lessons she learned from reading about these saints. I love that she directs our thoughts to those things which are most important - God and His Word.
FAITHFUL WOMEN AND THEIR EXTRAORDINARY GOD is a wonderful book to start with for beginning biography readers, a quick way to get a handle on the major details of some of history's shining examples of God's kind of women, and is a lesson in itself on living life God's way, and the eternal rewards of seeking first His kingdom.