She Shaped Me: 10 Exemplars of Faith

Christian leaders reflect on the women from history who’ve influenced them.

Throughout history, God has used faithful women in powerful ways for the good of the church and the world. They are women of character and virtue, women who struggled and made mistakes, women who took risks and devoted their lives to answering God’s call. Above all, they are women who deeply loved God. Here, ten contemporary women reflect on the examples of ten women from Christian history who have significantly influenced their own faith in Jesus.

Jo Anne Lyon on Phoebe Palmer: Outward-Looking Holiness

Reading about Phoebe Palmer “opened up my imagination about the possibilities—about what a woman leader in the church could be,” says Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent emerita of The Wesleyan Church and founder of World Hope International. Known as the mother of the holiness movement, Phoebe Palmer (1807–1874) encouraged Christians to consecrate their lives to Christ, praying, “My all is upon Thine altar.”

For Palmer, this total submission to Jesus began with a personal tragedy. In 1836, her daughter was killed in a crib fire and, Lyon explains, “She fell on her knees before God and said, ‘Use me in whatever way you want.’” Palmer began leading a Bible study in her home that grew to involve hundreds of people. Soon she began speaking at highly attended Christian gatherings in the US and abroad that, according to Christian History, “sparked a revival which brought nearly a million people into the church.”

But what stands out to Lyon is that Palmer “embodied holy living that is outreaching, that cares about society, that is justice oriented.” Palmer ministered where many dared not go: the notorious “Five Points” slum in New …

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