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Published Date: November 2, 2023

Published Date: November 2, 2023

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Editor’s Reflection: Autumn 2023

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In my Sunday School days, missionary stories were a regular feature. That is how I “met” the Irish missionary Amy Carmichael (1867–1951). What I remember most vividly is that, as a girl, Amy wished she had blue eyes. Blue eyes, she thought, would be far prettier than her brown ones. Many years later, when she became a missionary in south India, it is said her brown eyes stood her in good stead. She made it her mission to rescue girls who had been dedicated to temples, which often included forced sexual service offered to the temple’s patrons. By dyeing her skin with a tea decoction and covering her face so that only her brown “Indian” eyes could be seen, Amy found access to temple precincts. Within a dozen years (1901–1913), she had some 130 girls in a home set up for their rehabilitation. She worked 55 years in India, never allowing herself to return to England for a break despite her persistent ill health. Here is one of her many poems:

Hast thou no scar?

No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?

I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;

I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.

Hast thou no scar?

              Hast thou no wound?

              Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,

              Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent

              By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.

              Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?

Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow Me.

But thine are whole; can he have followed far

Who hast no wound or scar?

This issue is dedicated to women who, like Amy Carmichael, left their footprints in the sands of Christian history.

From the history of the church in north Africa, Heather Preston foregrounds the Kandake, queen of Ethiopia (Acts 8:27). This royal woman may well have played a significant part in the spread of the Christian faith into north Africa and so, deserves for her name to be remembered when we rehearse the story of the church’s early decades.

From the history of the church in Britain, Ian Randall writes on Georgina Gollock (1861–1940), a key figure in the development of what came to be called “World Christianity,” a term denoting the global impact of mission endeavor. Patrick Oden takes another look at Susanna Wesley (1669–1742): her theological formation and her influence in the formation of each of her three sons—Samuel, John, and Wesley—as revealed in her letters to each.

From the history of the church in South Asia, Philip Malayil describes the crucial role of the Biblewomen of colonial India (across the 19th century until independence in 1947). Their names are relegated to reports and correspondence, but because of them, the gospel brought by the western missionaries crossed the divide of language and culture, especially into the hearts of Indian womenfolk.

From the history of the church in the United States, Mimi Haddad tracks women at the forefront of Christian leadership across the 19th and 20th centuries—preaching, launching movements, church-planting, and leading Scripture translation. She lays out how the American fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the second half of the 20th century curtailed that leadership by retreating from an egalitarian reading of the Bible.

We pray that this issue of Priscilla Papers inspires us all towards service in the universal church of Christ.

Together, side by side, in God’s world.