Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The World Does Not Know Her Name

An interviewer once asked Edith Schaeffer, “Who is the most influential Christian woman in America?”

Her options were varied but her answer was provocative:
“The world does not know her name.”*
I’ve been mulling over her answer for the better part of this year. Is it possible that the most influential women are unknown and unnamed?

Photo by Frank Comisar
I’ve visited several small churches throughout the Midwest this summer, and each time I leave thinking about the women who have served there. Behind the scenes, doing menial tasks that few notice. Women who meet a need before they’re asked and desperately hope no one embarrasses them by noticing. Women whose service is truly for the Lord.

There is a woman who, despite her crippled leg, raised two grandchildren. One of her greatest joys is taking a meal to anyone in need. Anyone sick, injured, grieving, or just plain busy. She doesn’t do it because she’s afraid of what you’ll think if she doesn’t. No. She gives and gives and gives because a long time ago she was grieving, she was injured, she was busy. She gives out of the memory of her greatest need.

And the world does not know her name.

A woman rocks a fussy baby in the nursery. It’s not her baby, nor her grandbaby. She’s just loving a young mom by loving her child. She wipes congealed breast milk off her shoulder with a paper towel because the burp rag is soaked and sour. But she goes right on patting and consoling so a young mom can have 20 minutes to worship. She will be back next week and next month and next year, because when she was a young single mom she needed just a small window of undistracted time to worship the God who sustained her.

And the world does not know her name.

There is a woman who married a jerk. A “Christian” jerk. The kind who make physical loneliness seem like paradise. The woman has overlooked a thousand wrongs, turned the other cheek, and turned her eyes upon Jesus. She is a trail blazer for her small circle of young friends who find themselves gasping in the thin air of unmet expectations. She stretches an oxygen mask over her young friend’s face as she spirals down into the jungle of disappointment. Then she drags her from the wreckage and urges her on toward Christ—who makes beautiful things out of wreckage and disciples out of jerks.

And the world does not know her name.

Three unlikely examples of faith. None has a laudable accomplishment that would land their name on a list of “influential Christian women.”

And yet, that is exactly who they are. Influencing others, one meal, one hug, one tissue at a time.

They are the salty salt, almost invisible, but sprinkled among us, flavoring life, preserving hope and whetting our appetite for Christ.

They are broken vessels whose fractured lives allow the light of Christ to shine through.  Jesus has set these women on a lampstand called influence and they give light to everyone around them.

They exemplify the poor widow Jesus pointed out, who gave out of her poverty rather than out of her abundance.

He notices.

The world may not know their names, but Jesus does. 

And he’s given them influence so that the world might know His.
*I've googled until my eyes are googley and cannot find the original source of this quotation. I heard a radio show guest quote this interview this spring on Moody Radio.


  1. Shauna, this was beautiful! I needed to hear this today ... and I'll think of women serving in a different way now. Beautiful. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for reading, Shelli. Glad you were encouraged. Fun to see you "over here" :)

  2. I found this via a friend's Pinterest page. I found it so incredibly moving and it made me realize all the times I have been helped ... that I didn't even notice ... I took the help for granted. How small of me and how great of the giver. I'd like to share the link to your post on my blog .. hollyberryelf.blogspot.com.

    1. Holly, thank you for your kind words. I'm glad it was meaningful to you, and I'm especially glad you "stopped by" to let me know. I think we've each been on the giving and receiving end of "small" things...which actually turned out to be not-so-small. I'd be honored if you shared the link.