Posts by Simonetta Carr

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On Sunday, May 30th, cries of terror filled the scattered homes that make up the rural community of Nwori Nduobashi, Nigeria. It was around 3 in the morning, and people were still asleep when an armed band broke into their homes, flashing light in their eyes to confuse them while they swung their...
Rebecca Protten and the First Black Protestant Church in the Americas When seven-year-old Rebecca Protten was kidnapped from her family home in Antigua, she couldn’t possibly imagine that her new life in the island of St. Thomas, a Danish sugar colony in the West Indies, would become a catalyst for...
Helene Kottanner – A Medieval Thriller Helene Kottanner had been a loyal friend and adviser to Queen Elisabeth of Hungary. But when the queen asked her to steal the royal crown, her devotion was severely tested. It all started in 1439, when King Albert II died after fighting against the Ottoman...
George Liele – First Baptist Missionary in Jamaica It has been said that the first American Baptist missionary was not Adoniram Judson, but George Liele, a former slave. Some have quibbled that Liele, although licensed to preach, was not specifically sent abroad by a church. In any case, his life...
Radegund of Thuringia – Giving Refuge to Women in Violent Times In 531, an army of Frankish soldiers invaded the Kingdom of Thuringia (in today’s France), sacked the palace, killed the royal family, and took the royal children back to the Frankish capital, Athies. Among these children was Radegund...
Solan Gidada – An Ethiopian Christian Hero His family name, Gidada, meant “one who weeps for his people.” But when Solan Gidada became blind at age five as a result of smallpox, his parents wept for him. But he was alive. Seven of his siblings had died from the same illness during an epidemic that...
John Hus’s Company of Women John Hus, the Bohemian Reformer who was condemned as heretic at the Council of Constance, was supported by a large number of women. This was, in some ways, unusual. The same couldn’t be said, for example, in the case of John Wycliffe, in England. One possible reason was...
Janani Luwum – A Ugandan Martyr In 1977, the assassination of Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum shocked the world. Since his military coup in 1971, the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had been sowing terror around the country. A Muslim, he allowed Christianity in his country only in three forms: Roman...
He was a civil engineer in Italy. She taught Latin in a Hungarian high school. Neither knew that the Lord was about to overturn their lives, bring them together, and send them as missionaries to the southernmost city in the heel of the Italian boot: Lecce. Vincenzo’s Early Years Vincenzo Coluccia...
John Bertram Phillips – A Bruised Reed Firmly Planted Some know him as the author of Your God Is Too Small, an influential book that challenged a complacent generation to rediscover and cherish the God of Scriptures. Others remember him for his translation of the New Testament into modern English (...
Hallgrímur Pétursson – Iceland’s Poet of Comfort The news that Hallgrímur Pétursson was ordained as Lutheran minister at Hvalsnes, Iceland, raised many eyebrows. He had not completed his education and, what was worse, he had fathered a child out of wedlock. But Brynjólfur Sveinsson, bishop of...
Charles Haddon Spurgeon and His Struggle with Depression Charles Spurgeon is known as one of the greatest preachers in history. Not everyone knows about his ongoing battle with depression. Even fewer people know about his advocacy for people who lived with the same – or a similar - condition. While...
Fabiola and Her Radical Charity On a Saturday before Easter, most likely in AD 393, Fabiola stood outside the full church of Saint John Lateran in Rome. She was dressed in sackcloth, with her hair disheveled, her unwashed cheeks streaming with tears. It was a surprising sight. In the early church,...
Robert Jermain Thomas – First Protestant Martyr in Korea Today, when Christians from Korea travel to Great Britain, they often make a point of visiting Hanover, south Wales, where Robert Jermain Thomas spent his childhood. Some even venture out to the small town of Rhayader, where he was born in...
Rosa Young – Committed to Serve At the turn of the twentieth century, many civil rights advocates fought to create better communities and lives for Black Americans. They did it mostly through politics, essays, and discussions. Rosa Young – a name still largely unknown– did it through education, the...
Ayako Miura – From Disillusioned Nihilist to Christian Author Ayako Miura was one of the best-known women writers in modern Japan. Her literary talents are evident and her books grip the reader’s attention from the first page. And yet, Japan’s literary guild has often relegated her writings to the...
Bo Giertz – True Pastor and Insightful Writer In 1927, Bo Harald Giertz had an audience with Queen Victoria of Sweden, who had been a patient of his father Knut. Knowing that Bo was studying theology, and that he was a top student, she asked if he wanted to become a professor. He replied he just...
Johann Gerhard – Pastor and Teacher in Troubling Times Johann Gerhard is often seen as the third pillar of the Lutheran tradition, after Martin Luther and Martin Chemnitz (author of the Formula of Concord and the Examination of the Council of Trent). Gerhard is considered the foremost Lutheran...
The first meeting between Vittoria Colonna and Michelangelo Buonarroti was the start of a long and deep friendship. It was also, in some ways, uncommon. As a famed noblewoman, Vittoria was used to the company of artists, poets, and writers, but Michelangelo was one of a kind. His words were few and...
Ernst Lohmeyer A few of us might have seen the name Ernst Lohmeyer listed among those who resisted the Nazi regime. Scholars remember him for his studies on the Lord’s Prayer and Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, which confirmed the early existence of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. Most people...
Byang Kato and the Universal Nature of the Historical Gospel During the second half of the twentieth century, many African nations declared their independence from the European countries that had ruled them. In 1960 alone, the so-called “African year,” seventeen African nations claimed this...
Gudina Tumsa – Martyr and Thinker On July 28, 1979, Gudina Tumsa led a Bible study at Urael Church in Addis Ababa, one of the congregations of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY). He had barely left the church when he was kidnapped, together with his wife, Tsehay Tolessa, by some...
Over the last few days, an opinion piece by Kyle J. Howard [1] has made its rounds on social media. It’s a critique of a common phrase many “Christian leaders” have apparently used in their reaction to Ravi Zacharias’s fall: “There, but for the grace of God go I” (or other versions of this saying...
The Korean Revival and Following Persecution The Japanese victory in the 1904-1904 Russo-Japanese War and the consequent annexation of Korea to Japan caused a flurry of patriotic sentiments among Koreans. By that time, Christianity had made great strides into the country, and its leaders were known...
Hamu Lujonza Kaddu Mukasa and the Early Church in Uganda In 1882, twelve-year-old Hamu Lujonza Kaddu Mukasa, son of a chief in the Buganda Kingdom, was sent to the court of King Mutesa I to serve as a page. There, his life began to take a course he had never imagined. From Mukasa to Hamu At court,...
François and Christine Coillard – A Love Story When François Coillard first introduced himself as a teacher to the people of Leribé, in today’s Lesotho, they looked at him in disbelief. “The Teacher!” one of them said. “And what should he teach? He is a young man. He has neither wife nor beard.” [1...
Daniel De Superville – Bringing Comfort to a Pilgrim Church If the sixteenth century was a turbulent time for French Huguenots, the following century was disastrous. What little hope they had nurtured in 1598, when King Henry IV’s Edict of Nantes granted them some rights to worship and participate...
Wang Mingdao – Against the Christless Christianity of the Authorized Church After the Chinese Civil War and the victory of Mao Tse-Tung over General Chiang-Kai Shek, the Chinese government re-evaluated the role of Christian churches in the country. They allowed their existence, with restrictions...
Onesimos Nesib, Aster Ganno, and the Oromo Translating Team In my last post, I wrote about Pauline Fathme, Christian Rufo, and their efforts to bring the gospel to Ethiopia. Rufo worked with the German Johann Ludwig Krapf to translate portions of the Bible into the language of the Oromo, which at...
Pauline Fathme, Christian Rufo and the Early Missions to the Oromo When we think of Ethiopia, we often think of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, with its impressive buildings and its ancient, unique, and colorful traditions. The religious complex of Lalibela, for example, with its monolithic churches...
Liang Fa – The First Chinese Ordained Pastor In 1804, fifteen-year-old Liang Fa moved to the big city of Guangzhou (then known as “Canton”) to find work, first as a brush-maker, then as an apprentice printer. His parents had provided a good classical Chinese education as long as their means had...
“Now greet the swiftly changing year with joy and penitence sincere; rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embrace another year of grace.” [1] This is how 17th-century Polish hymn-writer Jiří Třanovský (1592-1637, also known as Tranoscius) encouraged Christians to greet the year. Easy for him to say, we...
Jiří Třanovský – A Singer of Comfort Many populations, in the history of the church, have identified a particular man as their “Luther,” someone who brought the gospel of grace alone through faith alone to their country. The Polish pastor and hymn-writer Jiří Třanovský has been called “the Luther...
It’s been a tough year. After a long battle against an unpredictable virus, a violent summer, and a contested Presidential election, there is a general feeling of weariness with 2020 and a relief that it’s almost over, as if January 1 could dispel all our problems. In reality, we know that a turn...
Jaroslav Jan Vajda – Singing the Language of Today’s Hearts While shaving in front of his bathroom mirror, Jaroslav Jan Vajda, then editor of the former Lutheran magazine This Day , wondered how to fill a blank page for an issue that was going to the printer in three days. His mind went back to a...
Samuel M. Zwemer and the Glory of Christ “The deity of Christ makes all the difference in our Christmas joy. He who came to the manger was God’s Son. To deny this is to deny essential Christianity. If the Savior of men is not identical with their Creator, there are no good tidings of great joy for...
Ann Griffiths and Her Sea of Wonders “O to spend my life in a sea of wonders!” [1] Ann wrote in one of her poems. And her life, spent in a Welsh farm in the small village of Dolwar-Fach, was lived in the constant and exciting discovery of God’s revelation. A Short and Intense Life Born in 1776 to a...
Scipione Lentolo – A Firm Hand in Unstable Times John Calvin didn’t have a good opinion of Italians. Basing his judgment on the scholars he had met, he thought they were too skeptical, too eager to get embroiled in convoluted discussions, and constantly itching for new ideas. In his writings to...
Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia and the Birth of Christian Missions in the Hawaiian Islands Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia lived only 26 years and is seldom known outside of the Hawaii. And yet, many believe that his love for the gospel changed the course of his islands forever. A Troubled Childhood Born in Ka`ū, Hawaii,...
Catharine Brown – Cherokee Missionary and Teacher When Catharine Brown arrived at the Brainerd School, the missionaries thought she wouldn’t last long. Beautiful and proud, she carried herself with gravity and reticence, as it was fitting for the daughter of an influential family. Would she be able...
David George – from Anxious Runaway to Zealous Pastor Born on a cotton plantation in Virginia around 1742, David George grew accustomed to hard work and abuse. The plantation owner, a man called “Chapel,” was particularly cruel. George had to witness the whipping of his sister Patty and the...
Maria Fearing and the Mission to the Congo If you think you are too old for something you wish to do, Maria Fearing can prove you wrong. She learned to read when she was 33 and became a missionary at 56. She would have continued until her death if the Presbyterian mission board hadn’t stopped her...
Georgi Vins and the Christian Resistance to Soviet Religious Persecution On April 26, 1979, 50-year-old Georgi Petrovich Vins was woken up in his cell in the labor camp where he had been serving sentence for four years. He was asked to change into his own clothes, flown to Moscow, then told that he...
William Shedd and the Genocide of Assyrian Christians William Ambrose Shedd was born January 24, 1865, in the mountain village of Seir, near Urmia, in today’s Northwestern Iran, near Turkey. About one quarter of the population at that time was Assyrian, and predominantly Christian. According to...
Samuel Crowther – The First African Anglican Bishop When a visiting missionary reunited with his mother in 1848, she must have hardly believed her eyes. It had been about 26 years since she had seen him. She had left him a young teenager named Ajayi. Now he was an ordained minister in the Church of...
Francis James Grimké – Through a Pandemic and Social Unrest We are not the first generation who must deal with a pandemic and racial unrest at the same time. The Spanish flu of 1918 hit America at a time when racial segregation and lynching of blacks were commonplace and largely ignored by the...
Matilde Calandrini – Fighting for Education and Religious Freedom In 1831, 37-year old Matilde Calandrini moved from Geneva to Pisa for health reasons. Tuscany, the enchanting Italian region where Pisa was located, had been the home of her ancestors at the time of the Protestant Reformation. They...
Dante’s first book of his Divine Comedy takes its reader through an imaginative journey through Hell. Each girone is a testimony to the corruption of the human heart, and gives the poet a chance to denounce the crimes of the political and religious leaders of his time. Most of the time, the reader...
Joshua Janavel and the Plight of the Waldensians When the troops of the Duke of Savoy asked the Waldensians to give them hospitality, Joshua Janavel was not convinced. The Waldensians had survived through a long history of persecutions, starting in the 12 th century. Their official adherence to the...
Daniel Rowland and the Welsh 18 th -century Revival Llangeitho is a small village in the center of Wales. Today, its population counts just a little more than 800 people. It was even smaller in the 18 th century. And yet, thousands of people arrived on Sundays from all over Wales, traveling on foot...