Posts by Simonetta Carr

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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...
Miklòs Bethlen and the Independence of Transylvania Sitting in prison, “as one to whom the gate of eternity stands open,” [1] Miklòs Bethlen began to write the story of his life. It was a fascinating story of one of the most influential men in the history of Transylvania. Today, the book is still...
The Birth of Early Christian Nations –Truth and Legend The accounts of the birth of early Christian nations is often shrouded in legend, as stories were told and retold, but there are still enough historical records to show that much of them are true. Grigor and the Brave Women of Armenia Armenia...
Gregory of Nyssa – A Lone Voice Against Slavery I have already written about Gregory of Nyssa [1] – one of the Three Cappadocian Fathers – and his compassion toward the poor. But he deserves another article, for a stand that made him unique and countercultural in his time: his stand against slavery...
Johannes Bugenhagen – Sharing the Gospel and Caring for the Poor Known mostly as pastor and church planter during the Protestant Reformation (he has been called “the Apostle to the North”), Johannes Bugenhagen was also an important model in the tradition of Christian love and compassion. A...
A few years ago, after writing the nth article on the benefits of learning church history, I decided never to touch this subject again. Editors kept asking me to write more, but I thought I had said all there was to say about it. Until now, when recent events have brought the study (or ignorance)...
The Familiar Case of Benjamin Dutton Benjamin Dutton is not a recognizable name in Church history. He is usually remembered in passing as the second husband of Anne Dutton , the 18 th -century writer who confuted Wesley’s strive for earthly perfection and won the praises of George Whitefield and...
George Herbert – Pastor and Poet What would the English poet George Herbert have to say at the toppling of our monuments? Maybe something similar to what he said in 1633, while contemplating the monuments to the dead inside his church’s crypt. In the end, he concluded, the dust and earth to which...
William Williams Pantycelyn – The Sweet Singer of Wales In most of the world, William Williams is only known to those who read the names of authors in their hymnbooks. Most people don’t, and go on singing his most famous hymn, “Guide Us O Thou Great Jehovah” (also known as “Bread of Heaven”)...
Theodore Sedgwick Wright – A Voice for the Slaves Theodore Sedgwick Wright, the first African American graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, returned to his Alma Mater in 1836 to attend the annual commencement ceremony. He didn’t know, as he entered the hall, what a measure of self-control he...
Anne Ross Cundell Cousin – A Compassionate Friend The name of Anne Cousin is largely unknown today. It might sound familiar only to people to take the time to read the names of the authors of the hymns they sing. To most of them, Anne Cousin is known for one of her hymns: “The Sands of Time Are...
Historically, after Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost, the church enters a long period known as “Ordinary Time” — stretching from the day of Pentecost (or, in the Anglican Church, Trinity Sunday) to the start of Advent — about half of the liturgical year. As foreign as it might seem to some...
Samuel Miller – Conscientious Pastor and Teacher In 1813, Samuel Miller was offered a position as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at the newly established Princeton Theological Seminary. At that time, the Seminary had only one teacher, who was also its founder and...