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Clothed with Strength

Women who built the church and changed the world

Sarah Allen



Clothed with Strength

Women who built the church and changed the world

Sarah Allen



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It’s easy to imagine that Christian women of the past were shrinking violets who were side-lined and excluded from making a difference in the church and in the world.

The truth is that God has always raised up strong and courageous women to do his work. You might never have heard of Rebecca Protten, Hannah More, Ellen Ranyard and Josephine Butler, but you’ll never forget how God used these four very different women to fight against injustice and poverty and to transform lives. These eighteenth and nineteenth century women worked in partnership with men to shape the evangelical church. Let their stories challenge you and fuel your faith today.

In Clothed with Strength, Sarah Allen brings us the true stories of God working powerfully in and through the lives of four women in different places and times in history. She weaves a narrative that is wonderfully readable yet full of a historian’s nuance and detail, helping us as modern readers to grasp the challenging times in which they lived as well as their unique gifts and frail humanity through which God chose to work. Read this book — and share it with others — to be encouraged to speak of Christ and show his mercy, whoever you are and wherever you find yourself.
Jen Charteris, Executive Director, Crosslands

Clothed with Strength is a fantastic and fascinating book, re-counting the lives of four contrasting women whose stories interweave, all connected by the common thread of Christ’s transforming power. Sarah Allen relates their achievements and struggles with compassion and understanding, as well as an awareness of the wider historical movements that formed the background of their lives. Yet it is all done with a lightness of touch. I was moved to tears more than once. These four stories cover the period in which our modern world was formed and speak powerfully to issues of race and class. Above all, they will inspire you to follow Christ.
Tim Chester, author of several Bitesize Biographies including Mary Jones

Throughout Christian history, faithful and strong women have served the Lord. All too often, sadly, their stories have faded into obscurity. Here, Sarah Allen introduces us to four of those women whose lives spanned two centuries and half the world. Freed woman and gifted evangelist, Rebecca Protten, is followed by writer and activist, Hannah More. We learn about Ellen Ranyard’s army of Bible Women and Josephine Butler’s work for and on behalf of many women, including those who were sexually abused, assaulted and forced into prostitution. In the pages of this book, again and again we see their courage and their faith. They did not hesitate to put their faith into practice, no matter what it cost them. The challenge for us is simple: will we do the same?
Ros Clarke, Associate Director, Church Society

Jesus Christ calls us to repent, believe, and to live out our faith. ‘Faith without works is dead’ ( James 2:17). Sarah Allen has provided a compelling account of four women who, in very different contexts, lived out their love for God as they served others. Their stories challenge us, in our day, to fulfil our calling to be salt and light in a corrupt and dark society. But they also inspire us to see that God is well able to supply the resources we need to fulfil that call.
Sharon James, author and Social Policy Analyst, The Christian Institute

  • Title

    Clothed with Strength

  • Author(s)

    Sarah Allen

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Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen works as an English teacher and is involved in pastoral care and training of women in her local church and across the UK. She’s the author of Clothed with Strength: Four Women who Built the Church and Changed the World.

See other titles by this author

Overall rating

5.0 based on 3 reviews

Loved learning about 18/19th century Christian women

I loved reading this book – all 4 women are different and interesting in their own ways. Sarah Allen is really honest about the flaws and struggles these women had but shows how God still used them and their faith amazingly in various contexts. These women are inspiring in the way that they loved, built up and discipled the women around them, as well as fighting for justice on a larger scale. I found Sarah’s writing style really engaging and I love how nuanced and gentle she was in dealing with parts of the women’s culture/attitudes that we would maybe disagree with today.

This book blew me away

I couldn’t put this book down! Sarah Allen skilfully reconstructs the life stories of four Christian women from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who were actively serving Christ with the gifts he had given in four very different settings. It turns out that women’s ministry is not a new idea but centuries old. Through her masterful storytelling and careful attention to detail, Sarah enabled me to see that Christian women have a pivotal part to play in God’s mission and encouraged me to follow in the footsteps of these courageous pioneers as they themselves follow the footsteps of Christ. The first story blew me away. Rebecca Protten was born a slave in Antigua, the daughter of a slave taken from the Gold Coast of Africa. Following her conversion, Rebecca was central to the Christian awakening on St. Thomas and her ministry had reverberations leading not just to spiritual but eventually physical emancipation of many. Her courage through persecution and willingness to use her freedom to go back into the slave villages to proclaim Christ was so challenging. I was encouraged to see how the eighteenth century church embraced women’s ministry as integral to the spread of the gospel. Next, Sarah tells Hannah More’s story, a gifted writer and political activist who worked alongside William Wilberforce supporting the abolition of slavery through her writing. She remained unmarried and had a close circle of friends and siblings with whom she set up schools for the poor. Moving into the nineteenth century, Sarah introduces us to Ellen Ranyard and Josephine Butler, who used their positions of privilege to reach the poor, vulnerable and abused. Ellen Ranyard organised a mission to distribute Bibles to the poorest women, and established a nursing ministry alongside. Josephine Butler ministered to abused women, providing refuge for the sickest and poorest released from prison and campaigning against sex trafficking and political injustices against women. As I read each of these stories it was incredible to realise how integral women have been to so many Christian ministries historically. Hearing their stories emboldened me to use the gifts God has given me to do likewise. These stories of brave, bold and beautiful-on-the-inside women using their gifts in Christian ministry need to be shouted from the rooftops. Buy 50 and gift them to all your friends! Review by Linda Allcock, author of Deeper Still: Finding Clear Minds and Full Hearts through Biblical Meditation, and Head, Heart, Hands Bible notes.
Linda Margaret

A Encouraging read about bold christian women

This book is really good and encouraging, the way God uses ordinary women with a passion for God and changes things through them and prayer which isn't always easy.


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