AROUND Mother's Day we hear the old saying, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." But is that true? Well, here are three examples of mothers with great influence, from the book "Moms Who Changed the World," by Lindsey O'Connor.
Augustine was a fourth-century scholar who is considered one of the greatest thinkers of all time. He was born under Roman rule in what is now called Algeria. His Christian mother, Monica, was married to a pagan who lived an immoral lifestyle. Even so, she gained a reputation as a peacemaker and counselor in turbulent times.
At 23, Monica had her first born, Augustine, and she dedicated her life to raising him as a Christian. Despite their pagan culture, Monica won her husband to Christ just before his death and her mother-in-law as well.
Augustine was 17 when his father died, and he was sent to the University of Carthage for a classical education. But Carthage was a decadent place, and he wallowed in carnal pleasures. Monica cried and continually prayed for his soul. When Augustine did come to faith, years later, Monica rejoiced and told him her work was done. A week later she died.
Augustine, who went on to become a great saint of the church, wrote this prayer, "My mother, Your faithful servant, you wept for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than others shed for the bodily death of a son. You heard me."
Amy Carmichael was born in 1867, oldest of seven, raised in a comfortable home in Northern Ireland. Her family prayed daily and read the scriptures. Amy's mother, Catherine, taught her children to pray, and to value the small acts of kindness, sending them with hot soup to the village poor.
When Amy's father died, they lost everything, but Catherine trusted the Lord. In 1892, Amy felt God calling her to India, saying, "Go ye." Though sad to see her daughter leave, Catherine wrote, "God has lent you to me all these years, I can trust you to Him and I do. Go ye." Amy, though in a wheelchair, went, and became one of the great missionaries, poets and hymn writers of the Christian church.
George Washington, "father of his country," was a Christian gentleman, of whom Thomas Jefferson said, "He was, indeed, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man."
George's father died when the boy was just 11, but a Christian mother, Mary Ball Washington, molded his character with Bible reading, and with Contemplations Moral and Divine by Sir Matthew Hale.
He wrote later, "All that I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."
So what did Monica, Catherine and Mary have in common? They saw motherhood as a mission from God, and they immersed their children in the Bible and prayer, and never gave up on them. They taught them morals, and to care for the less fortunate and they loved them unselfishly.
In times like these, we need to remember that God looks with favor on mothers who nurture small hearts and minds, and train up children to impact our world. What profession and what job is more important than that? For truly, a mother's work has eternal consequences. *
Each Saturday the Daily News offers men and women of faith the opportunity to share their words of life and comfort with our readers.
If you are a minister, a priest, a rabbi, or the head of another religious organization and would like to submit a faith-based column, contact Lorenzo Biggs at 215-854-5816, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.