Stories of forgotten yet formidable women told by former Moody professor

by Kaitlyn Schwenk correspondent

It all started on eBay when Jamie Janosz, former professor, now working in Moodys integrated marketing communication, was looking for vintage Moody memorabilia and discovered a charm from a necklace dated Oct. 4, 1915. The aged engraving on the former Moody student’s necklace read, “If found, please return to Myron Griswald.”

“I was thinking about what it was like to be a student in 1915,” Janosz said. Prompted further by two historical novels detailing Chicago’s turbulent past, Janosz began to wonder: what were the people on our side, the Christians, doing during the turn of the century when brothels, saloons and sins were rampant?

This introspection birthed the research process culminating in Janosz’s first book, recently released through Moody Publishers. Titled “When Others Shuddered,” the book shares the details and lives of eight little-known women who served the Chicago area for Christ in the late-19th and early-20th century. Pulling from Moody’s own library archives among other sources, Janosz profiles each woman, covering her successes, failures, trials and passions. “Who were they? How did they do what they did? That was the aim of the book,” Janosz said at a promotional event held in Crowell Library, Jan. 28. At the event, she spent time presenting some of biographies and interesting facts about each woman’s life.

Most are familiar with Emma Dryer’s last name, but without her influence, explained Janosz, the campus may have never been built. A fiery, outspoken woman who carried a burden for the destitute, Dryer was a first responder to the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Her close friend, D.L. Moody, called her one of the best Bible teachers of all time. However, a conflict led to her resignation from his team: he charged her with the task of fundraising for the school’s construction while he did ministry in New York, but he refused to return when she raised the money due to his success with evangelism out East.

Virginia Asher, a student at Moody during the late 1800s, was a committed evangelist who befriended the Everleigh sisters, infamous brothel owners. She prayed for and visited with prostitutes, a forerunner and torchbearer for current students in the ministry to victims of sexual exploitation major. “It was exciting to hear about her in light of the fact that Moody has recently begun this major,” said Samantha Ryder, a junior studying within the new program. “There’s more history behind this than I thought.”

One of Moody’s most famous alumni, Mary McLeod Bethune, is also profiled in Janosz’s book. Bethune was Moody Bible Institute’s first African American student who founded a school for girls in Florida. She served as counselor to the president regarding African American affairs; President Roosevelt even entrusted his engraved cane to her before his death in 1945. These women, Janosz said, are “a precious part of our history …. I feel like the voices of women at Moody have been under-heard a little bit.”

Janosz especially admires Sarah Dunne Clark, the founder of the Pacific Garden Mission who sold everything she had to start the shelter. Each woman believed in the power of prayer, and turned her devastations into driving forces to reach the lost, explained Janosz. They faced hardship — childlessness, loneliness, rejection, racism. “There is a cost to excellence,” Janosz remarked. Will there be another book anytime soon? “I don’t know,” she said. “There are so many more stories to tell.”

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