Yesterday was International Women’s Day. I don’t know what that meant in this world. What I do know is this. Jesus loved women. All through the Bible text are examples of Him trusting them, using them, and not making a big deal about it. Jesus didn’t need a memo that women were unique and useful. He created them and gave them intrinsic value just like every other human. Equality was never an issue with Jesus. All humans are valuable and worthy at the moment of conception. This fact should be self-evident since every person is created by God!
There once was a woman named Annie Walker Armstrong. This woman loved the Lord, loved serving the Lord and gave every breath she had in faithful service to the Lord. Right now, Southern Baptists are collecting money for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. 100% of these funds go toward spreading the Gospel throughout North America. Let’s hear about the woman this offering was named after so many years ago.
Born in Maryland in 1850, God saw Annie and picked her out for a particular assignment! Annie’s father died soon after her birth, but thankfully, her mother was a devoted Christian. She encouraged her five children to see the needs around them and to act.
Annie became a Christian at the age of 20 and this began her many mission endeavors. Within a decade she was serving as President of the Woman’s Home Mission Society of Maryland. Right after that, she helped plant the Eutaw Place Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland where she taught infant Sunday School for over 3 decades.
She helped start the national WMU (Women’s Missionary Union) in 1888 and was its first Executive Leader.
You may have heard about Lottie Moon being a letter writer, but Annie was also a letter writer. Her letters brought constant attention to the development of WMU programs and missions. She once wrote 18,000 letters in one year.
She assisted Lottie Moon with her mission work in China by raising money for foreign missions. Annie also championed home missions and advocated for a Southern Baptist Sunday School ministry. She was a determined denomination builder.
At one point, she founded the Maryland Baptist Mission Room. A room stocked with prayer cards and missionary leaflets at first later expanded to become a publisher and distributor of mission literature.
Immigrants and Native Americans had a friend in Annie as she advocated for them. She was instrumental in the appointment of the first black, female missionaries. This was realized when she was the speaker at the national meeting of the Women’s Auxilary of the National Black Baptist Convention. She went on to teach Bible classes, held mother’s meetings, and prayed with this group.
Nannie Burroughs was Corresponding Secretary of this National Black Baptist Convention and this is what she said of Annie Armstrong,
“To me, Miss Armstrong was a symbol – a marvel at what a woman could do. She fired my soul.”
Annie encouraged other women’s groups to interact as she did with black people in their respective communities.
According to Baptist Press, she started the Ladies’ Bay View Mission for the poor and addicted at the site of today’s Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore Maryland. Her legacy lived on in Maryland and we see this fact when The Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame recognized her in 1992. This is what they said about Annie…
“She emerged as a powerful leader when she turned her energies to unite women to the cause of Christian missions – to share Jesus Christ with those who did not know Him and to provide humanitarian services to those in need.”
Tom Nettles, professor of historical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville called Annie,
“a person who looked at her gifts and her opportunities and pushed through any personal inhibitions and contextual prejudices to do what she believed God wanted her to do for His glory and the extension of the Kingdom.”
A few years before her death, WMU recognized her lifetime of work by naming the annual Easter offering for home missions in her honor. Annie Armstrong died on December 20, 1938.
To say God used Annie Armstrong in several impactful roles in life would be an understatement. Let’s reflect on a few of them.
- PRAY-ER – Annie was known for her prayer life. Observers said she had a really intense prayer life that gave her real spiritual energy.
- CHURCH PLANTER– She helped start the Eutaw Place Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland which was her local church all her life.
- NURSERY WORKER- To every anonymous, tired, but faithful preschool church worker/teacher, know Annie walked in your shoes.
- ADVOCATE– It’s recorded not only did she advance the cause of African-American women, but worked with Native Americans and other people groups, as well.
- WRITER– Annie used her handwritten letters to gain support for Southern Baptist missions all over the world. She authored a book entitled, Rescue the Perishing: Selected Correspondence of Annie Armstrong.
- SPEAKER – That talk at The National Black Baptist Convention brought important change.
- LEADER – She led the way for missions and denominational work.
- DREAMER – When she saw a need, she dreamed about how to meet that need and was gifted in involving others to carry out that dream. This made her a good…
- DELEGATOR – She needed people and appreciated others.
Annie Armstrong is an inspiring role model for females. Her convictions led her to act with courage when it wasn’t popular. She loved the Lord and tenaciously went about doing His work from an early age until her death.
Never marrying, she served the Lord with gladness, stayed in one location most of her life, blooming where God planted her. Southern Baptist missions today can be directly attributed to her spiritual tenacity and faithfulness to God’s call on her life.
Annie Armstrong inspires women of every generation to use all of their gifts to advance the Kingdom and to stay faithful to God’s call.
Surely He was pleased and agreed with her grave marker which read, “She hath done what she could. The Lord knoweth them that are His.”
“Would that we could realize that the success of missions and our prayers are linked together.” Annie Armstong