A Revolutionary Calling

In the early 1800s, Polly Webb invited her friends to participate in a sewing circle. They sent the money they raised to support missionaries in India. Polly wrote letters inviting other women to do the same. She believed God called her to use her time, her talents, and her circle of influence to participate in the Great Commission, and she invited other women to join her.

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A few years later, in 1888, at Broad Street Methodist Church in Richmond, Virginia, a group of women came together for a singular purpose. They would agree to participate in the Great Commission together and to invite other women to do the same.

Some of the “brethren” were against the women organizing. They felt it was dangerous and revolutionary. They had no idea how right they were. For generations to come, ordinary women would respond to God’s call to pray, give, and go. Thousands upon thousands of women would invite their friends to join them in a missions lifestyle.

We are women who understand that God has a place for us in His work throughout the world. We are women who find creative ways to share the love of Christ. We are women who encourage and invite others to be on missions with us.

WMU was founded by women who believed everyone could respond to the Great Commission, and we continue to build on the foundation they laid. Lottie Moon said, “How can I not speak when I know the words of life?”

WMU helps Christians find their voice so they can speak the words of life using their own talents, time, and influence. Are we revolutionary? Absolutely.

Learn more about the revolutionary women who founded Woman’s Missionary Union in Rosalie Hunt’s book We’ve a Story to Tell: 125 Years of WMU.

The WMU Foundation supports the life-changing ministries of WMU which help fulfill the Great Commission both locally and globally. Sponsor one hour of WMU ministry for $34 through the WMU Vision Fund.

‘Grandmommy Bubbles’ Leaves Large Missions Legacy

When Allison Kinion was a little girl, she always felt like her grandmother, Margaret Knight, had a thousand tricks up her sleeve.

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For one, at the children’s bath time, Knight would take an old wooden spool, rub the end of it over a bar of soap and then blow bubbles with it.

The name “Bubbles” stuck.

“She was Grandmommy Bubbles to us from then on — that’s what everyone called her,” said Kinion, women’s missions and ministry director for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana.

The things Knight did made an impact on the kids, from bubbles to baking and from gardening to missions. So much so, in fact, that she could’ve been called Grandmommy Missions, too.

“She was just an incredible example,” Kinion said. “And she was super passionate about missions.”

As much as Kinion’s family remembers the bubbles, they also remember sitting around the table at meals wondering how long it would take Knight to get to one of her trademark speeches.

“She would say, ‘You know, there is a church on every corner here in our town. We need to be sending our people and our resources overseas to the people who don’t know Jesus.’”

A member of Woodlawn Baptist Church, Birmingham, Knight served in various roles with her church’s WMU group for more than 30 years.

She had “an extraordinary love for international missions,” Kinion said. “To my knowledge I don’t know if she ever went on a trip, but she was a strong voice in her congregation for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and international missions.”

Knight cared about the lost from Birmingham to the other side of the world, Kinion said — even in her family.

“My parents had brought me up in church, but it was my grandmother who prayed with me to receive Christ,” Kinion said. “It’s just one example of how missions, to her, was everywhere — even in her own family.”

Sometime after Woodlawn Baptist relocated, Knight moved too — to a retirement home.

But even there she kept stoking the fire of missions.

“She was great, because in a loving way she would double check with my father every single week to make sure he had written her tithe check,” Kinion said. “And when the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering rolled around, she wanted to make sure he took care of that for her — the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, too. She never gave up that passion for the Cooperative Program and our missions offerings.”

Kinion said she believed that passion had a lot to do with why she’s in the role she’s in today.

“I think just her heartbeat for missions transferred through my parents to my sister and I,” she said. “It was just built in.”

The family recently honored that built-in legacy by purchasing a brick in Knight’s memory on WMU’s new Walk of Faith brick garden. The walk, built on New Hope Mountain in Birmingham, recognizes missions heroes past and present.

Kinion said Knight definitely fits the bill.

“Her heart was for the missions field and sharing Christ with other people,” Kinion said. “She made an incredible impact.”

Arab Woman Today leader Abbassi named O’Brien Award recipient

Ruba Abbassi, CEO of the Jordan-based ministry Arab Woman Today (AWT), is the recipient of this year’s Dellanna West O'Brien Award for Women's Leadership Development.

 Sandy Wisdom-Martin, Ruba Abbassi, Candice Lee, and Melanie VanLaningham celebrate the O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin, Ruba Abbassi, Candice Lee, and Melanie VanLaningham celebrate the O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development.

Abbassi was honored during national Woman’s Missionary Union’s annual missions celebration June 10 in Dallas.

The O’Brien Award, named in honor of former WMU executive director Dellanna West O’Brien, has been given annually since 1998 to recognize Baptist women who lead well and foster leadership potential in others.

Abbassi’s work through AWT, which spans the world’s 22 Arabic-speaking countries, has been going nearly as long as the award. In 1999, Abbassi began developing the organization with radio, television and online ministries as well as community programs to develop women as Christian leaders in the Muslim world.

The work has been going strong ever since.

“It takes a committed leader to develop and equip other leaders, and Ruba is an exemplary model of such ripple-effect leadership,” said Melanie Van Laningham of Birmingham, Alabama, who nominated Abbassi for the award. “She does not shy away from the hardships that come with being a woman leader in the Arab world. In fact, she — in her quiet strength — walks through the obstacles with Christ-like grace, determination and persistence.”

Abbassi “is a remarkable woman and a mentor to many,” said Cindy Walker, WMU director at First Baptist Church of Minden, Louisiana. She also noted that Abbassi had implemented a “phenomenal” program to reach out to Syrian refugees.

Abbassi chronicled the challenges facing Arab women — and the hope offered to them in Christ — in her book, “The Arab Woman: Embracing Her Potential.” She also regularly shares with church and mission groups in the U.S.

Cindy Townsend, minister of WMU and women’s enrichment ministry at First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi, said Abbassi fulfills her role with “a servant heart and out of a passion to be on mission in her world every day.”

The O’Brien Award comes with a $2,500 grant from the WMU Foundation that will go to further Abbassi’s discipleship of Arab women around the globe.

For more information about Abbassi’s ministry, visit accts-awt.com.

A Brick in the Path

Can you imagine those women who gathered in 1888? Just a few years before, the Civil War had torn the country apart and most families had experienced devastating loss. These women didn’t have the right to vote and had very little independence at all.

Still, they gathered in Richmond, God calling them as Christian women to take an active part in the Great Commission. Some were fearful and uncertain, but all were committed to being part of God’s mission.

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Had these women not come together that day with the boldness to begin a new missions organization, WMU might not exist today. These women were not trying to become famous, they were simply responding to God’s invitation to tell all nations and all people about Jesus. Had they not paved the way, those of us who have been influenced by WMU might not be who we are today.  

God has designed a pathway leading us to wholeness and redemption through Christ, and each one of us is a brick in that path. We walk on the bricks of those who came before us, like those women who gathered in Richmond in 1888. Those who come behind us will walk on our bricks as they journey towards God’s plan for their own lives.

How beautiful is it to imagine God placing you into the perfect spot on the path? In His overall design, He knows exactly where you belong. He knows that each brick in the path depends on all of the other bricks because no great structure is built with a single brick.

WMU and the WMU Foundation are honoring those who have invested their lives in missions on national WMU’s Walk of Faith. This new honor/memorial garden recognizes those who are part of the WMU missions community, past and present. A special place has been reserved for the Walk of Faith at WMU on New Hope Mountain in Birmingham, AL.

When you purchase a brick for the Walk of Faith, 100% of your gift meets the needs of WMU through the Wanda Lee Joy Fund. These gifts are tax deductible.

Visit wmu.com/WalkofFaith to place your order online, or email wmufoundation@wmu.org to request more information by mail.