Missions

Ann Judson: An Inspiration for Missionary Women

Rosalie Hunt said that ever since she heard about the Walk of Faith being built on New Hope Mountain, she knew she wanted to buy several bricks to honor the “missions heroes” in her life.

And she knew which one she wanted to buy first — a brick dedicated to the memory of Ann Hasseltine Judson, “the one who started it all,” Hunt said.

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“Ann Judson led the way for all women missionaries, for the many thousands who have followed,” said Hunt, missions author, former Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) president and a former national WMU recording secretary.

Judson — who headed to Burma with her husband, Adoniram, in 1812 — was America’s first female international missionary.

“She knew she would never see her family again,” Hunt said. “She knew she was giving up everything she knew.”

Judson stared death in the face and decided the risk was worth it for the people of Burma to know Jesus, Hunt said. “She made a leap of faith and courage that has been so inspirational to us.”

And her legacy extends far past Burma, Hunt said. Follow the trail of the lives influenced by Judson, and you’ll find people like Lottie Moon, a missionary who gave her all for the people of China and laid the foundation for Southern Baptist missions support. You’ll find Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend, who founded a missionary society that was the precursor to WMU. And you’ll find Fannie E.S. Heck, who was WMU’s first president.

“Each of those women was directly inspired by the dauntless Ann, and they, in turn, have inspired those of us who have followed,” said Hunt, who wrote about Judson’s life in her book “The Extraordinary Story of Ann Hasseltine Judson: A Life Beyond Boundaries.”

And because of that impact, Judson’s name has been engraved on a brick for the new prayer garden at national WMU headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. Hunt said she also wants to buy other bricks to honor missions heroes in her life whose names may not be as well known.

But she said it’s important to remember our roots, too.

“I realize that Ann Hasseltine Judson is not a little-known or unsung hero, but she is indeed the number one to us.” Hunt said. “The brick is a tangible way for us to hang on to that legacy.”

Judson blazed the trail for the thousands who came behind — both those who answered the call to missionary service and those who “held the ropes” by giving, praying, and teaching children about missions, Hunt said.

“Each person she influenced is a stepping stone, an important step in passing that missions legacy on to the next generation,” she said. “We need to pass it on. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes every person answering the Great Commission in their own way making an investment in lives.”

For more information about the Walk of Faith or to purchase a brick in someone’s memory or honor, visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith.

Rosalie Hunt, board member for the WMU Foundation, wrote about Ann Hasseltine Judson in her book, The Extraordinary Story of Ann Hasseltine Judson: A Life Beyond Boundaries.

Rosalie Hunt, board member for the WMU Foundation, wrote about Ann Hasseltine Judson in her book, The Extraordinary Story of Ann Hasseltine Judson: A Life Beyond Boundaries.

Steady Missions Investment

Mary Splawn said that when she was growing up, everything her mom had at her fingertips was a tool for ministry. She served on mission trips. She promoted mission offerings. She wrapped a lot of school supplies for the children’s home.

And over the years, with every small act, Judy Frady wrapped her daughter’s life in missions.

“My mom always taught me that I was to be a missionary every day,” Mary said. “She, along with my dad, modeled the importance of missions giving, missions involvement and devotion to the church.”

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It showed in their home — Judy often hosted the church’s Baptist Young Women at the family’s house. Those nights were special to Mary, even though she wasn’t old enough to be a part yet.

“I used to love when the ladies would come to our home,” she said. “My dad, brother and I would usually make other plans, but we’d come back in time to hear them laughing and praying together in the living room — and maybe we’d get some of the yummy food that Mom had prepared.”

It might seem simple, Mary said, but over time her mom made missions tangible.

“Each year Mom would set up a sign in our sanctuary with notes to a song like ‘Joy to the World’ that had big Christmas bulbs as the notes, and for every so many dollars we raised for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, we’d get to light up one of the notes and sing part of the song,” Mary said.

Lottie Moon and other missions pioneers were regular table talk for the Fradys — and vacation destinations too. Once when the Fradys traveled to Alabama from South Carolina to visit family, they detoured through Birmingham so they could stop and see Moon’s trunk and Annie Armstrong’s bed on display at national WMU headquarters.

“These were names very familiar to me, because we made a big deal about the offerings in our home and in our church,” Mary said.

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And over the years, Mary’s own list of personal missions heroes began to stack up, too. There was her mom, of course. There were several aunts — her mom’s sisters — who got Mary involved in ministries like packing bags for prisoners. And there was Dot Stephens, her committed Acteens leader.

“Sometimes we only had one other person and me in our Acteens class, but Ms. Dot was faithful to teach us about missions,” said Mary, who recently bought a brick in her honor on the Walk of Faith at national WMU headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. “She helped us expand our knowledge of Christ’s mission around the world.”

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And because of her and the rest of Mary’s list of heroes, Mary has spent her life investing in missions too. As a young woman, she served as a journeyman overseas, and now she serves on staff at Mountain Brook Baptist Church in the Birmingham area.

“I am humbled thinking about their investment in me and others, and I thank God for them,” she said. “Mom, my aunts, Ms. Dot and many other women have ingrained in me that the Great Commission is for each of us.”

A ‘Missions Hero’ Who Pushed Others to Use Their Gifts

When Martha Pitts was a young girl, Mary Quick talked her into going with her to an associational Girls in Action (GA) meeting. Quick asked her if she would say the prayer there.

Pitts assumed it would be a small group.

“I said I would do it. I was probably 10 or 11 years old,” Pitts said. “And we went to this church and it was full of GAs. There were probably 300 GAs in this small church, and I realized I was supposed to get up on stage behind the podium and say the prayer.”

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She panicked a little.

“But Mrs. Quick pushed me on up there,” she said, “and I don’t have a clue what I said or how it was, but ever since then I have never had a fear of talking in front of people.”

And Pitts, now president of Tennessee WMU, said Quick probably had no idea how life changing that moment was for her.

“There are a lot of things I don’t remember from when I was younger, but that experience stuck with me,” she said. “It was one of those encouragements that changes you. I feel like WMU has a niche in that, in helping you develop your skills.”

Quick did that for girl after girl at Whitehaven Baptist Church, hundreds of GAs who grew up through the ranks and were introduced to Quick’s love of missions.

“I loved GAs because of her,” Pitts said. She remembers the coronation services, giant celebrations for girls who had completed their steps. And she remembers as Quick got older and there were fewer GAs doing the work, she kept urging them to persevere.

“She kept after the girls, saying, ‘Come on, you can do it.’ She was an encourager,” Pitts said.

One of Pitts’ fondest memories is the first time Quick introduced her to a missionary who was home on furlough from Indonesia.

“Mrs. Quick didn’t just introduce us to her — she had us hyped up,” Pitts said. “She told the story of who she was and how important her work was, and then we walked down to the pastor’s office and sat around with her and talked.”

Pitts said it was like meeting a star.

“Mrs. Quick just had such honor for missionaries, and she wanted to pass that on,” she said.

It connected the dots for Pitts that missionaries were special people, but they were also real people — a lesson that stayed with her for life.

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It’s because of those moments that Pitts recently honored Quick by purchasing a brick in her memory for the Walk of Faith at WMU headquarters on Missionary Ridge in Birmingham.

“She probably didn't realize when she made me pray in front of the church or allowed me to meet a missionary that it would mold my life,” Pitts said. “By her teaching us Scripture and then showing us how to put action to the words, I learned to pray, give and go.”

One hundred percent of each brick purchase helps meet the needs of WMU. Learn more at wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith or call (205) 408-5525 for more information.

4 Ways to Make a Difference Through Year-End Giving

As the year comes to a close, take the opportunity to use your giving to make a difference. Your year-end gift is important, and we are grateful you choose to support the work of WMU through the WMU Foundation.

Here’s how to make your year-end gift count:

  • Make a one-time gift to the WMU Foundation. Your gift of any amount supports the mission and ministry of WMU. Gifts are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

  • Become a monthly giver. It’s never been easier to become our monthly missions partner. When you give to the WMU Foundation online, select “I would like this to be an automatic monthly or quarterly gift.” Your regular support will help make our work possible.

  • Consider a Charitable Gift Annuity. A Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) is a minimum $10,000 gift. The WMU Foundation agrees to pay you a specified amount (based on your age) for the rest of your life.

  • Add the WMU Foundation to your estate plan. Make sure the WMU Foundation is included in your will. Consider other planned gifts, like making the WMU Foundation a co-beneficiary of your life insurance policy or your retirement plan. Contact us for a free planned giving guide.

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When you give, you are part of the tradition that began with a few women saying yes to God’s call and inviting others to do the same. WMU officially began in 1888 at a meeting in Richmond, Virginia. Women joined together to make a difference for Baptist missions, but the real beginning of WMU happened much earlier.

In the early 1800s, Polly Webb invited women to her home to pray for missions. Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend sold gingerbread at the market to raise money for missions work. We may never know the names of countless others who made the choice to respond to the Great Commission in the unique way God had called them.

That is how WMU was built. One woman at a time, believing God called her to Great Commission work. One woman at a time, saying yes, then inviting others to pray, give, and go.

Since 1888, WMU’s message to believers has been consistent. If you choose to follow Christ, the Great Commission belongs to you. It is yours to act upon. God has called you and gifted you to respond.

The WMU Foundation granted over $1.6 million this year to support Baptist missions. God has called us to support Great Commission work, and we cannot do that without your support. Your gift makes it possible to continue a legacy of faith, and we are grateful for your support.