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.
“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.