In the late 1800s, women were not expected to be leaders, to speak up, to be visionaries . . . But Annie Armstrong was never concerned with what the world expected.
Annie was born in Baltimore in 1850. Her father died when she was an infant. Her mother, a devoted Christian, encouraged her five children to see the needs around them and to act.
With fervency, Annie dedicated her life to sharing Christ through compassion ministry to orphans and the poor. Her boldness soon helped unite the missions movements that had already begun in the states.
Annie and women from several states started a “missionary union” at the national level. Despite opposition to women organizing by male SBC leadership, national Woman’s Missionary Union® (WMU®) was formed in 1888. Churches across the U.S. were now linked in their missions’ efforts, with Annie as WMU’s first executive leader.
Traveling throughout the United States and frontier, Annie encouraged missionaries and challenged churches. She rallied women to pray, give to the missions offerings, and teach their children to do the same. She was a fierce advocate for the needs of immigrants and Native Americans and was instrumental in the appointment of the first black female missionaries.
Annie often toiled long into the night writing to pastors and SBC leaders. In one year alone she hand-wrote 18,000 letters. She sacrificially refused a salary, expressing she would, “never give to the Lord that which costs me nothing”(see 2 Sam. 24:24).