By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Annie Armstrong was born in Baltimore in 1850 in a culture where women were not necessarily considered leaders. But she ultimately became a leader and challenged churches to raise money and support for missionaries.
Here are just a few of her accomplishments, according to information supplied by the North American Mission Board.
• She started the Bay View Mission for the poor and addicted people in Baltimore.
• Armstrong served as the first executive of Woman’s Missionary Union, the largest Protestant women’s organization in the world.
• She led the formation of missions organizations for children and once wrote more than 18,000 letters in one year advocating missions.
• Refused a salary because she would never give to the Lord “that which costs me nothing” (II Samuel 24:24).
• Secured funds to relieve China missionary Lottie Moon who served for 11 years without a furlough.
• Gained support for the first black, female missionaries.
And the list goes on.
The first offering for “home missions” was taken in 1895. In 1934, the offering was renamed the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for Home Missions (now North American Missions) in honor of Armstrong’s contributions, according to information from national WMU in Birmingham, Ala.
Today, more than one billion dollars have been given through the AAEO. One hundred percent of the dollars given through the Easter offering goes to support more than 5,000 missionaries in church planting and compassion ministries across the United States and Canada. This year’s goal for the offering is $70 million.
During the week of March 3-10, Southern Baptists across the country are participating in the Week of Prayer for North American Missions. The theme for this year’s offering is “Sending Hope.”
Hope is desperately needed in our nation. Statistics from the North American Mission Board indicate that of the approximately 363 million living in North America, a projected 75 percent of them do not have a personal relationship with Christ.
As Tennessee Baptists, we meet the needs in our state through our gifts through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. We provide hope in our state. By also giving to the AAEO, we can provide hope to other areas in North America by helping to support church planting and compassion ministries.
Too many people in our state and across North America (which by the way includes more than the United States and Canada) are lost without Christ. Provide the hope they need through this season of prayer and your gifts to the Annie Amrstrong Easter Offering. Thanks to your gifts, Annie Armstrong’s legacy for spreading the gospel lives on.