ALPHARETTA, Ga. — “The future lies all before,” Southern Baptist missions champion Annie Armstrong said near the turn of the 20th century. “Shall it only be a slight advance upon what we usually do? Ought it not to be a bound, a leap forward, to altitudes of endeavor and success undreamed of before?”
Armstrong, one of Southern Baptists’ greatest advocates for missions, was the first corresponding secretary for Woman’s Missionary Union. Whether she was doing hands-on work in her home city of Baltimore or traveling to the mission field throughout the Southeast and West to see firsthand the work that needed to be accomplished, Armstrong was always networking for the gospel. She was passionate about making connections with missionaries and pastors, observing their needs and rallying Southern Baptist to meet them.
She is best known as a prolific letter writer who spent much of her time writing lengthy letters appealing to whoever would listen that more could and should be done for mission efforts at home and abroad. Miss Annie, as she was called, was a thoroughly modern woman using all means available to her to make sure the gospel reached the uttermost parts of the earth.
On May 24, 1900, she told a group of Southern Baptist women, “I believe we have left a century of small things and are on the outlook for larger things. Ways to work we never dreamed of before.” If only she could have known the advances the next century would bring — radio, telephone, television and, by the end of the 20th century, a computer in almost every home. Now in the 21st century a new age of social networking is emerging. Via cell phone and the Internet, people can stay connected at all times. It has never been so easy or so fast to make Southern Baptists aware of their missionaries’ needs.
Armstrong’s passion for missions and her habit of using any means possible to communicate missionary needs leave little doubt that she would have taken advantage of the technology available today to raise awareness of North America’s desperate need for the love of Christ. That’s the reason NAMB’s communications team recently established a Facebook page for her.
“We want to let people know she was a real person who had passion for missions and evangelism,” said Debbie Sills, promotions consultant for NAMB. “Her ‘friends’” — those who are part of her Facebook network — “are missions advocates who share that passion.”
You can find Annie’s page by searching for Annie Armstrong at www.facebook.com. There you will learn more about her life and connect with Southern Baptist missionaries, pastors and staff, and laypeople passionate about impacting their world for Christ. Friends of Annie also get updates about North American missionaries and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
“Annie’s Facebook page has been a great tool for missions education,” Sills said. “Through her page we are able to point people to the Facebook pages of our missionaries. We route them to news from the North American Mission Board at www.namb.net, we post things about the Week of Prayer for North American Missions,” which is March 1-8 this year and is on the web at www.anniearmstrong.com.
Armstrong has approximately, 1,700 friends and adds five to 15 new friends per day. Betty Jo Hudson became Annie’s 1,000th friend a couple of months ago. She discovered Annie’s page after becoming a friend of Lottie Moon. “(W)hen I saw that Annie was there also, of course I wanted to be a friend of Annie as well,” Hudson said. “I have been aware of Annie’s story since my days in Sunbeams and GAs (Girls in Action). My husband and family have contributed to the (offering) for a very long time.” One of Betty Jo’s daughters and her family were International Mission Board missionaries to Russia, so she knows from personal experience the importance of Southern Baptist cooperation through missions giving.
“It’s great to see people interacting with the page,” Sills said. “Some share their church offering goal for Annie, others give encouraging words about North American missions. A few even comment on her hairstyle. It’s one more way we hope to keep the mission cause in front of Southern Baptists.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Becher is editorial assistant for On Mission magazine at NAMB.)