Two women honored for investing lives to build new generation of missionaries

Jane Burdeshaw says it’s not easy for a whole church full of women to keep a secret, but a few weeks ago they succeeded. And it was definitely worth the effort.

The Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) group at First Baptist Church, Montgomery, recently surprised two women — Ann Cushing and Mary Ruth Wolf — with bricks in their honor in WMU’s new Walk of Faith brick garden. The garden, built on New Hope Mountain in Birmingham, recognizes missions heroes past and present.

Burdeshaw, the church’s WMU director, said Cushing and Wolf are exactly that — Wolf a “missions model” and Cushing a “missions legacy.”

“They just exemplify missions in the most beautiful, godly way,” Burdeshaw said. “These are the ladies we want to honor and have as an example to the next generation.” 

And both women, she said, have been just that.

Cushing grew up learning about missions through WMU programs at church and felt God calling her to vocational ministry. She met her husband, Harrell, her senior year in high school, and ever since their wedding in 1953 the couple has been active in church ministry and missions work together. 

“One of the ladies in our WMU ministry now was a college student years ago,” Burdeshaw said. “She talked about how Ann had been such a prayer warrior and prayed for everyone around the world.”

‘In my DNA’

Cushing put feet to those prayers too — she has led people to Christ from Alabama to Hong Kong.

And she passed it down. The Cushings’ daughter, Charlotte Cearley, served 33 years in Africa with the International Mission Board and one of their granddaughters served overseas for six years. Their other children and grandchildren have served in ministry at home and all over the world too.

Wolf says she got a similar gift from her parents — missions was “kind of in my DNA.”

So when she and her husband, Jay — now pastor of First, Montgomery — moved to Alabama’s capital city in 1991 she got her feet on the ground and started working.

“The church just let me be who I was and that was to teach children,” she said.

She started teaching Girls in Action (GA), and more than 25 years later she’s still the church’s GA director.

‘Love of missions’

“Our church is so supportive. We seek to just pour the love of missions into these young girls,” Wolf said. “How blessed I am to have this church and this group of girls that we can pour into.”

Burdeshaw said the church feels blessed to have Wolf and Cushing — and they had no idea how to sum all of that up on two bricks.

“When the WMU ladies found out that I only had five lines each with 14 characters to each line, they burst into laughter,” she said. “They knew there was no way I was going to fit in everything we wanted to say.”

For more information on how to honor a missions hero with a brick on the Walk of Faith visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith. (WMU Foundation)