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Just prior to leaving for Brazil, Anne Luther married William Buck Bagby, a young Texas pastor whose attention had also been directed to Brazil by Hawthorne. After a forty-eight-day sea voyage from Baltimore to Rio de Janiero on which Anne was the only female passenger, the Bagbys set about to proclaim

from North to South and from the Atlantic to the Andes
their Baptist version of the Christian faith. Crabtree, p. 39. They remained in Brazil from 1881 until their deaths in 1939 (he) and 1942 (she), at which time there were 780 Southern Baptist churches in that nation comprising over 53,000 members.

Samuel B. Hesler, A History of Independence Baptist Church 1839-1969 and Related Organizations (Dallas: Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 1970), p. 104.

Although other missionaries joined them (Z. C. and Kate Crawford Taylor, another Texas couple, arrived by 1882), the Baptist cause in Brazil is clearly attributable to the combined sum of 120 years they gave to the work, plus those of their five children, all of whom remained in South America as missionaries. Crabtree, p. 3.

Anne Luther Bagby's early career in Brazil demonstrates the extent to which her religious vocation differed from that of the Baptist "sisters" she left behind in Texas. It is worth noting that although she began her missionary career as a married woman, she had received a call to the work before she met her future husband. Her serving was obviously shaped by her married status and by the fact that she bore nine children, but her sense of purpose and dedication existed independent of that marriage.

Religion was taken seriously by Anne Luther as a child:

I was early concerned about my soul's salvation, and for a year before conversion went each day into a vacant room to read the Scriptures and pray for acceptance at the throne of grace. Faith came to my relief at last, and in my eleventh year I experienced a change of heart while at family prayers. We were then living in St. Louis, and after baptism in the Mississippi River I united with the Carondolet Baptist Church, of which my father was pastor. Ibid., p. 38.

Her decision to surrender her life for a special mission was born of another period of intense religious preoccupation when she was just seventeen:

I have from my earliest remembrance been interested in world missions, but not until my seventeenth year while at the Lexington (Mo.) Baptist College was I seized with the conviction that I was a chosen instrument to bear the glad tidings abroad. It was only after a great struggle that I became willing to give myself up to the work. Ibid.

The fact that Anne L. Bagby interpreted her vocation as that of a missionary rather than simply that of a "missionary's wife" was demonstrated by her early mastery of the Portuguese language and her working steadily, mainly at educational pursuits like translating and preparing religious literature, even when her children were young. Irwin Hyatt, a scholar of Chinese missions, pointed out that most women missionaries with children could undertake outside tasks (provided they remained healthy) because of the abundance and cheapness of domestic help. Hyatt, p. 69.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin thesis. OpenStax CNX. Sep 23, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11572/1.2
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