To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’ll be sharing two stories in March—one from IM’s past, and one from our present.
Well done, my good and faithful servant. I imagine this is what Annie Root heard when she finally came face to face with her heavenly Father. Annie’s love of Christ, people, and service would earn her the Chinese name Roo An E (meaning “peace and righteousness”) and recognition for her humanitarian efforts.
Annie was born January 19, 1904, in Salubria Valley, Idaho. As a youth, she was involved in the Worldwide Guild and Baptist Young People’s Union. Her involvement in this union created a strong Baptist foundation in Annie’s life. The organization focused on developing Christian growth by bringing together Baptist young people, teaching Baptist history and theology, and promoting Christian service and missionary work. During this time Annie taught Sunday school and would later answer the call of missionary work. In 1924, she attended Linfield College to study economics, business law, and retail merchandising. Majoring in English, she graduated cum laude in 1928.
After college, Annie became an American Baptist missionary, traveling to China where she served as the English secretary to Dr. Herman C. E. Liu, President of Shanghai University. Impressed by her kindness and integrity, Dr. Liu bestowed the Chinese name Annie would cherish and seek to live up to all her life. She remained in China until 1941, when the war compelled her return to the United States.
Because of her education and experience, Annie was appointed as treasurer of the Women’s American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (WABFMS). She excelled at her work and, consequently, when WABFMS merged with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society in 1955, she was retained as the associate treasurer and secretary. She additionally served on the boards of many overseas institutions.
While Annie’s business and financial acumen helped further the mission of American Baptists, it was her compassion and servant’s heart that brightened the lives of those around her. In 1953, her alma mater bestowed on her the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters—an honorary degree that recognizes philanthropic contributions to society.
After serving for forty years, in 1969 Annie moved to Atherton Baptist Homes in Alhambra, California. But “retirement” was not in her vocabulary. She filled her days volunteering as the driver for daily outings, reading to residents with failing eyesight, and helping the office staff with large mailing projects. Annie Root continued to share God’s love by serving others up until she passed away January 16, 1993, a few days shy of her 89th birthday.
Author Darshana Chetti is the daughter of Dr. Samuel Chetti, CEO/Executive Minister Emeritus of ABCOFLASH, and the niece of IM global servants to Lebanon, Dan and Sarah Chetti.