Refurbishing the Kentucky Room at National WMU

National WMU is embarking on a huge remodeling project at the national WMU building. Our beautiful WMU home office has been in constant use since it was built in the mid-1980’s. It is time for wall paper to be removed, carpet to be replaced, lighting to be updated, new window treatments added, and much more.  This includes the Kentucky Room.

The Kentucky Room is a conference room at the National WMU Building that was furnished by Kentucky WMU.  Through the years, I have always been proud to visit the Kentucky room whenever I have been at the National WMU building. I always pause in front of the picture of Eliza Broadus and show my respect for our beloved leader. A few years ago a framed print of “My Old Kentucky Home” was added to the artwork in the room, placed there in memory of my mother, Dorothy Luebbert.

But carpets get worn and decorating styles change. With the availability of more efficient lighting and better equipment for conference room use, it is time for an upgrade. Kentucky WMU has committed to cover the cost of the renovations to the Kentucky Room, including some volunteer labor to strip wallpaper and paint.

If you would like to have a part in the Kentucky Room renovation, send your donation to Kentucky WMU. The projected cost for the project is $11,500.  We will keep a list of donors who helped with the renovation of the room. We will continue to be “Kentucky proud” of this room and its importance at the national WMU building.

Beyond the Kentucky Room, renovations are planned building wide. Anyone and everyone is invited to help with the costs of remodeling. Contributions for the building wide project can be made to the WMU Foundation. Building renovation donations will be placed in the Wanda Lee Joy Fund and this will be the funding channel for the building work.

The Southern Baptist Convention will meet in Birmingham in June 2019. We know that many will visit the national WMU building at that time and we want it to be ready for guests. Renovations will  also improve the functionality of the facility for meetings and other events which take place.

Please pray for this project, for Sandy Wisdom-Martin and Linda Cooper as they lead us, and for the national WMU staff as they continue their work in the midst of the renovations. Pray for generous donations and for a renewed excitement about our WMU home.

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Jerusalem Prayer Center Trip with Kentucky WMU

Kentucky WMU is planning a trip to the Jerusalem Prayer Center as part of our NAME prayer commitment.

Trip Dates: May 21 – June 1, 2018. 

Tentative Cost: $3800 which includes airfare*, hotels, meals, local transportation, travel insurance**, and project expense.

Trip requires a good bit of walking and stamina. There will be some touring in the Holy Land as part of the experience, but the focus will be on learning about mission work with various NAME people groups and praying for them. The group will do a ministry project (sand and paint shutters, picnic table, and benches) at the Jerusalem Prayer Center.  http://jerusalemprayercenter.com/

The following schedule describes what will be done in several day blocks of time. Workers at the Jerusalem Prayer Center will lead the group and make final arrangements for places to visit and the schedule.

Monday, May 21 
Departure

Tuesday, May 22
Arrival Tel Aviv. Transport to Jerusalem, check in hotel, orientation

Wednesday, May 23- Friday, May 25
Introduction to JPC; ministry project; 4 corner prayer experience
Silence retreat; Garden Tomb; Hebrew/English worship;
Visit Western Wall as Shabbat begins; Prayerwalking

Saturday, May 26  – Sunday, May 27
Travel south past Dead Sea; Negev; Beer Sheva;
Visit Tabernacle project; prayer for NAME peoples;
Visit Shepherds’ Field near Bethlehem;
In Jerusalem: Caiphas’ house; virtual Temple tour

Monday, May 28 – Thursday, May 31
Check out of Jerusalem hotel; travel to Qumran;
Drive north to Galilee through Jordan Valley, pass Gilgal & Jericho.
Check into Galilee hotel. Listening Retreat.  Prayerwalking.
Visit and pray over workers in various locations.
Boat ride on Sea of Galilee; Korazim, Capernaum;
Jezreel Valley & Mount of Precipice; Plains of Sharon,
Festival Ministry; Camp/Sports ministry at Baptist Village .

Friday, June 1
Return flight to Kentucky

*Airfare – The trip price includes airfare. However, ticket prices have been fluctuating. Should we find that airfare exceeds what we have projected, all who have made a deposit will be notified with the option of receiving a refund. Once tickets are confirmed, payments are non-refundable.
**Insurance includes medical and travel insurance.

TO APPLY FOR THIS TRIP: Email [email protected] and request an application form.  Questions: 502-489-3423 (office) or 502-321-2756 (cell). An application and deposit must be made by February 1.

Deposit schedule:
$800 with application
$1000 by Feb. 1, 2018   (Total to date: $1800)
$1000 by March 15, 2018   (Total to date: $2800)
$1000 by May 1, 2018   (Total to date: $3800)

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Christmas Carols Tell the Christmas Story

Today I participated in a Christmas party sponsored by Shelby County Christians United Against Drugs for people in the Drug Court Program. This party and other events provided by SCCUAD are done as an encouragement to people who are walking a new road to sobriety.

During the party we played a game based on Christmas carols and everyone was given copies of the carols to place in a booklet to take home. We sang some of the carols and then I was asked to share a devotional based on the carols. Here is what I shared today.

Christmas Carols Tell the Christmas Story
The Bible is a book written over hundreds of years by many different writers who were inspired by God to tell His story. The Bible begins with creation, tells about how sin entered the world, about the growing sinfulness of mankind, and then of God’s decision to call one man to begin a nation that would be His chosen nation. Chosen not because He loved them more, but chosen for a task, to make Him known to the nations. God established a covenant with this people but they broke the covenant many times. The old covenant included the sacrifice of animals as a means to seek God’s forgiveness of sin. In the first part of the Bible, what we call the Old Testament, prophets wrote that one day a Messiah would come who would establish a new covenant, one written on the hearts of people.

In the second part of the Bible, the New Testament, we learn about Jesus, the promised Messiah. People who study the Bible have made lists of the prophecies about the Messiah that were fulfilled when Jesus came. One of those prophecies was that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is about the town where Jesus was born, fulfilling that prophecy.

Luke chapter 2 records the Christmas story, the story of the birth of Jesus. I encourage you to read Luke 2:1-20 aloud and never lose the wonder of the story found there. There are many Christmas songs, also called carols, that tell parts of the Christmas story as found in the Bible. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Bible tells us that he was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Thus the carol “Away in a Manger” reminds us that the King of Heaven was born in a barn and first laid in an animal feeding trough for a bed.

The night Jesus was born, shepherds were out tending sheep at night, keeping watch to protect them from predators. Shepherds were pretty low in society, but they were the ones God chose to send angels to announce Jesus’ birth. The words of “Angels We Have Heard on High” are what the shepherds told people they met that night. The chorus, “Gloria in excelcis, Deo” is Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.” The second verse is what people asked the shepherds – “Shepherds, why this jubilee?” meaning why are you so happy?  So in the third verse the shepherds respond and say, “Come to Bethlehem and see, Him whose birth the angels sing.”

The Bible says that God is spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Yet the Bible also teaches that God took on human form, what we call the incarnation, to come to earth, live among us, be the once for all sacrifice for sin, and then rise again to conquer death. This is why the angels were singing. God had come to earth and was born as a baby.

Various Christmas carols point to why Jesus came. The song “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” says “Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” Verse 4 of O Little Town of Bethlehem says: O holy child of Bethlehem! Descend to use, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today! We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord, Emmanuel. The song “O Come, All Ye Faithful” invites everyone to come and adore Jesus. The song recounts the angels singing and gives glory to God. Verse 3 is very important in what it says about Jesus: “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.”

The response of all who encountered Mary and Jesus and the baby, Jesus, was joy. The carol, “Joy to the World” reflects that earth must receive her King and that hearts must prepare room for Jesus.  Jesus does not force himself into our lives. We are so busy and think we are self-sufficient. But the reality is that we all need a Savior and the question in every generation is: Will you receive Him? Will you make room for Him. Make room not as just one more thing in a cluttered life, but will you cast out everything else for Jesus.

The shadow of the cross was on the manger. We forget that sometimes as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We must always remember that Jesus was born to die, to be the sacrifice for our sin, and proved that it was all true through the resurrection. Hundreds of people saw Him after the resurrection. At His ascension into heaven, Jesus promised He would come again and until then, we are His witnesses, we are to keep telling the story and invite people to believe in Him.

God’s design at creation was good but sin messed things up. We try many things to fix the brokenness – alcohol, drugs, overwork, shopping, etc. None of them fix the brokenness. So God came to earth as Jesus, lived a sinless life, was crucified for our sins, raised again on the third day. Those who trust Him as Savior and seek His forgiveness of sin can experience restoration and discover God’s plan for our relationships with Him which is good. If you have never personally invited the Holy Child of Bethlehem into your life, there would be no better way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Make these words from the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” your prayer to Jesus: “Cast out my sin and enter in, Be born in me today.”

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Let’s Make it a Week of PRAYER

Years ago when I began Bible study in earnest, I found things that caused reflection (and still do!). One was found in Matthew 6:19-21 where Jesus says,  “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I wondered, if you “can’t take it with you,” then how do you store up treasures in heaven?

Well, study the Bible enough and along the way you discover the interconnectedness of Scripture.  One day I read from Revelation 4-5 the vision of heaven given to John. He describes the throne room of heaven in chapter 4 and the scroll and the Lamb in chapter 5.  Notice Rev. 5:7-8.  “He went and took the scroll out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne. When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and golden bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

The prayers of the saints. When we pray, we lay up treasures in heaven. My friend Larry Martin likes to refer to these as “prayers on deposit.”

In Revelation 14 we read again about the Lamb and those who will be in heaven and those who will not be.  Rev. 14:6, 13 says: “Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people…..Then I head a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so they will rest from their labors, since their works follow them.’”

The deeds of the saints. These are the ministries we do in Jesus’ name which includes giving as well as all the types of things listed in Matthew 25 where Jesus said,  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”  (Matt. 25:40 CSB).

This is the Week of Prayer for International Missions. At one time WMU groups would gather daily and pray.  Unfortunately, we don’t do that much any more.  Today I asked myself: Why?

First, we believed the lie that we could just pray on our own and that would be enough, missing the point that there is intensity when we gather with others to pray.  (This thinking is prevalent in most of our churches. Just look at the number who gather to pray each week.)

Second we jump too quickly to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and focus on the amount raised. The offering is vital, but this is first a week of prayer.

If you look at the 2017 Week of Prayer brochure, you notice that the way it is folded shows just half of the man’s face on the front. But if you open it and lay it flat, you see his entire face. I noticed on the brochure that one side says Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the other says Week of Prayer, providing an illustration that our international missions emphasis is not complete without both prayer and the offering. We need both the prayers of the saints and the deeds of the saints!

The Day 8 reading in the prayer guide is a message from David Platt which reminds us that prayer matters.  He says, “It isn’t just a rushed or mechanical exercise. God has ordained our prayer as a means to accomplish His purpose in the world. We’ve got to be aware that our praying for boldness for missionaries is actually going to affect whether or not they have boldness. When we pray, God works.”

So this week, let us pray. And it is my prayer that praying will then inspire giving sacrificially that the gospel will go forth to transform lives around the world.

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Remembering our missionaries

The offering at the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting each year is designated for Kentucky WMU Ministries to Missionaries. These ministries include a $50 Christmas gift to all IMB missionaries from Kentucky currently serving as well as emeritus IMB missionaries.  We also provide online subscriptions to the Western Recorder, gifts for Missionary Kids attending college in Kentucky, a missionary parents fellowship, and travel expense for college bound MKs returning from the field to attend the MK Re-entry Retreat.

At the Kentucky Baptist Convention a few days ago, one of our emeritus missionaries came to our display and thanked Kentucky WMU for the gift each year. “It’s not the amount,” he said. “It’s that you remember us!”

This week I signed checks for 100 missionaries on the field and 62 emeritus missionaries.  Yes, we remember!

We remember and are grateful for the years of service of our emeritus missionaries.  We remember those that are on the field, who may feel isolated and lonely.  We remember, we pray, and we give.  And YOU are a part of remembering our missionaries through your offering at Annual Meeting as well personal notes, emails, packages, gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and through prayer.

This week we hosted our annual Volunteer Luncheon as a way of saying thank you to the volunteers who work in our office counting out envelopes and prayer guides, filling orders for week of prayer materials, and countless other tasks.  Those who came made handmade Christmas cards for us to send to emeritus IMB missionaries along with the Christmas check.  (Those on the field receive a letter by email with a message from our president and each of our staff. Checks are then sent to their bank account in the USA.)

Paul said when he wrote: “Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3a MSG).

You can contribute to Kentucky WMU Ministries to Missionaries throughout the year. Please visit our web site for more information and online giving.

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Learning from missions history

I am taking the course “Missional Living: A History of Missions and How It Impacts Missional Living Today” through the Christian Women’s Leadership Center. The videos and reading are reminders of the passion and sacrifice of those who advanced the gospel to unreached people in their day. Missions work today is built upon the legacy of these missionaries and missions leaders.

While I have been familiar with names like William Carey, Ann and Adoniram Judson, Lottie Moon, and Hudson Taylor, the course has introduced me to them again and I have learned things about them that inspire me. I have also been introduced to missions heroes previously unknown to me, but who had great influence in the spread of the gospel and the development of missions.

George Liele was an African American who took the gospel to Jamaica in 1782, long before the Judson’s left for Burma in 1812, making him America’s first international missionary. Liele was also significant to Baptist history in America as founder of America’s first Black Baptist church in Savannah. While life circumstances played a big part in his going to Jamaica to escape being enslaved again after the Revolutionary War, it was his faithfulness in Jamaica in spite of persecution that inspired me. I have also been reminded of the amazing faith displayed by people who were enslaved in receiving the gospel from the very people who enslaved them. I am grateful for Paul’s words in Scripture to slaves to encourage them to be faithful to the Lord in their slavery. Liele was faithful, preaching to slaves in Jamaica, establishing a church and a school, being jailed and persecuted in Jamaica, yet continuing his ministry to proclaim the gospel. While legal slavery has been abolished in most of the world, illegal slavery continues through sex trafficking and other forms of human exploitation. I pray for bold voices who have been freed through Christ to proclaim the gospel to others still enslaved. I pray that those who have never known slavery will yet be voices for the abolishment of all forms of human exploitation.

Another missions hero that was new to me was John Mott who founded the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. As a college student, a sermon and conversation on seeking the Kingdom of God changed his life. He was one of 100 young men who, after hearing the preaching of D.L. Moody, took the Princeton Pledge, “We hold ourselves willing and desirous to do the Lord’s work wherever He may call us, even if it be in the foreign lands.” While Mott never served as a missionary, he was influential in hundreds of students going out as missionaries through the publication of the book The Evangelization of the World in this Generation in 1900. In the future, as I attend IMB missionary appointment services and see the young adults who are appointed, I will be reminded of John Mott. God continues to call out young adults, fresh out of school, starting their families, to take the gospel to the unreached people of the world. The dream of evangelizing the world in this generation lives on!

Let me encourage you to take courses through the Christian Women’s Leadership Center. The Leadership Certificate program includes nine courses and each one will inspire and challenge you. The courses are not difficult and the time spent in reading and learning will expand your leadership skills and knowledge. The courses that I have taken thus far have all been timely and helpful. Whether you consider yourself a leader or not, you will find that the courses have great application wherever you serve.

Missional Living is a lifestyle. We can and should learn from those who went before us as we continue to share the gospel every day.  Join the movement!

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Retirement Is Coming

It’s official…

Here’s the backstory. One of the most difficult decisions that I have ever made has been the decision to retire. Like many others, it began to be on my mind after I turned 60, and more so at 62. But when my husband retired and asked me to consider retiring, the decision moved from conjecture to a decision I had to make.

A few weeks ago, at the close of what we call October Board Meeting, I shared the following with the Kentucky WMU Executive Board.

I have asked Susan to allow me to close out this meeting. When I came to Kentucky WMU 18  years ago, I came with the support of Lee Bolton who promised me when he proposed that if the opportunity came for me to do WMU work as a career, he would go with me. And so he did when the opportunity came to join the SC WMU staff in 1995 and again in 1999 when we came to Kentucky.

Now it is time for me to honor his request for me to retire. While you would not know it to look at him, his health has not been good this year and he is ready for me to slow down. This has been an agonizing decision for me for many reasons.

I talked with Susan and Marcia, chair of the personnel committee, when I had my annual review and shared with them that I was wrestling with what to do and that Lee’s health was driving the bus for me. 

I will be 65 in August. I propose to retire not earlier than September 1, 2018 but not later than September 1, 2019.  I am committed to a smooth transition and will stay as needed to work with the next executive director. I watched Wanda Lee stay on and work with Sandy Wisdom-Martin for about 6 weeks to take her to meetings, spend time with her to explain things, and eventually slipped out and left Sandy on her own. They modeled a positive transition and I want to follow her example.

I love you all, love Kentucky WMU and the KBC. I have been blessed to serve with you and am also committed to work hard to my very last day. I will not coast this year. I have a long list of things to be done before I retire, including writing up helps for the next person who has this position.

Thank you for your love and support. Kentucky WMU will forever be in my heart – and, Cheryl, Kentucky WMU has already been named beneficiary of a legacy gift.

I asked the Board not to put this news on Facebook to allow me time to make some calls that I needed to make. I appreciate the Board for honoring my request.  After the meeting, I talked with Dr. Chitwood, and made the decision that the Western Recorder would break the story.

A Search Committee will be named by Susan Bryant. Please pray for Susan as she names the committee, and for the next leader of Kentucky WMU.

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WMU, chocolate cake, and gospel conversations

Doug Williams, Missions Strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, caught me in the hall and said with excitement, “Let me show you this picture!”  He proceeded to pull out his phone to show me a picture he snapped in Salt Lake City.  After I heard the story, I wanted the picture!  Here’s what Doug said when he sent me the picture:

Here is the picture of the Kerns’s home pantry. I was in their home this week, as I took a group of KBC church leaders to meet planters and hear the vision of reaching SLC with the gospel. We sat around their table eating chocolate cake and listening to the testimony of a couple who they won to Jesus, coming out of Mormonism. Because WMU featured the Kerns family in September and it mentioned that Stacie loves to bake, they continue to receive baking goods. Oh, did I mention that the chocolate cake we ate was from a mix sent to them by someone from WMU?! Thank the Lord for mission education through WMU! Who would have thought that chocolate cake could be used for gospel conversations!!

Doug told me that these baked goods had come from Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, Children in Action, and other WMU missions groups. If you sent items to the Kerns, thank you!  To all who prayed for the Kerns and shared their story with your missions group, thank you.

Teaching children about a missionary, then leading them to pack a box of baking items and send them to a missionary, might not seem significant to some.  But we know that when you do this, it has an impact on the missionary AND on the children who learned and responded.

Yes, WMU teaches missions and provides chocolate cake for gospel conversations.

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Leaders Need to Keep Learning

I’ve been in leadership a long time. My parents used to tell about me as an older preschooler visiting churches in the association with my parents where Vacation Bible School was being held. At one church, as the story goes, there seemed to be some confusion among the children as to what they were to do. My parents would smile as they told how I jumped to the front and announced to the other children, “Follow me. I know what to do.”

When one has been in leadership for many years, it is easy to get arrogant. We’ve done this job before and we know what to do. It also becomes easy to get stagnant or simply just coast rather than keep growing as a leader. As a leader who wishes to avoid arrogance, stagnation or just coasting, the Christian Women’s Leadership Center (CWLC) offers challenging courses that are not expensive or too difficult to add to an already busy schedule.

I am currently taking Spiritual Formation as a Leader. The course includes on-line videos, response assignments, and reading Upside Down Leadership by Taylor Field. This book touches heart and attitude issues that face every leader. The leadership principles that Field puts forth are stark in opposition to the teachings of most leadership gurus: Stop Leading, Forget Results, Think Small, Make No Plans, Associate with Losers, Get Off the Cutting Edge, and so on.  Don’t let the titles fool you. There is deep content for leaders.

The CWLC Leadership Certificate Program consists of nine four-week courses in three areas. Each $30 course includes the course textbook in PDF format and interactive assignments. Participation usually takes 3-5 hours per week (on your own schedule) and also introduces you to others who are taking the course with you through forums and opportunities to comment on assignments. CWLC Leadership Certificate courses are offered on a rotating schedule and must be taken when offered. Courses in the certificate program include:

Leadership Foundation
– The Biblical and Theological Foundations of Leadership
– Leadership Theory
– Women Leaders from the Past
Leadership Formation
– Spiritual Formation as a Leader
– A Sense of Call to Leadership
– Missional Living: A History of Missions and How It Impacts Missions Today
Leadership Skills
– Leader Skills: 5 Leadership Essentials for Women
– Follower Skills
– Leading with Integrity: 12 Strategies for Your Ministry or Non-Profit

In addition to the leadership certificate series, Christian Leader Learning offers Develop Courses and Enrichment Courses. These provide a way to learn about leading WMU organizations (such a Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, Children in Action, Mission Friends, etc.) or courses to help enhance leadership skills. Develop courses can be taken anytime and you have 30 days to complete the course from the date of enrollment.

Learn more: Christian Leader Learning

Join me and keep learning!

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Rise Up and Shine

Each year a new committee convenes to pray and discuss ideas for the state missions emphasis. Each committee works on a theme that will be used nearly two years after their initial meeting. Working this far in advance is necessary in order to research stories and prepare materials.

It is always fascinating to me to see how a particular emphasis fits the circumstances and needs at the time it is used. This is the result of prayer and God’s leadership in this process.

Our 2017 emphasis, Rise Up and Shine, focuses on Kentucky Baptist ministries to internationals. From college campuses to large cities, and in small communities and out of the way places like Oneida Baptist Institute, internationals have come to Kentucky to study, work, and make a life.

While we want to welcome these who have come, concerns about immigration and many related issues have been front page news. There are no easy answers to many of the associated problems. But scripture is clear: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19 NIV).

In my Children in Action group, a retired missionary to Central Asia portrayed a refugee for the children, explaining why she needed to leave her homeland to protect her family from war. This missionary has lived where danger make people willing to risk everything to live in another country. We wanted the children to understand and care.

Nik Ripken, author of The Insanity of God and The Insanity of Obedience, poses a question that makes me uncomfortable: “What if the worst persecution today was having little or no access to Jesus. Am I a persecutor when I keep my faith to myself, only within the environment of the church?”

God is sending the nations to Kentucky. Watch the 2017 state missions video of Nik giving suggestions for how we can minister to internationals. It all begins with friendship, a meal, and some simple questions to show your interest.You will also want to read the article “Internationals in Your Community: Thoughts from The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken.”

In this month of response to hurricanes, remember to support the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering first. Our channels of mission support put ministries like Disaster Relief in place before they are needed. Keep the foundation strong even as you give an extra offering for specific relief efforts. Let’s Rise Up and Shine!

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