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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Reaching out to teachers from China

Our 2017 Rise Up and Shine state missions emphasis has focused attention on Kentucky Baptist ministries with internationals. It is our prayer that the focus has made us more sensitive to the internationals we meet and how we might befriend them. It is friendship that opens doors to share the gospel.

Earlier this year I posted a blog about welcoming Chinese teachers who are teaching in Kentucky to gain experience in our schools. I received a follow up email this week providing us with an updated list of school districts with teacher from China. These teachers need friends, help with shopping, and above all, a gospel witness. They would love to be invited to an American home for a meal and often will be open to attend church with your family.

This ministry is first of all a ministry of friendship. “We treat our teachers like family whether they go to church with us or not,” says Dreama Ruley who works with teachers in her district. “We can show Jesus’ love in other ways besides going to church, and after some have returned home, they contacted us with questions that they did not seem to be interested in while here. We plant seeds and let God worry about the harvest.”

The following districts have teachers from China. Would you prayerfully consider volunteering to meet a teacher and befriend her/him this year?
Butler County
Barren County
Bowling Green
Warren
Daviess
Muhlenburg
Cloverport
Meade
Hardin
Oldham
Logan

If you are interested in getting involved, Dreama Ruley will provide additional information to help you in making contact. If emailing, please put “Chinese teachers” in the subject line  Email: [email protected] Phone: 270-586-7632.

May we Rise Up and Shine to befriend these teachers from China.

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Summer 2017 In Review

“We facilitate missions involvement” is more than a catchy phrase for Kentucky WMU. When we plan our work, this is what drives us. We are constantly thinking, “How can we involve more people in missions?” Our 2017 summer events have reflected this passion.

Kentucky Changers worked in Shelbyville, Harrodsburg, Albany, and Greensburg this summer. Statistics from the four weeks show:
Churches represented: 81
Job sites: 68
Participants (students/chaperones): 632
Volunteers (crew chiefs, assistants, food service, etc.): 271
Total participants: 902
Total decisions: 85, with 16 for salvation, 39 for call to ministry, and 30 rededications.

What these statistics tell us is that 902 people were involved in hands-on missions. They came to help with many aspects of the ministry, from construction to clean up, from cooking to delivering supplies, and everything in between. By sponsoring and planning Kentucky Changers, Kentucky WMU made it possible for 902 people to experience missions.

In June, Kentucky WMU sponsored Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids (MAKK) in Louisville and Lexington. Through age-appropriate missions activities, boys and girls learned that they can do missions. Their chaperones/leaders encouraged them and were their cheerleaders as the children stepped up to serve. Thirty six children and leaders participated in MAKK Louisville and 58 participated in Lexington. Children did a variety of helping projects in the community and collected paper products for the Ronald McDonald House. In Louisville the children worked at the Baptist Fellowship Center and with Fern Creek Community Ministries. In Lexington they served at the Ronald McDonald House, Lexington Rescue Mission, Mission Lexington, Hope Center, and nursing homes.

A team of 12 Kentucky Acteens Activators served for a week in Knoxville, TN where they worked with over 80 children in day camp. The Acteens also served in a food ministry, Love Local, where snack packs were delivered in an area where 100% of the children receive free lunches during the school year. Acteens also spent a week at the Haven of Rest in Inez where they helped with Vacation Bible School and served in the community.

In cooperation with National WMU and Central Baptist Association, we were host to Familyfest in July which brought us over 150 volunteers from Kentucky and beyond. These volunteers participated in different ministries in the Lebanon/Springfield area including Backyard Bible Club/VBS, light construction/repairs, servant ministries, social ministry, several block parties, prayerwalking, senior adult ministry, evangelism, sports camps, and health/wellness ministries. It is a special week as families serve together.

Royal Ambassadors and Challengers gathered at Camp Courage July 28-29 to learn about missions as they also raced cars, learned knot tying and other outdoor skills.

The Mission Friends and Girls in Action Leaders Retreat August 4-5 was a time for leaders to learn and share ideas for enhancing missions for preschool and children.

We wrapped up the summer with a mission team of 12 to Swaziland to deliver Baptist Global Response Hospice Care Buckets. These buckets had been packed and sent by Kentucky Baptists. The team saw 31 professions of faith during the week. In addition to bucket delivery the team led revival services in two churches each night, led a three day camp for 75 children, provided WMU training for the Swaziland Women’s Committee, and had a day of training for pastors.

As seen in these and other events and activities, WMU points people to a world beyond themselves and facilitates missions involvement. WMU challenges people to be involved in the mission of God and provides avenues so that everyone can learn, pray, give, and go!

This is why I am so passionate about WMU and starting WMU in every church. WMU is a movement that gets people involved in missions. Too many church members are content to show up for a service once a week and do little else. For WMU, this is not what being a Christ-follower is all about. WMU will not rest until the gospel is proclaimed down the street and around the world. We teach missions. We do missions. Join us!

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EBO at Work August 2017

As August comes to a close, we will close the books on the 2016 Eliza Broadus Offering. As of this writing (8/24/17), the offering stands at $1,212,880.36. Gifts will be received through August 31 for the 2016 offering. Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for faithful giving.

The 2017 Rise Up and Shine materials were mailed in July and every church should now have their standing order of posters, prayer guides, and envelopes. Take note of the new envelope design which has the words State Missions Offering in a number of different languages used in Kentucky Baptist churches.

You may have noticed the copyright symbol ® used in connection with the words Eliza Broadus Offering and Eliza Broadus Offering for State Missions. Kentucky WMU began the annual Kentucky state missions Offering in 1913, named the offering for Eliza Broadus in 1976, and are the stewards of the offering to this day. We registered a trademark on the offering name because we understand the importance of this stewardship. In a day when materials can be easily copied and misappropriated, Kentucky WMU took this step as a protection for the name and use of the offering. Kentucky WMU will continue, as we have for many years, in a cooperative spirit to allocate the offering in consultation with the Kentucky Baptist Convention in order to enhance missions in Kentucky through the KBC, associations, affiliated ministries, and Kentucky WMU.

Missions Mobilization through the KBC is a prime area of ministry supported by EBO. Teresa Parrett is often the connector between needs and volunteers, between missionaries and resources. Teresa also works with persons that God is calling into missions to find their place of service. Just recently, Teresa joined us at Familyfest in Lebanon and was introduced to a lady with a heart for missions. When Teresa explained about Kentucky MSC and that she qualified to serve as a Kentucky missionary, tears came into her eyes. She told Teresa that she had wanted to serve in Africa as a missionary since she was a child, but life had taken a different turn. She told Teresa that her current ministry is now her Africa.

Teresa said “We hear this same story over and over, of how God calls people to serve many years earlier, and they are now finding their place in ministry. Many of them thought it would be international missions, but are finding out it is right here in Kentucky.”

Thanks to support from the Eliza Broadus Offering and the Cooperative Program, Teresa is helping to connect many volunteers with missions needs, helping Kentucky Baptists to Rise Up and Shine as we reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.

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Changing Houses – Changing Lives

Two weeks of 2017 Kentucky Changers are “in the books” as they say with two more to go. Kentucky Changers made their first trip to Shelby Baptist Association in June where they completed 17 projects. Steve Coleman was the camp pastor and Brandon Watkins led worship music.

As a member of a Shelby Baptist Association church, I was very excited to have Kentucky Changers in my association. It was wonderful to see people I know from Shelby churches working together to host changers. This included organizing the projects, making lunches, serving as runners for crews, and a myriad of other jobs. Due to being in Phoenix for the Southern Baptist Convention, I was not able to be on site during the week but did attend the celebration service on Thursday evening with the homeowners. What a great time to see the before and after pictures of the projects and to hear from the homeowners who were helped.

I was able to spend a week with Changers in Harrodsburg. There we slept on the floor at Mercer County High School, worshipped in area churches, and worked on 12 projects. Projects including roofing, painting, and building decks and ramps. The homeowner stories of things that had happened helped the Changers to understand how much their work meant.

After worship each evening, Changers gathered in church groups for evening devotions. Using a devotional booklet called “The Blueprint,” written annually for Kentucky Changers, we discussed verses from 1 John and the theme “Love Out Loud.” I was able to participate with four young ladies from one church who had been coming to Changers for several years. I appreciated their deep faith and commitment. They were all at the age when they certainly could have been doing things like summer jobs or other activities. Instead, they chose to come to Changers, to be a part of changing lives, one house at a time.

For several days in Harrodsburg, I served as the photographer and visited all the work sites. I spent time talking with the students about their experiences and encouraging them to be involved in ongoing missions through Acteens, Challengers, or Youth on Mission. I also promoted the Creative Ministries Festival with students and leaders. Then on Wednesday, I was able to work with one crew all day. While most of the team worked on building a back porch and steps, I helped a student powerwash the house, then we painted the shutters and a glider.

At the close of the week, one Kentucky Changer posted this on Facebook: “Man, this week has been great ! I wish it didn’t come to an end! I learned a lot & the Kentucky Changers Ministry Team inspired me a lot . I learned this [world] is not a forever home so these aren’t my forever friends, family. My forever home is heaven & it’s waiting on me. So the stupid things I do have to stop for Him. I’ve done 4 things [this week]: 1. Rebuild a garage. 2. Spread the gospel. 3. Tell my testimony to a random neighbor that I had no clue I was gonna meet & I probably changed lives this weekend & it feels great! 4. Sleep & work & live with random people who now I’m in contact with. #KentuckyChangers – Best Experience Of My Life ❤️‼️”

Homeowners were touched by the work and witness of Changers. Some homeowners were believers for whom the work of the volunteers was a great blessing to them. Others heard the gospel for the first time because of the work of Kentucky Changers. As the Changers worked, they also prayerwalked in the community. Their presence was a testimony of God’s love and grace as neighbors watched not only the transformation of a house, but also the walk of teenagers who had come to serve.

Pray for our final two weeks of Changers as we serve in Albany (July 1-7) and Greensburg (July 8-15). Pray for a powerful witness in these communities and for students and homeowners to be saved. Pray about the weather as well as safety in travel and in service for all who participate.

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