EBO stories make me smile

JoyThank you, Kentucky Baptists! You are people who just keep on giving! We share the state missions emphasis month after month, telling the stories and asking you to be generous. You respond with generosity and prayer support.

On August 31 we will close the books on an offering year and start all over on September 1. Some might wonder if we will ever get done. As long as there are people who have not accepted Jesus as Savior, we will keep sharing the Heart of the Story across our state. Here are some stories received this year.

Ben showed up at Hope House straight from prison. He came to know Jesus as Savior while in jail and came to get help with employment. Jobs are a real challenge for those with felony records, but Ben knew that Jesus wanted to do something great with his life and was one of the best students in the Jobs for Life program there. Now he is working at the Hope House warehouse and has a goal of becoming a drug and alcohol counselor. EBO had a part though a $2,000 grant this year.

Tommie was estranged from family, addicted to drugs, and homeless. He went to the Louisville Rescue Mission seeking services and hope. A volunteer built a relationship with Tommie and encouraged him to enter LifeChange. Today he has moved home, reconciled with family, gotten married and has a vision for starting his own business. EBO had a part through a $4,000 grant this year.

After speaking for Lincoln Association WMU a few weeks ago, I was invited to stop by the Unto Me Home in Stanford which opened in August 2015. Perry, the house coordinator, told me the story of how God had worked in his life through the ministry which provides shelter for people who are homeless. He now builds relationships with those who come seeking help and has a special understanding of their needs because he was once homeless, too.  Perry has reconnected with his wife and they have both grown spiritually. Since the Unto Me Home opened, there have been 70 people come through and 13 have professed Christ as Savior. Many have found employment and permanent housing. EBO had a part through a $1,000 grant this year.

Stories like this make me smile as I think of the impact of your faithful giving as God blesses EBO and uses it  for His glory and to proclaim the gospel. A new offering year will begin soon with the theme Be Ready – Live Ready. Are you ready?

BeReadyLiveReady

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Inspire boys, students with new missions outlook this fall

jona

By Jon Auten

In September, the publications RA World and RA Leader will feature the new theme, Mission: My Life, based on the 2016-18 WMU theme By All Means.

As RAs and their leaders learn the lessons and unpack the meaning of the new emphasis, the prayer is that boys will be challenged to make missions a part of their daily lives by engaging fully in missions learning and action.

Parents and leaders, this material is written to help you teach RAs about how the Great Commission impacted the early disciples, how it informs the lives of current-day missionaries, and how it can transform the lives of believers today. RA Leader, RA World, and all the other resources you need to help your Royal Ambassadors grow into “well informed, responsible followers of Christ” are available at wmustore.com.

As you plan for the coming year, please mark your calendars for RAMCON 2017 on March 18 at Beaver Dam Baptist Church. As the date approaches, more info will be posted on the website.

Follow “Kentucky Royal Ambassadors” on Facebook.

Challengers & Youth on Mission

What if the teenaged boys in your Challengers group, or the boys and girls in your Youth on Mission group, did the following things on a regular basis:

  • Followed Christ’s example?
  • Stepped into the world around them?
  • Cultivated relationships with others, and
  • Created opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ?

You certainly would be proud of a group of young people who lived like that, wouldn’t you? With the help of the new Challengers Leader book and Youth on Mission Plan Book for 2016-17, you can equip the young men and women in your group to live in just this kind of way.

By All Means, that’s the overarching theme in the Bible studies, mission studies, personal growth studies, and missions activities that will enable your students to live for Christ in all they do.

You can also engage teens in practical missions  through Kentucky WMU’s Creative Ministries Festival and Kentucky Changers.

Stay up to date on news, events and resources for students at kywmu.org/students.

Kentucky Challengers” and “Kentucky Changers” are on Facebook.

Jon Auten is the RA/Challengers and Youth on Mission consultant for Ky WMU, jon.auten@kybaptist.org

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Plan now for sharp missions focus

wanda1

By Wanda Walker

Fall is a great time to initiate new and innovative approaches to missions education and action, and this fall marks the launch of WMU’s new emphasis, By All Means, which explores that idea more fully. As the new church year approaches, why not consider one or more of the following projects or promotions?

  • Have a reception to honor the memory of Eliza Broadus. Have a display highlighting the life of our state missions leader.
  • Hold a church-wide WorldCrafts party to support people groups our International Mission Board missionaries serve alongside. The WorldCrafts event planner is a great free resource for hosting a successful event.
  • Remind your church that Global Hunger Sunday is Oct. 9 by using the resources online. You could also host a 7-Cent World Hunger Dinner. Email me for the details at wanda.walker@kybaptist.org.
  • Women on Mission and/or Acteens could volunteer child care services for select Sunday mornings to give the regular child care workers an opportunity to attend a worship service.
  • Host a church staff breakfast during Clergy Appreciation Month in October. Give the staff a gift that will be a daily reminder of WMU and its age-level organizations. Girls or Children in Action could bake goodies, make cards or a craft. Ask your music minister for time on one Sunday for Mission Friends to share a song for church staff.
  • On Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer, Nov. 7, have a location in your church available for 24 hours of intercession. Create stations for prayer using the guide produced by the women’s department of the Baptist World Alliance.
  • Leave surprise packages on the doorstep of someone you know who may have a need but might not be comfortable asking for help.
  • Co-sponsor an event with other groups in the church, such as Sunday school, women’s ministry, or activities/recreation. Do something with a missions flair.

If you have ideas or questions about promoting missions and missions education in your church, especially among adults, please contact me by email or by phone at 502-489-3453 or 866-489-3453 (toll-free in KY).

Wanda Walker is churchwide/adult consultant for Kentucky WMU.

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Excel 2016: Learn how to do world missions at home

Guest Commentary by Brett Martin

It doesn’t take long for you to find out that they are lonely.

In April 2016, a Christian walked onto a university campus in Kentucky and asked international students a question. “What needs do you have that no one is willing or able to meet?”

Students quickly replied with one of two answers: “I want a friend,” or “I’m looking for an American family.”

The Kentucky Baptist Convention has launched the Twelve24 Initiative. It is a movement to help churches help every student on every campus to encounter Jesus and experience life to the full.

Additionally, Reaching Internationals is one of several special interest workshops offered at Excel, Kentucky WMU’s leadership development events Aug. 20 in Independence, and Sept. 10 in Louisville.

Consider that 95 percent of these students would say they are not a practicing Christian. If those numbers don’t rock your boat, consider the more than 8,000 international students in Kentucky. The majority of these students are coming from China, India, and Saudi Arabia.

Most people from these countries have never met a Christian, let alone heard the gospel. Last May, a family in Kentucky hosted an international student who had questions such as, “Who is Jesus?” and “Why did He have to die?”

The student even told this family, “I want to treat my future wife and children the way you treat yours, not the way my culture treats theirs.”

The KBC consists of 2,400 churches who cooperate together to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. One would think Kentucky and the world would be two different ministry locations, but with God bringing the nations to us, we see that one can reach the world by simply walking out the front door. You can impact the world by stepping onto a campus. Now, you can even impact the world by simply inviting international students into your home.

If you have had little experience interacting with different cultures, it does not matter. God can use you. He has planned before time that it would be through His Church that the gospel would go forth.

The KBC desires to see the world reached and we are committed to helping Kentucky Baptists help every international student encounter Jesus and experience life to the full.

So, you may be asking, “Where do I start?” Here are a few first steps:

Pray for international students and for more laborers who may serve them.

Connect with your Kentucky Regional Campus Missionary at www.kybcm.org.

Brett Martin is international campus missionary for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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Finding Sandy – Reflections on a spiritual journey

In 2003, the movie “Finding Nemo” was a big hit with children and adults, too. It was the fanciful story of a timid clownfish who set out to find his son who had been captured in a fishing net and taken to Sydney, Australia. I thought of the title in reflecting on the journey of the past six months as a search committee, with myself as chair, sought a new executive director for National Woman’s Missionary Union.

Sandra_Wisdom-Martin croppedWhile the work of the committee will forever be confidential, I can now reflect on the spiritual journey and would share a few thoughts related to “Finding Sandy.” I am thrilled at the calling of Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director of WMU of Texas, as our new leader. She brings a wealth of experience, having also served in Arkansas as a state WMU staff member and as WMU director in Illinois. Sandy is beloved in every place she has served and is known as an able administrator, wonderful public speaker, and visionary leader. She has been affirmed by WMU and state convention leaders alike.

The search for Sandy was, above all, a spiritual journey. We began our work with Bible study on the selection of leaders in both the Old and New Testaments. (In a future blog, I will share a synopsis of our Bible study on selecting leaders.) We prayed often during our meetings. One of our team members regularly sent the rest of us prayer prompts–scriptures and other material to guide us in praying. We fasted periodically as we came to points of decision, seeking to know the Lord’s will above all.

Scripture affirms that “the Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you” (2 Chronicles 15:2 HCSB). In the process of seeking Sandy, we first and foremost sought the Lord. Long before we asked for names of candidates, we sought the Lord.

There was a process which included a candidate profile, prayer, receiving and reviewing resumes, prayer, interviewing, prayer, and other steps. Above all, we prayed and God answered. Indeed, we can testify that when we seek the Lord, we always find Him.

We asked the WMU family to join us in prayer each day at 3:20 p.m. as we prayed and believed Ephesians 3:20-21 for our search: “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us–to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

God is faithful. He indeed has done more than we could ask or imagine in every detail of “finding Sandy.” He has worked out details small and large. There are so many details that came together that I can hardly recount them. Meeting dates were one detail. For our first meeting, I gave the committee only one date–and they all were able to come. When it came time for the full board to meeting, we gave them only one date and they were able to come! If you’ve ever tried to work out calendars with a group of people on short notice, you know what a challenge it can be. These were miracles!

For each member of the search committee, the process was deeply spiritual. While we employed good business practices in screening, interviewing, etc., we were, above all, seeking the one that the Lord had chosen for us. God was faithful. We sought Him first, and in finding Him we also found Sandy.

The life lesson for me is to remember that “the Lord is with you when you are with Him.” No matter what we face, what decision we need to make, what direction we are seeking, what problem needs to be solved, the place to begin is by seeking the Lord.

Please be in prayer for Sandy as she is wrapping things up in Texas and preparing to transition to her new role with National WMU. Pray for our outgoing exec, Wanda Lee, as she concludes her work and prepares to make the transition with Sandy. Pray for Sandy’s family as they move. Pray for the national WMU staff as they prepare to welcome a new leader. And pray for outcomes to be felt around the world because of Sandy’s leadership with WMU. When WMU does our work well, more people are engaged in praying, giving, and doing missions–and those are outcomes that have eternal impact for the Kingdom of God.

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Kentucky Changers – Still.Changing.Lives

imageKentucky Changers has wrapped up another successful summer of projects working in four locations this summer. Denise Gardner, Jon Auten and I were privileged to join Peggy Murphy and a host of wonderful volunteers as students and adults joined together to minister. Students were reminded often that we had come to do more than build decks, paint, roof, and other repairs. Instead, we had come to share Jesus and grow in our own faith walk.

imageAnd indeed lives were changed, including many of the student participants. Each day, students stopped for lunch and had a devotional which often included a testimony from a student or adult leader. Each evening, after a full day of working on houses, students returned to the school for supper and an evening worship time. In the evening worship, the gospel was clearly presented and students were challenged to accept Christ if they had never done so. During the four weeks, there were 17 salvation decisions, 14 rededications, and 20 who expressed a call to ministry. Many more left as stronger believers, understanding what hands-on missions is all about.
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An important aspect of Kentucky Changers is teaching students to share their faith. Students spent time on Sunday afternoon learning how to share the plan of salvation using a “colors of faith” bracelet. They also wrote out their personal testimonies, which is a great way to build confidence in sharing your faith.

For many of the students, learning to share their faith was the highlight of the Kentucky Changers experience as evidenced in this email:

imageDear Peggy, My name is Sydney Amos and I am a member of Valley View Baptist Church youth group in Vine Grove, KY. I was at Changers a few weeks ago with my youth group, which was my third year at Changers. I’m just writing this E-mail to let you know how much I love the salvation bracelets that we used as a tool to share the gospel this year. These bracelets provided me with so many opportunities to share the gospel on and off the job site! They are great to share God’s Word and love with people of all ages, but they are especially great to share with children! I must have given out at least 10 bracelets that week, sharing the meaning of them while I was at it! Not only were they great for the people you give them to, they also helped me to be more confident in sharing God’s word. My youth group and I love them so much that we are ordering a bunch of them and we are going to  start passing them out at my school this upcoming year! Thank you so much for providing us new ways to share and for all the amazing things that you do for and with Kentucky Changers! See you next year! God bless you.

Our thanks to all of the volunteers who served as chaperones, project coordinators, construction coordinators, crew chiefs, assistants, runners, cooks, shower trailer workers, tool trailer coordinator, nurse, and the myriad of other tasks. Some of our volunteers served with us all four weeks! We also want to thank the college and high school students who served on the Ministry Team as Peggy’s assistants. These students do an awesome job with all the behind the scenes tasks. A big shout out to the pastors and music leaders who led in worship each evening and visited job sites during the day to talk with students.

imageWe are grateful to Peggy Murphy who serves as Kentucky Changers Coordinator. She was honored at the last homeowner celebration service with a quilt made from Kentucky Changers t-shirts.

Still.Changing.Lives!  Kentucky WMU helps churches learn, pray, give, go, and send missionaries, including these student missionaries we call Kentucky Changers.

 

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Excel as a WMU leader!

A new church year is about to start! Families will return from vacation and schools will welcome students back from the summer break. The start of a new school year brings a new year for missions emphasis in your church!

Excel logoKentucky WMU challenges WMU leaders to Excel – to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God as we learn, pray, give, go and send! Prepare for the new year in WMU by attending one of our three Excel conferences. Choose the date and/or location that works best for you!

2016 dates and locations:
– July 23, Reidland Baptist Church, Paducah
– August 20,  Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Independence
– September 10, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Louisville

Excel post card front At each Excel we will introduce the new 2016-18 WMU emphasis, By All Means. There will be conferences for age-level organization leaders as well as WMU directors and other churchwide officers. We will also offer a variety of special interest conferences in the afternoon. Some will be an hour long, and others will be short 25 minute rotations. During the two hours in the afternoon, you can mix and match according to your interests.

Excel post card back croppedPlease register by the deadline of the Excel event you plan to attend to ensure that we have materials ready for you! Participants will receive a WMU Year Book and lunch in addition to conference handouts.

As you come to Excel, the new theme challenges us as Christ followers to seek new opportunities to show Christ’s love to the lost. What are we determined to do for the Kingdom “By All Means”?  The Setting Goals article in the new WMU Year Book asks some probing questions:
IMG_2845Am I willing to spend time planning and conducting a missions event for children?
Am I willing to teach children weekly to be involved in missions?
Am I willing to spend time each day in prayer for missionaries?
Am I willing to give above the tithe for missions offerings?
Am I willing to serve in the “Samaria” of my community?
Am I willing to befriend people from other nations?

These and other questions make us think. Will By All Means simply be a slogan or will it be a heartfelt commitment? Join us at Excel, confirm your commitment, and get inspired for a new year of missions!

Registration is open and available online!

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EBO at Work through Summer Ministries

The heart of God is at the center of all we do in missions. “For God so loved the world…” is such a familiar verse that we can quote it without even thinking about what it means. Yet, it is the heart of the story of missions and why we learn, pray, give, go, and send.

As you read this column, summer ministries with children and families are taking place across Kentucky to share the love of Jesus and EBO is at work to help. Let me mention just a few.

MAC school suppliesAmy Wilhelmus, director of the Moore Activity Center (MAC) in Covington uses EBO funds to provide meals, snacks, crafts, recreation equipment, and Bible materials for ministries with children and youth. Her accountability form for last year’s grant included the story of Susan, grandmother to some of the kids who come to MAC. On her deathbed Susan said, “Amy, please make sure my grandkids keep coming to the MAC once I pass away.” This grandmother had no doubt that God was using MAC for the good of her grandchildren. Praise the Lord that the grandfather is still bringing the children, allowing MAC to continue ministry to the family.  www.facebook.com/MooreActivityCenter.

IMG_3355This week students in Little River Baptist Association are engaged in community service through Camp Cadiz.  EBO funds are assisting with the purchase of materials for home repairs, food, water, VBS materials, and other supplies. Last year the students completed 105 projects in 76 locations. Over 250 vehicles were washed or had their windows cleaned. Youth passed out over 150 bottles of cold water as well as hundreds of cookies in the name of Jesus. And they cooked meals for over 25 elderly and shut-in persons. Each day students participated in morning devotions and evening worship services. Four students accepted Christ and several dedicated their lives to Christian service.

Operation Love In Action 5During the week of July 11-15, Christian County Baptist Association will reach out to their community through Operation Love in Action, a mission trip at home. During the week EBO will help with expenses for Back Yard Bible Clubs, block parties, construction projects, sports camp, and other outreach ministries. Last year over 200 people were involved in this effort.

EBO is at work all summer long and gifts to the offering are received all year! Pray for these and many other summer ministries. Give now at www.kywmu.org/ebo.

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On Mission with Kentucky Changers and MAKK

Sleeping on an air mattress on the floor is not everyone’s definition of a good time, but it is for the students and adult volunteers who go on mission through Kentucky Changers and Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids. Last week I joined in the fun with with 240 Kentucky Changers participants and volunteers as they served in Calloway County (Blood River Baptist Association), June 18-24. I also kept tabs through Facebook on the children and leaders who were in Richmond and Bowling Green with Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids.

Since I experienced Changers first hand, let me share a little about the week. IMG_3541After arriving on Saturday and getting settled in rooms at Calloway County High School, the week began with supper prepared by a great kitchen crew. The food is wonderful and in spite of working hard, it is not a week to lose weight! After supper, students were assigned to crews and met their crew chief and other students. They learned about the homes where they would be working and the jobs they would tackle together.

IMG_3690On Sunday, the Kentucky Changers attended worship with their host churches. These churches provided lunch every day at the work site for their Changers crew.

IMG_3748Nightly worship times were very special. Casey Jones led in praise and worship music. Nick Stamps was our camp pastor and challenged us all in our walk with Christ. Decisions for Christ were made throughout the week.

DSC_1727I was one of two photographers throughout the week. We traveled to the sites to capture pictures and video of the work. Students were a witness to a watching community as they toiled in the heat without complaint. In a day when students are in the news for all the wrong reasons, Kentucky Changers make an impact just by showing up to work and care for people with needs.

IMG_5911It was exciting for Kentucky Changers to be on the front page of the Murray Ledger & Times. I learned a new term when a local official shared her thanks in the closing celebration and mentioned that it was significant for the newspaper story to not only be on the front page, but also “above the fold.”

I spoke with several senior adults who were assisted by Kentucky Changers. They could not say enough good about the students who had come to work on their homes. We have posted two video testimonies.

A new part of the training for Kentucky Changers is on how to share your faith. Students learned how to share the plan of salvation and also wrote out their testimonies using the outline provided by Tell Your Story.Today. On one day’s recap video, we had the testimony of a student telling about her experience in sharing a “colors of faith” bracelet. It was great when students came to see Kentucky Changers Coordinator Peggy Murphy and tell her that they had given away their bracelet that day and needed another one. We always asked them to tell us about that experience. These students were always beaming when they told what had happened. One student participant in Hopkinsville told Peggy that learning to share her faith using the bracelet was the best part of the week.

MAKK HospiceMAKK WKUWhile the Changers were hard at work, children and leaders also came together to do missions. Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kidds (MAKK) was held in Richmond, June 16-18, and Bowling Green, June 23-15. Through MAKK, boys and girls in grades 4-6 experience a missions trip where they participate in local ministries. The children also learn new skills and then lead in outreach activities with children in the community.

MAKK Prayerwalk WKUKentucky students are ready to go to the next level and they can through MAKK and Kentucky Changers. Kentucky WMU provides opportunities for children and students to serve and witness. We are Kentucky proud of them!

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Ky Changers, Calloway County

IMG_3642200 students, leaders, and a host of volunteers are working with Kentucky Changers this week in Calloway County. Our thanks to Tim Cole, director of missions for Blood River Baptist Association, and all of the host churches.

Students arrived Saturday and got settled. Most have brought air mattresses to sleep on the floor at the high school for a week. A few cots are here, and there may be a few hardy folks in sleeping bags on the floor. After a great meal we began with team assignments, worship, and church group time.

IMG_3690On Sunday, teams attended worship with their host church, had lunch, then prayerwalked at the site where they will be working.  In the afternoon, after starting to learn some team skills, everyone participated in a class on “How to Share Your Faith.”

Nick Stamps, pastor of Post Oak Baptist Church in Russellville, is the pastor for the week, preaching nightly to help students grow in their faith. Our prayer is that many students will be saved this week and that believing students will make a deeper commitment to Christ.

IMG_3726Pray for Kentucky Changers this week as they work on projects all over Calloway County. Pray for the homeowners as well. Pray that the students will have a bold witness with the communities where they serve.

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