An empty belly can drown out the cry of an empty heart

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Global Hunger Relief provides an avenue for believers to fulfill the biblical mandate to care for others, and it also makes it easier for those receiving the relief to be open to the voice of God. Just as hunger is an obstacle to children making the most of their time at school, an empty belly often shouts down the cry of an empty heart.

As October begins, let’s get an updated picture of this global crisis, and encourage those around us to respond individually and corporately. WMU has curricula for preschoolers, adults, and in Spanish, related to the issue of hunger relief.

As part of our new Plug-In Missions Ed initiative, Kentucky WMU encourages churches to get boys and girls involved in hunger relief. WMU’s e4 (engage explore, expand, and experience) series (pictured above) provides up to four weeks of focused learning and application for children at just a few dollars for the digital download. If you’ve never tried an e4 study before, this will be a great opportunity for you and your students to give it a test drive.

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BREAK bus painted!

It is always a time of rejoicing when we hear about how EBO funds have made a difference in ministries across Kentucky. We received this letter from Kentucky missionary Beth Arnold.

painted-bus-1September 19, 2016
Dear Joy,
I just wanted to let you know our newly painted BREAK bus has been going to schools the last two weeks. The students have been excited and so pleased to see “their” bus looking so shiny and pretty. After receiving the EBO grant money we were still $3,700 short for the quoted $10,000 for paint and labor. After saving for three years and getting much closer to our goal, an individual (the man actually painting the bus) personally donated $1,200, then the painting company wrote off $2,500 still needed. I really think the EBO grant money pushing us up in reach of the needed amount is what motivated the generous giving. Thank you!

The BREAK decals are not put on yet but have been promised to be provided free, including the labor for applying. We hope to do that soon when we have a few days that the bus is not being used.

painted-bus-2I have attached two pictures of the BREAK bus at Whitley North Elementary taken last week the first day after getting it from the painters. This school has a very high attendance for students (participating in BREAK Bus). Two of the classes have 100 percent of the students enrolled in school.  Many children are hearing the Gospel each month. 

The EBO video is really impacting our getting the word out about the ministry. I have been to three churches this month in our county to set up a BREAK display and answer questions after the video was shown. I am also getting calls from outside the Tri-Counties with questions how to start a Bible Release Time in their community. I’m sure I will continue to use the video in sharing about the ministry.  I appreciate so much the opportunities EBO has provided for BREAK and especially the encouragement from you and Teresa Parrett. 

Please drop by for class if you are ever in the area. 
With Praise and Thanksgiving to our Lord!  Beth

break-busIf you want to see a BREAK bus in action, join us for the Kentucky WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, March 31-April 1, 2017 in Corbin.

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Reaching International Students

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An important ministry which receives funding from the Eliza Broadus Offering is our work with international students on Kentucky college and university campuses. The next International Student Conference will be Nov. 4-6 in Cave City and we have been asked to start praying for this outreach event now.

This conference is sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention for the purpose of helping international students make new friends, celebrate culture, and learn about the Christian faith. Many nations will be represented in the demographics of those who attend. Many of these young people have never heard the gospel before, have never been invited into an American home, and have never been sought out by an American for friendship.

Here are the things that you can pray for:
1) pray that Jesus may be lifted up so that all may be drawn to Him.

2) pray that members from local churches across the state, who will be leading during the conference, may be filled in the Holy Spirit.

3) pray that specifically 10 international students may come to know Christ and may begin being discipled by a local church in their area.

4) pray that this may be a conference that is exciting and fun, gospel centered, and God glorifying.

Thank you for your gifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering which helps to make this and other ministries with international students possible. Give to EBO through your church or online.

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Be Ready – Live Ready!

BeReadyLiveReadyThe 2016 state missions emphasis, drawn from 1 Peter 3:15, is more than a slogan – it is a lifestyle!

At a time when the church was facing persecution, when times were difficult, when there was unrest and turmoil, Peter wrote to encourage believers.

1peter3-15versePeter wrote to tell the church that no matter what happened, they were to “honor the Messiah as Lord” and “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

This Peter writing to them was the same Peter who blurted out the confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It was the same Peter who momentarily walked on water then sank when he took his eyes off of Jesus. It was the same Peter who when asked about his relationship to Jesus, denied Him. But it was also the same Peter who was restored and became the mighty preacher of Pentecost. It was the Peter who had a vision that opened his eyes to God’s intent to include all people in His plan of salvation. Now Peter writes from the perspective of faith in Christ that has not only stood the test of time, but has grown stronger. He now writes, “always be ready.”

Are we ready? Are we ready to share Jesus with a coworker? Are we ready to share Jesus with the international who has moved into the neighborhood? Are we ready to share Jesus with the frazzled parent who comes to soccer practice?  Are we ready befriend the teenager with tattoos? Are we ready to help children who need help with their homework? The list goes on.

I spend Sunday evenings with ladies who attend Celebrate Recovery in Shelbyville. The group is for anyone with any hurt, habit, or hangup. While the majority of issues for most participants revolve around the life problems caused by alcohol and drug abuse, there are others who just need a safe place to tell their story.

Many of the participants in the Shelbyville Celebrate Recovery group walk over from Open Door of Hope, a homeless shelter, that has received EBO grants for several years. This is but one of a variety of ministries across Kentucky that reach out to people in need. Through the Eliza Broadus Offering, we are able to help Open Door of Hope and other ministries with grants to buy supplies and help with other expenses.

Through EBO, we (you and me!) assist our state Baptist convention with church planting and evangelism. EBO provides funds for work with college students and language ministries. It is an important part of church and community ministries.

2016statemissionsemphassiseboI hope your church will show a state missions video each Sunday in September. But you can also watch the videos on your own, even download them to your computer. You can also read about state missions in the special State Missions Insert to the Western Recorder which was published on September 6, 2016.

kentuckygoalGifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering may be made through your church or sent directly to Kentucky WMU, 13420 Eastpoint Centre Drive, Louisville, KY  40223.  Please include the notation that your gift is for EBO.

Are you ready?

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WMU Matters

Joy w Wanda LeeThis morning I started reading the September Missions Mosaic in the way I always do at the start of a new month, with Wanda Lee’s column. Even though I chaired the search committee to find her successor, there was still a lump in my throat as I read the first sentence: “Preparing this month’s From Missionary Ridge has been challenging since I realized it would be my last as your executive director.”

It was an emotional moment for me. Today is my 17th anniversary as executive director for Kentucky WMU. Wanda and I have tracked together across these years. She has been a friend and mentor. I have stayed in her home and she and Larry have stayed in ours. Wanda has been in our state on several occasions for our state WMU meeting. She is a great speaker.

We’ve had a few fun experiences with pulling off surprises. One was help with arrangements for Wanda and family to take Larry to a concert in Lexington, KY. He had no idea!  The other was when Campbellsville University surprised Wanda by awarding her an honorary doctorate. I was in on getting her family in town and keeping them from finding each other until the right moment when we were all in the press box!

Wanda’s last column was appropriately titled “WMU Matters.” She has written this column from the heart and from her “personal belief that what we do through WMU matters.”  But it was the conclusion to the column that made me cry.  During the months that the search committee has been at work, we claimed and asked others to pray with us, Ephesians 3:20-21.  Wanda concluded her column with these verses:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (NIV)

When I read the verses she had chosen for her final words, knowing that we have been praying these verses over the past six months, knowing how God has answered in the calling out of Sandy Wisdom-Martin, I wept at God’s faithfulness.

In our office we were recently challenged to describe what we do simply, succinctly. The statement that grabbed me was “WMU facilitates missions involvement.”  When I think about ministries that we plan such as Kentucky Changers and Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, I resonate with what Wanda says – WMU matters!  Because we have planned these missions opportunities, we help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. In local churches and in associations, because WMU takes the lead to plan ways for people to be involved in missions, there are people who get involved for the first time and/or in ways they never dreamed possible. WMU matters!

Thank you, Wanda Lee, for your leadership for the past 20 years at the national level. I am grateful for you and pray for wonderful times with your family in retirement. And I join you and the WMU family in praying for our new leader and the future work of WMU.

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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

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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

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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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