The 108th Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting was more than a meeting – it was an experience. From the opening music through which we worshipped together, to the closing recap of the meeting by our president, Linda Cooper, there were many moments of challenge, inspiration, ministry, fun, and fellowship.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean challenged us to altar our lives as we recognize what is flesh and what is spirit. When we altar our flesh, we find that we can live in an “altar’d” state, experiencing resurrection when self has been placed on the altar.
Our international missionaries opened our eyes to the challenges of sharing Christ among people who will experience persecution if they turn to Christ. Yet people in these cultures are being saved and have a level of commitment that we can hardly fathom in the United States.
The state missions emphasis on Friday afternoon focused on Kentucky WMU camps. How special to hear the testimony of a mother and daughter about their camp experience last summer. To hear this young lady share how she accepted Christ at camp, and then to hear her mother’s affirmation of that experience, helps us know that the investment of EBO in summer camping has eternal value. We also had a lot of fun singing some camp songs and doing the “beaver jive.”
The panel of people working among internationals in Kentucky was a challenge to all of us to be alert to those who are around us. It does not take special skills to reach out to internationals. A smile is a great starting place! We enjoyed the concert provided by international musicians from Bowling Green. It is a great opportunity for Kentucky Baptists to touch the world as we reach out to the international students and many others God is sending to our state.
Mary Richie reminded us that forced service of any nature as the result of fraud, coersion, or fear of retaliation is exploitation and is illegal. Her stories of labor exploitation reminded us that there may be people serving us in local restaurants, hotels, or other places who are victims of labor exploitation. The stories of people exploited in sex trafficking were disturbing. Drugs can only be sold once – a person can be sold over and over. And such trafficking is not just an overseas problem – it occurs right here in Kentucky. Mary had just returned from a trip to India where she had worked with others who are seeking to rescue exploited people. Her tears for those who are so mistreated touched our hearts. She is a young woman with insights far beyond her years. Above all, she challenged us to be kind to everyone. Her closing story was of a young woman who got up the courage to escape from a trafficking situation because people were kind to her when she did not expect it.
While the cold, rainy weather hampered some of our plans for ministry in Bowling Green, folks were still able to get out and prayerwalk at WKU and engage students in cultural interviews and conversations. There were folks who prayed and worked at Hope House, a ministry to the enterprise district of Bowling Green, a part of the city with great needs. Baptist Nursing Fellowship led a Women’s TIme Out health ministry on Saturday at Andrew Baptist Church. And there was an indoor block party at Forest Park Baptist Church utilizing the new Block Party Trailer just purchased by the Warren Association of Baptists. Of special note, part of the funds for the Block Party trailer were provided by the Eliza Broadus Offering.
The Silent Auction on behalf of the Kentucky WMU Heritage Fund was a lot of fun. We are grateful for the baskets provided by associational WMU groups and for all who bid on them. The high bids raised over $5,000 for the Heritage Fund, an endowment fund at the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, which benefits the work of Kentucky WMU. There was quite an assortment of baskets with many wonderful items included. Our thanks to each association that provided a basket and to each person who donated items for the baskets. We also received over $6,000 in the offering for Kentucky WMU Ministries to Missionaries. The offering helps us provide a small Christmas gift each year, Western Recorder subscriptions, MK re-entry retreat travel, Missionary Parents Fellowship, and other ministries to our Kentucky missionaries.
We are grateful to everyone at FBC Bowling Green for all of their help. From set-ups, to sound and PowerPoint, to clean-up, the staff and volunteers were wonderful. A special thanks is also due to Jeff Crabtree, DOM for Warren Association, who coordinated all of the ministries on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Above all, the most important thing about the meeting will be the outcomes. What happened in the lives of those who attended? What commitments were made? What will we do differently because we were challenged to open our eyes to those around us? Annual Meeting is about outcomes. My prayer is that the impact of the 2011 Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting will be felt literally around the world.