A Lesson in Crabgrass

Crabgrass is about to take over my yard.  It’s my own fault.  A few years ago we decided to discontinue the lawn service that sprayed our yard for weeds.  We thought that we could purchase the needed products and do it ourselves for less money.

As things went, we sprayed a few times, but never with the consistency of the lawn service.   This year, we never sprayed at all.  And now we have crabgrass everywhere, choking out the grass that we want to grow.  Realizing the error of our ways, I’ve been researching weed sprays and learned why the lawn service sprayed when they did, with a different mix of products according to the time in the growing cycle.  Now our dilemma is what to do.  Do we go back to the lawn service, try again on our own, or give up.

Many churches have allowed the crabgrass of missions ignorance to take over.  They decided that missions education was not needed or that they could do it themselves.  What has happened over time is that people in their churches have little understanding of the Cooperative Program, the finest support system for missions in the world.  People in their churches have little appreciation for how Southern Baptist appoint and support missionaries through a multifaceted system that depends on both the Cooperative Program and missions offerings.

A lady called me this week to offer to give to Kentucky WMU all of the unused Royal Ambassador and Girls in Action material from her church.  I shared with her how concerned I was about the decision of her church at the very time that Kentucky WMU is starting a new effort to promote missions education for boys (and girls!).  While it seems that others had made this decision, she acknowledged that the kids in church had no clue about missions. She told me that she teaches children’s church and from time to time includes missions lessons.  She said that the kids just do not know about missions and that we have missionaries sharing the gospel around the world. But the real tragedy in our conversation was this statement: “We can’t find leaders.  No one will teach the children.”

 Why are churches apathetic about our children?  Are we too busy?  Too preoccupied with our own “spiritual growth” to be bothered with teaching kids?  Are we looking for some flashy program that will magically instill biblical, moral and missional values in our kids, and do it in one hour a week? 

Like my decision to stop paying for a lawn service to spray my yard, I did not notice the difference at first.  But now, after several summers, my yard is a mess and I am sadly going to have to start over in getting rid of the weeds.  When churches change to other programs or just drop programming for our kids (since “programs” somehow has become a term that is out of favor these days), we may not see the missions ignorance crabgrass right away, but it will come.

A past president of the KBC, in talking to me about the lack of missions understanding in our churches today, said of his own church, “We made a mistake.” His church is among those who chose to other programming over missions education. He is not the only pastor, youth leader, or minister of education who is coming to the realization that their churches made a huge mistake in stopping missions education and are finding that they need to start over. 

Kentucky WMU is ready to help churches start again with missions groups for preschoolers, children, and youth.  We are ready to help you instill a heart for a lost world in your children and youth and teach them to appreciate why missions is a priority for Southern Baptists.  WMU produces gender specific and coed materials that are designed to engage participants in activities that teach and provide hands-on missions opportunities.  We can provide samples of materials and would be happy to meet with churches that are ready to start over.

“Somebody should do it, but not me” is heard far too often.  Yet when our kids leave the church, are self-absorbed, know little about what makes Southern Baptists distinctive or why we send missionaries, we wonder what happened. 

Don’t let missions ignorance take over in your congregation.  Start or strengthen missions education and involvement.  People who know why and how we as Southern Baptists do missions want to pray, give, and go. 


Camp Reflections

There is nothing quite like going to camp.  I liked going as a kid and I still do.  As a child, I sometimes went twice – once with my mom who directed the associational Intermediate GA Camp, and once on my own as a Junior GA.  (Those terms do show my age!)

Going to camp is demanding physically.  Each day is planned from the time you get up until bed time.  No time for boredom!  During camp we have quiet time, Bible study, missions, recreation, swimming, and much more.  For many of our kids, their introduction to quiet time is the start of a life-time practice of starting the day with God through Bible reading and prayer. 

One special moment of this past week came when Bill Egbert responded to a question about how to become a missionary.  One of the kids at camp had asked and Bill explained not only the steps to appointment, but how important it is to prepare now for missionary service through Bible reading, prayer, and witnessing to others.  Bill was so pleased that someone asked the question, showing that they were thinking about becoming a missionary.

Another highlight of my week was time spent with a grown up Royal Ambassador (RA).  This was a coed week at camp, with both boys and girls (and male/female chaperones) in attendance.  As he shared memories of RAs and going to camp, we talked about the importance of mentoring our kids, modeling a missions lifestyle, and mobilzing children and youth to be involved in missions now. He was serving as a chaperone for camp but not currently leading a missions group.  As the week progressed, he shared with me his sense of call to go back to his church and start RAs.

Another special moment came in talking with Alison Holbrook, GA leader at Wrigley Baptist Church, who is so very excited about GAs.  Alison wants to see every church start GAs and asked me what I thought about talking to others in her association about GAs.   The church has started RAs and GAs this past year and had two girls and four boys at camp, plus Alison had been the week before for our Mother/Daughter Overnight (for girls in grades 1-3 and their moms).

The highlight of the week for me was spending time with our camp staff one evening.  The kids were all in their cabins with church chaperones and the staff had gathered for a brief staff meeting.  During that time they began sharing about kids who had made professions of faith or had a particular spiritual need.  They talked about the campers and what the week had meant to them as staff.  No doubt in my mind that serving on our camp staff was far more than a summer job to these staffers.

Just in case you think serving on the camp staff is only for college-age students, think again!  Kentucky WMU retiree Doris Riddle was on staff for three weeks serving as our kitchen coordinator.  Even though meals are prepared by Cedarmore and served by some wonderful volunteers, there are still things to be done in the Cedar Crest dining hall before and after each meal.  Doris was up early every day and took care of all the details, including an evening snack for the campers each night.

Now our camp staff will be on the road for two weeks, leading association day camps for Ohio River and Logan-Todd associations.  Please pray for them as they extend the Kentucky WMU camping ministry, reaching kids who might not get to one of our camps at Cedar Crest or overnights at Jonathan Creek.  Pray for Stacy Nall, our camp director, as she leads the camps and supervises the staff.  Pray for her stamina and spiritual discernment.  Pray for campers who have already attended camp, that they will continue to think about the things they learned and experienced. Pray for those who will attend associational camps to be sensitive to how God might be speaking to them.

Summer Camp

Today I am headed to Cedar Crest for a week of Mission Adventure Camp with children from my church.  Over 130 children and leaders will be there, plus the staff and missionaries.  It will be a week of learning and lots of fun. 

I take kids to camp because a week of camp is like going on a spiritual retreat for children.  They are out of their own routines and immersed in activities that help them focus on God and His call on their lives.  During the week, the church chaperones spend more time with the kids than they often do in an entire year of regular church activities.  There are times for important conversations as well as plain fun.  Kids and adults have the opportunity to see each other in new way after experiencing camp together.

During camp kids and adults pray together and hear life concerns.  They study the Bible together and learn the importance of quiet time.  As they interact with missionaries, the chaperones can discern which kids are really attuned to the missionary and perhaps are sensing a call to missions.  We know that God often speaks to children about His plan for their lives long before they comprehend what it is all about.  Only years later do we hear adults say that God first began speaking to them about serving Him when they were children.

This week we have a guest from Korea.  Suk Kyung Min is on the Korea WMU staff and has come to observe our missions camp.  She helps with the KBWMU missions camps and will be taking on more responsibilities for children’s missions education.  Please pray for her as she observes this week.  Coming to translate is Won Beom Cho who first visited our camps in 2007.  Won Beom first came to Kentucky with a group of Korean young adults to observe our work.  He has recently come to Southern Seminary to study.  Mrs. Min has been studying English for two years and does well, but it will also be helpful to have Won Beom translate.

This week of camp is a coed week for boys and girls, grades 3-6.  A full week of activities is planned, which include not only the Bible study and missions learning, but adventure recretation provided by Crossings Ministries.  From zip lines to the blob, the kids have lots of fun in these activities. 

Pray for us this week and for the two weeks of association day camps to follow.  Our staff will go to Ohio River Association and to Logan-Todd Association and lead camp experiences for kids who might not get to a place like Cedar Crest.  Pray that wherever we encounter children, that we will share Christ and the challenge of the Great Commission.  Pray for Stacy Nall, our camp director and the eight staff members who are serving with her.