Foretaste of Heaven by June Rice

June gave me permission to share her most recent column for the Paintsville Herald and Butler County Banner.  I always like to read her observations about our events.  Enjoy!

Foretaste of Heaven
June Rice

     I had a foretaste of what heaven will be like when I attended the Annual Meeting of the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union in Somerset, Kentucky, last week.

      I have been attending the Annual Meetings since the one in 1969. I remember the theme as being “Shaping the 70’s” where they changed some of the names of organizations and streamlined the W.M.U., which had been organized in 1888.

     That particular year the meeting was at a church somewhere in West Kentucky, and the speaker was an employee of the National WMU, Betty Jo Corum. She was an effective speaker and she was blunt in saying that the WMU raised millions of dollars for missions each year and handed it over “for the men to spend.” According to what I learned last week, these days we are doing a pretty good job of spending the money that comes in on missions of our choice! That year, I remember a very young Anna Mary Hack (now Byrdwell) who only retired from the state WMU office a couple of years ago. She was a ball of fire then, and has been a wonderful encourager all these years.

     Since 1969, I have gone to as many Annual Meetings as I have been able. I have been on the WMU Executive Board for three three-year terms, meeting lovely missions-minded women from all over Kentucky each year. Through WMU, I got to go to England, to Brazil, to St. Lucia, to Arizona to a National meeting, for training in Birmingham, to Richmond, VA, for the WMU’s 100th birthday celebration; all the time meeting more and more lovely people who loved the Lord.

      Last week I was blessed to be able to go with my daughter, Cathy, who has also spent three years as a WMU Board member, and we were joined by granddaughter Jennifer, who is a WMU member at her church in Danville.

      The theme this year was “Live Sent,” and we were reminded that we Christians are a letter sent from God to everybody we come in contact with, and our job is to spread God’s message.

      I was so happy to see so very many of the ladies I had got to know as I worked on projects with them as we were Board members together. We had one dinner for all ex-board members and we got to see each other and smooze for an hour or so. I was happy to see Uneva Graves, who was such a good influence on my daughter, Patti. She played the piano at First Baptist Church in Paintsville, and taught with me at Paintsville High School. Her little boy, Steven, was just a year or so younger than my son, Steve, and they were very good friends.

     It was wonderful to see Laverne Sublette, from far west Kentucky, Sara Billups Murray, with whom I got snowbound in Birmingham one time, and found that she is now President of the West Virginia WMU! I saw ever so many of my WMU buddies that I have known over the last forty years that I will know when I get to heaven, I will really enjoy getting together with all those wonderful friends.

      I was impressed that the WMU ladies had furnished 5,000 small blankets to give to the Disaster Relief Team to give to children  whose homes have been destroyed and their toys gone and their parents distracted trying to get their lives back together. My daughter has been helping get ladies to sew labels in the blankets telling the recipients that God loves them, and the blankets are gifts from the Kentucky Baptist Convention. When the labels are sewed on, the blankets are folded, put in a plastic bag, and the air sucked out and the envelope sealed. This helps keep the blanket clean until needed, and much easier to store. Many of the blankets have already gone out to the recent tornado victims.

      Linda Cooper, the state President, gave us a hilarious recap of all we heard. I will share one of her observations:  “We are a letter of Christ that anyone can read by just looking at us. Christ Himself wrote it, not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; a message written on our hearts in the red blood of Christ’s great sacrifice. But have you ever said, ‘That’s not what I had in mind, God?’ Why do we explain to the Sender why we aren’t being sent? If we are teaching going, we need to be going ourselves. We also learned that we can lose our job if God wants something done! Thank you Debby [Akerman, who challenged us each session]! You truly challenged us to Live Sent!”

     There was a lot more, but you had to be there to understand what heaven is going to be like!

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