October 1, 1851 was a special day for Kentucky WMU, though no one knew it at the time. On that day, Eliza Sommerville Broadus was born and this eldest daughter of Dr. John A. Broadus, was destined to impact the work of Woman’s Missionary Union in Kentucky and beyond. I wrote a blog about Eliza last year (Remembering Eliza) and put her birthday on my calendar.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Eliza Broadus Offering, we also retyped a biography about Eliza written by Dr. Jack Birdwhistell. You can download a copy and learn more about this remarkable lady. (LINK: Eliza Broadus Biography)
Several years ago I visited Eliza’s grave in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville. Her headstone includes this statement: “An elect lady beloved in many lands.” This was the dedication inscribed to her in A Harmony of the Gospels, written by Dr. A. T. Robertson, her brother-in-law.
In remembering Eliza’s birthday, I reflected on that statement as I visited with Main Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg this past Sunday to participate in their state missions emphasis. The emphasis has been going on all of September and they have focused particularly on the role of the Eliza Broadus Offering in reaching international students. On Sunday, there was a parade of flags representing the 33 countries currently represented in the student enrollment at the University of the Cumberlands. Main Street is reaching out to these international students in a number of ways and seeking to make them feel welcome. A number of the international students came to carry the flag of their home country in the parade of flags.
Dean Whitaker, campus missionary, sent me the list of countries represented at UC this year. This list is astounding and includes: Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China (Peoples Republic), Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Haiti, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Our state missions prayer guide this year took you through Luke 8:4-15, reading a verse or two each day in the parable of the soils, and reading a prayer request related to it. In the parable a farmer went out to sow seed, and some fell on hard soil, some on rocky soil, some on thorny soil, and some on good soil. Of the good soil, Luke 8:8 says, “Still other seed fell on good soil, It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
The prayer request with that verse asked you to pray for Engage, an outreach event of Baptist Campus Ministry that is designed to reach out to international students. You were asked to pray for the good soil of receptive hearts among these students and that Engage participants this coming November will understand the gospel and receive it with joy. And you were asked to pray that the seeds planted here to yield a hundredfold crop all over the world as students who have accepted Christ while in college in this country bear witness in their home countries.
Through the parade of flags this past Sunday at Main Street Baptist Church, we had a visual reminder of the international students in our midst. Now I ask you, what other than the hand of God, would bring students from all over the world to this place at this time? Yes, University of the Cumberlands is a wonderful school, a first class institution of higher learning, but how do international students find us? Why here? Why now?
The answer is that God is bringing these students to us and entrusting them to this university, this community, this church. The soil of their lives is good soil. They are the cream of the crop in their home countries. They are at a time in their lives of learning and exposure to new things. Yet it is also a scary time. They are here in an unfamiliar place, missing foods from their home countries, away from family and friends, and having to do everything in English, which is a difficult language for many. So, for Kentucky Baptists through our campus missionaries and Baptist Campus Ministry, to befriend international students, welcome them, help them adjust and connect with others, creates great opportunities to share the gospel.
We minister to students from all over the world at every campus in Kentucky through BCM and and our campus missionaries. Thank you for your part in this ministry. Your prayers and gifts through the Eliza Broadus Offering help to make our ministries to international students possible, including the upcoming Engage event in November.
God has blessed me in allowing me to travel to a number of places around the world. Every place I go, a smile goes a long way even when we cannot understand one another. In every culture of the world, hospitality is wrapped in food. You have not been properly welcomed until you have had a meal. Someone to help you navigate and find your way is absolutely welcome in every place I have ever visited.
So it is with international students who come here. We can do some pretty simple things that will make students feel welcome and allay their fears in a new place. And through those simple things, we can tell them about our Jesus who lives in our hearts, gives us abundant life here and has promised eternal life when life on earth is over.
If you read the prayer guide as designed, reading the selected verse or verses for each day and the corresponding prayer request, you would have seen a connection between the verses and the prayer requests. Some of our state missions ministries take the gospel out of the church and into the community to hard soil where people are not always receptive to the gospel. Some of our state missions ministries take the gospel to people whose lives are rocky and difficult. Some ministries take the gospel to people where personal problems, activities and other distractions try to choke out the gospel.
I am a city kid through and through, and know only a little about farming. But this I know – soil that is not so good can be worked and prepared and made better for receiving seed. Some of our state missions ministries which are going to hard, rocky and thorny soil are doing ministries to touch lives and prepare the soil of their hearts to receive the seed of the gospel. We are not excused from sowing the seed when the soil is not good. No, we need to be about working the soil – plowing, weeding, removing rocks – so that there will be good soil for the seed of the gospel.
Please be in prayer for missions in Kentucky. Studies show that less than 12% of our state population is in anyone’s church on any given Sunday. Even if every church was full, we would still have lost people all around us. Pray, give, and get involved. Our campus missionaries can use you to help them reach out to all students. There are ministries in your community that need volunteers and donations of food, clothes, and household items. There are children who need tutors to help them learn to read better and learn to do math, and if a student can get these two subjects, they can learn everything else.
So happy birthday, Eliza Broadus. Through the offering named in your honor, you are still “an elect lady beloved in many lands.” International students are coming to know Christ as Savior through Baptist Campus Ministry and events like Engage. And thank you Kentucky Baptists for your praying and giving which helps make these ministries possible. Your influence will also travel the world. More than ever, make a difference!