What Our Obedience Costs Other People

Earlier this year, Coy Webb came by my office with requests from Baptist Global Response (BGR) for two teams to go to South Africa in December and work with Tabitha Ministries in Pietermaritzburg.  We asked if we could bring one larger team and do both requests in one week.  BGR and Tabitha said yes and the date was set.

The team was requested to come in December because it is school break in South Africa. Seasonally it is summer there.  Being December and getting close to Christmas, I wondered if we could fill a team of 12.  After putting out the word to the Kentucky WMU Executive Board, I was amazed that the team was nearly filled in just a few days.  I wanted Lee to go with me this time and with two other couples going, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Lee has blessed me with his support as I have traveled all over the world and I wanted him to have the experience, too.  He is a capable VBS teacher and works well with kids.  Plus, we needed him on this team to be a role model with orphan boys.

But as we got closer to this trip, the cost of our obedience hit home. There will be three of us from Clayvillage Baptist Church, Lee and I plus one of our Sunday School teachers. Being away at this time has impacted our small choir and traditional Christmas activities at the church. We will not be there for some activities and plans have been changed because of our absence. I will also miss the KBC Mission Board meeting and some December activities with the Kentucky WMU staff.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers speaks to my angst in the January 11 reading entitled “What My Obedience to God Costs Other People.”  He says, “If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in.  If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight…”   Chambers goes on to say that “it costs those who do not love Him a good deal.”  I would add that it also costs those who do love Jesus even if they willingly support our obedience.

Chambers also points out in this reading that one of our options is to say “I will not cost other people suffering.”  He writes, “We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord.  Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and to leave all consequences with Him.”

So I must trust that God will look after Clayvillage Baptist Church, Kentucky WMU, and the KBC Mission Board. I am grateful to those “who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience.”  Thank you to all who have blessed us to make this mission trip and allowing us to be away at a time that is not convenient.  I am also praying for the family members, friends, coworkers and fellow church members of each person on our team, that as you pray for our missionaries and give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, you will experience what it means for each of us to be Totally His – Heart, Hands, Voice.

Please pray for the South Africa team.  Travel dates are December 5-16 and activities include:

  • Lead morning VBS sessions in the township of Sweetwaters with about 100 children
  • Lead morning VBS sessions with about 40 children in the Hope Centre orphanage
  • Provide afternoon instruction sessions and play with orphans in the Hope Centre orphanage
  • Food parcel packing and distribution in Sweetwaters township
  • Deliver Hospice Care Buckets to families caring for someone with AIDS

Join us in observing the Week of Prayer for International Missions, December 1-8, and in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. On my very first overseas mission trip, as I sat in a mud brick church in Rwanda, the missionary said “And by the way, the tin roof on this church was provided by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.”  I cried most of the way through that service as I experienced in a significant way that what we do on this side of the world truly makes a difference on the other side of the world.  May we pray faithfully and give generously this year!

Give Thanks Through Giving

praying handsThroughout scripture we are taught to give thanks to God.   There are more references to giving thanks and bringing an offering than I can mention in this brief blog.  Here are a few that quickly come to mind:

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4 KJV).
“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:20 KJV).
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17 KJV).

In 2 Chronicles 29 we have an account of a time when the temple was cleansed during the reign of Hezekiah.  He called on the Levites to sanctify themselves and the  house of the Lord. Hezekiah called for repentance and for worship. After the work was completed, there was a time of worship with burnt offerings and sacrifices were made for the atonement of sin.  We must not miss what came next.

“Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 29:31a KJV).  From this we are reminded that cleansing from sin should be followed by thanksgiving to God and thank offerings.

We who have trusted Jesus as our Savior have been forgiven and our response should be thankfulness.  At this season of Thanksgiving, let us not miss the opportunity to give thank offerings to the Lord.  Let me suggest several avenues that you might give a Thank Offering this month.

The Thanksgiving Offering for Sunrise Children’s Services is received each November and supports the work of Sunrise in caring for abused and neglected children. You can give through your local church and designate an offering for Sunrise. Thanksgiving offering envelopes are also available for giving to Sunrise.

Disaster Relief Assistance through Baptist Global Response.  BGR leads Southern Baptist efforts to respond to disasters and chronic needs around the world. BGR is at work in the Philippines  and other locations meeting needs. We will work with BGR in 2014 through the Bucket Project, taking hospice care items to families caring for those with AIDS.  Learn more about Baptist Global Response at www.gobgr.org.

Place a thank offering in a Kentucky WMU Heritage Fund Mite Box.  Mite boxes were distributed at the 2013 Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting and will be brought to the Friday afternoon session of our 2014 Annual Meeting.  In an earlier blog about mite boxes and their history in WMU, I shared a mite box challenge from years ago: How shall we use the mite box?  Keep one for your own use…let it be a constant reminder of the daily, ordinary blessings of your life.  Put one where friendly eyes can see it; let it remind them of duty and privilege. Treat it as a sacred thing (this feeling will grow upon you).  Encourage children to use it, and be ready to answer their questions about it.

When mite boxes were used as the primary means of saving for missions, WMU members were challenged to give sacrificially, but also thankfully. When some blessing came, the women were encouraged to express their thanks to God by placing an offering in the mite box.  On mite box day, the missionary society members brought their gifts, saved all year that expressed their thanks to God as well as their commitment to support missions around the world.

Even though many retailers skip from Halloween to Christmas, let us not be guilty of thanklessness by skipping Thankgiving. And don’t forget to be thankful for the basics of life as well. The song “Thank You, Lord, For Your Blessings On Me” by the Easter Brothers is a great reminder.  (Thank you, Nora Carr, for singing this song from your heart at Clayvillage Baptist Church!)

As the world looks upon me, as I struggle along 
They say I have nothing, but they are so wrong 
In my heart I’m rejoicing, how I wish they could see
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me 

There’s a roof up above me
I’ve a good place to sleep
There’s food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you, Kentucky WMU Volunteers!

VolunteersHave you ever thought about the process to get Lottie, Annie, or Eliza offering envelopes, posters and prayer guides to your church?  When a missions offering prayer guide and offering envelope are included in your church bulletin, how did they get there? When there is a missions offering poster on the bulletin board, how did it get there?

Most of us realize that some how, some way, these materials were delivered to our churches.  We know that volunteers or church staff placed the materials in the pew or church bulletin.  Beyond that, we are not sure.  In Kentucky, part of the process includes a host of volunteers (51 this year) who help us fill orders, stuff envelopes, enter information into our data base, and many other tasks.

Our volunteers range in age from children to senior saints.  Some come and simply bundle envelopes and prayer guides into packs of 25, 50 and 100. Most of our orders are some combination of these numbers.  Some fill the orders taken from our standing order system.  Others come to help us prepare mailings, walking around a table to pick up the items and place them in mailing envelopes.

We have two volunteers who do data entry for us.  This task is more than typing names and addresses because we must often call individuals to confirm if they might already be in our system at another address.  When making these calls, these volunteers are experienced WMU leaders and often help church and association leaders with other information while they are on the phone.

Linda DevineWe have several church groups that come together to volunteer. It’s a party when they are in the office!  One of our volunteers makes cakes for all the WMU staff on their birthdays and always brings cookies and other treats whenever she comes.  (Thank you, Cookie Lady!  aka – Linda Devine!)

We will honor the Kentucky WMU volunteers on Thursday, November 21 during our Volunteer Luncheon.  Join us in giving thanks to God for them and how they help us distribute missions materials across Kentucky. Also consider joining the ranks of the WMU volunteers! Amanda-Grace Richey would be happy to add you to our call list and work with you to find a job that suits your schedule.

youngest volunteerScripture likens believers to various parts of the body of Christ. When we receive each missions offering or carry out a missions project, we remind the Kentucky WMU volunteers that they were part of making this happen.  WMU volunteers are willing hands!

Still Cooperating – 50 Years Later

When I was a preschooler, my dad was pastor of the Santa Rosa Baptist Church in Picayune, Mississippi.  We moved to Mobile, Alabama just before I started school.  A few years later we received word that NASA was building a test facility and buying up property in the Picayune area for a buffer zone around the facility.  Santa Rosa was in the buffer zone and because church members were going to be scattered, the congregation decided to disband.

My folks heard about the church disbanding and decided to visit people in the congregation before everyone moved.  As my parents visited, they heard the same question: “What are we going to do with the money (from the sale of the church property)?”   Dad realized that he needed to tell them about the Mississippi Baptist Foundation.  He suggested that they give the money to the Foundation with the earnings designated for the Cooperative Program.

The Santa Rosa folks liked the idea and followed through.  All buildings and contents of the church were donated to the Waveland Baptist Church.  When all expenses were paid, the balance of the money left was $36,171.53. After much prayer, this was given to the Mississippi Baptist Foundation.

It has now been 50 years since Santa Rosa Baptist Church closed the doors of the building, but that was not the end of Santa Rosa Baptist Church and its support of missions through the Cooperative Program. The principal has grown to $62,001.08 and from September 30, 1963 through June 30, 2013, Santa Rosa Baptist Church has given $166,435.21 to the Cooperative Program.

In an invitation to the 50th anniversary reunion, Irma Frierson said, “To God be the glory!  The lives touched cannot be measured.”

My dad, now age 90, and I are going to Picayune this weekend for the reunion.  We are grateful to First Baptist Church of Nicholson for hosting the reunion.  My dad is preaching!  There will be a pot luck dinner (we are Baptists!).

It is probably the last reunion but Santa Rosa Baptist Church will keep giving cooperatively until Jesus comes!

Welcome, Peggy Murphy & Kentucky Changers

Peggy Murphy 2013Today we welcome Peggy Murphy to the Kentucky WMU staff as our new Kentucky Changers Coordinator.   However, Peggy is not new to Kentucky Changers.  Instead she comes with 20 years of experience with Changers and a background in youth ministry which will be a benefit to our office.

Peggy first participated in World Changers in 1994. That experience led to her call to youth ministry and she took her first group to participate in Kentucky Changers in 1995.  In 2000 while she and her youth group participated in the first project of the summer, Peggy was asked to assist as an overseer in the second project.  From that she began to learn the “nuts and bolts” of what it takes to organize Kentucky Changers projects.

Next Peggy began working as a part-time ministry assistant in the KBC Brotherhood Department. Her responsibilities included assisting with Kentucky Changers. In 2002 Peggy was hired full-time and given responsibility for Kentucky Changers.  She served in that position until 2012 when Kentucky Changers was assigned to Crossings Ministries.

In her years with Kentucky Changers, Peggy has seen the ministry grow from one project with 80 participants to three projects with 1100 participants.  She is experienced in working with city and county officials, school boards and Directors of Missions.  She has expertise with the logistics, contracts, and legal matters associated with Kentucky Changers.  Kentucky WMU is delighted to have Peggy lead this ministry  as it transitions to the WMU family.

Plans for 2014 Kentucky Changers projects are already underway. We have already been in meetings with folks from Tates Creek Association who will host Kentucky Changers July 5-11 in Richmond.  After our meeting, Larry Baker sent an email to all of the pastors in the association with this challenge:

While organizing, there is something important that you and your church can do:  Pray.  We must bathe this process in prayer for the next 8 months.  We will organize prayer leaders in each church, but praying is something we can begin right now.  Here are some things you can begin praying about:

  • The 250-300 participants (youth and adults) who will be recruited to repair the exteriors of the selected homes
  • The home selection process
  • Grant funding that is critical to the process
  • The individual team coordinators that will be selected this week
  • That lives, not only houses, will be transformed during this event

Peggy and I will soon meet with folks in Ohio about taking Kentucky Changers there. Immediately following the KBC Annual Meeting, we will be having meetings in Christian County Association (hosting June 7-13, 2014) and Blood River Association (hosting in 2015).  Meetings with other associations that have expressed interest are being scheduled.

We expect to release promotional material in the near future about the plans for Kentucky Changers in 2014.  This information will be sent to youth ministers, Acteens and Challengers leaders, WMU directors and others.  We will post information on our web site and on Facebook.  We hope that you will bring your youth group to experience a life-changing week.

As I sat with the Tates Creek leaders who had come to express support for Kentucky Changers and learn about our plans, their passion for this ministry was evident. Person after person had stories to tell of how a week at Kentucky Changers had impacted teenagers as well as youth leaders and home owners.

Join us in welcoming Peggy and commit to pray for Kentucky Changers in the year ahead.