On Saturday, Stacy Nall and I participated in a GA Celebration in Muhlenburg Baptist Association. The girls were celebrating the 100th birthday of GA with activities, cake and punch, and a mission project. As our Kentucky WMU Missions Consultant for Children, Stacy brought greetings and shared about GA when she was girl. After we recognized the oldest GA present (age 93), we read the GA motto and ideals from 1928 and sang the GA song, “We’ve A Story to Tell.” Then I was asked to share about my GA experiences as a girl.
Among the memories I shared was the impact of the motto, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come” (Isa. 60:1) and the star ideals which had been incorporated into the GA Allegiance that we recited at every GA meeting. I explained that the language of the pledge included some words that we might not use today and took time to review what the pledge means in words the girls would understand. The GA Allegiance that we pledged each week said:
Knowing that countless people grope in darkness and giving attention to his commands, I assert my allegiance to Jesus Christ, to his church and its activities, attempting with God’s help to abide in him through prayer, to advance in wisdom by Bible study, to acknowledge my stewardship of time, money, and personality, to adorn myself with good works, and to accept the challenge of the Great Commission.
Each time I said the pledge, I was acknowledging that more people than I could count lived in spiritual darkness. I stated that I was giving attention to the commands of Jesus and asserting my allegiance to Jesus Christ, His church and its activities. Certainly churches would be stronger today if more people began with this part of the pledge! And then we promised five ways that we would carry out this pledge: prayer, Bible study, stewardship, good works, and accepting the challenge of the Great Commission.
This is still my allegiance. It still shapes my life. On Saturday, I talked with the girls about what various parts of the pledge mean and most distressing was their lack of understanding about stewardship. We talked about tithing as one aspect of stewardship and few had even heard the term. They did not seem to understand the idea of a tenth, even when explained in terms of 10 dimes to a dollar. I was not sure if the lack of understanding was due to development in their math skills or simply because we are not talking about tithing in our churches. Either way, we have much to do to teach this vital spiritual truth.
GA members today have a motto and pledge. Their motto is “Go Forward,” a favorite saying of Annie Armstrong drawn from Exodus 14: 15 (KJV or NASV). The GA pledge says:
As a GA, I will do my best to live a missions lifestyle that honors God by learning about missions, praying for missions, giving to missions, doing missions, and participating in the work of the church.
I am grateful we are still teaching GAs to honor God by how they live and through what they do. I pray that the GA pledge will continue to shape lives and lead to a lifetime of missions involvement.