Bridge View

Big 4 Bridge.jpgThe Kentucky WMU staff took a couple of days last week for our annual Staff Planning Retreat. During this time we try to have a mix of some fun activities as well as prayer, Bible study, reflection on the past year and plans for the coming year.

As our fun activity, we hiked the Big 4 Bridge, an old railway bridge that has been turned into a pedestrian bridge over the Ohio River. There are ramps up to the bridge from both the Kentucky side as well as the Indiana side.  The Kentucky ramp is in Waterfront Park in Louisville and is near a “swing park” and a “splash park.”  The Indiana ramp is in Jeffersonville near a street of interesting shops and restaurants.

Big 4 Brige deck.jpgThe Big 4 Bridge is one mile in length.  Each ramp is about one-quarter mile and the bridge itself is one-half mile.  As you cross the bridge there is an outstanding view of the river, downtown Louisville, Jeffersonville, and river activity.  I was especially glad to see that a new downtown bridge really is being built.  (My parents were from Missouri and that characteristic of “I’ll believe it when I see it” was passed down!)

New brige construction.jpgHiking the bridge was fun and a good time for us to be together.  But there was a bigger purpose in going.  I wanted our staff to see the bridge view and reflect on lessons we might apply to our work such as:
See the big picture
Note the tearing down to make way for the new
Small details matter but don’t lose sight of what you are building
Small details matter and affect the quality of the outcome
Note the new alongside the old
Repurpose the old (Big 4 Bridge is an example)
Create space for fun even the midst of work (a park near office buildings)
Bridges connect
We need more bridges
There are new discoveries on the other side

Schimpff's.jpgWe also had a fun lunch at Schimpff’s Confectionary (a new discovery for me!). And the view from the bridge gave us a new perspective for our discussion during day two of our staff planning as we talked about things we do well, what needs improvement, what we should be doing and even what we should not be doing.

If you can go hike the Big 4 Bridge, I encourage you to do so. It is a wonderful facility. There were many walkers of all ages as well as runners and cyclists. The view from the bridge is worth the trip. And while you are there, reflect on what you see!

A month of Kentucky missions stories

Shirley Cox was called of God to be a writer. She tells the story of her call in the Prayer Patterns section of this month’s Missions Mosaic.  I encourage you to get an August 2014 issue and read not only the story of Shirley’s call to writing, but the month of stories that she shares about Kentucky missionaries. As I have prayed daily for Southern Baptist missionaries around the world, it has been a special month to read the selected scripture passages and then the stories of people I know who illustrate the passages so well.

Among the featured missionaries you will find the story of Eileen Mullins and how God led her through a family tragedy to establish Haven of Rest Family Ministries.  There is the story of Judith Drummond, administrative assistant with Baptist Fellowship Center in Louisville. Shirley’s own story of being compelled to go to jail and teach the Bible to women will grip your heart as will the testimony of Bessie McPeek, a mom who needed welfare at one time, who eventually went to work in the welfare office and developed a diaper ministry that grew into much more.

Shirley reminds us of the importance of caring for the least of these as she tells the story of Rachelle Starr and her ministry through Scarlet Hope. She encourages us to keep caring for women experiencing a crisis pregnancy as she tells about the work of Kay Hammond and Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center. Stories to come this month include Garnett Jones who was moved to study Spanish at age 67 and start a ministry to internationals. Arlene Miller is featured on August 22. I am amazed by her passion for orphans in Haiti as well as the concern she has for people in Christian County who are in need as she ministers through Impact Ministry and Christian Women’s Job Corps.

One of my birthday buddies, Harrell Riley, is featured on August 27 (though his birthday is August 13!). Harrell established Hell is Real ministry to reach out in a variety of ways, including jail ministry both to men and women. Lonnie and Belinda Riley came back from Mississippi to minister in Belinda’s home town of Lynch where the needs were great. In Elizabethtown Nelle Thomas discovered that hunger knows no geographic limits and when her church started feeding hungry children during VBS, a ministry was born.

These stories inspire us to look again at the needs around us and see that God can use anyone who is willing to serve.  What strikes me most about these stories is the influence beyond Kentucky. God has gifted Shirley to write and I believe that the words of Isaiah 49:6 apply to Shirley and to those whose stories she tells.  “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  This passage, first given to Isaiah points us to Jesus.  As Christ followers in whom Jesus lives today, the passage speaks to us as well.  “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Shirley and missionaries, to all who are faithfully serving in your particular place – the Holy One of Israel has chosen you and your faithfulness will have influence far beyond what you could ever ask or imagine.  This year a special lady named Peggy Murphy came to work for Kentucky WMU as our Kentucky Changers Coordinator. I’ve been in meetings with Peggy where mayors and county judge executives were skeptical.  And I’ve been in the celebration services where we saw the before and after pictures of homes, and where the community leaders were there saying “thank you for coming.”  It’s not about us – it’s about proclaiming Jesus as Lord. But when we are faithful, God gives us some incredible experiences along the way!

Annual Meeting Buckets – the “rest of the story”

Paul Harvey’s famous line “And now the rest of the story” has inspired many others to fill in unknown details of a story or tell what happened later in a particular story.  The rest of the bucket story is not yet complete, but let me share some of what has happened since Annual Meeting.

imageFirst, our 778 buckets were shipped to Houston. Folks there packed them into a shipping container headed for South Africa. After the buckets arrived, it took several days for them to clear customs.  They were finally released and shipped to Tabitha Ministries where they were unloaded by Tabitha staff, volunteers, and Kentucky BGR volunteers! These are the buckets that the KY WMU worked so hard to get together, and it was so appropriate that they got welcomed and unloaded by Gina Bush, Ryan Curry and Kendra Miller, all from Kentucky!


Shortly after the buckets arrived in South Africa, the Experience 1:8 team that had worked with us at Cedar Crest arrived for the international portion of their summer missions experience. In addition to working with the children at Tabitha, E1:8 students delivered some of the Kentucky buckets in Sweetwaters Township and in Durban.

imageOther volunteers have also delivered Kentucky buckets. Just this week, BGR shared a picture and reported on the good news of a new brother in Christ through a bucket delivery. Meanwhile, people in Kentucky have continued filling buckets, including empty buckets that Randy Foster brought to Annual Meeting. Many of these buckets were taken home from the meeting and filled this summer by churches across Kentucky.

imageHerb and Wanda Edminister, our Kentucky Bucket Project Coordinators, helped us at Annual Meeting with packing buckets, loading the truck, and distributing the empty buckets for filling. Wanda sent the following note.

An area where I have often felt some disappointment in ministry is in not having opportunity to know “the rest of the story”.  I would like to share part of the “rest of the story” with the 250 empty donated buckets that were brought to Winchester.

  • Last week we collected 70 buckets from Henderson and Bowling Green.  I did not get an actual count but a significant percentage of those buckets had the double labels that were placed on the donated buckets.
  • A young teacher contacted us last January to share that she wanted her church to participate in a KBC mission project.  They had packed a large number of shoeboxes each year but this teacher was wanting to encourage them to become more involved with KBC mission projects.  After we advised her to contact her pastor for approval, this young teacher began a summer missions hospice bucket emphasis in her church.  In a few weeks she asked if others could participate because some of her friends had learned of the bucket project through her Facebook page.  (We said, “Of course, anyone can be involved!”)  A short time later, a jewlery party and a bake sale were planned where the proceeds would go to the bucket project. At that time their goal was to pack five buckets. This teacher and some of her friends attended the WMU event this April in Winchester.  They came to the gym so they could “adopt a bucket” to take home with them.  They asked us how many buckets her group should take.  I shared that I couldn’t answer that but that they should pray about it and decide together.  A few weeks ago, we learned that at the WMU event this group had adopted not 5 but 30 buckets and had recently packed all of them.  When I wrote to congratulate this young teacher, I also asked her to thank her husband because I knew that as a teacher with two children, he probably had been involved in helping in some way.  This young teacher wrote back excitedly to tell me that the week prior to their final bucket packing party her husband and seven year old daughter had been baptized! Buckets are changing lives on both sides of the ocean!

If things went as planned the 30 buckets were to be in the sanctuary of their church [this past Sunday] morning for  the people of their church to collectively pray over them.  They will then be delivered sometime this week to Lincoln Association and hopefully brought to Murray along with 137 others from the middle part of KY later this week.  We hope to have them on their way to Houston by Labor Day.

imageThe “rest of the story” is still being written. Buckets are being delivered in many places. People are hearing the gospel. People here are joining the effort and finding that their lives are being touched, too.  Children and adults are participating. Today I will be delivering a dozen buckets that made their way to the WMU office to the Long Run Association office for pick up this week.  While our office is not a drop off point, we have gladly received some buckets to help out folks who want to participate.  The next “big push” for buckets is in November at the Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in November. We hope to fill another truck!  Have you packed a bucket yet?