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!