Susan Bryant’s Closing Remarks from Annual Meeting

Wow.  What a meeting this has been.  We’ve had some tried and true things and some new things.  And just think, it isn’t over yet.  In a few minutes we are going  to enjoy a missions block party and later we have the opportunity to preview a movie that relates to the current WMU social issue, post traumatic stress disorder.  I have seen the movie; you will want to stay and see it.

I don’t know about you but I have learned so much over the last day and a half listening to our speakers.  When I was young my mother would sometimes say “Don’t get the big head”.  Well  I think today that I do have the big head and a bigger heart but only because of all the things I have learned this weekend.  And I think that most of you probably have the big head and big heart right along with me for the very same reason.

For years I have heard our esteemed Executive Director, Joy Bolton, say about annual meeting “It is all about the outcomes.” And it is. What are we going to do with what we have learned once we get home.    It is great if we have come here to see friends and have a mini reunion because this is the only time we see one another each year.  I have loved seeing Irma, Tina and so many others this weekend.  I look forward to making new friends, renewing friendships and catching up on one another’s lives. The programs are always wonderful, missionary speakers inspiring and we feel good about participating in the ministry projects we do at each meeting.

But then we go home.  We’ll leave Sand Spring in a few hours . . . we’ll set our GPS to get us home.   Maybe we’ll sing some of the songs we sang this weekend as we roll along – My personal favorite it “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” and thankfully I won’t have a passenger going home so I can sing it to my heart’s content.

But what about when we get home?  What’s going to be YOUR outcome of this meeting? Are you going to leave behind everything you’ve learned this weekend?  Knowing many of you as I do,  I don’t think so.  Let’s review a little.

Perhaps you know better now how to pray for our missionaries on the missionary prayer calendar in Missions Mosaic and like Debby, I hope you have a subscription and if you don’t, get one tonight.  You now  know the urgency of these prayers and how our missionaries depend on those prayers.  Thanks to Joe Joe, Jeff and Melva, and Ryan and Christy who have shared with us this weekend. We have loved their stories and their honesty in sharing just what it means to serve in a different culture far from home.  They have reminded us that we need to go home and pray for our missionaries to  have access to an apartment or house that costs more than $35 a month.  I can’t even imagine.  We need to pray for their families and the close relationships they have sacrificed to answer God’s call on their lives.  They tell us that extraordinary sacrifices result in extraordinary blessings.  Their challenge to us is to get a passport, take short plane trips to get us ready to cross the water, eat new foods – maybe even food on a stick, learn to share our faith and just say “yes” when God asks us to go.  Will you do that?   Ryan so eloquently said “thank you” for the investment WMU ladies gave to Christy.  Will you invest in the life of a young girl or woman in your church?

And Debby Akerman.  We have read her books, heard her speak, many of us are friends with her on face book and we’ve otherwise benefited from her 5 years as President of National WMU.  Debby, we love you and are so happy you could be with us this weekend.  But, you know, Debby has given us a challenge too.

She has asked if a Mission Friend is not too young to learn that God loves them; God loves the whole world and someone needs to go and tell them.  I am sure we all said “no in our hearts.   At a recent missionary appointment service, a missionary appointee shared how it was in Mission Friends that God first placed that calling on her life.  God is still speaking to Mission Friends, GAs and RAs and calling them into mission service.  Perhaps a future Kathy Shafto is growing up in your church and needs the benefit of missions education to understand God’s calling on her life.   Will you step up to be her leader?

She challenged us to partner with a missionary with Kentucky roots serving with NAMB or IMB to help them catch a vision for WMU in their church plants.  And she has reminded us that WMU is still relevant in today’s culture and is helping our churches to learn new mission methods.   Kentucky WMU will be offering training for WMU leaders in our associations this spring and staff are always ready, willing – and even anxious – to help you begin  – or improve – the missions organization in your church.   What will you do?

Did you like going to the Capital yesterday afternoon?  How of you was this your first visit to the Capitol?  It was my old stomping ground for several years ago when I worked in the Governor’s Office.  As a retired state employee, I know how important prayer is for our elected officials.   Not just prayer when we are in the Capitol but consistent prayer for Godly leaders who aren’t afraid to take a stand for their Christian beliefs.   This year marks the election for many of our government offices – not just statewide offices but in local elections as well.  Will you commit to pray that God will call out Godly men and women to run for office, for elections that will result in  the Christian values that our country was founded on being upheld?  Will you pray?

I have a salvation doll like those that some of you made yesterday afternoon.  Wasn’t that fun?   I wasn’t there but I know it had to have been.  Any time we get together to craft is a lot of fun. Robin said she brought 114 kits and only one was left after the workshop.  If we multiplied that a few times, just think how many boys and girls could know about Jesus.   What are you going to do with your doll?  Are you going to show it off to your family saying “And you thought I couldn’t sew” and then stick it in a closet or did it give you an idea for how these dolls can be used to tell a child about Jesus?  On a WMU mission trip to South Africa a little over a year ago, we had dolls for each of the children in the orphanage where we served.  Pat Callan even found out the number of boys and girls we would be working with and made the appropriate number of boy and girl dolls! I was impressed!   The children loved them!  Wouldn’t GAs love to stuff them and help give them features?  Mine would!  And there are so many ways you can use these dolls to share Jesus – yourselves or to help supply a missionary or mission team with dolls to share.

Dawna Clark shared that you have donated 482 Hot Wheels for the KY Raceway Ministry.  She’s excited!  Could you, would you work at the Speedway one weekend?  Would that be an outcome for you?

Oh yes, I found some of the activity bags that you made for children visiting the Veterans Medical Center with their parents.  I loved seeing a picture on face book recently of Sandy Clark helping one of her Children in Action make those bags for this meeting.  Sandy is always ahead of the curve.  Could you make bags, fill them and find a place where they can be used to share about Jesus?.

What about the exhibits?  As they say, you couldn’t stir them with a stick in the exhibit corridor yesterday.  When we can to look at the space we decided that would be the perfect place for the exhibits and it was since it was so close to the sanctuary.  And it was.  I had many ladies sharing with me “Look what I found at this ministry.  I think I can do this.”   “I can take this back to my church and we can do this.”  Can you do this?  Don’t forget.

The ministry projects we do at each annual meeting are important, not just because they fill a need, but we hope they will give you ideas about what you can go back home and do in your own community.

The commissioning service last night was inspiring.  Each of these missionaries we commissioned are just trying to  live their lives in obedience to God’s calling.  Do any of them live near you?  Did one of their ministries resonate with you.  Remember, we said we could support them.  I am quite confident they would love for you to contact them to ask how you can assist in their ministry.

And the Kentucky Changers celebration – Did you notice that a lot of the people on the adult changer team were women?  Peggy has a place for you this summer – you and the youth and other adults in your church.   She would love to hear from you.  Will she?

And how can you and your church connect with Brian Hinton at Kentucky State or other campus ministries in your area of the state? We have the way to minister to international right here on our campuses.  We don’t have to go across the pond to minister to internationals.   Will you?

As Joy has said, our missions block party today is designed to help you visualize what a block party is and how you could use this as an evangelism tool in your community.  We were going to have the block party under tents out back.  But we even went so far as to arrange some pretty significant rain so we could show you how to go to plan B if necessary.  Could you do this?

We are so glad you chose spend this weekend with us.  This meeting could be just a pleasant outing for you and nothing more or it can be the beginning of living all for you.  I would love to hear from you and find out about your “outcomes” from this meeting so I can celebrate them with you.  Joy said last night that the results of our meeting should be felt around the world.  I believe it will be.

I close with a quote from that famous theologian, Dr. Seuss, in his book “Oh the Places You will Go.”

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
In any direction you choose.

I hope you will choose to steer yourself in the direction that says:  All for You, Surrender, Sacrifice, Serve.

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