This morning I started reading the September Missions Mosaic in the way I always do at the start of a new month, with Wanda Lee’s column. Even though I chaired the search committee to find her successor, there was still a lump in my throat as I read the first sentence: “Preparing this month’s From Missionary Ridge has been challenging since I realized it would be my last as your executive director.”
It was an emotional moment for me. Today is my 17th anniversary as executive director for Kentucky WMU. Wanda and I have tracked together across these years. She has been a friend and mentor. I have stayed in her home and she and Larry have stayed in ours. Wanda has been in our state on several occasions for our state WMU meeting. She is a great speaker.
We’ve had a few fun experiences with pulling off surprises. One was help with arrangements for Wanda and family to take Larry to a concert in Lexington, KY. He had no idea! The other was when Campbellsville University surprised Wanda by awarding her an honorary doctorate. I was in on getting her family in town and keeping them from finding each other until the right moment when we were all in the press box!
Wanda’s last column was appropriately titled “WMU Matters.” She has written this column from the heart and from her “personal belief that what we do through WMU matters.” But it was the conclusion to the column that made me cry. During the months that the search committee has been at work, we claimed and asked others to pray with us, Ephesians 3:20-21. Wanda concluded her column with these verses:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (NIV)
When I read the verses she had chosen for her final words, knowing that we have been praying these verses over the past six months, knowing how God has answered in the calling out of Sandy Wisdom-Martin, I wept at God’s faithfulness.
In our office we were recently challenged to describe what we do simply, succinctly. The statement that grabbed me was “WMU facilitates missions involvement.” When I think about ministries that we plan such as Kentucky Changers and Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, I resonate with what Wanda says – WMU matters! Because we have planned these missions opportunities, we help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. In local churches and in associations, because WMU takes the lead to plan ways for people to be involved in missions, there are people who get involved for the first time and/or in ways they never dreamed possible. WMU matters!
Thank you, Wanda Lee, for your leadership for the past 20 years at the national level. I am grateful for you and pray for wonderful times with your family in retirement. And I join you and the WMU family in praying for our new leader and the future work of WMU.