Leaders Need to Keep Learning

I’ve been in leadership a long time. My parents used to tell about me as an older preschooler visiting churches in the association with my parents where Vacation Bible School was being held. At one church, as the story goes, there seemed to be some confusion among the children as to what they were to do. My parents would smile as they told how I jumped to the front and announced to the other children, “Follow me. I know what to do.”

When one has been in leadership for many years, it is easy to get arrogant. We’ve done this job before and we know what to do. It also becomes easy to get stagnant or simply just coast rather than keep growing as a leader. As a leader who wishes to avoid arrogance, stagnation or just coasting, the Christian Women’s Leadership Center (CWLC) offers challenging courses that are not expensive or too difficult to add to an already busy schedule.

I am currently taking Spiritual Formation as a Leader. The course includes on-line videos, response assignments, and reading Upside Down Leadership by Taylor Field. This book touches heart and attitude issues that face every leader. The leadership principles that Field puts forth are stark in opposition to the teachings of most leadership gurus: Stop Leading, Forget Results, Think Small, Make No Plans, Associate with Losers, Get Off the Cutting Edge, and so on.  Don’t let the titles fool you. There is deep content for leaders.

The CWLC Leadership Certificate Program consists of nine four-week courses in three areas. Each $30 course includes the course textbook in PDF format and interactive assignments. Participation usually takes 3-5 hours per week (on your own schedule) and also introduces you to others who are taking the course with you through forums and opportunities to comment on assignments. CWLC Leadership Certificate courses are offered on a rotating schedule and must be taken when offered. Courses in the certificate program include:

Leadership Foundation
– The Biblical and Theological Foundations of Leadership
– Leadership Theory
– Women Leaders from the Past
Leadership Formation
– Spiritual Formation as a Leader
– A Sense of Call to Leadership
– Missional Living: A History of Missions and How It Impacts Missions Today
Leadership Skills
– Leader Skills: 5 Leadership Essentials for Women
– Follower Skills
– Leading with Integrity: 12 Strategies for Your Ministry or Non-Profit

In addition to the leadership certificate series, Christian Leader Learning offers Develop Courses and Enrichment Courses. These provide a way to learn about leading WMU organizations (such a Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, Children in Action, Mission Friends, etc.) or courses to help enhance leadership skills. Develop courses can be taken anytime and you have 30 days to complete the course from the date of enrollment.

Learn more: Christian Leader Learning

Join me and keep learning!

Rise Up and Shine

Each year a new committee convenes to pray and discuss ideas for the state missions emphasis. Each committee works on a theme that will be used nearly two years after their initial meeting. Working this far in advance is necessary in order to research stories and prepare materials.

It is always fascinating to me to see how a particular emphasis fits the circumstances and needs at the time it is used. This is the result of prayer and God’s leadership in this process.

Our 2017 emphasis, Rise Up and Shine, focuses on Kentucky Baptist ministries to internationals. From college campuses to large cities, and in small communities and out of the way places like Oneida Baptist Institute, internationals have come to Kentucky to study, work, and make a life.

While we want to welcome these who have come, concerns about immigration and many related issues have been front page news. There are no easy answers to many of the associated problems. But scripture is clear: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19 NIV).

In my Children in Action group, a retired missionary to Central Asia portrayed a refugee for the children, explaining why she needed to leave her homeland to protect her family from war. This missionary has lived where danger make people willing to risk everything to live in another country. We wanted the children to understand and care.

Nik Ripken, author of The Insanity of God and The Insanity of Obedience, poses a question that makes me uncomfortable: “What if the worst persecution today was having little or no access to Jesus. Am I a persecutor when I keep my faith to myself, only within the environment of the church?”

God is sending the nations to Kentucky. Watch the 2017 state missions video of Nik giving suggestions for how we can minister to internationals. It all begins with friendship, a meal, and some simple questions to show your interest.You will also want to read the article “Internationals in Your Community: Thoughts from The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken.”

In this month of response to hurricanes, remember to support the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering first. Our channels of mission support put ministries like Disaster Relief in place before they are needed. Keep the foundation strong even as you give an extra offering for specific relief efforts. Let’s Rise Up and Shine!

Reaching out to teachers from China

Our 2017 Rise Up and Shine state missions emphasis has focused attention on Kentucky Baptist ministries with internationals. It is our prayer that the focus has made us more sensitive to the internationals we meet and how we might befriend them. It is friendship that opens doors to share the gospel.

Earlier this year I posted a blog about welcoming Chinese teachers who are teaching in Kentucky to gain experience in our schools. I received a follow up email this week providing us with an updated list of school districts with teacher from China. These teachers need friends, help with shopping, and above all, a gospel witness. They would love to be invited to an American home for a meal and often will be open to attend church with your family.

This ministry is first of all a ministry of friendship. “We treat our teachers like family whether they go to church with us or not,” says Dreama Ruley who works with teachers in her district. “We can show Jesus’ love in other ways besides going to church, and after some have returned home, they contacted us with questions that they did not seem to be interested in while here. We plant seeds and let God worry about the harvest.”

The following districts have teachers from China. Would you prayerfully consider volunteering to meet a teacher and befriend her/him this year?
Butler County
Barren County
Bowling Green
Warren
Daviess
Muhlenburg
Cloverport
Meade
Hardin
Oldham
Logan

If you are interested in getting involved, Dreama Ruley will provide additional information to help you in making contact. If emailing, please put “Chinese teachers” in the subject line  Email: [email protected] Phone: 270-586-7632.

May we Rise Up and Shine to befriend these teachers from China.

Summer 2017 In Review

“We facilitate missions involvement” is more than a catchy phrase for Kentucky WMU. When we plan our work, this is what drives us. We are constantly thinking, “How can we involve more people in missions?” Our 2017 summer events have reflected this passion.

Kentucky Changers worked in Shelbyville, Harrodsburg, Albany, and Greensburg this summer. Statistics from the four weeks show:
Churches represented: 81
Job sites: 68
Participants (students/chaperones): 632
Volunteers (crew chiefs, assistants, food service, etc.): 271
Total participants: 902
Total decisions: 85, with 16 for salvation, 39 for call to ministry, and 30 rededications.

What these statistics tell us is that 902 people were involved in hands-on missions. They came to help with many aspects of the ministry, from construction to clean up, from cooking to delivering supplies, and everything in between. By sponsoring and planning Kentucky Changers, Kentucky WMU made it possible for 902 people to experience missions.

In June, Kentucky WMU sponsored Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids (MAKK) in Louisville and Lexington. Through age-appropriate missions activities, boys and girls learned that they can do missions. Their chaperones/leaders encouraged them and were their cheerleaders as the children stepped up to serve. Thirty six children and leaders participated in MAKK Louisville and 58 participated in Lexington. Children did a variety of helping projects in the community and collected paper products for the Ronald McDonald House. In Louisville the children worked at the Baptist Fellowship Center and with Fern Creek Community Ministries. In Lexington they served at the Ronald McDonald House, Lexington Rescue Mission, Mission Lexington, Hope Center, and nursing homes.

A team of 12 Kentucky Acteens Activators served for a week in Knoxville, TN where they worked with over 80 children in day camp. The Acteens also served in a food ministry, Love Local, where snack packs were delivered in an area where 100% of the children receive free lunches during the school year. Acteens also spent a week at the Haven of Rest in Inez where they helped with Vacation Bible School and served in the community.

In cooperation with National WMU and Central Baptist Association, we were host to Familyfest in July which brought us over 150 volunteers from Kentucky and beyond. These volunteers participated in different ministries in the Lebanon/Springfield area including Backyard Bible Club/VBS, light construction/repairs, servant ministries, social ministry, several block parties, prayerwalking, senior adult ministry, evangelism, sports camps, and health/wellness ministries. It is a special week as families serve together.

Royal Ambassadors and Challengers gathered at Camp Courage July 28-29 to learn about missions as they also raced cars, learned knot tying and other outdoor skills.

The Mission Friends and Girls in Action Leaders Retreat August 4-5 was a time for leaders to learn and share ideas for enhancing missions for preschool and children.

We wrapped up the summer with a mission team of 12 to Swaziland to deliver Baptist Global Response Hospice Care Buckets. These buckets had been packed and sent by Kentucky Baptists. The team saw 31 professions of faith during the week. In addition to bucket delivery the team led revival services in two churches each night, led a three day camp for 75 children, provided WMU training for the Swaziland Women’s Committee, and had a day of training for pastors.

As seen in these and other events and activities, WMU points people to a world beyond themselves and facilitates missions involvement. WMU challenges people to be involved in the mission of God and provides avenues so that everyone can learn, pray, give, and go!

This is why I am so passionate about WMU and starting WMU in every church. WMU is a movement that gets people involved in missions. Too many church members are content to show up for a service once a week and do little else. For WMU, this is not what being a Christ-follower is all about. WMU will not rest until the gospel is proclaimed down the street and around the world. We teach missions. We do missions. Join us!

EBO at Work August 2017

As August comes to a close, we will close the books on the 2016 Eliza Broadus Offering. As of this writing (8/24/17), the offering stands at $1,212,880.36. Gifts will be received through August 31 for the 2016 offering. Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for faithful giving.

The 2017 Rise Up and Shine materials were mailed in July and every church should now have their standing order of posters, prayer guides, and envelopes. Take note of the new envelope design which has the words State Missions Offering in a number of different languages used in Kentucky Baptist churches.

You may have noticed the copyright symbol ® used in connection with the words Eliza Broadus Offering and Eliza Broadus Offering for State Missions. Kentucky WMU began the annual Kentucky state missions Offering in 1913, named the offering for Eliza Broadus in 1976, and are the stewards of the offering to this day. We registered a trademark on the offering name because we understand the importance of this stewardship. In a day when materials can be easily copied and misappropriated, Kentucky WMU took this step as a protection for the name and use of the offering. Kentucky WMU will continue, as we have for many years, in a cooperative spirit to allocate the offering in consultation with the Kentucky Baptist Convention in order to enhance missions in Kentucky through the KBC, associations, affiliated ministries, and Kentucky WMU.

Missions Mobilization through the KBC is a prime area of ministry supported by EBO. Teresa Parrett is often the connector between needs and volunteers, between missionaries and resources. Teresa also works with persons that God is calling into missions to find their place of service. Just recently, Teresa joined us at Familyfest in Lebanon and was introduced to a lady with a heart for missions. When Teresa explained about Kentucky MSC and that she qualified to serve as a Kentucky missionary, tears came into her eyes. She told Teresa that she had wanted to serve in Africa as a missionary since she was a child, but life had taken a different turn. She told Teresa that her current ministry is now her Africa.

Teresa said “We hear this same story over and over, of how God calls people to serve many years earlier, and they are now finding their place in ministry. Many of them thought it would be international missions, but are finding out it is right here in Kentucky.”

Thanks to support from the Eliza Broadus Offering and the Cooperative Program, Teresa is helping to connect many volunteers with missions needs, helping Kentucky Baptists to Rise Up and Shine as we reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.

Changing Houses – Changing Lives

Two weeks of 2017 Kentucky Changers are “in the books” as they say with two more to go. Kentucky Changers made their first trip to Shelby Baptist Association in June where they completed 17 projects. Steve Coleman was the camp pastor and Brandon Watkins led worship music.

As a member of a Shelby Baptist Association church, I was very excited to have Kentucky Changers in my association. It was wonderful to see people I know from Shelby churches working together to host changers. This included organizing the projects, making lunches, serving as runners for crews, and a myriad of other jobs. Due to being in Phoenix for the Southern Baptist Convention, I was not able to be on site during the week but did attend the celebration service on Thursday evening with the homeowners. What a great time to see the before and after pictures of the projects and to hear from the homeowners who were helped.

I was able to spend a week with Changers in Harrodsburg. There we slept on the floor at Mercer County High School, worshipped in area churches, and worked on 12 projects. Projects including roofing, painting, and building decks and ramps. The homeowner stories of things that had happened helped the Changers to understand how much their work meant.

After worship each evening, Changers gathered in church groups for evening devotions. Using a devotional booklet called “The Blueprint,” written annually for Kentucky Changers, we discussed verses from 1 John and the theme “Love Out Loud.” I was able to participate with four young ladies from one church who had been coming to Changers for several years. I appreciated their deep faith and commitment. They were all at the age when they certainly could have been doing things like summer jobs or other activities. Instead, they chose to come to Changers, to be a part of changing lives, one house at a time.

For several days in Harrodsburg, I served as the photographer and visited all the work sites. I spent time talking with the students about their experiences and encouraging them to be involved in ongoing missions through Acteens, Challengers, or Youth on Mission. I also promoted the Creative Ministries Festival with students and leaders. Then on Wednesday, I was able to work with one crew all day. While most of the team worked on building a back porch and steps, I helped a student powerwash the house, then we painted the shutters and a glider.

At the close of the week, one Kentucky Changer posted this on Facebook: “Man, this week has been great ! I wish it didn’t come to an end! I learned a lot & the Kentucky Changers Ministry Team inspired me a lot . I learned this [world] is not a forever home so these aren’t my forever friends, family. My forever home is heaven & it’s waiting on me. So the stupid things I do have to stop for Him. I’ve done 4 things [this week]: 1. Rebuild a garage. 2. Spread the gospel. 3. Tell my testimony to a random neighbor that I had no clue I was gonna meet & I probably changed lives this weekend & it feels great! 4. Sleep & work & live with random people who now I’m in contact with. #KentuckyChangers – Best Experience Of My Life ❤️‼️”

Homeowners were touched by the work and witness of Changers. Some homeowners were believers for whom the work of the volunteers was a great blessing to them. Others heard the gospel for the first time because of the work of Kentucky Changers. As the Changers worked, they also prayerwalked in the community. Their presence was a testimony of God’s love and grace as neighbors watched not only the transformation of a house, but also the walk of teenagers who had come to serve.

Pray for our final two weeks of Changers as we serve in Albany (July 1-7) and Greensburg (July 8-15). Pray for a powerful witness in these communities and for students and homeowners to be saved. Pray about the weather as well as safety in travel and in service for all who participate.

MAKK Impact

Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids is a three-day mission trip for children in grades 4-6 and their leaders. During MAKK we have Bible study, crafts, games, drama, and music. A missionary shares their work at each location.

I was able to join in the MAKK experience this year in Lexington. In our closing session, participants were asked to write on Post-It Notes things that they were thankful for. The notes show the impact of MAKK on the children and adults who participated. Here are some of the things they shared:

  • Kids with big hearts
  • All of the friends I made
  • Meeting all the people and getting to go to the rest home
  • Being able to fill sack lunches for the homeless
  • For the Lexington Rescue Mission
  • I am thankful for the kids learning how to show God’s love to others. And for meeting new people that we helped
  • For nursing homes
  • For the many volunteers to help share Christ with kids
  • Telling people about Jesus at the nursing home
  • Helping seniors
  • Two salvations!
  • Getting to see joyful faces on the people at the nursing home
  • I got to go on mission and serve others in God’s Name
  • That we helped tell people about Jesus at the nursing home
  • For all the ministries we got to experience this weekend
  • Chance to serve Miss Shirley at the nursing home and pray with her. We said John 3:16 together.
  • Being saved by Jesus!
  • The way we worked to show God’s love to others. Very rewarding.
  • I’m thankful we got to go to Mission Lexington and help the people
  • Baking for Ronald McDonald House
  • Serving the Lord with other Christians. Meeting new people
  • I enjoyed loving on the patients at the nursing home
  • Talking and working with the nursing home patients
  • For making new friends and baking
  • That we got to help clean
  • Lots of fun
  • A great week

The thankful note that made me smile the most said “We got to conquer the world!!” Sending children and adults out to prayerwalk on Thursday (in the rain!), serve in area ministries on Friday, and have Bible School nursing homes on Saturday might not seem like conquering the world to some, but I understand what this child meant. Through MAKK, children conquered fears of new places and people. They conquered fears that they were asked to do a ministry they had never done before. And we know that whenever we go in the Name of Jesus, Satan is conquered. Yes, to the child on the Green team who wrote the note, we conquered the world in Jesus Name.

This is the perfect time for the Christmas Backpacks project!

Did you know that 17.3 million children in the U.S. live in poverty? You can help through the Christmas Backpacks Project. Kentucky Baptists are filling new backpacks with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, food and clothing for children. These will be distributed at Christmas events in December where the gospel will be shared.

Christmas seems a long way off for many, but this is the perfect time to be shopping for the Christmas Backpacks Project. School supplies go on sale over the summer at many stores. And because Christmas Backpacks need to be delivered in October, churches can get started over the summer. It makes for a great VBS missions project or a Back to School ministry. Each church is asked to register the number of backpacks that you will prepare with the KBC and download gift tags to mark each backpack with the age and gender child to receive it.

Here is how to participate and the Backpack Collection Timeline:

How to Participate & Pack

  • Register online the number of backpacks your church is committed to pack and share.
  • Begin with a NEW, zippered backpack.
  • Determine the gender and age for the backpacks, then mark a label for each backpack accordingly.
  • Fill the backpacks with NEW gifts (item list).
  • Securely tape the labels to the outside of the backpacks.
  • Pray specifically for the child receiving the backpack and his or her family.
  • Deliver the backpacks to your designated collection site on the assigned day (associational collection site list).

October 16-20, 2017
Churches deliver backpacks in boxes to associational collection sites.
Each church must:

  • Ensure that each backpack is packed with toys, clothing, food items, a copy of the “Christmas Story” leaflet, and a copy of the Mailbox Bible Club postcard.
  • Ensure that each backpack has a label specifying the age and gender of its contents.
  • Pack four to six backpacks each in 18″x18″x16″ cardboard boxes (available at Lowes, Home Depot, Staples, etc.), keeping those designated for the same ages and genders together when possible.
  • Transport the committed number of backpacks to its designated associational collection site.

October 23-27, 2017
Associations deliver backpacks in boxes to regional collection sites.
Each association must:

  • Ensure backpacks are labeled and packed (four to six backpacks each in 18″x18″x16″ cardboard boxes), keeping those designated for the same ages and genders together when possible.
  • Transport boxed backpacks to its designated regional collection site.

October 30-November 3, 2017
All boxed backpacks will be picked up from the regional collection sites and distributed to the requesting ministries and church plants.

The great thing about this schedule is that churches deliver the Christmas Backpacks in October. The schedule does not interfere with the collection of other Christmas ministries (such as Operation Christmas Child) which are usually due in November. Also, by participating in the Christmas Backpacks, your church can provide a gospel witness to a child at Christmas right here in the United States in addition to participation in international projects.

So, start watching for school supplies to go on sale. Look for bargains on new clothing, toys, and other items. Our Kentucky goal is 5,000 backpacks. Half of that number will be used in Kentucky, and half will go to Cincinnati, a Send City with the North American Mission Board.

Join us in sharing the gift of love and the gospel with a child in need this Christmas!

Missions Education Still Having an Impact

A recent email made me smile.  My friend Ann had noted a Facebook post by a friend and they had been texting each other about an upcoming mission trip. Ann was eager for me to know that things learned in missions as a child were still having an impact. She even sent a screen shot of their texting with each other.

Ann wrote:
Last night a friend from Oakland Ave Baptist Church posted on Facebook about about getting ready to go to Ecuador for her 12th year. I asked what group she went with, etc., etc. Tonight I was reading in Genesis where God blessed Issac and he reaped a hundredfold of what he planted. I prayed for a hundredfold for WMU age level organizations at Lone Oak First Baptist Church in terms of mission education and future missionaries and for a hundredfold on the mission trip to Brazil from LOFBC that I’m participating in.  I wondered, “how can we have a hundredfold?”  Then the Lord reminded me of the conversation with Judy from Oakland Avenue Baptist Church last night!  Attached is a screen shot of the last part of our conversation.  Judy and I are part of the hundredfold that Dorothy Crace and other leaders at Oakland Avenue reaped! Praise the Lord!  

If you are a missions education leader with preschoolers, children, or students, thank you! You have no idea what will be the outcome of your investment today in the lives of those you teach.

Heather Keller, Children’s Consultant with National WMU, asks churches what outcomes do they want to see in 20 years in the lives of the children they are reaching. What do they want their children to value as adults? That is taking the long view of what we do today!  The online conversation between Ann and Judy shows that Heather is on to something!

Help us welcome Chinese teachers to Kentucky

I recently received a phone call alerting me to a ministry need in our state. The caller has become friends with Chinese teachers who are here in Kentucky in a type of exchange program where they come to spend a school year working in an American school. The caller was brokenhearted because she had just learned that many of the friends of the Chinese teachers that she has befriended have no one who has welcomed them.

The caller sent me an email which I share here :
As I told you over the telephone, this all began with giving a ride in the rain and then on to Walmart.  We include the girls (which is what we call them affectionately and consider them our daughters-hand picked by God) in our life.  We take them shopping, to church, events we think might interest them and local activities.  They have become good friends with people outside the school district and have experienced our culture first hand.  They have no choice but to judge us by our movies which they quickly learn is not accurate.  We are not wealthy people and cannot take them to expensive tourist destinations but they are very happy to experience American culture any way they can.  We include them in our holidays. Most of them cry and say they were hoping to see what a real Christmas in an American family would be like.  They help me decorate for Christmas and this gives me opportunity to teach what each thing symbolizes and how it relates to the true Christmas story.   

We celebrate their Chinese New Year with them and they love to cook for us. They are happy to experience our food outside the school cafeteria and are always surprised how different home cooking is.  Its the little things that make our culture what it is and they leave with an accurate appreciation of the people who make up America.  Our friends consider them our daughters too and invite them to weddings, birthdays, and even funerals. Everything is a teaching moment and they are very curious, just like we would be in China.

Some have left behind husbands and children for this American experience and it is so sad when our girls tell us how lonely some of the other teachers are.  Often when I meet teachers from other counties, they will hug me and say “I wish I worked in your county so I would have an American mom who cares about me.”  That breaks my heart!  Not because I am anybody but because I know there are plenty of Christians out there who are praying for an opportunity to show Jesus love to someone but they don’t know where that someone is. Maybe in their own town, but they are not with the school system or they assume the school system is keeping that teacher busy.  American teachers are usually too busy for their own family and are not able to take in another person.

Actually my family is in the perfect position for this because my kids are grown, no grandkids to keep me hopping, I work in the school system as a paraeducator so I’m not as busy as a classroom teacher, and we have a van.  There are four teachers in my county so the van is very important!  

We have learned so much from them about Chinese people and culture. I was able to teach for a month in China which I thoroughly enjoyed. It definitely gave me first hand insight into their culture.  We have been blessed to be able to lead five of our daughters to Christ. They are active in their churches in China and one has led her parents to Christ. The other ten daughters have not yet committed to Christ but we know seeds have been planted and they periodically contact us with questions about the Bible or about salvation.  We make sure each one returns home with a Bible that is easy for them to read and understand.  

The daughter I left out, V, was already a Christian and her time here helped make her a leader at home. China only allows one church in every city so if it is not your “flavor” you stay home.  V does not want to attend [the state approved] church and her house church leaders disappeared 10 years ago so her family has been hungry for Christian fellowship and discipleship.  She brought her husband and child here last summer and spent 3 weeks with us. It was the first time her husband and child had ever been in a church that was different than the one at home.  It really makes me appreciate our freedom of religion here.  Her husband is working on starting a church but trying to figure out how to do it safely.

This email has been very long and I apologize. I just wanted to give you a sense of what we are doing and how simple it is so you can help us minister to the Chinese teachers that God is sending to Ky.  Who knows how long this opportunity will be available? 

If you would like to befriend a Chinese teacher, we are aware of teachers in the following school districts at this time:  Adair, Barren, Butler, Cloverport Independent, Daviess, Hardin, Logan, Meade, Metcalf, Muhlenberg, Oldham, Simpson, Todd, Warren.

Please contact me for specific schools in these counties/districts. We have direct contact information for only a few of the teachers but are aware of nearly 40 schools with Chinese teachers. You may work in one of the schools or have other contacts. For more information, please email: [email protected]