Kentucky WMU Report to 2015 KBC Annual Meeting

In addition to our written report for the KBC Book of Reports, I am invited to bring a brief oral report each year on behalf of Kentucky WMU. The report is often a time to highlight some significant area of our work or to promote a new missions initiative. This year’s report was different and I share it here in hopes that you will share it with others.

WMU Report to KBC Annual Meeting – November 10, 2015

In my report today I would love to dwell on the great things that have happened this year such as having 979 participants in 4 weeks of Kentucky Changers doing 76 projects, with 101 decisions made by students, adults, and homeowners. Or I could tell you about how excited we are about Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, a mission trip experience for children in grades 4-6 and their leaders. How we saw children learn to lead and share their faith. Or I could focus on the re-launch of Creative Ministries Festival and how students not only learned skills in creative arts, but how they met missionaries and learned ways they can use creative arts in missions and evangelism.

But my heart has been broken since we received the news that due to revenue shortfalls, that 600-800 missionaries serving with the International Mission Board will be coming home. While this has worked out well for some, it is still not what they had planned on and all are grieving the closing out of their ministries far too soon. Our prayer is that national believers and missionaries still on the field will be able to carry on. We also pray that those returning home will find new places of service here and that the tremendous language and cultural skills that they bring will indeed help us to reach the nations in our midst.

At the Kentucky WMU display we have a handout that says at the top, Revenue shortfall will bring 600-800 missionaries home. On the left side, there is a list of ways you can help returning Southern Baptist missionaries. On the right side, there is a list of ways you can help ensure this never happens again.

In a recent address to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, Wanda Lee reminded us of the words of Annie Armstrong who said “After study of God’s Word comes study of the fields. Then people pray. Then they give.”  Wanda called us to account for the fact that many of our churches, including churches in Kentucky, have abandoned the part of what Annie said between study of the God’s Word and praying and giving – that is the study of the fields.

Wanda correctly pointed out that mission study is the driving force between how much we pray and how much we give. She said, “We can lament the churches that haven’t given, we can lament many things….But one thing we have failed to do in our churches is to embrace the missions assignment of helping our children and our youth understand God’s field.” As Wanda rightly pointed out, when there’s no understanding of the depth of lostness, there’s no passion to give and when a church tilts toward entertaining their children and youth, or abandons Wednesday missions night activities in deference to other programs or sports, we have let that overshadow the priority of equipping the next generation for missions.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have received calls from people who are upset because their church is cutting the Cooperative Program because whoever was elected treasurer or another key leader did not know what it was or why we support it. Study of the fields not only includes a study of lostness, but it also includes teaching our children, students and adults the ways we send and support missionaries so that they can go and push back the darkness.

I am a blogger and a few weeks ago I shared an email from a missionary who will becoming home from a warm weather climate. In response to that blog, I received this note:

Dear Joy, I appreciate getting your notes from missionaries who are going to have to “come home”. What a TOUGH DECISION TO MAKE.  I have been praying for them ever since I heard about it happening…… I REALLY FEEL FOR THEM AND PRAY FOR THEM IN SO MANY OF THE SITUATIONS THEY FIND THEMSELVES IN, ESPECIALLY THEIR CONCERN FOR THEIR MISSION FIELD AND THE LOST ON IT. I would be willing to share my winter clothes, which are nice, with someone who is returning and has no winter clothes and I am sure other Baptists would do that. I am so old (92) there are not any more missionaries on the field that I knew as they have “all retired, Ha!” or they are deceased. I just want the missionaries to know I pray for them having to leave just like I prayed about them going over there to serve the Lord, and their safety while they were there and their work with the lost. I WILL CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THEM DAILY.

 As Wanda said to the SBC Executive Committee, “we can’t go through this again.” In WMU we invite you to go with us. Quit entertaining children and young people. Lead them to study God’s Word and then expose them to the lostness of the world. Our children and youth long for deeper meaning and purpose and they will commit their lives to service and the call of God to the fields that are white unto harvest if we teach them. And when we do, money and needed resources will follow.

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Working Together

John 9:1-41 tells a story about Jesus healing a man born blind. In this passage we meet Jesus and his disciples, a man born blind, his parents, neighbors, and the Pharisees.  The disciples were more concerned about who sinned than they were the man. The neighbors could not really believe that the healed man was the man they knew as a beggar. The Pharisees were concerned about Jesus healing on the Sabbath, something they considered to be work and therefore forbidden and making Jesus to be a sinner in their minds. The parents were questioned by the Pharisees and put on the defensive about the healing.  Only Jesus is focused on the man and his needs. The Pharisees were determined that Jesus not get glory for the healing, not realizing that to give Jesus glory was to give God glory as they demanded. And so the heart of the story is revealed in the man’s answer to them:  “Whether He is a sinner I do not know; but one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

We, too, can get focused on the details of ministries – how they operate, how they are funded, who leads them, who is their target audience and so forth.  The heart of the story of state missions is people, people who have come to faith in Christ and whose lives have been changed for eternity.

In the September 8 issue of the Western Recorder, the center four pages includes stories about eight different ministries and tells about people who are the heart of the story of these ministries. Yes, each ministry receives Eliza Broadus Offering funds to assist their work, but the offering is only a part of the story. Changed lives are the true heart of the story.

The heart of the story is being told over and over by Kentucky missionaries. Many of our state missionaries are self-funded but often apply for grants from the Eliza Broadus Offering for their work. As commissioned missionaries through the Kentucky Baptist Convention, one of the ways we support and encourage them is through an annual retreat. The missionaries will gather September 16-18 at Cumberland Falls State Park for several days of Bible study, helpful workshops, and just some time of fun and fellowship. You can pray for our state missionaries by name. Their names, pictures, and a description of their work is listed atkybaptist.org/missionaries. You can also print out InterSEED, a monthly prayer calendar of Kentucky missionaries on their birthday. And if God is calling you to missions in Kentucky, the Missions Mobilizationteam would like to talk with you and help you find a place of service.

Join us in praying for Kentucky missions this week and throughout the month. The 2015 Heart of the Story prayer guide goes right along with the stories shared in the Western Recorder and in the Master Articleincluded on the DVD.  You can download all of the state missions videos and print materials atkywmu.org/ebo.

Join us in giving for Kentucky missions through the Eliza Broadus Offering.  The goal is $1,250,000.  Every dollar has been designated for missions needs around our state and for missions education and involvement opportunities.  EBO works in partnership with the Cooperative Program to provide funding for our work together as Kentucky Baptists.  Click here for a detailed list of the 2015-16 EBO allocations.

Thank you, Kentucky Baptists for how you have prayed and given for state missions across the years. We closed out the 2014-15 Eliza Broadus Offering at 1,220,277.57.  This is the second highest amount ever given, exceeded only by the year we received a large estate gift for the offering. Thank you!  May we continue to learn, pray, give, go and send to make the gospel known across our state and around the world.

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The Heart of the Story

John 9:1-41 tells a story about Jesus healing a man born blind. In this passage we meet Jesus and his disciples, a man born blind, his parents, neighbors, and the Pharisees.  The disciples were more concerned about who sinned than they were the man. The neighbors could not really believe that the healed man was the man they knew as a beggar. The Pharisees were concerned about Jesus healing on the Sabbath, something they considered to be work and therefore forbidden and making Jesus to be a sinner in their minds. The parents were questioned by the Pharisees and put on the defensive about the healing.  Only Jesus is focused on the man and his needs. The Pharisees were determined that Jesus not get glory for the healing, not realizing that to give Jesus glory was to give God glory as they demanded. And so the heart of the story is revealed in the man’s answer to them:  “Whether He is a sinner I do not know; but one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

We, too, can get focused on the details of ministries – how they operate, how they are funded, who leads them, who is their target audience and so forth.  The heart of the story of state missions is people, people who have come to faith in Christ and whose lives have been changed for eternity.

In the September 8 issue of the Western Recorder, the center four pages includes stories about eight different ministries and tells about people who are the heart of the story of these ministries. Yes, each ministry receives Eliza Broadus Offering funds to assist their work, but the offering is only a part of the story. Changed lives are the true heart of the story.

The heart of the story is being told over and over by Kentucky missionaries. Many of our state missionaries are self-funded but often apply for grants from the Eliza Broadus Offering for their work. As commissioned missionaries through the Kentucky Baptist Convention, one of the ways we support and encourage them is through an annual retreat. The missionaries will gather September 16-18 at Cumberland Falls State Park for several days of Bible study, helpful workshops, and just some time of fun and fellowship. You can pray for our state missionaries by name. Their names, pictures, and a description of their work is listed atkybaptist.org/missionaries. You can also print out InterSEED, a monthly prayer calendar of Kentucky missionaries on their birthday. And if God is calling you to missions in Kentucky, the Missions Mobilizationteam would like to talk with you and help you find a place of service.

Join us in praying for Kentucky missions this week and throughout the month. The 2015 Heart of the Story prayer guide goes right along with the stories shared in the Western Recorder and in the Master Articleincluded on the DVD.  You can download all of the state missions videos and print materials atkywmu.org/ebo.

Join us in giving for Kentucky missions through the Eliza Broadus Offering.  The goal is $1,250,000.  Every dollar has been designated for missions needs around our state and for missions education and involvement opportunities.  EBO works in partnership with the Cooperative Program to provide funding for our work together as Kentucky Baptists.  Click here for a detailed list of the 2015-16 EBO allocations.

Thank you, Kentucky Baptists for how you have prayed and given for state missions across the years. We closed out the 2014-15 Eliza Broadus Offering at 1,220,277.57.  This is the second highest amount ever given, exceeded only by the year we received a large estate gift for the offering. Thank you!  May we continue to learn, pray, give, go and send to make the gospel known across our state and around the world.

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Reflections on the Cooperative Program

Kentucky Baptists have much to celebrate as we close our 2014-15 fiscal year for the state convention. Not only was there an increase in the Cooperative Program over the prior year, but each of the missions offerings were also more than last year.  Thank you, Kentucky Baptists!

Yet this good news is tempered by the announcement from the International Mission Board that it will be necessary for them to bring 600-800 missionaries home from the field.  Dr. David Platt has written an excellentletter to Southern Baptists to explain why this has become necessary.

A Southern Baptist missionary visited my office a day or two after the IMB announcement. I shared with her that we grieved this situation with all who are having to make difficult decisions, but also encouraged her that we need the language and cultural expertise that returning missionaries will bring right here in the USA to help us reach the nations that continue to come to this country. It is my prayer that God will use this for good even though it is certainly not what we had wanted to see happen. But I also explained that Cooperative Program giving as a percentage of the undesignated giving of our churches has declined. Instead of each church giving 10%, the average CP percentage is about 6.5 percent. It is this decline that is contributing to the crisis faced by the IMB.

Two days after that visit, I spent hours at home sorting my father’s sermon files and other materials, deciding what to keep and what to toss. Richard Luebbert was a prolific writer and never hesitated to speak up about matters that were important to him, whether it was in Baptist life or the political realm.  I found an article that he wrote on November 17, 1982. The setting for this article is New Orleans and I share it here with you. While he is addressing the impact of individual giving, the application can be made to corporate giving as well.

“I had a dream the other night. I questioned whether or not I should share it with you, but decided that I would. This is what happened in my dream. I was able to look down on the world from a vantage point in space and see missionaries closing up their houses, packing their luggage, and boarding ships and airplanes to go home.
    “I saw Home Missions Centers being closed, boarded up, and missionaries loading their cars to go back to where they had come from. I saw Baptist Seminaries and Baptist Colleges boarded up – faculty housing abandoned – dormitories like ghost towns. I saw students out looking for jobs instead of going to classes. I saw small Baptist missions where Sunday Schools had been meeting – closed and abandoned. I saw The Rescue Mission with a sign on the door ‘Closed’ and transient people standing on the sidewalk wondering where they could find to eat and bathe and sleep. I saw young girls who would soon deliver babies being put out on the street as the staff at Sellers Home locked the door, put up a sign, ‘Closed,’ and then drove away in their cars wondering where they would go and what they would do.
     “Then I saw First Baptist Church standing cold and dark…No one came and went because the doors were locked. The lights were out. A sign on the door said ‘no services – attend the church across the street.’ The pastor and staff had found it necessary to seek other employment to care for their families.
     “Then I asked, ‘Why have all these Baptist missionaries gone away? Why have all these colleges and seminaries closed? Why have all these ministers sought employment as salesmen and school teachers? Why has our church closed down and cancelled all its ministries?
      “The answer was given to me in a flash – because all of God’s people suddenly decided not to give to their churches and not to support the Cooperative Program any longer! Then I awoke and at first I was glad because I realized that what I had seen and heard was really only a dream. But then I realized that what I had dreamed was not a dream — it was a nightmare!”

For Southern Baptists, reducing missionary appointments is tragic and bringing missionaries home is indeed a nightmare. May this crisis cause us to renew our commitment to cooperative missions giving. May we be faithful in tithes and offerings, both as individuals and as congregations.

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Training pastors’ wives in Malawi

IMG_3669IMG_3565I have recently returned from a week in Malawi followed by attendance at the Baptist Women’s Leadership Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. What an experience! My thanks to Susan Bryant, Cheryl Hatfield and Benita Decker for making the trip with me. Thank you to those who followed our team on Facebook and who prayed for us.

The week in Malawi was at the request of Martha Chirwa who teaches at the Malawi Baptist Seminary and works with the seminary wives. She is also the chairlady for the Pastors’ Wives group and represents them on the Malawi WMU Leadership Team.  We were hosted by missionary Mary P who helped us with many of the trip arrangements, provided transportation for our team, and fed us meals in her home.

IMG_3455IMG_3514Our team was asked to teach four topics: the role of the pastor’s wife, Malawi Baptist Women’s Guide, health issues, and Bible study.  Cheryl Hatfield, Kentucky WMU Development Specialist and a pastor’s wife, led the classes on the role of the pastor’s wife.  Susan Bryant, our state WMU president, taught their WMU guide.  We had been able to get a copy in English and we also provided each participant with a copy in the local language, Chechewa.  Benita Decker, who had gone with me in 2012, taught classes about important health issues and spiritual wellness. Her prior experience helped her know some of the important health issues the women of Malawi are dealing with.  I led a Bible study on the plan of salvation and witnessing.

As we planned for this trip, Martha and Mary hoped we might have 100 in attendance. Classes for seminary wives have been offered for a number of years but this was the first time to invite all of the pastors’ wives from across Malawi.  God blessed and we had 186 there.  The classrooms were packed!  Each day we taught our lesson for the day four times as the women rotated in groups to each class. IMG_3583 The end of the day was spent singing, sharing some other topics, and doing a craft.  On Friday, we had a closing celebration and each pastor’s wife was given a copy of a book about being a pastor’s wife in Chechewa that was printed at the Baptist Publication Center located on the seminary campus. Gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering help make this seminary and ministry possible.

IMG_3568One of the things we learned about from our last trip was that the WMU women of Malawi have a special uniform that they must earn the right to wear by learning scripture verses and some other requirements.  Thursday was the designated day to wear the WMU uniform of a purple skirt, white blouse, purple sash and head scarf.  Our team decided that we would put together our own Malawi WMU uniforms and wear them that day.  The women were so excited when we arrived in our uniforms.


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IMG_3869After our week in Malawi, Susan, Cheryl, and I went on to the Baptist Women’s Leadership Conference.  There we met women from around the world. Each year when we participate in the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer, we are praying in concert with IMG_3776women from seven continental unions composed of various Baptist women’s groups.  At this event, women from all the continental unions were present.  What a wonderful time of worship and sharing information about the ministries of women around the world.  I will think of these women each year on the Day of Prayer.  A new theme, “Arise,Shine,” was introduced and we will see it used for the Day of Prayer from 2015-2019.

Please pray for the pastors’ wives of Malawi as they share what they learned in their churches. Pray for WMU work there to be strengthened.  One of the participants said, “Now we know why we do what we do.”  Pray for the women as they share the gospel with greater understanding because of a week of Bible study that helped them understand what the Bible says about sin, atonement, purification, baptism, Christian growth, and the promise of eternal life.  Pray for the women who do not have access to good health care. Pray for God’s provision for their health needs. Pray for pastors’ wives to be more effective helpmates to their pastor husbands and women of influence in their churches.

IMG_3905Pray for Baptist women around the world as they serve and share the gospel. Plan now to participate in the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer which is observed annually on the first Monday of November. Plan an observance in your church or association.  The suggested Day of Prayer program is on line and includes prayer requests from each of the continental unions.

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Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids

Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids is a new missions opportunity for children in grades 4-6 and their leaders sponsored by Kentucky WMU. Offered in two locations, east and west Kentucky, each adventure includes three days of hands-on missions as well as Bible study, missionaries, track time, recreation and more.  Each adventure takes place in a Thursday through Saturday time frame. The first adventure is June 11-13 in Princeton, Kentucky.  The second opportunity is June 25-27 in Inez..

Here are some of the highlights;
Thursday: Registration, Worship, Prayer Walks, Project Orientation, Kentucky Kid Fun
Friday: Quiet Time, Worship, Bible Study, Mission Projects, Kentucky Kid Fun
Saturday: Quiet Time, Worship, Bible Study, Backyard Bible Clubs, Closing Celebration

Prayer walking will lay the foundation for the ministry projects and help children see needs in each community. The Friday ministries include helping at local thrift stores with sorting items and singing at area nursing homes. On Saturday the children will help with Backyard Bible Clubs.

Supplies 2Supplies 1We are excited about the upcoming adventures. Supplies are stacking up as Stacy Nall, Kentucky WMU Missions Consultant for Children, gets everything ready. Jon Auten, Missions Consultant for Royal Ambassadors, will also be on the team along with a number of other WMU volunteers.

Pray for Stacy, Jon,  and the volunteers who are leading these mission adventures.  Pray for the children and the adult chaperones. Pray for the communities where the children will minister. Pray that this Mission Adventure for each child will lead to many more.

StacyThe giving of your church through the Cooperative Program and your gifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering help us make Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids possible. Thank you for giving generously to Kentucky missions.

Kentucky WMU helps churches learn, pray, give, go and send!

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EBO is vital to summer ministries

The Eliza Broadus Offering will be at work all summer during mission trips for children, camp overnights, Kentucky Changers, and the rescheduled Creative Ministries Festival 2.0. Your gifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering help us keep participant fees lower by covering some of the expenses of these ministries.

Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids is a NEW mission trip opportunity for children in grades 4-6 and their leaders. Two mission trips are planned and will include Bible study, recreation, crafts, missionary speaker, and local mission projects. Join us in Princeton, June 11-13, or in Inez, June 25-27. kywmu.org/missionadventure

Kentucky Changers are ready for four packed weeks of ministry projects to assist low income homeowners. Roofing, outdoor repairs, painting, building wheelchair ramps, and more are all part of the summer fun. Nightly worship with dynamic music and speaker make each day even more meaningful.  Changers will be working in June and July in Richmond, Marshall County, Maysville and Henderson. There are still openings for Marshall County, June 20-26, and Henderson, July 11-18. Bring some students and find out how rewarding hands on missions can be. kywmu.org/changers

Overnights at Jonathan Creek and Cedar Crest are a great opportunity for girls and their mothers or GA leaders to spend a night at camp. Come participate in outdoor activities, Bible study, crafts, and meet a missionary. Join us at Jonathan Creek, July 10-11, and at Cedar Crest, July 17-18. Early registration rate of $55 per person through June 12. kywmu.org/overnights

Camp Courage will bring boys, dads, and leaders together July 31-August 1 at Laurel Lake Baptist Camp in Corbin. A variety of outdoor activities as well as the ever popular RA Racers will be part of the fun and missions learning. The theme is “We Are Faithful Messengers” drawn from 2 Cor. 4:13. kywmu.org/courage

Creative Ministries Festival 2.0 has been rescheduled for August 14-15 at Living Hope Baptist Church in Bowling Green.  Register now for a great missions experience of both learning and doing creative ministries.Don’t miss guest artist Jeff Smith, director of Salt and Light Ministries in Richmond, VA. Plan now to attend great workshops including: Puppets, Balloons, Interpretive Movement, Sign, God Rods, Skits, Juggling, Face Painting, Magic, Lip Synch, Clowning, and Human Video. Find out what “Taking It to the Streets” is all about!   kywmu.org/cmf

Remember that the Eliza Broadus Offering is received all year long! Help us reach our goal of $1,250,000 to support these and other ministries across Kentucky.  As of this writing, we just have $101,000 to go to reach our 2014-15 goal. Donate online or through your church!  kywmu.org/ebo

 

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Changers Still Room 2015Overnights 2015

 

 

Camp Courage 2015

CMF Rescheduled

 

 

 

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2015 Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting

We are in the countdown to Annual Meeting!  My thanks to Melissa Logsdon-Young who has again this year posted 40 days of prayer requests for Kentucky WMU.  Thanks to all on Facebook who have seen these and have prayed for us.

Debby Akerman 10 14 10 Sisterhood rooted in the faith logo Many people tell me that our Annual Meeting is a must attend event for them. There is excitement about missions, the fun of seeing friends from across the state, and the varied activities we have each year. This year we have the Sisterhood Christian Drama Team back with us.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has written on an evaluation form, “please bring back Sisterhood.”  You spoke and we listened.  We are also thrilled to have our national WMU president, Debby Akerman, with us once again. She is wrapping up her term as president in June, so you will want to be there to hear her reflections and to thank her for serving.

Our international missionaries represent three continents – Asia, Europe and Africa.  Join us as they share about their ministries and how your praying and giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering makes their work possible. And we will welcome new Kentucky missionaries in the Friday evening session as they are commissioned to serve among us.

The Friday afternoon activities offer something for everyone. There are missionary conferences, ministry projects, and a Prayer Rally at the State Capitol.  Displays and the Book Store will also be open. Saturday will be lots of fun with the Missions Block Party following our morning session. The Block Party will take place rain or shine, so come dressed casually and enjoy the morning.

25 years of HFThe Kentucky WMU Heritage Fund is 25 years old this year.  We will have a special celebration in the Friday afternoon session.  And you don’t want to miss the WMU staff report which covers Kentucky WMU from A to Z!

No preregistration is required to attend Annual Meeting. Meal reservations have closed, but if you have not ordered one, just bring a sack lunch for Friday at noon. The schedule and additional information about Annual Meeting are posted online: www.kywmu.org/annualmeeting.

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In addition to all of our Annual Meeting activities, there is one more special opportunity. Please plan on staying after the conference on Sunday afternoon for an exclusive sneak preview of a film to be released nationally in May 2015. Christi and David Eaton, the creators, writers and producers of the film Hope Bridge will be here to share their experience and their film. After being impacted by suicide in their family, they felt a strong calling to do something about it. What began as a local movie or video exploded into a true movement in the area of suicide prevention. This feature film will be released in selected theaters on May 7 and nationally on DVD on May 26. Hope Bridge stars Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, God’s Not Dead) and Booboo Stewart (Twilight, XMEN: Days of Future Past) and is the story of a young man who tries to reconcile the suicide of his father. It is a powerful film and story, filmed right here in Kentucky. Christi and David will share their personal story and we will watch the film. We will begin at 1:15 and you should be on your way home by 3PM. Join us for this special event and join the movement to break down the stigma of suicide and get people talking. You can see the trailer and a preview of Christi and David’s story at www.hopebridgemovie.com.

If you absolutely cannot make the meeting, sessions will be shown via Livestream on your computer.  Links to each session: kywmu.org/annualmeeting/livestream.

It’s going to be a great Kentucky WMU gathering!  Join us in person or online.

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Why the Heritage Fund Matters

hf banner 12015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Kentucky WMU Heritage Fund.  I am grateful for the foresight of WMU leaders to begin this endowment which was established for the purpose of developing, promoting, strengthening and sustaining the work of Kentucky WMU.  There is not an area of our work that the Heritage Fund does not touch.

The Heritage Fund matters to our work in missions education and involvement. It is one of several sources of funding that are vital to our on-going work. These include the Cooperative Program, Eliza Broadus Offering, and other endowment funds with distributions designated for Kentucky WMU. We are also blessed by the Second Century Fund of the National WMU Foundation which provides a distribution to each state WMU and by the Kentucky Touch Tomorrow Today endowment.

These various funding sources, plus event fees, make it possible for Kentucky WMU to offer first rate events and missions opportunities led by a wonderful staff and many volunteers. At a time when Cooperative Program (CP) funds coming to Kentucky WMU have declined, we have been able to maintain our staff and services in part because of the growth of endowment funds.

The decline in CP funds is a good thing in that in 2010 the Kentucky Baptist Convention made the significant decision to raise the portion of CP funds going beyond our state for Southern Baptist work, including international and North American missions. I was a member of the task force that made that recommendation and we gladly adjusted our budget to make more funds available for missions beyond Kentucky. The original plan was to reach the 50-50 split by 2018, but under the leadership of Dr. Paul Chitwood, Executive Director of the KBC, we reached this milestone effective with the 2013-14 budget year. A decline in CP giving since 2010, however, has made the budget adjustments even more challenging.  In 2009-10 Kentucky WMU received $496,395 in CP funds. For the 2015-16 budget year, we expect to receive $415,000.

Our work is also funded in part by the Eliza Broadus Offering. Kentucky WMU is the sponsor of the Eliza Broadus Offering and has the responsibility and privilege of setting the offering allocations. We do this cooperatively with Dr. Chitwood based on requests from KBC staff for missions mobilization, evangelism, church planting, collegiate ministry, language missions and much more. A portion is also used for our work in missions education for all ages which includes resources, training, events, camps, and much more. Even with the adjustments in CP funding, we have raised the level of Eliza Broadus Offering funding going for missions through the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the amount for associational and special ministry grants. In 2009-10, EBO funding for KBC missions ministries and grants was $840,000.  In 2015-16, it will be $990,000. Thank you for increased giving to the Eliza Broadus Offering making this report possible!

Kentucky WMU has been able to absorb the decline in the Cooperative Program and increase EBO distributions in part because of the Heritage Fund and other endowments and investments. Kentucky WMU is blessed to have these resources and we seek to be faithful stewards in using them for Kingdom work.  We have also been able to help several smaller state WMU’s as well as assist with some international projects. While we are careful in the use of our resources, we do not hoard them when they are needed. This year we plan to purchase needed equipment for Kentucky Changers and build our own storage facility for this ministry. Kentucky Changers takes a significant amount of equipment and good stewardship requires that we take care of it between summer seasons.

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Heritage Fund, you are invited to give $25 in honor of someone who has impacted your life for missions.  We invite you to give 25 in honor of the past 25 to fund the next 25! There will be a special Give 25 emphasis at Annual Meeting. But you don’t have to wait.  Online giving is available for giving anytime to support the ministries of Kentucky WMU.

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Life Changing Commitments

IMG_2760In our Monday morning WMU staff meeting, we always pray for the missionaries on the prayer calendar and then share personal prayer requests and praises. Today Jon shared that Terry Thomas had contacted him to share the good news of his son’s commitment to Christ. Tyler has attended both Camp Courage and Mission Adventure Camp several summers. Terry wanted to share the good news and to also say thank you for the experiences that had contributed to his son in making a profession of faith.This was not a quick decision, but rather one that came from the teaching times at his church as well as gospel centered camping experiences.This young man has been taught the truths of the gospel, absorbed them, thought about them, and came to understand that they applied to him. Thank you Jon and all who have been a part of faithfully sharing the gospel. (There’s more to this story and I will share Tyler’s story in another blog.)

Evangecube activityDuring the Girls in Action Overnight for girls in grades 4-6 and their leaders this past weekend at Jonathan Creek, the girls participated in Bible Storying. The girls not only heard the gospel, but they also learned to share the gospel with others through making their own evangelism cube. How important it is that we not only share the gospel with children, but that we also equip them to share Jesus with their friends.

Excel2014At the three Excel WMU Training events (July 19, August 16, and September 13), we are offering a conference entitled “Witnessing at Any Age.” The purpose of this class is to equip children and adults to share faith in Christ with others because a “silent witness” is not enough. Participants will learn how to tell the gospel story and teach others to do so, too.  We are offerig this conference because in WMU we want to encourage people of all ages to share their faith, including children and youth.  Our students have access to the place that most of us do not – our schools.  Kids who are equipped and encouraged to share their faith can do so when they are playing with friends, talking on the school bus, etc.

Steve Coleman preaching
The reports from our first three weeks of Kentucky Changers are exciting.
June 7-13, Hopkinsville: 16 churches represented with 151 students and 83 adult volunteers for a total of 234 participants.
June 21-27, Lawrenceburg/Frankfort: 18 churches represented with 174 students and 77 adult volunteers for a total of 251 participants.
July 5-12, Richmond: 24 churches represented with 214 students and 90 adult volunteers for a total of 304 participants.
July 13-18, Louisville: 7 churches represented with 75 students and 35 adult volunteers for a total of 110 participants.

Witnessing to a homeownerThat gives us a total of 65 churches with 614 students and 285 adult volunteers for a total of 899 participants. We are very pleased with this first year of Kentucky Changers in the WMU family.  The final numbers are not yet in for decisions made since the Louisville project is still under way and we also like to confirm any decisions made as students returned home that were a result of Changers, but the preliminary report for the first three weeks is that there were 24 salvations, 29 commitments to ministry, and 37 rededication decisions.   We will give a final report in a few weeks.

During Kentucky Changers, students lead a devotional each day on the job site. Our videographer, John Richards, captured a student sharing his testimony with the others. Jackson’s testimony on brokenness is a wonderful story of redemption. Pray for our students as they share Christ with their friends and classmates. What a mission field in every community!  Pray for those who have made professions of faith this summer through VBS, camps, and experiences like Kentucky Changers. Pray that they will be dynamic witnesses for Christ

Seeing people make life changing commitments is the goal of all that we do in WMU. Whether this happens is in the groups we teach in our churches, through the events that we sponsor, or through prayer and financial support of missionaries around the world, we want to see lost people saved and believers grow in their faith. Sounds like the Great Commission to me!

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