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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Tell Your Story!

TTell-Your-Story.logo_-300x192his past summer in preparation for an overseas mission trip, I spent time on the phone with my cell phone provider arranging for international coverage for the time I would be away. The representative was chatty and asked about why I was going to Malawi. I explained and we began to talk about church. She told me a little of her story but could not spend much more time on the phone, as she had a job to do. So I asked, “Would you listen to my story?” and then gave her the web address for TellYourStory.today where my testimony is posted under Joy B from Shelbyville. A few minutes later I received a text that someone had listened to my story.

Tell Your Story and other evangelism efforts of the Kentucky Baptist Convention are funded in part through the Eliza Broadus Offering. When you give to EBO, you are helping us tell the story of Jesus across our state. You are helping us provide evangelism training. You are helping to provide various opportunities for evangelistic outreach.

But you, too, must tell your story. Please visit the website and get the phone number to call to record your story. Take some time and write down what you want to say. Practice it a few times, then call the number. If you mess up, it is OK. You can stop the recording and do it again. It took me several tries before I was satisfied.

After your story is recorded, it will be reviewed and a message from Dr. Chuck McAlister will be appended. When you record your story, you will need to leave a cell phone number or email to receive messages about your story. You will receive a message when it is posted and when people listen. You can share links to your story through social media, email, and text messages.

Recording your story will also help you prepare to tell your story in person. The Heart of the Story of state missions is people. You can be at the heart of the story as you share your story with someone who needs Jesus.

Thank you Kentucky Baptists for giving $1,220,277.57 to the 2014-15 offering.  Join us as we give again for 2015-16. Our EBO goal is $1,250,000.

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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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EBO at Work This Summer

11026158_10155722938270035_3590013821719565541_nLast year Kentucky WMU decided to go in a new direction with “summer camp” for children and began making plans for Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids (MAKK). Our first two adventures were awesome. In both Princeton and Inez last month, children arrived on Thursday where there were introductory activities. Every activity was purposeful as the children were being prepared for how they would be on mission.

The first ministry was to prayer walk the community. Children were introduced to the concept and provided with a ring of cards with prayer prompts for the community. They used these as they walked and prayed. The intergenerational praying was wonderful.

11666025_10155722938145035_3698061792306832906_nOn Friday morning the children participated in Bible study, music, games, drama, and crafts. Again, everything had a purpose for a ministry project. Everything the children were learning was so that they could lead in a Backyard Bible Club to be held on Saturday.

On Friday afternoon the children headed out to sing at area nursing homes, then go to another local ministry to help with sorting and shelving donations. The afternoon included fun as well with swimming and fun at the park. A missionary was part of the team at each location.

We are so excited about MAKK and how this experience takes camp and missions learning to the next level for children. Adult leaders were very positive about the experience and both locations wanted to know if were coming back next year. We do plan to move this around the state so that more children can participate in a hands on mission adventure.

11402297_10153375163532834_4969325594735714180_o11406410_10153375161087834_1455619308694133407_oKentucky Changers has also been underway in June with projects in Richmond, Marshall County, and Maysville. The final week is July 13-18 in Henderson. It was exciting for me to be present for the closing celebration in Richmond and watch as students filled the front of the church indicating that they had made some type of decision for Christ during the week. And not only students have made decisions this summer. In Richmond I counseled with one adult who came to help that had been touched by what had taken place. Decisions by homeowners have also been reported. Changers totals thus far:
Richmond had a total of 420 participants who worked on 28 jobs. There were 53 decisions.
Marshall County had 154 participants who worked on 13 jobs. There were 14 decisions.
Maysville had 245 participants who worked on 24 jobs.  There were 19 decisions.
For Henderson we have 171 registered and they will be working on 13-14 jobs.

overnights badgeGA and Mother/Daughter Overnights are a highlight for girls and leaders and moms in July. We will be at Jonathan Creek, July 10-11, and at Cedar Crest, July 17-18.  Camp Courage at Laurel Lake for RAs, Challengers, leaders, and dads will be July 31-August 1. In all of these missions events, the Eliza Broadus Offering is at work. Thank you Kentucky Baptists for providing missions learning and opportunities.

courage2015EBO for 2014-15 is nearing the end of the offering year which closes on August 31. As of July 7, the total received is $1,185,269 towards our goal of $1,250,000.  It’s not too late to give to help reach the 2014 goal. Give online or through your church.

 

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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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RAMCON = Boys, Missions Learning, Mission Action and Fun

ramcon panelRoyal Ambassadors love to challenge each other in various competitions, listen to missionaries tell about their work, and lend a helping hand to people in need.  RAMCON 2015 will give boys the opportunity to do all three of these fun and exciting things on the same day.

The Kentucky state Royal Ambassador Missions Congress (RAMCON) will be held Saturday, March 21, at Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Central City.  The event will feature Royal Racers, a Rain Gutter Regatta, two great missionary speakers, and a mission project.

RAs know all about building a Royal Racers car and competing for the honor of taking home a medal.  Many of them, however, have never participated in a Rain Gutter Regatta.  RAMCON will give them that opportunity this year.  With the cost of the sailboat kit included in the registration fee, every boy in attendance will receive a wooden boat kit that he will decorate and assemble before racing it down the water-filled rain gutter.  Medals will be awarded to the top finishers in both the Lad and Crusader divisions.

When they are not racing their cars and boats, Royal Ambassadors will gather in the church sanctuary to learn about the work and experiences of Aaron Harvie, a church planting strategist with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board, and Robbie Gray, a Southern Seminary student and member of the Acts 1:8 Experience team that worked at Mission Adventure Camp and in South Africa last summer.

For the mission project, Royal Ambassadors will be asked to bring new socks and underwear for adolescent boys.  These items will be collected and delivered to the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association to be distributed to needy boys through the Crisis Closet ministry.

RAMCON 2015 is for Royal Ambassadors, other mission-minded boys, and their leaders.  The registration fee is $15 and includes the program fee, lunch and a sailboat kit.  Registration for leaders is $10 and includes the program fee and lunch.  The entry fee for Royal Racers is $5, which will be collected on the day of RAMCON when the car is weighed and checked in.

To learn more about RAMCON 2015, go to kywmu.org/ramcon.  Online registration is available at the website.  A form can also be printed out for mail-in registration.  Early bird registration ends March 13.

For additional information, contact:
Jon Auten, RA/Challenger Consultant, Kentucky WMU, PO Box 436569, Louisville, KY  40253-6567
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.kywmu.org/ramcon

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EBO at Work: Making the impossible possible

Randy McPheron, Director of Missions for Rockcastle Association, could hardly contain his excitement when he shared Teddy’s story with me.  Teddy Fulton wanted to give public commitment to his faith in Christ and be baptized in a church.  The challenge was that Teddy, age 24 at the time of this story had been left paralyzed after an accident at 16.

A resident at Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center, Teddy told Luther Allen, hospital chaplain, that he wanted to be baptized and he wanted it to take place in a church. Considering his medical condition, this was impossible. But because of a grant from the Eliza Broadus Offering, the impossible was made possible.

This story actually began in 2010 when the Rockcastle Baptist Association Jail Ministry applied for an EBO grant to help them purchase a portable baptistry.  The ministry was featured in our 2012 materials, including a video of B.J. Bradley holding a baptism at the jail.

When Teddy asked to be baptized in a church, Randy asked if the portable baptistry could be used. After several meetings, it was determined that the best option was to set it up at Northside Baptist Church and take Teddy and a medical team there.  A maintenance crew built a special platform that would allow the wheels of a hydraulic lift to fit underneath. A special face tent and cover for Teddy’s tracheostomy were designed.

On a Sunday afternoon about 50 people gathered at Northside Baptist Church to help Teddy experience baptism as his public confession of Christ as Savior.  His mother and sister drove from South Carolina to be there. Also present was his Kentucky family, including about three dozen employees of Rockcastle Regional, many attending on their own time to show support.

Last week the Kentucky WMU Finance Committee met to review 89 applications for grants from the 2014-15 Eliza Broadus Offering. Great prayer and discernment is required in making these decisions each year as there are always more requests than funds.

Your faithful giving makes it possible for us to provide grants to ministries across Kentucky. EBO is received all year long and we have not yet reached our goal of $1,250,000 for the 2014-15 offering year. Focus on WMU in February is a great time to receive the offering again to ensure that requests like the one in 2010 from Rockcastle can be filled and keep making an impact for years to come!

PS: You can also give to the Eliza Broadus Offering online!

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Tell Your Story Dot Today

TellYourStory logoWhen we give web addresses, there is always a little confusion because there are no spaces.  Tell Your Story dot today is written: tellyourstory.today.

The .today was a new one for me.  I was familiar with .com, .edu, .net, but not .today.  But in faith I followed the link and sure enough, it leads to a wonderful web site with instructions for how to call in and tell your story.  After your story is posted, you will receive instructions on how to share your story with others.

I wanted to share this with our Kentucky WMU Executive Board, so I recorded my story last Thursday.  It was posted by Thursday evening and I was able to share it as part of my report to the Board.  Over the weekend, I received a text message with instructions for registering so that each time someone listened to my story, I would get a text letting me know.

I was able to take that step on Saturday evening, and throughout the weekend, my phone has chimed, letting me know of new text messages.  As of this writing, 44 people have already listened to my story.

Once you record your story and it is posted, you can post a link to your story in Facebook or send it by email or text.  You can also point others to a page full of stories that they can listen to.  Each posting includes additional information about how to accept Christ as Savior and learn more.

The web site even has a template for printing out cards with the web address of your story.  You can share these cards with others as you go along. This is especially good when there is not time for an extended conversation or you want someone to hear your story as a follow-up to your witness with them.

You are encouraged to listen to my story as well as the many other stories found on this web site.  My story is: http://www.tellyourstory.today/stories/joy-b-from-shelbyville-kentucky

I encourage you to Tell Your Story – TODAY!  Join us is sharing the gospel by telling the story of encountering Jesus as Savior.

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Collections that Count

Churches enjoy collecting items that meet a ministry need. There are many opportunities to collect items for ministries in your own community and when you do, please deliver them in person and spend time with the people at the ministry site.  Be sure to take pictures and share the experience with your church. Before sharing, have the next ministry project or a return visit to the featured ministry planned so that you can immediately offer an opportunity for involvement when people show interest. The involvement of your church in the local ministry will make the collection of needed items more meaningful both to your church and to the local ministry.

Backpack Video picAnother opportunity for collecting and making an impact in Kentucky is through the LoveLOUD Christmas Backpacks. The North American Mission Board is seeking to collect 40,000 backbacks for children to be distributed through Appalachian Regional Ministry and Mississippi River Ministry. Both of these ministries touch Kentucky. If your church would like to participate in the backback collection, visit the web site (www.NAMB.net/backpacks) to learn more. There are specific instructions on the web site about what each backpack should include. To partner with a ministry for distribution of backpacks you collect, please fill out and submit the Partnership Agreement on the web site. The collecting and delivering date will need to be coordinated with the ministry site you partner with for Christmas. All backpacks need to be collected by and delivered to the site no later than December 10, 2014. Please preview and download promotional materials and participation forms from the web page. If you have questions, email Bill Barker: [email protected] or call 606-316-4298.  Be sure to see the video about the Christmas Backpacks that features Keith Decker, Kentucky Missionary of the Year for 2014.

10636756_754039074642682_325525768514784248_oThe Bucket Project with Baptist Global Response is a collection project that will touch many lives in Sub Sahara Africa.  While you may not have the opportunity to personally take a bucket to a person suffering with AIDS, you can know that every bucket is being delivered by a Christian believer who will share a gospel witness.  A great opportunity to participate in the Bucket Project will take place on November 11 at the Kentucky Baptist Convention.  We will have a truck at the convention and we have a goal of 800 buckets, enough to fill another shipping container for Africa.  Lori Funderburk, Bucket Project Prayer Coordinator, will be with us at the state convention.  There are promotional videos about the bucket collection available which you can download and show in your church.

Bucket Project video by Dr. Paul Chitwood
Bucket Project video by Joy Bolton

If you would like someone to come to your church to share information about the Bucket Project, we have people available. Kentucky WMU sent a team to South Africa last December to lead Bible Clubs and deliver buckets. Experience 1:8 college students went to South Africa in July and delivered buckets that had been collected at the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting in April.

Collections that count include prayer and a gospel witness. Pray over the items you collect, asking that they be used by the Lord to meet needs and share Jesus with the lost or bring a word of encouragement to a believer in need. Pray for those who will use the items in ministry and for their witness. Pray for opportunities to share the good news of our Savior and for the boldness of those who witness. Pray for your own opportunities to be part of these ministries and for your personal witness every day.

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A month of Kentucky missions stories

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!

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