Missionaries Confirm the Importance of Missions Education

At the recent Kentucky Baptist Convention Mission Board meeting, IMB missionaries Stan and Wendy Meador shared about their work in reaching people of European descent living in Brazil. What caught my immediate attention, however, was what they had to say about the importance of GA and RA in shaping their lives and preparing them to hear God’s call to missions.

In a note after being with us for the meeting, Wendy wrote:

It was a privilege to be able to share. We have been promoting missions education everywhere we go. We are concerned at the growing number of churches that don’t have any WMU organizations at all. Many are replacing this with Women’s Ministry and Awana, neither of which do the job that WMU does in educating Southern Baptists about missions. We wonder if the loss of close to 1000 missionaries would have been necessary if churches had kept WMU and her organizations as an important element of their church. 

When people in Southern Baptist churches ask us who Lottie Moon is, then we have a huge problem. One church even asked us how we were supported. I wanted to go double check the sign out front for fear we had walked in the wrong church. 

I have been a part of WMU in some form all my life and now my role in our affinity includes sharing ideas for stories for missions education through WMU.  WMU should be an essential part of church life.

If there is anything more we can do to help promote missions education, please don’t hesitate to ask.  Blessings, Wendy Meador

I appreciate Wendy’s forthright note. I recently said something very similar when speaking on behalf of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering on December 4 in Whitesburg.

I use five words to describe what churches do related to missions: learn, pray, give, go, and send. We in WMU begin with learn because we know that people are not likely to do the others until they know about lostness, about the needs, about how support missions, how people can be involved, and so on. So today we will learn in order that you might be more effective in praying and be compelled to give as well as go. And it my prayer that you will have the opportunity to send people from this church either as missions volunteers or as career missionaries.

Many years ago I sensed a calling to missions. I was willing to go and explored that option but God showed me that my calling was to educate. It is an area that needs greater attention than ever before. The fact that the IMB had to bring home what ended up being over 1,000 missionaries  says that something has been lacking and I believe it is learning about missions. We support and pray for what we know about. And when we fail to teach missions to our children, we fail not just for that year, but for years to come. Bringing home the missionaries was a failure that began 20 years ago when many churches decided that other programs were more important than missions.  We must educate!

Please understand that I am not against other programs. But when they are used instead of missions, an important dimension of discipleship is left out! For the sake of lost people around the world, please start or strengthen missions education in your church. What you do today in teaching missions and engaging children and students in doing missions will have an impact for years to come.

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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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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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Call to Prayer for Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

IMBDr. Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board, has called for a day of special prayer for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering on March 13. Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU has assured Dr. Elliff that WMU will join in this day of prayer. Here is the letter that Wanda received from Dr. Elliff.

Dear partners in this great task,
The Lord reigns over all nations and we affirm in humble submission that He reigns over all of our plans. In the weeks to come, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering receipts for 2013 will be finalized while, shortly thereafter, overseas personnel and IMB leadership will be developing budget plans for 2015.

Will you join overseas field personnel and staff in a voluntary day of prayer and fasting on March 13th as we express thanks and seek His direction as wise stewards?

KEY POINTS FOR PRAYER:
1. Lottie Moon Christmas Offerings are a sacred gift which we receive with humility and gratitude.
2. There are many individuals and congregations who are still receiving Lottie Moon Christmas Offering or International Missions gifts. Pray for an outpouring of the Lord’s blessing as Southern Baptists give an offering of themselves and of their possessions.
3. As overseas personnel and IMB leadership develop budget plans for 2015, pray that they will be wise stewards. Ask the Lord to instill a global context in the hearts of each individual as they request funds so that they will keep the needs of the world in mind while uniquely focusing on their own projects.
4. Effective communication—concise, creative, memorable—is crucial in keeping the call of missions before Southern Baptists. Church and Partner Services (CaPS) team members are already developing the theme and resources for the Annual Meeting of the SBC and the next Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Intercede for the design and implementation teams as they seek God’s vision.
5. As a global organization under the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ, we move forward in this transition period. Ask God to bless the Presidential Search Team with unity and discernment as they act with prayerful and tireless deliberation. Intercede for Tom and Jeannie Elliff as they continue in prayer and labor. Pray for the person who will become the twelfth IMB president to have ears to hear the Lord’s calling.

praying handsJehovah Jireh, we express thanks for every blessing and submit our future needs to You.  We do not shrink back but press in to our calling to reach all peoples for Your glory. AMEN.

On our knees,
Dr Tom Elliff

 

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International Missions – Up close and personal

I have just returned from a mission trip to South Africa. We saw missions up close and found that it was a deeply significant personal experience for each of us on the team.

There is some disagreement about whether to call a trip of this nature a “missions trip” or a “mission trip.”  Those who add the “s” do so because the definition of missions refers to what we do to carry out the mission of God.  But I lean towards “mission trip” because the journey was taken to carry out the mission of God, even if it did include our efforts.  Thus I prefer to call it a mission trip, not missions trip.

My first international mission trip was in 1992.  I was part of a team of six women who were asked to come and lead training with women.  On the first Sunday, we drove out to a small church and the missionary told us about the congregation as we drove.  When we arrived at a mud brick building, built by the congregation themselves, the missionary said “And oh by the way, the roof on this building was a provided by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.”  I cried all the way through that service.

In the ensuing years, I have participated in trips to Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Poland, Brazil, South Korea, Tanzania, Indonesia, Malawi and now South Africa.  Each one has been a learning experience and meant a great deal to me personally. Each trip has been unique and provided different opportunities to participate in the mission of God. 

Bucket delivery Joy Sweetwaters lunch crowdSweetwaters food distribution bagsDuring the trip to South Africa, we participated in the mission of God as we shared the gospel through Holiday Bible Clubs at the Hope Centre Orphanage and in Sweetwaters.  We participated in the mission of God as we talked with several children individually about their relationship to the Lord and what it means to follow Jesus.  We participated in the mission of God as we shared food with those who are hungry. And we participated in the mission of God as we delivered Hospice Care Buckets to people who are very sick with AIDS and shared the gospel as we delivered each bucket.

DSCN1441In one home, the recipient was asked if she knew where she will be when she dies.  Using her hands, she pointed thumbs down.  Lisa Crenshaw shared the gospel and asked the lady if she would like to believe and receive Christ. The lady said yes and Lisa prayed with her.  After the prayer, Lisa asked again where she would be when she dies. This time the lady pointed thumbs up, smiled and hugged Lisa. Later another worker told Lisa that others have witnessed to this lady and she has always refused to receive the gospel.  The worker was thrilled that Lisa had come, clearly shared the gospel, and that this time, the lady believed.

Sweetwaters coloringDSCF1853Our missions experience was meaningful as we held hands and hugged the children, played games, sang songs, and did Bible story crafts.  It was touching to watch children who have very little share markers so that they could all color.  To appreciate this, it is important to know that on the last day, we had taken all of the crayons we had available and divided them up and put a few in each bag for the children to take home. So that day, when it was time to color, we had markers to use instead of crayons, and did not have enough for everyone to have a marker.  The kids had to wait their turn to use a marker.  Because we had even more children on the last day, we also did not have enough of the coloring sheets.  We had some white paper plates left and passed those out. Children who had received a coloring sheet tried to draw the picture on the plate for those who did not get the picture.

DSC_0464Missions is what we did. The mission of God is what the trip was all about.  We pray that the missions activities of our team will continue to have an impact in the minds and hearts of those we met and that we will one day meet again in heaven.

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What Our Obedience Costs Other People

Earlier this year, Coy Webb came by my office with requests from Baptist Global Response (BGR) for two teams to go to South Africa in December and work with Tabitha Ministries in Pietermaritzburg.  We asked if we could bring one larger team and do both requests in one week.  BGR and Tabitha said yes and the date was set.

The team was requested to come in December because it is school break in South Africa. Seasonally it is summer there.  Being December and getting close to Christmas, I wondered if we could fill a team of 12.  After putting out the word to the Kentucky WMU Executive Board, I was amazed that the team was nearly filled in just a few days.  I wanted Lee to go with me this time and with two other couples going, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Lee has blessed me with his support as I have traveled all over the world and I wanted him to have the experience, too.  He is a capable VBS teacher and works well with kids.  Plus, we needed him on this team to be a role model with orphan boys.

But as we got closer to this trip, the cost of our obedience hit home. There will be three of us from Clayvillage Baptist Church, Lee and I plus one of our Sunday School teachers. Being away at this time has impacted our small choir and traditional Christmas activities at the church. We will not be there for some activities and plans have been changed because of our absence. I will also miss the KBC Mission Board meeting and some December activities with the Kentucky WMU staff.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers speaks to my angst in the January 11 reading entitled “What My Obedience to God Costs Other People.”  He says, “If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in.  If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight…”   Chambers goes on to say that “it costs those who do not love Him a good deal.”  I would add that it also costs those who do love Jesus even if they willingly support our obedience.

Chambers also points out in this reading that one of our options is to say “I will not cost other people suffering.”  He writes, “We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord.  Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and to leave all consequences with Him.”

So I must trust that God will look after Clayvillage Baptist Church, Kentucky WMU, and the KBC Mission Board. I am grateful to those “who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience.”  Thank you to all who have blessed us to make this mission trip and allowing us to be away at a time that is not convenient.  I am also praying for the family members, friends, coworkers and fellow church members of each person on our team, that as you pray for our missionaries and give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, you will experience what it means for each of us to be Totally His – Heart, Hands, Voice.

Please pray for the South Africa team.  Travel dates are December 5-16 and activities include:

  • Lead morning VBS sessions in the township of Sweetwaters with about 100 children
  • Lead morning VBS sessions with about 40 children in the Hope Centre orphanage
  • Provide afternoon instruction sessions and play with orphans in the Hope Centre orphanage
  • Food parcel packing and distribution in Sweetwaters township
  • Deliver Hospice Care Buckets to families caring for someone with AIDS

Join us in observing the Week of Prayer for International Missions, December 1-8, and in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. On my very first overseas mission trip, as I sat in a mud brick church in Rwanda, the missionary said “And by the way, the tin roof on this church was provided by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.”  I cried most of the way through that service as I experienced in a significant way that what we do on this side of the world truly makes a difference on the other side of the world.  May we pray faithfully and give generously this year!

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Remembering Lottie Moon: It Cannot End at Kobe

Lottie Moon died 100 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1912, in the harbor of Kobe, Japan.

At the time Lottie was ill, malnourished from giving away her food, and absolutely worn out from her nearly 40 years of service in China.  She was en route home to America, but on this night, she was heading home, not to America, but to her heavenly home. 

There are several plays about Lottie Moon that are available on the IMB web site. One is entitled “It Cannot End at Kobe” and depicts the parallelism between the life of Lottie Moon and the present-day. The play impresses upon viewers that even as Lottie Moon could not give up when the odds seemed insurmountable, we cannot give up when challenged with the command to engage in Christian ministering and witnessing.

The following responsive reading is based on the closing narration of “It Cannot End at Kobe.”

Leader 1:       She died at Kobe, Lord,
All:                 But that took just a moment.
Leader 1:       She died at Kobe, Father,
All:                 And rested in that harbor.
Leader 1:       She died at Kobe, Lord,
All:                 But that’s not so important,
                        For she did not stay there long.

Leader 2:       She lived in China, Lord,
All:                 And that living took a lifetime.
Leader 2:       She lived in love, O Lord,
All:                 And that love gave life in dead spots.
Leader 2:       She lived with rigid purpose
All:                 And that fruit outlives a heartbeat.

Leader 3:       It cannot end at Kobe, Father,
All:                 There’s death that needs revival.
Leader 3:       It cannot end at Kobe, Lord,
All:                 Or death becomes the winner.
Leader 3:       It cannot end at Kobe, Lord,
All:                 Or love was borne in vain.

All:                 It cannot end at Kobe, Father,
                        But it will, Lord, if I let it.

Find dramas and skits about Lottie Moon at:
http://www.imb.org/main/give/page.asp?StoryID=5537&LanguageID=1709

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Prayer Letter from Malawi

This past summer, a WMU team from Kentucky spent a week in Malawi as the faculty for a week of training for seminary wives.  Our missionary hosts, Mary and Jeff Polglase, sent the following prayer letter and said that I could share it with you.  As we observe this week of prayer for international missions, pray for these missionaries and the work in Malawi.

This is the time of year, in Southern Baptist churches, when the Lottie Moon Christmas offering is taken.  It is named after a young woman who was a missionary in China in the late 1800s.  She gave her life as a missionary.  Every penny given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is used to help support almost 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries serving overseas.  Last year, more than 2.2 million people got to hear the Gospel from missionaries like us and our national partners.   Please prayerfully consider giving to this offering so that missionaries can continue going and serving the Lord all over the world.  I know that times are tough, but whatever you can give, will be used as effectively as possible.  **

Prayer Requests:

LITERACY:  Please pray for Mary as she focuses on different characters in the Christmas story.    Please pray that as the students hear these stories during this month, God would give them discernment and a longing to know Him more deeply.

PREACHING:   Jeff is often given the opportunity to preach.   Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide Jeff as he studies and prepares to share God’s Word.  Pray that God would give understanding to those who hear so that they would be strengthened in their faith.

SEMINARY:  From December 10-14, wives of seminary students will be coming from all over Malawi to attend a week long course designed just for them.  Pray for safety as they travel.  Pray for good health for the week. Pray that the women will leave at the end of the week encouraged and blessed by what they have heard and the fellowship they have experienced.

In these prayer letters I try to share about Malawian Baptists and today I want to introduce someone I have recently gotten to know through teaching literacy.  This man, Jehoshaphat, is one of the leaders of the little church where our class meets.  He is full of energy and enthusiasm.  He is focused on helping his church grow and also starting other churches in villages where there are none.  When I was recently sick, he rode his bike about 10 miles one way to see me and get the literacy materials that I use so the class could go on.  He comes to every class, even though he can read, but comes to encourage the people from his village.  I love telling Bible stories with him in attendance because he sits there saying the words with me.  He is one of those super encouraging people.  Please pray for Jehoshophat and his family to continue being strong witnesses in their village.  Surrounded by those who live in darkness, who are bound by fear because of cultural beliefs, pray that his household would “shine as lights in the world.”  Finally, pray that God would pour out His wisdom on Jehoshophat as he leads his church and as he cares for his family.  I know he would be thrilled to know that people in a country far away are holding him up in prayer. 

Thank you again for praying for these things and your wonderful support.  It is our prayer that each one of you will have a joyous Christmas season.   May each of us be full of joy and gratitude for Jesus, the Son of God!  “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

God Bless,
Mary & Jeff Polglase
IMB Missionaries in Malawi
Box 1001
Lilongwe, Malawi
Africa

**  More information about our support:  Here is the amount that is needed to support one family, like us, on the mission field for a year:  $49,800 a year (average)   $4,150 a month  $958 a week   $136 a day  (Reported May 2012. Support includes housing, salary, children’s education, medical expenses, retirement and more.) Thank you!

For more information concerning the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering: www.imb.org

 

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Obedient – There and Here

Obedient.  What does that word mean to you? What verse comes to mind?  For me the verse is Philippians 2:8, which tells us that Jesus “became obedient to death, even death on a cross!”

The Season of Prayer for International Missions draws upon this word, lifting out the word be and calling us to “Be His Hands, His Heart, His Voice.”

As we focus on praying for missions around the world and giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I am reminded that international missions is both there and here.  Usually we say “here and there” but I have reversed the order of this familiar phrase on purpose.  International missions is first of all there – other places around the world where missionaries are obedient to follow God’s calling. We support them as they go there – wherever “there” is in the world – as we pray and give.  The 2012 “Obedient” prayer guide is a great place to start!

Another great resource is the missionary prayer calendar found in Missions Mosaic. The abbreviations in the prayer calendar remind us that our missionaries now focus on people groups wherever they may be found. The reality of this struck me a few years ago when I received a Christmas card from a Kentucky friend who married a Japanese man and told about taking their children to visit Japanese cousins in Brazil. People groups are about the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the people, not their geographic location.

International missions is also here.  From high school and college students who have come to this country to attend school, to families who have come here for employment and/or to make this country their new home, international missions is here.

A few weeks ago, I attended a picnic for first year international students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Also invited were three high school students who are international exchange students. I talked at length with the sponsor of two of the girls. She told me that God had spoken to her about the need to reach out to internationals. She said, “I could spend the money it takes to host these students and go on a two-week mission trip overseas, but for the same money, I get them for nine months.”

Students who have stayed with this family were not Christians when they arrived, but in the course of being with the family, attending youth activities at the church, and meeting Christian students, they have all come to faith in Christ.  Many continue to stay in touch and the ministry of this family touches the world.  They were obedient to God’s call to international missions here.

Likewise Baptist Campus Ministries across Kentucky work with international students on our college and university campuses. Through weekly Bible studies, English classes, and many other events, we are doing international missions here. Engage, our international student conference held each November, is one way that we use the Eliza Broadus Offering to do international missions here in Kentucky.

Obedient. A word that carries so much meaning. May it be said of us: “They were obedient to God’s call – there and here.”

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