Changing Houses – Changing Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Celebrate Missions at the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting

Annual Mtg promo image lo resCome celebrate missions with us at the 2017 Kentucky WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting. It promises to be a special time of celebrating missions involvement and what God is doing around the world. “By All Means” will be the focus of the two-day event at Central Baptist Church in Corbin. The program begins on Friday morning, March 31, 9:00 a.m. and concludes on Saturday, April 1 at noon.

Katie-Orr coppedKatie Orr, author of the Everyday Faith, Hope, Love, and Peace series from WMU’s New Hope Press, will provide Bible study theme interpretations in all sessions.

Bill BarkerEastern Kentucky missionaries will be featured in the Friday morning session. In addition, Bill Barker, National Director of Appalachian Regional Ministry and Mississippi River Ministry, North American Mission Board will introduce the NAMB Christmas Backpack project, a new project for Kentucky WMU and the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

The morning session will be followed by an Eastern Kentucky Missions Extravaganza which will include variety of interactive missions experiences and conferences on Friday from 11:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Participants can also eat a boxed lunch, visit displays, and go to the book store during this time.

Annual meeting attendees are asked to bring items for Eastern Kentucky ministries such as baby wipes, diapers, and clothes; new underwear and socks for children and adults; new tennis shoes and children’s coats; small toys; school supplies, backpacks; and full size hygiene items. Large print King James Bibles have also been specifically requested. Donated items will be sorted at the meeting and divided among ministries represented at the event.

Kentucky missionaries serving with the International Mission Board will share their work in the Friday evening session. Stan and Wendy Meador, serving with American Peoples, and AE, serving with Central Asian Peoples, will be featured. The program will also include reports from volunteers who have served this past year with Baptist Global Response in food and seed distribution in Lesotho.

Roxanne Nanney, Minister of Music at Brandenburg First Baptist Church will lead the music in all sessions, accompanied by Libby Thomas. The Central Baptist Church choir will present a short concert at 6:30 p.m. Friday to begin the evening session.

Oneida 2014_choirThe final session begins Saturday at 9:00 a.m. Ron Shaw, foster parent with Sunrise Children’s Services, will share his testimony followed by a presentation of the Kentucky Missionary of the Year Award, and a Commissioning Service for new Kentucky missionaries. Bill Barker will speak about NAMB’s Send Relief ministry followed by a concert by the Oneida Baptist Institute Choir.

There will also be a special missions time for children on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. led by Stacy Nall and Jon Auten. Children will meet Bill Barker and participate in a missions activity.

An offering for Kentucky WMU ministries to missionaries and Missionary Kids (MKs) will be received during the meeting. Kentucky WMU provides Christmas gifts to Kentucky born international missionaries as well as a fall and spring gift to Kentucky MKs who are attending college in Kentucky. Those unable to attend the annual meeting but who want to support Kentucky WMU ministries to missionaries are encouraged to send a gift for the offering or mail a donation to the Kentucky WMU office.

A boxed lunch will be available on Friday at noon at a cost of $9.00 which must be ordered in advance. The Baptist Nursing Fellowship and Executive Board Reunion dinners will be at the church on Friday at 5:00 p.m. Pre-registration is required for all meals and preschool child care. Annual Meeting information and online reservations can be found on Kentucky WMU web site: kywmu.org/annualmeeting.

I am excited about this year’s annual meeting. The focus on Eastern Kentucky ministries will not only be informative, but through the hands-on activities, you will gain a deeper understanding of the needs. We are family in WMU and you will want to be part of our annual “family reunion.” Come enjoy the fellowship, music, and missions inspiration of the entire program. Learn how Kentucky WMU facilitates missions involvement!

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Be Ready – Live Ready!

BeReadyLiveReadyThe 2016 state missions emphasis, drawn from 1 Peter 3:15, is more than a slogan – it is a lifestyle!

At a time when the church was facing persecution, when times were difficult, when there was unrest and turmoil, Peter wrote to encourage believers.

1peter3-15versePeter wrote to tell the church that no matter what happened, they were to “honor the Messiah as Lord” and “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

This Peter writing to them was the same Peter who blurted out the confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It was the same Peter who momentarily walked on water then sank when he took his eyes off of Jesus. It was the same Peter who when asked about his relationship to Jesus, denied Him. But it was also the same Peter who was restored and became the mighty preacher of Pentecost. It was the Peter who had a vision that opened his eyes to God’s intent to include all people in His plan of salvation. Now Peter writes from the perspective of faith in Christ that has not only stood the test of time, but has grown stronger. He now writes, “always be ready.”

Are we ready? Are we ready to share Jesus with a coworker? Are we ready to share Jesus with the international who has moved into the neighborhood? Are we ready to share Jesus with the frazzled parent who comes to soccer practice?  Are we ready befriend the teenager with tattoos? Are we ready to help children who need help with their homework? The list goes on.

I spend Sunday evenings with ladies who attend Celebrate Recovery in Shelbyville. The group is for anyone with any hurt, habit, or hangup. While the majority of issues for most participants revolve around the life problems caused by alcohol and drug abuse, there are others who just need a safe place to tell their story.

Many of the participants in the Shelbyville Celebrate Recovery group walk over from Open Door of Hope, a homeless shelter, that has received EBO grants for several years. This is but one of a variety of ministries across Kentucky that reach out to people in need. Through the Eliza Broadus Offering, we are able to help Open Door of Hope and other ministries with grants to buy supplies and help with other expenses.

Through EBO, we (you and me!) assist our state Baptist convention with church planting and evangelism. EBO provides funds for work with college students and language ministries. It is an important part of church and community ministries.

2016statemissionsemphassiseboI hope your church will show a state missions video each Sunday in September. But you can also watch the videos on your own, even download them to your computer. You can also read about state missions in the special State Missions Insert to the Western Recorder which was published on September 6, 2016.

kentuckygoalGifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering may be made through your church or sent directly to Kentucky WMU, 13420 Eastpoint Centre Drive, Louisville, KY  40223.  Please include the notation that your gift is for EBO.

Are you ready?

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Excel as a WMU leader!

A new church year is about to start! Families will return from vacation and schools will welcome students back from the summer break. The start of a new school year brings a new year for missions emphasis in your church!

Excel logoKentucky WMU challenges WMU leaders to Excel – to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God as we learn, pray, give, go and send! Prepare for the new year in WMU by attending one of our three Excel conferences. Choose the date and/or location that works best for you!

2016 dates and locations:
– July 23, Reidland Baptist Church, Paducah
– August 20,  Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Independence
– September 10, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Louisville

Excel post card front At each Excel we will introduce the new 2016-18 WMU emphasis, By All Means. There will be conferences for age-level organization leaders as well as WMU directors and other churchwide officers. We will also offer a variety of special interest conferences in the afternoon. Some will be an hour long, and others will be short 25 minute rotations. During the two hours in the afternoon, you can mix and match according to your interests.

Excel post card back croppedPlease register by the deadline of the Excel event you plan to attend to ensure that we have materials ready for you! Participants will receive a WMU Year Book and lunch in addition to conference handouts.

As you come to Excel, the new theme challenges us as Christ followers to seek new opportunities to show Christ’s love to the lost. What are we determined to do for the Kingdom “By All Means”?  The Setting Goals article in the new WMU Year Book asks some probing questions:
IMG_2845Am I willing to spend time planning and conducting a missions event for children?
Am I willing to teach children weekly to be involved in missions?
Am I willing to spend time each day in prayer for missionaries?
Am I willing to give above the tithe for missions offerings?
Am I willing to serve in the “Samaria” of my community?
Am I willing to befriend people from other nations?

These and other questions make us think. Will By All Means simply be a slogan or will it be a heartfelt commitment? Join us at Excel, confirm your commitment, and get inspired for a new year of missions!

Registration is open and available online!

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Linda Cooper Elected as National WMU President!

LiLinda Baltimore 2014nda Cooper of Bowling Green was elected as president of Woman’s Missionary Union today, June 15, at the WMU Missions Celebration in Columbus, Ohio. Linda is the first WMU president from Kentucky.

Linda served as the 38th president of Kentucky WMU from 2010-2014. In June 2014 Linda was elected as Recording Secretary of National WMU, only the second time someone from Kentucky has served in this role. After serving just one year in this position, Linda was tapped for WMU president.

Linda is employed as a Registered Dental Hygienist and has worked for Benson Family Dentistry for over 35 years. Linda and her husband, Jim, are active members of Forest Park Baptist Church where Linda serves as WMU director. She is also the WMU Director for Warren Association of Baptists. Linda and Jim have two adult children and two grandchildren.

T 107Linda brings a wealth of WMU knowledge and experience to this new role. In addition to her WMU experience at the church, association, state and national levels, she is a capable writer having written articles for national WMU publications as well as columns for Kentucky Notes. Linda is a popular speaker and communicates well with WMU and other audiences.

Linda served on the Kentucky WMU Executive Board from 2006-09 and was elected president of Kentucky WMU at the 2010 Annual Meeting in Louisville. As president of Kentucky WMU, Linda served as a vice-president of National WMU.

Li523659_10151905988400035_2140927989_nnda has served on international mission trips to Jamaica, Tanzania, South Korea, South Africa, and Indonesia. She was part of a WMU team in Puerto Rico as well as Familyfest and Missionsfest in Kentucky.


Linda Cooper w torch
Linda was saved as a 12-year old and says that going to church has always been part of her life. Linda says that she strives to walk with the Lord daily “by staying in His Word, praying, sharing Christ verbally, and by the way I try to live.” In describing her WMU experience when she was elected as Kentucky WMU president, she said, “Although I know and believe that mission trips are life changing, I believe our real mission is to live a missions lifestyle each on the mission field where God has planted us. I am fortunate in the fact that in our dental office, we have prayer before work and I am free to share Christ.”

We are Kentucky proud of Linda’s election to this leadership role. She has been in many of our churches and associations. We know her as a wonderful speaker, effective leader, and one who leads by example.

Congratulations, Linda! We are praying for you.

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Susan Bryant’s Closing Remarks from Annual Meeting

Wow.  What a meeting this has been.  We’ve had some tried and true things and some new things.  And just think, it isn’t over yet.  In a few minutes we are going  to enjoy a missions block party and later we have the opportunity to preview a movie that relates to the current WMU social issue, post traumatic stress disorder.  I have seen the movie; you will want to stay and see it.

I don’t know about you but I have learned so much over the last day and a half listening to our speakers.  When I was young my mother would sometimes say “Don’t get the big head”.  Well  I think today that I do have the big head and a bigger heart but only because of all the things I have learned this weekend.  And I think that most of you probably have the big head and big heart right along with me for the very same reason.

For years I have heard our esteemed Executive Director, Joy Bolton, say about annual meeting “It is all about the outcomes.” And it is. What are we going to do with what we have learned once we get home.    It is great if we have come here to see friends and have a mini reunion because this is the only time we see one another each year.  I have loved seeing Irma, Tina and so many others this weekend.  I look forward to making new friends, renewing friendships and catching up on one another’s lives. The programs are always wonderful, missionary speakers inspiring and we feel good about participating in the ministry projects we do at each meeting.

But then we go home.  We’ll leave Sand Spring in a few hours . . . we’ll set our GPS to get us home.   Maybe we’ll sing some of the songs we sang this weekend as we roll along – My personal favorite it “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” and thankfully I won’t have a passenger going home so I can sing it to my heart’s content.

But what about when we get home?  What’s going to be YOUR outcome of this meeting? Are you going to leave behind everything you’ve learned this weekend?  Knowing many of you as I do,  I don’t think so.  Let’s review a little.

Perhaps you know better now how to pray for our missionaries on the missionary prayer calendar in Missions Mosaic and like Debby, I hope you have a subscription and if you don’t, get one tonight.  You now  know the urgency of these prayers and how our missionaries depend on those prayers.  Thanks to Joe Joe, Jeff and Melva, and Ryan and Christy who have shared with us this weekend. We have loved their stories and their honesty in sharing just what it means to serve in a different culture far from home.  They have reminded us that we need to go home and pray for our missionaries to  have access to an apartment or house that costs more than $35 a month.  I can’t even imagine.  We need to pray for their families and the close relationships they have sacrificed to answer God’s call on their lives.  They tell us that extraordinary sacrifices result in extraordinary blessings.  Their challenge to us is to get a passport, take short plane trips to get us ready to cross the water, eat new foods – maybe even food on a stick, learn to share our faith and just say “yes” when God asks us to go.  Will you do that?   Ryan so eloquently said “thank you” for the investment WMU ladies gave to Christy.  Will you invest in the life of a young girl or woman in your church?

And Debby Akerman.  We have read her books, heard her speak, many of us are friends with her on face book and we’ve otherwise benefited from her 5 years as President of National WMU.  Debby, we love you and are so happy you could be with us this weekend.  But, you know, Debby has given us a challenge too.

She has asked if a Mission Friend is not too young to learn that God loves them; God loves the whole world and someone needs to go and tell them.  I am sure we all said “no in our hearts.   At a recent missionary appointment service, a missionary appointee shared how it was in Mission Friends that God first placed that calling on her life.  God is still speaking to Mission Friends, GAs and RAs and calling them into mission service.  Perhaps a future Kathy Shafto is growing up in your church and needs the benefit of missions education to understand God’s calling on her life.   Will you step up to be her leader?

She challenged us to partner with a missionary with Kentucky roots serving with NAMB or IMB to help them catch a vision for WMU in their church plants.  And she has reminded us that WMU is still relevant in today’s culture and is helping our churches to learn new mission methods.   Kentucky WMU will be offering training for WMU leaders in our associations this spring and staff are always ready, willing – and even anxious – to help you begin  – or improve – the missions organization in your church.   What will you do?

Did you like going to the Capital yesterday afternoon?  How of you was this your first visit to the Capitol?  It was my old stomping ground for several years ago when I worked in the Governor’s Office.  As a retired state employee, I know how important prayer is for our elected officials.   Not just prayer when we are in the Capitol but consistent prayer for Godly leaders who aren’t afraid to take a stand for their Christian beliefs.   This year marks the election for many of our government offices – not just statewide offices but in local elections as well.  Will you commit to pray that God will call out Godly men and women to run for office, for elections that will result in  the Christian values that our country was founded on being upheld?  Will you pray?

I have a salvation doll like those that some of you made yesterday afternoon.  Wasn’t that fun?   I wasn’t there but I know it had to have been.  Any time we get together to craft is a lot of fun. Robin said she brought 114 kits and only one was left after the workshop.  If we multiplied that a few times, just think how many boys and girls could know about Jesus.   What are you going to do with your doll?  Are you going to show it off to your family saying “And you thought I couldn’t sew” and then stick it in a closet or did it give you an idea for how these dolls can be used to tell a child about Jesus?  On a WMU mission trip to South Africa a little over a year ago, we had dolls for each of the children in the orphanage where we served.  Pat Callan even found out the number of boys and girls we would be working with and made the appropriate number of boy and girl dolls! I was impressed!   The children loved them!  Wouldn’t GAs love to stuff them and help give them features?  Mine would!  And there are so many ways you can use these dolls to share Jesus – yourselves or to help supply a missionary or mission team with dolls to share.

Dawna Clark shared that you have donated 482 Hot Wheels for the KY Raceway Ministry.  She’s excited!  Could you, would you work at the Speedway one weekend?  Would that be an outcome for you?

Oh yes, I found some of the activity bags that you made for children visiting the Veterans Medical Center with their parents.  I loved seeing a picture on face book recently of Sandy Clark helping one of her Children in Action make those bags for this meeting.  Sandy is always ahead of the curve.  Could you make bags, fill them and find a place where they can be used to share about Jesus?.

What about the exhibits?  As they say, you couldn’t stir them with a stick in the exhibit corridor yesterday.  When we can to look at the space we decided that would be the perfect place for the exhibits and it was since it was so close to the sanctuary.  And it was.  I had many ladies sharing with me “Look what I found at this ministry.  I think I can do this.”   “I can take this back to my church and we can do this.”  Can you do this?  Don’t forget.

The ministry projects we do at each annual meeting are important, not just because they fill a need, but we hope they will give you ideas about what you can go back home and do in your own community.

The commissioning service last night was inspiring.  Each of these missionaries we commissioned are just trying to  live their lives in obedience to God’s calling.  Do any of them live near you?  Did one of their ministries resonate with you.  Remember, we said we could support them.  I am quite confident they would love for you to contact them to ask how you can assist in their ministry.

And the Kentucky Changers celebration – Did you notice that a lot of the people on the adult changer team were women?  Peggy has a place for you this summer – you and the youth and other adults in your church.   She would love to hear from you.  Will she?

And how can you and your church connect with Brian Hinton at Kentucky State or other campus ministries in your area of the state? We have the way to minister to international right here on our campuses.  We don’t have to go across the pond to minister to internationals.   Will you?

As Joy has said, our missions block party today is designed to help you visualize what a block party is and how you could use this as an evangelism tool in your community.  We were going to have the block party under tents out back.  But we even went so far as to arrange some pretty significant rain so we could show you how to go to plan B if necessary.  Could you do this?

We are so glad you chose spend this weekend with us.  This meeting could be just a pleasant outing for you and nothing more or it can be the beginning of living all for you.  I would love to hear from you and find out about your “outcomes” from this meeting so I can celebrate them with you.  Joy said last night that the results of our meeting should be felt around the world.  I believe it will be.

I close with a quote from that famous theologian, Dr. Seuss, in his book “Oh the Places You will Go.”

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
In any direction you choose.

I hope you will choose to steer yourself in the direction that says:  All for You, Surrender, Sacrifice, Serve.

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Power to Serve

Power to Serve textIt does not take being in ministry very long to realize that we do not have the wisdom or energy to do all the needs to be done. There are demands that are far greater than our knowledge or skill can handle. There are situations that require greater expertise than we can offer. There are needs to meet that require longer hours than we have stamina. Yet, over and over, ministry leaders go above and beyond to serve and share Jesus. The power to serve comes from the Holy Spirit who grants ability and strength far beyond what we could ask or imagine.

Our 2014 state missions emphasis focuses on ministries and people who testify to the Holy Spirit’s work in providing the power to serve. We invite you to pray daily for state missions using the following verses from Acts 1 and prayer requests.  As you read the verses and requests, look to see the connections between them.

Sunday (Acts 1:1-2): In the gospels we read of all that Jesus “began to do and teach.” In Acts we are reminded that the power to serve comes from the Holy Spirit. Pray for Kentucky missionaries  and for their reliance upon God for the power to serve. Pray for ministries that intentionally take the gospel into Kentucky communities.

Monday (Acts 1:3):  Pray for Affinity Evangelism efforts to bring “the kingdom of God” to people who have no spiritual connections and for believers who are sharing Jesus through  personal interest outreach efforts.  Pray for the KBC Evangelism and Church Planting Team and RISK evangelism ministries. (RISK – Reaching Into the State of Kentucky.) Pray for RISK Bowling Green as Kentucky Baptists share the gospel in the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in November.

Tuesday (Acts 1:4): Give thanks for the vision of Eileen Mullins to “wait for the Father’s promise” to redeem a tragedy and create a ministry to the families of inmates at the Big Sandy Federal Prison. Pray for Harold and Joyce Scroggs and Robin and Becky Botkin as they lead Haven of Rest Family Ministry in Inez following Eileen’s retirement.  Pray for other ministries across Kentucky that share Jesus with inmates and their families.

Wednesday (Acts 1:5):  Give thanks for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers and church planters who have responded to God’s prompting to start new churches to share the gospel. Pray for Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Stearns as they share the gospel and meet human needs through The Lord’s Café and other ministries. Pray for new churches in your community and for more new churches to be started.

Thursday (Act 1:6-7):  Pray for  those who have no understanding of the gospel message. Pray that their minds and hearts would be opened. Pray for Kentucky Baptists to trust God’s timing as He opens doors for ministry. Pray for Teresa Parrett as she links those who want to serve with ministry needs and locations. Pray that more people will volunteer for both short-term and long-term missions ministries.

Friday (Acts 1:8): Pray for churches working together though local, associational, regional, and state missions. Pray for ministries in your community and other parts of Kentucky to share Jesus. Pray specifically for the KBC Missions Mobilization Team as they train leaders and work with ministries across Kentucky and around the world.

 Saturday (Acts 1:9-10): Pray for IICE (Innovative Intentional Community Evangelism) led by Van and Marjorie Yandell, whose outreach efforts include block parties, motorcycle rides, prison ministry, and evangelistic services at a rescue mission and other locations. Pray for those who will receive EBO ministry grants this year, including each of our 70 Baptist associations. Pray that they will share the gospel creatively.

Sunday (Acts 1:11): Pray for the LoveLoud Backpack outreach to children this year through Appalachian Regional Ministry and Mississippi River Ministry who will distribute the backpacks to children and share the gospel with their families. Pray that Kentucky Baptists will take the initiative to meet this need, and that all efforts will be used of God to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.

Join us in reading about the featured ministries and watching the videos.  We will be posting reminders each day on Facebook.  To get started, visit:  http://ow.ly/B2Pds

Remember that you can give to the Eliza Broadus Offering through your local church as well as online at kywmu.org/ebo.

Thank you for praying and giving. Your faithfulness in prayer and your financial support provide resources that are multiplied by the Lord as He provides the power to serve across Kentucky!

 

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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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Focus on WMU – A Personal Word of Thanks

As we observe Focus on WMU this month, it is an appropriate time for me to pause and say thanks for the WMU heritage that influences me to this day, to say thanks to the countless leaders who have shaped my life, and to say thanks for the life-long missions experiences that have come my way through WMU.

I have been a part of Woman’s Missionary Union as long as I can remember and the WMU tagline “missions for life” describes my WMU experience. My mother took me with her to circle meetings and associational WMU events. She was WMU director in our church and taught Intermediate GA (Girls’ Auxiliary) in our home.  The girls gathered around our dining room table and I listened to every word of what was being taught to those girls who were a few years older than I. She was also the associational GA director and missionaries often had supper at our home before we went to a quarterly GA Rally.  I like to say that because of these experiences, I learned missions at my dining room table!

In Mobile, Alabama at the West End Baptist Church there was Mrs. McFadden, my Junior GA leader.  There was Patsy McLeod and Janet Moore who taught our group for a time (they were among the Intermediate GAs and later YWAs that mother taught). In high school, we moved to Gretna, Louisiana and Mrs. Fortenberry was my GA leader.  I was part of the organizational change in 1970 and was an Acteen, too.

Joy QueenIn GA I not only attended weekly meetings where we learned about missionaries, but I also participated in Forward Steps, an individual achievement plan.  Through the steps of Maiden, Lady-in-Waiting, Princess, Queen, Queen-in-Service, Queen with a Scepter, and Queen Regent, I memorized scripture, read missions books, learned to prepare missions displays, wrote my testimony and an essay on why I was a tither.  I learned about the Cooperative Program and how Southern Baptists appoint, send, and support missionaries.

In Mobile, I went to Citronelle to GA camp every summer, often twice – once for Junior GA Camp on my own and once to Intermediate GA Camp where my mother was the camp director and my dad was the camp pastor.  In Louisiana, I attended camp at Tall Timbers. Camp was a special place to me where I spent time with missionaries as well as had all the fun that girls will have during the week.

Joy Queen Regent2In 1969, the Southern Baptist Convention was held in New Orleans. WMU enlisted girls who were Queen Regents from the area to serve as pages at the WMU Annual Meeting.  I remember the thrill of sitting on the stage between Miss Alma Hunt and Dr. Claude Rhea.  My parents were so proud.  I never dreamed how important the “sitting on the stage” lessons that my mother gave me would be!

In college I led Acteens one year and then in seminary, served as a summer intern in the National WMU office.  Beverly Sutton, Evelyn Blount, Bobbie Sorrill, Sheryl Churchill, Catherine Allen, Carolyn Weatherfield and a host of others invested in me.  I began to write for WMU and many opportunities came because of that internship.  A second summer was spent in Birmingham, and this time, my husband Lee was along with me. He worked as a truck driver for WMU that summer and in the warehouse.  He is one of the men of WMU!

After seminary, Lee and I served in Pennsylvania for 10 years. Two were spent in Pittsburgh where I was the associational Acteens leader. Then in Reading, I was asked to serve on the State WMU Council.  Thank you, Peggy Masters, for giving opportunities to a very young leader.  In 1990 WMU published my first book, Ideas for Nursing Home Ministries, a dream come true for a young writer.

In Annapolis, Maryland, I kept writing for WMU and my second book, Ideas for Community Ministries was published.  I served as associational WMU director and on the Maryland/ Delaware WMU Executive Board.  Thank you, Wilene Pierce for giving my first state WMU job, a part-time position in publications.

I owe a big thank you to Evelyn Blount who had gone from national WMU to serve as WMU Executive Director in South Carolina. In 1995, she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and invited me to join the staff there as the Women on Mission/Adults on Mission Consultant.  I had been doing WMU work all my life and now I had a job!  Thank you, Lee and my family, for making the move possible.

Bill Mackey became a trusted co-worker while in South Carolina and it was he who encouraged me to apply to Kentucky to serve as WMU Executive Director. No one was more surprised than I when he told me that he was going to Kentucky, knew the WMU director position was open and hoped I would apply.  Though that process ended up taking a little longer than expected, when I finally arrived on September 1, 1999, he was a great friend to me and to Kentucky WMU.

Thank you WMU for the missions opportunities that I have been given.  I have been on overseas mission trips to Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Poland, Brazil, Tanzania, Korea, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Malawi, and South Africa. My work with Kentucky WMU gives me the privilege of encouraging missions across our state and helping to provide prayer and financial support through the Eliza Broadus Offering.

Houston 2013Thank you Kentucky WMU staff, Executive Board, and church and association leaders who have encouraged, guided, and prayed for me.  My life has been enriched by each of you.  I am also grateful to Wanda Lee and all of the national WMU staff. They, too, have been wonderful co-workers providing insight and help in so many ways.  I am grateful for the friendship of our national WMU leaders and the leaders of WMU in other states.

What is your WMU story?  Who has been an influence on you? What have you learned through WMU? What missions opportunities have changed your life?  The answers represent an investment that God has made in your life.

In the parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30, the faithful servants in the story doubled the investment that the Master has entrusted to them. The Lord invested in my life through WMU.  It is my prayer to double that investment in the lives of others.

How will you double the investment?

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The Least of These

image imageThe Kentucky WMU team serving in South Africa is serving among those that Jesus referenced when he said that ministry to “the least of these” was ministry unto Himself. We are working among children with AIDS, some who live in an orphanage and others who live in child headed households.

AIDS strikes fear in most of us. We are afraid of somehow contracting this virus which is deadly to so many. Yet the WMU team of twelve is teaching, hugging, feeding, and loving these children in the Name of Jesus.  We are here in partnership with Baptist Global Response to spend a week working with Tabitha Ministries which operates an orphanage, the Hope Center, and reaches out to children in Sweetwaters Township near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Like much of America, this area includes extremes. There are well-to-do homes as well as middle-class and poor homes.  There are followers of Jesus here as well as those who follow other religions or none at all.  But those with AIDS in the poorest communities are among those who many avoid.

In addition to leading Holiday Bible Club in the township and Hope Center, the team is spending time leading other activities with the children at the orphanage and will be delivering Buckets of Hope to AIDS victims in Sweetwaters.  We are blessed to be serving with BGR personnel who have a passion for ministry and have paved the way for our team.

During orientation at Tabitha, we learned from Gail Trollip, the founder and director of Tabitha, that her prayer is that each of us on the team would go home changed.  One cannot be here seeing the great need and not be profoundly touched.  On the one hand, the children here are like children anywhere – constantly moving, playful, and eager for attention.  On the other hand, these children have experienced in their young lives more heartache than most of us can imagine. One child here was buried alive by his mother who suffered from dementia because of AIDS. Only the action of neighbors to save the child and the tremendous care given at Tabitha Ministries has helped this child live and grow.

Kentucky will be a lead state in the BGR Bucket Project in 2014.  The items in each bucket are things that most of us take for granted.  But to those in extreme poverty and too weak to work, the items are a treasure.  Above all, the items communicate that God loves each person, even those with AIDS and that His people are showing His love with a bucket of items to make their last days a bit more comfortable.

Please pray for Tabitha Ministries and Baptist Global Response in outreach to those with AIDS.  Please learn more about the Bucket Project and pack a bucket in 2014. You can bring filled buckets or the items for buckets to the 2014 Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting.  Let’s show our love and concern through this tangible means which will be delivered with a gospel witness. The least of these need our help and love.

Without a doubt this is a significant time for the Kentucky WMU team to be in South Africa as the attention of the world is focused on remembering and honoring the work of Nelson Mandela. Pray for this nation and all of its people. South Africa is a beautiful nation with great resources. This nation was blessed with a peaceful transition of government unlike so many other places in the world. Pray that the ideals of democracy and forgiveness will continue here and be a role model to many other nations.

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