Remembering our missionaries

The offering at the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting each year is designated for Kentucky WMU Ministries to Missionaries. These ministries include a $50 Christmas gift to all IMB missionaries from Kentucky currently serving as well as emeritus IMB missionaries.  We also provide online subscriptions to the Western Recorder, gifts for Missionary Kids attending college in Kentucky, a missionary parents fellowship, and travel expense for college bound MKs returning from the field to attend the MK Re-entry Retreat.

At the Kentucky Baptist Convention a few days ago, one of our emeritus missionaries came to our display and thanked Kentucky WMU for the gift each year. “It’s not the amount,” he said. “It’s that you remember us!”

This week I signed checks for 100 missionaries on the field and 62 emeritus missionaries.  Yes, we remember!

We remember and are grateful for the years of service of our emeritus missionaries.  We remember those that are on the field, who may feel isolated and lonely.  We remember, we pray, and we give.  And YOU are a part of remembering our missionaries through your offering at Annual Meeting as well personal notes, emails, packages, gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and through prayer.

This week we hosted our annual Volunteer Luncheon as a way of saying thank you to the volunteers who work in our office counting out envelopes and prayer guides, filling orders for week of prayer materials, and countless other tasks.  Those who came made handmade Christmas cards for us to send to emeritus IMB missionaries along with the Christmas check.  (Those on the field receive a letter by email with a message from our president and each of our staff. Checks are then sent to their bank account in the USA.)

Paul said when he wrote: “Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3a MSG).

You can contribute to Kentucky WMU Ministries to Missionaries throughout the year. Please visit our web site for more information and online giving.

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Leaders Need to Keep Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more: Christian Leader Learning

Join me and keep learning!

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Summer 2017 In Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mats for the Homeless

Homelessness is a problem across our state and around the world. While there are many reasons for this problem and many attempts to help people in need, homelessness persists. A project involving discarded grocery bags is one way to help.

Bill Barker, missionary with the North American Mission Board, serves as National Director for Appalachian Regional Ministry and Mississippi River Ministry. Bill will be with us for the 2017 Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting at Central Baptist in Corbin. While his primary task will be to introduce the Christmas Backpact Project, we’ve also asked Bill to share about NAMB’s work through Send Relief.

Bill is in contact with many of our Kentucky missionaries as he partners with KBC Missions Mobilization Coordinator, Teresa Parrett. He frequently is given items to donate to ministries as he travels across ARM / MRM areas. Bill suggested that WMU groups might like to bring mats for the homeless as part of our collection of items for Eastern Kentucky Ministries at Annual Meeting.

Printed instructions for making the mats are found on both the National WMU and Kentucky WMU web site. There is also an instructional video available on YouTube.

Bill says that these mats are a welcome item for many who are homeless. While we all want to do even more, this is a start.

If you can’t make mats, there are plenty of items you can bring to Annual Meeting to help with ministry in Eastern Kentucky.  Learn more: kywmu.org/annualmeeting/ministryproject.

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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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Message to the Kentucky WMU Executive Board, October 2016

Each year I bring a report to the Executive Board during October Board meeting. When I make this report each year, it is a time to reflect on the past, report on the present, and reveal direction for the future.

As I reflect on the past, I know that I am grateful. Grateful to the Lord for directing me to Kentucky, grateful for those who have gone before me, grateful for those who have served on our Board and our staff. I am particularly grateful that people have been gracious, encouraging, and supportive in so many ways. I am grateful for the opportunities to have represented Kentucky WMU across our state, at national WMU, and even around the world.

You have heard the staff reports on the present. We have an excellent staff who are all hard workers. We’ve recently all taken an on-line version of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and I took note that every person on our staff has a J in the mix of four letters that describe their personality type. That means we are all highly structured. Now beyond that, we have many differences, but we are united around one purpose – missions.

Back during the summer, we were asked to participate in shooting a Cooperative Program video. What KBC wanted was for each agency to do something that represented their work and end with a group of people saying thank you.  I chose to do this at Kentucky Changers. As I tried to think of a way to say what Kentucky WMU does, all I could come up with was a list of a lot of WMU activities. So that is what we did. (NOTE: This video will be shown at the KBC Annual Meeting on November 15 and posted on our web site after the meeting. We have been asked not to release it yet.)

slide3Not long after making this video, we were having a discussion about the work of WMU in a staff meeting and we were asked to describe succinctly what WMU does. Someone said, “WMU facilitates missions involvement.”

I immediately latched on to that statement. Short and to the point. Just think about it. When we plan things like Kentucky Changers or Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, we facilitate the missions involvement of those who come. It fits with what KBC has as our mission statement: “The Kentucky Baptist Convention, created by churches, for churches, to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.” Kentucky WMU helps KBC do this as we help churches learn, pray, give, go, and send. By planning Changers and MAKK, we have helped churches have a way to send students and children on mission. Now of course, we know that the participants have also learned about missions and prayed during their experience.  (See Kentucky Changers Video from Frankfort, July 2016).

When Kentucky WMU sends out posters, prayer guides and envelopes for each of the missions offerings, we facilitate the missions involvement of 2400 churches who have the opportunity to learn, pray, and give for missions.

Kentucky WMU partnered with Baptist Global Response and the KBC in 2014 and again this year to do the Bucket Project. By organizing and promoting this effort, we are helping individuals and churches to be involved in taking the gospel to people with AIDS. (See CP/Buckets of Hope Video.)

When Kentucky WMU plans a missions trip and people join us, we facilitate their opportunity to go. When we teach leaders to plan and conduct local mission action ministries, and they go home to their own churches and associations to do this, Kentucky WMU has had a part in helping people go get involved in missions.

In 2017 we will have many ways to get involved. We will promote these through an insert that will be in the February 2017 Missions Mosaic. It promotes events in 2017 from about February up to the end of July.  It is built around the theme of WMU facilitates missions involvement. Be on the lookout for it when your February Mosaic comes.  Share it with others.  If you need copies, it will be on the web and you can print more.

I spoke in Daviess-McLean association this past Monday night, and went through a lot of the events that Kentucky WMU sponsors.

slide9 slide10 slide12 slide11 slide13 slide15 slide14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Larry Gritton, president of Oneida Baptist Institute, spoke after me, and jokingly said, “I’m sorry you don’t have enough to do.”

We have plenty to do and a wonderful staff who lead these activities.  My job some days is just to get out of their way. But I am also the one who is approached by others when they are seeking WMU partnership, involvement, support. At that point, my job is to envision possibilities. I don’t always get it right but it is exciting to be part of new things.

Sometimes we have to let go of things that are beloved to us in order to embrace new opportunities. This was the case three years ago when we knew we had to give up having camp at Cedar Crest. But letting go of camp opened the door for Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, a tremendous mission trip opportunity for children in grades 4-6 and their leaders.

I am excited about the future direction of GA activities through Wild About Missions. Due to scheduling, we cannot even do the camp overnights at Jonathan Creek and Cedar Crest next summer. But Stacy came to me with a new idea for GA activities to do instead, and I think they are going to be great as girls have an overnight at the Louisville Zoo, a day at the Kentucky Horse Park, and an overnight at Camp Joy and trip to Mammoth Cave. These are new ways to learn about missions.

I must say that I am excited about the future for national WMU. Our new executive director, Sandy Wisdom-Martin, is creative, funny, caring. It is God’s providence that Sandy has several articles in this year’s WMU Year Book, and those were written long before we began talking with her about becoming our new exec. She also has a great series of articles in Mosaic about practical things you can make for missions. I am saving every one of the articles.  But I want you to hear Sandy in her own words. (See Introducing Sandy Wisdom-Martin video)

What do I see for the future of Kentucky WMU?

  • Strengthen partnerships. We need to work even more closely with other KBC agencies and institutions such as Oneida and Sunrise.  The ministry projects we are doing this weekend are a way to partner with church planting as we write notes to church planter wives and as we provide the makings for s’mores for the international student retreat. Every time that others come to WMU to ask for help and find us ready and willing, it strengthens relationships and once again, WMU facilitates missions involvement. There will be opportunities for us with the KBC in partnership missions as well. I want to be ready to say yes when we are asked.  I can also say that we are partnering within the KBC. Jason Stewart is joining us in planning and promoting the next Creative Ministries Festival. We believe we are going to connect with a new audience for this ministry.  And of course, for WMU, creative ministries is an avenue for sharing the gospel, which is what we are all about.
  • Grow the Eliza Broadus Offering. Our state missions offering has remained steady but we have not met goal in a number of years. There are missions needs in Kentucky that we need to be part of and support through the offering.
  • Grow other sources of funding for Kentucky WMU such as the Heritage Fund. My goal has been to get to the point that every dollar of EBO is used for other state missions work and none kept for Kentucky WMU. We have been very blessed that when CP began to slide, we had begun to have real growth in other income sources. That growth allowed us to maintain our staffing level and continue on. While we are grateful to see an upturn in CP, Kentucky WMU needs to have other resources as well to keep growing our work.
  • Advocate for missions education in the local church. This has been a long standing purpose of WMU, but the need is critical. I think the bringing home of over 1,000 IMB missionaries last year was a wakeup call to many. As a result, CP has grown this year. I also think there is a greater awareness that adults in our churches don’t just wake up one day and say “I think we need to support the Cooperative Program, and that we need to give more for missions.” Rather, attitudes about supporting missions are cultivated over time and through experience. So, it is important that we start talking about the Cooperative Program and our missions offerings with our children so that these are not foreign terms to them when they get to be adults. And for folks coming into our churches who did not grow up in missions, we must teach them as well. In the Development Committee, it was suggested that Kentucky WMU develop a Missions 101 conference and display, where we teach what CP, LMCO, AAEO, EBO are and why we support missions through them. I plan to follow up on this and offer my services to churches that would like to have a Missions 101 presentation.
  • Remember our core strength. I read a book awhile back on leadership entitled “One Thing You Need to Know.” The author identified four points of clarity that organizations need to know: Who do we serve? What is our core strength? What is our core score? What actions can we take today?  It is an informative read and I certainly could have organized my comments tonight around the four questions. But I want to close with a reminder about our core strength.

Luke 8:1-3 tells about the women who were in the company of the larger group of disciples who followed Jesus. After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

I like to think of them as the first WMU group. They supported the work of Jesus financially. That is how WMU got started and it is still a core strength of our work.  A vital service to the Kingdom that we provide – raising money for missions.

And then this morning I read a passage that jumped out at me from 1 Timothy 5. Here Paul is writing to Timothy about the care of widows in the church, stressing that if there is family, that is who should care for them. But in what he said about the widows who were deserving of the care of the church, there is a list that we must not miss. In 1 Tim. 5:3-10, Paul says: Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need…. No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

The women were to be well known for good works, that is:

  • Bringing up children – we all need to help bring up the children of the church – shame on us if a church cannot find WMU members willing to work with the children. And even if a church does not have RA and GA or MF, if WMU members teach SS, lead children’s church, etc., we can make sure that our children are learning about missions within those contexts.
  • Showing hospitality – may we show hospitality to people in need, missionaries, people in our communities. It is OK for us to be known as the best cooks in town. When Brett came and asked for ‘smores for international students, my answer was yes, we can do that. He left my office loving WMU.
  • Washing the saints’ feet – may we care for our missionaries, pastors, church planters, other believers. May we serve in whatever way is needed. That is why we are writing encouragement cards to church planter wives.
  • Helping the afflicted – when we get involved with ministries to people in need, we are helping the afflicted. We do this through Kentucky Changers, MAKK, Missionsfest, Familyfest, BNF, local mission action, collection projects for Baptist ministries, and the list goes on.
  • Devoted to good works – basically we do whatever needs to be done. We do not have to have a lot of recognition, or position, or titles – we just do what needs to be done. I encourage WMU leaders in churches and associations to find out what the pastor or DOM vision is and devote themselves to helping him accomplish it.

This is the kind of reputation we in WMU need to have.

slide3In speaking in associational fall meetings over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about how WMU facilitates missions involvement. I’ve ended with this statement: Can you be involved in missions without WMU?  Sure you can, but if you want to see greater missions involvement by your church, WMU has a track record of over 125 years of engaging people in missions. Encourage WMU in your church and the results will be amazing.

As Sandy said, “have we accomplished the great commission?”  Until everyone in all the world has heard the gospel, then WMU has work to be done. It’s not about WMU, it’s about the gospel. WMU facilitates missions involvement. We help churches learn, pray, give, go and send.

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Thank you, Kentucky WMU Executive Board

Those who attend the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting often comment on how inspirational the meeting is and that they like the fact that “business” is kept to a minimum. There is a reason for this and we say thank you to the 30 members of the Kentucky WMU Executive Board who attend to details behind the scenes.

exec-board-8The Executive Board has just concluded what we call October Board Meeting. It is a three day marathon of meetings. In our opening session, we hear reports from the KBC Executive Director, Development Specialist, Baptist Nursing Fellowship President, and Kentucky WMU President. Our staff makes reports about their work and events of the past year.

exec-board-4You may have heard that we had a pajama party this year. One of our staff reports tried to make folks to believe that we work the staff so hard they have to sleep at the office! It was all in good fun and we had a lot of laughs from their report, yet learned a lot about what they do.

The Executive Board includes promotional committees which give guidance and feedback on our work with age-levels. We have a Preschool/Children Committee, a Youth/College Committee, and an Adult/Churchwide Committee. Staff members share more detailed reports of their work and events with these committees. Committee members not only give feedback and suggestions, but during the year they also come and help.

exec-board-10The Board also has five standing committees: Partnerships & Ministries to Missionaries; Scholarship; Finance; Personnel/Administrative; and Bylaws and Policy. Each of these committees meets to review our work and approve recommendations. Their work each October and at other times during the year provides accountability and allows us to have an annual meeting that is focused on missions. In addition, there is a State Missions Committee and a Nominating Committee.

exec-board-2016The Kentucky WMU Executive Board is elected each year at the annual meeting. It includes three officers (president, vice president, recording secretary), 24 regional representatives (three from each of the eight regions of the KBC), and three ex officio members (Development Specialist, BNF President, and RA Representative).

exec-board-9Because we employ a rotation system for the Board, a portion of our members rotate off each year and new people are elected to serve. Invariably, as their term ends, Board members comment on how much they have learned about the work of Kentucky WMU and how they will miss serving. Each one brings unique skills and perspective. We are grateful for the grassroots representation they provide to help our staff plan for WMU work across our state.

Thank you, Kentucky WMU Executive Board!

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Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer 2016

LOGO WD BWA.epsEach year on the first Monday of November, Baptist Women around the world gather for a day of prayer. Utilizing materials written by one of the seven continental unions of the Women’s Department of the Baptist World Alliance, women pray for each other and for missions needs.

WMU participates in the Day of Prayer through the North American Baptist Women’s Union. Many associations plan a Day of Prayer observance as an associational gathering and reach out to all Baptist women in the area. It is a great  time for us to come together as Baptist Women to pray.

img_3812In my international travels, one of the very special things has been to talk with Baptist Women in other countries about the Day of Prayer. I am encouraged by the commitment of women to pray. They often travel under difficult circumstances to join with others for the Day of Prayer observance. It is my prayer that we will be as committed.

img_3793In July 2015, three of us from Kentucky joined with other Baptist Women in Johannesburg, South Africa for an international women’s leadership conference. A number of women that we have met across the years were there, including friends from Korea WMU. I think of them and many others as we observe the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer.

The Day of Prayer material includes a Bible study, testimonies from Baptist women, and a prayer guide. We also receive an offering to be used for the ministries of our continental unions as well as for international projects.  NABWU projects to be funded by this year’s Day of Prayer offering include:
– Deborah Project of the Women’s Convention, National Baptist Convention
– Earn While You Learn, Island Pregnancy Centre, Atlantic Baptist Women
– Graffiti 2 Works, Life Skills Ministry, New York WMU
– Refugee Outreach, Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario & Quebec
– Military Wives’ Retreat, North Carolina WMU
– Sister to Sister, American Baptist Women

Christian Women’s Job Corps of Middle Tennessee, Girls Equine Therapy Program (Canada), Oasis Women’s Counseling Program (Latin America), and a Job Skills Training Program for Women (Canada) are among the international projects to be funded this year through the Day of Prayer offering.

win_20150720_033001Learn more about the Day of Prayer and find a link to download materials at kywmu.org/dayofprayer.  If you would like to participate in the Day of Prayer Offering, please send to: NABWU, P.O. Box 282 Bordentown, NJ 08505-0282.The checks need to be made out to NABWU.

Find out if there is a Day of Prayer Observance in your area.  If not, plan your own and gather other women to pray with you. Utilize the Prayer Guide for the Day of Prayer and earnestly pray for our Baptist sisters around the world.

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WMU Matters

Joy w Wanda LeeThis morning I started reading the September Missions Mosaic in the way I always do at the start of a new month, with Wanda Lee’s column. Even though I chaired the search committee to find her successor, there was still a lump in my throat as I read the first sentence: “Preparing this month’s From Missionary Ridge has been challenging since I realized it would be my last as your executive director.”

It was an emotional moment for me. Today is my 17th anniversary as executive director for Kentucky WMU. Wanda and I have tracked together across these years. She has been a friend and mentor. I have stayed in her home and she and Larry have stayed in ours. Wanda has been in our state on several occasions for our state WMU meeting. She is a great speaker.

We’ve had a few fun experiences with pulling off surprises. One was help with arrangements for Wanda and family to take Larry to a concert in Lexington, KY. He had no idea!  The other was when Campbellsville University surprised Wanda by awarding her an honorary doctorate. I was in on getting her family in town and keeping them from finding each other until the right moment when we were all in the press box!

Wanda’s last column was appropriately titled “WMU Matters.” She has written this column from the heart and from her “personal belief that what we do through WMU matters.”  But it was the conclusion to the column that made me cry.  During the months that the search committee has been at work, we claimed and asked others to pray with us, Ephesians 3:20-21.  Wanda concluded her column with these verses:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (NIV)

When I read the verses she had chosen for her final words, knowing that we have been praying these verses over the past six months, knowing how God has answered in the calling out of Sandy Wisdom-Martin, I wept at God’s faithfulness.

In our office we were recently challenged to describe what we do simply, succinctly. The statement that grabbed me was “WMU facilitates missions involvement.”  When I think about ministries that we plan such as Kentucky Changers and Mission Adventure for Kentucky Kids, I resonate with what Wanda says – WMU matters!  Because we have planned these missions opportunities, we help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. In local churches and in associations, because WMU takes the lead to plan ways for people to be involved in missions, there are people who get involved for the first time and/or in ways they never dreamed possible. WMU matters!

Thank you, Wanda Lee, for your leadership for the past 20 years at the national level. I am grateful for you and pray for wonderful times with your family in retirement. And I join you and the WMU family in praying for our new leader and the future work of WMU.

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Finding Sandy – Reflections on a spiritual journey

In 2003, the movie “Finding Nemo” was a big hit with children and adults, too. It was the fanciful story of a timid clownfish who set out to find his son who had been captured in a fishing net and taken to Sydney, Australia. I thought of the title in reflecting on the journey of the past six months as a search committee, with myself as chair, sought a new executive director for National Woman’s Missionary Union.

Sandra_Wisdom-Martin croppedWhile the work of the committee will forever be confidential, I can now reflect on the spiritual journey and would share a few thoughts related to “Finding Sandy.” I am thrilled at the calling of Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director of WMU of Texas, as our new leader. She brings a wealth of experience, having also served in Arkansas as a state WMU staff member and as WMU director in Illinois. Sandy is beloved in every place she has served and is known as an able administrator, wonderful public speaker, and visionary leader. She has been affirmed by WMU and state convention leaders alike.

The search for Sandy was, above all, a spiritual journey. We began our work with Bible study on the selection of leaders in both the Old and New Testaments. (In a future blog, I will share a synopsis of our Bible study on selecting leaders.) We prayed often during our meetings. One of our team members regularly sent the rest of us prayer prompts–scriptures and other material to guide us in praying. We fasted periodically as we came to points of decision, seeking to know the Lord’s will above all.

Scripture affirms that “the Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you” (2 Chronicles 15:2 HCSB). In the process of seeking Sandy, we first and foremost sought the Lord. Long before we asked for names of candidates, we sought the Lord.

There was a process which included a candidate profile, prayer, receiving and reviewing resumes, prayer, interviewing, prayer, and other steps. Above all, we prayed and God answered. Indeed, we can testify that when we seek the Lord, we always find Him.

We asked the WMU family to join us in prayer each day at 3:20 p.m. as we prayed and believed Ephesians 3:20-21 for our search: “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us–to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

God is faithful. He indeed has done more than we could ask or imagine in every detail of “finding Sandy.” He has worked out details small and large. There are so many details that came together that I can hardly recount them. Meeting dates were one detail. For our first meeting, I gave the committee only one date–and they all were able to come. When it came time for the full board to meeting, we gave them only one date and they were able to come! If you’ve ever tried to work out calendars with a group of people on short notice, you know what a challenge it can be. These were miracles!

For each member of the search committee, the process was deeply spiritual. While we employed good business practices in screening, interviewing, etc., we were, above all, seeking the one that the Lord had chosen for us. God was faithful. We sought Him first, and in finding Him we also found Sandy.

The life lesson for me is to remember that “the Lord is with you when you are with Him.” No matter what we face, what decision we need to make, what direction we are seeking, what problem needs to be solved, the place to begin is by seeking the Lord.

Please be in prayer for Sandy as she is wrapping things up in Texas and preparing to transition to her new role with National WMU. Pray for our outgoing exec, Wanda Lee, as she concludes her work and prepares to make the transition with Sandy. Pray for Sandy’s family as they move. Pray for the national WMU staff as they prepare to welcome a new leader. And pray for outcomes to be felt around the world because of Sandy’s leadership with WMU. When WMU does our work well, more people are engaged in praying, giving, and doing missions–and those are outcomes that have eternal impact for the Kingdom of God.

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