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WMU-NC moving meeting to Winston-Salem

April 23 2014 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

Moving its annual meeting away from Ridgecrest Conference Center caused the biggest stir at the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina’s recent meeting.
“After 22 years of meeting at Ridgecrest, many have grown to expect it always to be here,” said Tana Hartsell, WMU-NC president. Many have come to expect the “mountaintop experience.”
Stressing that WMU-NC remains thankful for Ridgecrest, its staff and facilities over its 22 years of meeting at the conference center nestled in the mountains, Hartsell said the organization was looking at the changing needs and desires of its membership.
“The necessity to make a change of some sort was clear,” she said, and many of the details still need “to be worked through, but already there are new and exciting ideas that are beginning to surface.”

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Debby Akerman, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) president, shares with participants of WMU-NC’s Missions Extravaganza April 4-6 at Ridgecrest Conference Center.

Next year the group will meet April 17-18 at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Participants for WMU-NC’s 123rd annual meeting and Missions Extravaganza numbered 734 women gathered April 4-6 at Ridgecrest Conference Center at Black Mountain. Throughout the conference women had the opportunity to attend seven breakout sessions from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning with several major sessions featuring Debby Akerman, national WMU president. Mother-daughter team Melody and Sarah Moore led the weekend’s music.
“In spite of the headline news which would lead us to believe otherwise, God is at work in our world today just as He is at work within our own hearts and lives,” Hartsell said. “The foundation of [WMU] is the basic core value that we believe that Jesus Christ, Son of God, gave His life, a sacrifice for the salvation of all people of the world fulfilling God’s plan for the ages as revealed in the Bible, God’s Holy Word. This is what compels, this is what propels Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina to challenge, prepare and equip Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
Hartsell said WMU-NC is not doing a good job of communicating its own story.
“It isn’t about what we in WMU will do but it’s about what God can and will do through us as we follow where He leads,” she said.
Churches started more than 50 age-level WMU groups in 2013, including Mission Friends, Girls in Action, Acteens and Women on Mission. “You may think those numbers small but it’s what those numbers represent that we must remember,” Hartsell said. “Those are organizations where [people] will be challenged with the knowledge of those around the world living in darkness.”
Hartsell mentioned its support from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) of North Carolina as well. WMU-NC is a “collaborating partner” with CBF, Hartsell said, but also mentioned CBF’s involvement in other Baptist entities in the state including Baptists on Mission (or North Carolina Baptist Men), Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Baptist Retirement Homes, N.C. Baptist Hospital and the Baptist-affiliated universities.
An offering April 5 raised more than $8,200 for WMU-NC. Women learned about ministries such as the new partnership with Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina and Baptists on Mission (or North Carolina Baptist Men) to aid in an orphanage in Guatemala.
Building on the theme “We’ve a story to tell,” Akerman talked about story telling being “one of the few human traits that is truly universal, found in every culture since time began,” Akerman said.
She praised the WMU for being the best discipleship setting for all ages.
“WMU challenges Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God,” said Akerman. “Jesus came to proclaim a message with eternal value and purpose. God has purposed WMU to equip our churches to be on mission, to educate our preschoolers, children, students and adults to live missions lifestyles and to be intentional supporters for our thousands of Baptist missionaries.”
Akerman invited WMU-NC to come to Baltimore, Md., where WMU is holding its 125th annual meeting in June.
Beth Beam, chairwoman of the finance committee, shared the 2013 budget was $1,349,432 based on estimated monthly expenses of $112,453. Contributions totaled $967,343 from the WMU operating fund, Heck-Jones Offering, Crown Club contributions and CBF. Beam noted that the number is down more than $6,100 from the same category in 2012 and more than $22,000 from 2011.
Even with fewer dollars coming in WMU-NC had a net gain of $57,740. Beam said the only reason expenses were less than the income was because of the open position for executive director-treasurer and a preschool/children position.
WMU-NC’s goal of $385,000 for the 2013 Heck-Jones Offering fell short with $314,934. The 2014 goal is $400,000. So far the group has just over $106,000 toward that goal.
A detailed 2014 budget was approved. The budget was set at $991,387. It is available at http://tinyurl.com/2014wmuncbudget.
“This budget represents lives,” Beam said. “We have a dedicated and dependable full- and part-time staff that operates WMU North Carolina. They are fully committed to challenging, preparing and equipping Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
Hartsell, a member of Kannapolis First Baptist Church, was re-elected as president while Denise “Dee Dee” Moody, a member of First Baptist Church in Salisbury, was approved as vice president. Beth McDonald, a member of McDonald Baptist Church in Rockingham, was re-elected as recording secretary, and Barbara Hill, a member of Fairview Baptist Church in Statesville, was elected as assistant recording secretary.
Members of the board elected were (by region): Region 1 – Nancy Scaff, Woodville Baptist Church in Hertford; Region 3 – Deborah Taylor, Great Marsh Baptist Church in St. Pauls; Region 5 – Linda Beaver, First Baptist Church in Salisbury; Region 5 – Kristie Foster, High Rock Church; Region 5 – Joyce T. Rogers, First Baptist Church in Asheboro; Region 6 – Linda Linderman, Deep Springs Baptist Church in Peachland; Region 7 – Jennifer Coffey, Indian Hills Baptist Church in Lenoir; Region 8 – Cynthia C. Marks, Alexis Baptist Church in Alexis; and Region 10 – Nelda Reid, East Sylva Baptist Church in Sylva.
4/23/2014 10:05:43 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

WMU challenged to raise missions bar

January 22 2014 by Julie Walters, WMU/Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  – Raising the bar of missions involvement was the challenge woven throughout national WMU’s board meeting at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala.
National WMU President Debby Akerman said in her address, “With Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me,’ the bar was raised for those following Jesus.”
“For the disciples He had called, as well as those who were the unnamed, not yet committed faces in the crowd, Jesus raised the bar of discipleship to a level that would now require wholehearted surrender, sacrifice and service,” Akerman told state WMU executive directors and staff, state WMU presidents, and national WMU staff.
“A level that would connect the Great Commandment to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself, to the Great Commission, to go into all the world to teach all nations,” she said during the Jan. 11-13 meeting. “It requires sacrificial living.

Debby Akerman, president of national WMU, issues a challenge to "raise the bar" for missions involvement in her address during WMU’s board meeting at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Alabama.

“We, too, must say with those who came before us, taking up the Calvary cross of sacrifice, that we will wholeheartedly follow Jesus and do whatever My Lord gives me to do.”
Tom Elliff, IMB president, also illustrated the need for raising the bar of missions involvement with some statistics:
  • 75 percent of the world’s population live in areas hostile to the Christian faith.
  • Almost two-thirds of IMB’s budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This offering provides funding for the almost 4,900 missionaries on the field.
Currently there are 864 strategic need requests from the field but the current budget will only allow 576 new personnel to be sent this year. There are missionary candidates in the application process who could fill the remaining strategic needs if more funding were available.
“We need spiritual revival,” the International Mission Board’s leader said. “Missionaries working in difficult places would never be sustained by a mediocre faith.
“Missions involvement cannot be limited to a trip, or a focus for one week during the week of prayer,” he said. “We must have a furnace of prayer, 365 days a year, to pray for an awakening across our nation and to pray for the nations.”
Pedro Hernandez, a missionary with the North American Mission Board, also underscored the importance of an awakening across the nation and the critical role of prayer. He and his wife Marjorie are church planters within the New York Baptist Convention. 
Evangelical Christians comprise roughly 4 percent of the population in the New York metro area, Hernandez said. There are about 220 churches, which translates as one church for every 76,000 people.
“Many people in our area are apathetic,” he said. “They view God as a myth or maybe something even good, but not for them. Think of our metro areas as a training ground to reach post-modern culture.”
Hernandez expressed gratitude for all of the prayers, especially in regard to Hurricane Sandy, which opened doors for ministry as people experienced tremendous loss.
“You may not see the results of your prayers,” he said, “but they go far and make a difference. Day after day, we see prayers answered. God is working. We need to raise the bar. They are never enough prayers. There is never enough missions.”
Andrew Mann, also a church planter with the North American Mission Board, serves in the Bronx as pastor/executive director of Graffiti 2 Community Ministries with the assistance of Proof, a professional therapy dog that works beside him in the ministry.
Mann also thanked Woman’s Missionary Union for their prayer support and for raising awareness about human exploitation. “WMU brings a breath of life to a church,” he said. “You are such a blessing. Through your Project HELP focus on Human Exploitation, you helped raise awareness in our area of needs related to human trafficking in New York City.”
In closing, Akerman said, “WMU in our churches strengthens every generation to live surrendered to the call of Jesus to follow Him. As WMU guides our churches to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus and to love the world through the heart of God, Who so loved the world that He gave us Jesus, they will have a biblical, missional worldview.
“We extend a call to our churches and all who are part of WMU to live a totally surrendered life in Christ,” she said, “to live a life marked by personal sacrifice to advance the Gospel of Christ, and to live as a servant of our King Jesus through the missions objectives of WMU.”
In other business, the Executive Board of national WMU:
  • Awarded nearly $178,000 in endowments, grants and scholarships in partnership with the WMU Foundation.
  • Approved $175 million as goal for the 2014 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
  • Approved $60 million as goal for the 2015 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
  • Adopted a new achievement plan for Royal Ambassadors, called RA Trek, to be available in the fall.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU.)
1/22/2014 12:46:59 PM by Julie Walters, WMU/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Woman with N.C. ties joins national WMU as consultant

January 15 2014 by Julie Walters, WMU

Clella Lee joined the national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) staff as leadership consultant on the adult resource team on Jan. 6.
In this new role, she will create strategic plans for developing women in the area of leadership including an online leadership training program to further expand WMU’s Christian Women’s Leadership Center (CWLC).
The CWLC is a partnership between WMU and Samford University for the purpose of assisting women of all walks of life in furthering their leadership capabilities. 

WMU photo
Clella Lee

Lee will help guide and grow the CWLC by implementing plans for experiential learning opportunities, more internships for students at WMU, monthly leadership luncheons, and more.
“Clella brings a great depth of knowledge and practical experience to WMU,” said Carol Causey, director of national WMU’s missions resource center. “Her role in leading the CWLC will give her and WMU an ideal platform to assist women in all spheres of life to be servant leaders.
“We are thrilled Clella is joining us.”
Most recently, Lee served on the staff of Lafayette Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., leading in the areas of evangelism and equipping from 2000 to 2008, and music and worship from 2008 until April 2013.
Prior work experience includes serving at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, N.C., as an adjunct professor in 2010 and 2011.
She was also director of admissions and student affairs from 1997 until 2000.
She also has 14 years of experience teaching in elementary schools which will help give context and insight as she helps develop leadership content for all WMU age-level missions organizations.
Lee obtained a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
She earned a master of divinity with a concentration in Christian education and doctor of ministry from Campbell University.
She and her husband, Brian, who serves as pastor of Shades Crest Baptist Church, reside in Birmingham, Ala. 
1/15/2014 11:25:47 AM by Julie Walters, WMU | with 0 comments

Lottie Moon's story reenacted at seminary

December 19 2013 by Frank Michael McCormack, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – Laurita Miller told the story of Lottie Moon's call to China by portraying the missions trailblazer in chapel at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Miller gave NOBTS students a vivid picture of Moon's lifetime of service to God. She started with Moon's call and the story of her first trip to China, recounting how other missionaries en route to China broke down in tears as they set sail. Moon saw the journey in a different light.
“I could only think with joy that my most cherished purpose was about to be fulfilled,” Miller portrayed Moon as saying. “And in going ... to serve my Lord in north China, I was simply going home, home to the center of what I knew God's will to be for my life.”
Miller, of Birmingham, Ala., also portrays Ann Judson, William Carey's sister, and women of the Bible including Mary Magdalene, Jesus' mother Mary, Elizabeth, Priscilla, Sarah, Deborah, the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well. Miller's parents were missionaries to Hawaii and later to Macau.
“The most asked-for thing I do next to Lottie Moon is a monologue on the life of Mary,” Miller said. “The name of the monologue is 'Just one of God's servants.' It's a 20-minute interesting take on the life of Mary.”
Miller depicted Moon's first few years in Dengzhou, China, as “a kind of training period.”
Moon mastered the language and some of the dialects native to north China thanks in part to the help of a language student. Moon also faced some harsh treatment from the people in Dengzhou, which she later tied to the American style of dress she maintained while there.
Moon spent her first days in China serving alongside her sister, Edmonia. Unfortunately, illness forced Edmonia to return to the United States a short time later, with Moon accompanying her. Moon said family and friends urged her to remain in the States.

Photo by Boyd Guy
Laurita Miller portrays missionary icon Lottie Moon during chapel at New Orleans Seminary.

“But you see my friends, it was God that called me to China, and a calling is not a little thing. A calling is not to be shelved because others don't agree with your calling, or they're afraid for your safety, or they want you to come and be their, or whatever,” Miller said in her role as Lottie Moon. “So I chose to return to China at my own expense, knowing that I was completely dependent on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for my sustenance and my direction.”
During those early years, Moon and other female missionaries became convinced that only women could reach Chinese women with the gospel. A gradual shift from school teaching to direct evangelism and church planting ensued. It was during this time that Moon began her letter-writing campaign as she encouraged Baptist women in the United States to organize for the sake of international missions.
Around 1885, Moon moved to P'ingtu, China, to begin more aggressive evangelistic work. There, she exchanged her American dress for indigenous clothes and experienced an immediate impact.
“For the very first time, I put on Chinese clothing. Do you know ... the adults began bowing to me and would speak to me by my name. And the children – Oh! – the children began following me home,” Miller said in her portrayal.
Moon also saw a huge breakthrough in support from the States during her years in P'ingtu. In 1887, eight new missionaries joined her. And in 1888, Southern Baptist women formed the Woman's Missionary Union and soon organized the first Baptist Christmas offering for foreign missions. The $3,200 collected paid the passage of three women to relieve Moon in north China.
“And of course, I couldn't leave. Someone had to train those women. Someone had to take care of those women” was Moon's response as voiced by Miller.
Except for a brief furlough in 1890, Moon remained in the field despite war, famine and extreme poverty. Her faithfulness paid off. During her service in China, there were thousands of converts.
By 1909, “we had a trained indigenous Chinese ministry in north China,” Miller, as Moon, said.
But by 1912, Moon herself experienced the mental and physical fatigue that haunted so many other missionaries in that time who journeyed to China. Late in the year, the decision was made to send Moon back to Virginia because of her failing health.
“They took my little bag of bones – there was 50 pounds left of me I am told – and took me to the ship and tucked me in a warm berth,” she said. “When the ship docked in Kobe, Japan, on Christmas Eve of 1912, Jesus came to meet the ship, and He took me home with Him.”
Miller used Moon's persona to challenge students in ministry.
“God carves out places for each one of His children to serve Him. For me, it was China. For you, you will soon know. God asks us to serve Him. We are to commit ourselves to Him, and He expects commitment. He expects devotion. He expects sacrifice – at all costs.”
In an interview apart from her chapel portrayal, Miller said she has known the story of Lottie Moon from a very early age.
“In GAs  growing up, we studied about missions and I learned about Lottie Moon,” Miller said. “She's always been something of an icon in our family because of her great mission work.”
Miller attended Samford University in Birmingham, where she majored in theater and psychology. Eventually, she began writing and presenting “biblical monologues” and later portraying missionaries.
“Back probably in the late '70s or early '80s, I started portraying Lottie Moon to support our Christmas offering in whatever church I was in,” she said.
Miller said she also has a close personal connection to Lottie Moon. While serving in Macau, Miller's parents traveled to north China in search of Moon's church and home, which they found. To her knowledge, they were the first modern missionaries to visit Moon's place of ministry.
“It was quite a feat in that day and age for my parents to make that journey, really without a visa,” Miller said.
Miller portrays Lottie Moon for WMU and, four times a year, for the International Mission Board for every new group of missionaries commissioned to serve overseas. She also travels to churches, mostly in the South and Midwest, to give her Lottie Moon monologues.
Miller said the message and story of Moon's conviction, obedience and sacrifice is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
Lottie Moon was the epitome of Christian sacrifice. I know that, in this day and age, we do have missionaries around the world whose lives are at stake. But most of us here at home live very content, complacent lives,” Miller said. “We have a world to win to Christ. He's the only answer. I think it's important we do everything we can to inspire one another to make the sacrifices necessary to spread the gospel.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Frank Michael McCormack writes for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)
12/19/2013 1:00:15 PM by Frank Michael McCormack, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU-NC launches new partnership

December 18 2013 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

As Tana Hartsell stood in front of the messengers at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting Nov. 12, she listed some of the achievements of the women, men, boys and girls of North Carolina.
“We have witnessed God in individual lives and through our organizations and ministries,” said Hartsell, president of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC).
“The foundation of Woman’s Missionary Union is the basic core value that we believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave His life a sacrifice for salvation of people in all the world fulfilling God’s plan for the ages as revealed in the Bible, God’s Holy Word.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Tana Hartsell, president of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina, addresses messengers Nov. 12 during the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting.  

This is the guiding light that propels Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina to challenge, prepare and equip Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
Adults, students and children in churches and associations across North Carolina have “arisen to ensure that indeed God’s story lives on,” Hartsell said, highlighting several of the ministries.
Through SHINE (Serving God, Helping Others, Inspiring Believers, Networking Community, Experiencing Christ), young women ages 18-35 participated in its first mission trip to Pittsburgh, Pa.
In its effort towards missions education, WMU-NC took part in a special day in October at Campbell University highlighting the ministries of the organization.
“God plants the mission seed in women and men, boys and girls through missions education, and He waters it with a passion to arise and shine to support missions with our prayers, our financial resources and our personal involvement,” she said.
That responsibility towards education prompted the Christian Women’s Leadership Certification program through Campbell University Divinity School, which now has three women who have completed the courses.
Habitat for Humanity work continued through WMU-NC. The women took part in a build in Randolph County. In its sixth year, a Habitat leader expressed thanks and praise for hard work on the house in Randolph County. One volunteer said, “I’m doing it because I like to be where God is working miracles.”
Hartsell also drew attention to military missions and Sisters Who Care (SWC). SWC is a ministry focused on African-American women and their involvement in ministry. Through SWC eyeglasses are collected and sent to impoverished areas to aid in ministry.
Military missions can vary depending on the needs or desire of the area. Some may participate in prayer partnerships, encouragement and military family support. A ministry that Hartsell mentioned was a retreat for military wives being scheduled in October 2014. She asked messengers to consider providing scholarships for women to attend.
Each year WMU-NC hosts a prison retreat for women who are incarcerated in the five women’s correctional facilities across North Carolina.

Partnership in Armenia

For the first time in its history WMU-NC has formed a foreign partnership. Hartsell shared about the new partnership with Armenia and thanked North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) for helping with navigating the path. NCBM also has a partnership with Armenia.
In September 2012 a team of seven women went on the first WMU-NC-sponsored trip to Armenia.
“It was an amazing experience,” Hartsell said.
In May 2013 the WMU-NC Executive Board approved the partnership between WMU-NC and Armenian Baptists. Hartsell said the goal is to work with the women on their role in the church and helping them know how to minister in the communities. A team went in May and worked with approximately 130 women in 10 churches.
As part of the partnership WMU-NC had someone develop a 2.5-year course of study for women at the seminary in Armenia. The first class was taught in September with 17 women enrolled.
Hartsell mentioned that a couple was going this month to Guatamala with a representative from the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina in hopes of establishing a children’s home there. (See story in the Jan. 4, 2014, issue.)
She also highlighted the 2014 theme for the Heck-Jones Offering  – “A Cord of Three Strands: His story, our story, your story.” The theme is based on Ecclesiastes 4:12. The Week of Prayer is scheduled February 10-16. Promotional materials are available via wmunc.org.
WMU-NC sponsored a writing competition among the children involved in its organization. Children were asked to write a story about someone who exemplifies a mission lifestyle. Winners of this contest will be featured during the Heck-Jones Offering and will attend a camp free of charge.
“It’s our desire to work with every woman, with every man, with every boy, with every girl, to reach across the street, down the street and to the other side, building those relationships that tear down barriers that so often keep people from knowing the love of Christ,” she said.
12/18/2013 1:07:04 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 1 comments

Housing missionaries stirs ‘exciting journey'

November 8 2013 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

North Carolina Baptists are helping add to the list of housing options for missionaries when they are on stateside assignment.
“It’s been a thrilling experience,” said Jimmy Johnson, pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Rose Hill. He has been leading the way for finishing a missionary house in Eastern Baptist Association (EBA).

While the years of recruiting volunteers as well as supplies has been stressful, Johnson said he’s taken “great pleasure” in the last 18 months leading up to the dedication Sept. 15 in Wallace. He knows the house will be a blessing to a missionary family.
“The Lord just popped things in so fast,” he said, referring to all those details near the completion of the house. “You know He can do it but when it’s happening … it’s scary.”
Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) in Birmingham, Ala., keeps a master list of short- and long-term housing available to missionaries. Recently they’ve seen a trend with churches adding the parsonage to the list. More pastors want to find their own home.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
The living room of the Eastern Baptist Association missionary house was used during the September dedication service as a place to visit and watch a slideshow of the progress of the house renovations that took about five years.

Around 530 homes are on the long-term housing list. North Carolina is the second largest contributor with 58 homes. Texas has 97 houses. On the short-term housing list, there are four states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas – that offer 10 homes each. Short-term housing refers to houses that are available maybe a weekend or a week or two, whereas long-term housing is available for six months or longer. Housing availability varies depending on the area, but some might charge a little rent while others charge only for utilities. Each option is different.
The EBA is in the process of submitting the paperwork to add its missionary house to the list. Dan and Faye Sellers bought the Wallace property next to their house about five years ago. The house had several tenants over the years but owners had not made needed repairs.
“I was going to tear the house down and clean up the place,” said Dan Sellers, pastor of Magnolia Baptist Church in Magnolia. But God had different plans. Sellers had been part of talks within EBA about having a missionary house. The association rented a house for a N.C. couple on stateside assignment from the International Mission Board. That experience planted a seed for the idea of having a house they could use to host missionaries.
Sellers oversaw the initial three years of renovation. Volunteers have given time, talent and supplies to help with the renovations, which involved gutting the house. Coordinating flood recovery efforts in the area prepared Sellers for this renovation, he said.
“It’s been quite an exciting journey,” Sellers said. “We’re real happy with what we’ve got.”
Paul Langston, EBA director of missions, praises Jimmy Johnson and Dan and Faye Sellers for their efforts with the missionary house. “[Jimmy] knows people far better than I ever will,” Langston said. “He can get a lot more done than I ever could.”
Johnson said that while it’s taken longer than anticipated to finish the project, he has been blessed to see the number of people involved in making it happen.
“We’re getting excited about putting it to work,” Johnson said.

A place to call home

“To me [there] couldn’t have been a better use,” said Kitty Judge Vaughan, who spent her childhood in the house. Her father built it during World War II. Vaughan says she remembers moving there when she was 3 years old.
“I’m overwhelmed that it has been restored,” she said. “Momma and Daddy would be very pleased.”

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Eastern Baptist Association hosted a house dedication in September to recognize the availability of the building above for missionaries on stateside assignment.

Vaughan said she has made a habit of driving by the old house when she comes to Wallace to visit the cemetery. She is thankful the Sellers bought the place and that the association will be allowing someone special, aka missionaries, to use the house.
“It was definitely in shambles when they took it over,” she said. “I’m tickled to death that it looks like a home.”
Vaughan said she believes her parents and sister are smiling from heaven at the restored house and the possibility of using the house for missionaries.
“I really appreciate all the labor and all that went into it,” she said. “This house was built with love. It holds a lot of memories.”

Mission opportunity

More than 80 people attended the dedication service Sept. 15 and toured the home.
“This is a great day and a great opportunity for this association,” said Lynn Sasser, executive leader of congregational services for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

“What you have before you is a concrete example of what it means to be on mission.”
A missionary who was at the dedication service said having a place like the EBA missionary house will allow a missionary to rest spiritually and physically.

Another house

While EBA has completed its missionary house, it is not the only house available in its association. Another house is available through Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Clinton. The church added its parsonage to the WMU list in July.
Bonnie Calcutt, wife of the church’s pastor, W.H. Calcutt, has been working with her fellow church members to get the house ready.
When her husband began pastoring Hickory Grove the couple already lived five miles from the church so the parsonage was not being used.
“The deacons met and decided that our parsonage needed to be used for something important,” Calcutt said.
She said the house has been fully renovated, including new plumbing, wiring and flooring.
“It’s ready and available,” she said. “We will just be thrilled when we get a real live missionary.”
Calcutt and others have been busy picking out furniture and supplies for the house as well as preparing a welcome kit to help missionaries learn where things are when they arrive.
She said WMU helped the church understand what was needed and guided them through the application process.
Calcutt’s involvement with the associational missionary house helped inspire her to be part of making a missionary home at her church.
“I wanted it to look like you would say, ‘I want to sit down and stay awhile,’” she said. “It’s been a joy more than you can know preparing for it.”
For more information about providing a missionary house, contact WMU at (205) 991-8100 or email@wmu.org.
11/8/2013 12:58:01 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

WMU marks 100 years of girls’ missions learning

October 3 2013 by Laura Wilson, Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Not many organizations are rich with a heritage that spans more than 100 years, but Girls in Action (GA) and Acteens organizations sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) now have passed the century mark of engaging girls in missions education and involvement.

It was in 1909 when large hats, high button-up shoes and long Sunday drives in a horse and carriage were popular that GA got its start.

In 1907, Young Woman’s Auxiliary (YWA) was created for younger women and grew to 992 organizations within two years. The missing link was involving preteen and young teenage girls in missions, so WMU began publishing literature for these girls in 1909. These missions groups were first included in a 1913 report, and that year was claimed in later years as the official start of missions education for girls through WMU.

Although the names of the missions organizations for girls have changed over the years, its missions purpose remains true. As members of Junior YWA (1909), Junior Auxiliaries (1912), Girls’ Auxiliary (1914); Junior Girls’ Auxiliary and Intermediate Girls’ Auxiliary (1924); Girls in Action and Acteens (1970), girls have come to understand God can use them now – even in their youth – to share His love with others and make a difference.

Many things change within a century, and GA and Acteens have changed and grown with girls and teens throughout the years.

Heather Keller, a children’s ministry consultant for national WMU, describes GA today as an active organization full of girls learning about and participating in missions work in their communities as well as around the world.

“GA is a place where girls can experience Jesus’ love and compassion while they learn to be His hands and feet,” Keller said. “It’s often just the beginning of a lifetime of missions involvement. It’s always exciting ... and common ... to hear about former GAs participating in short-term mission events, becoming fulltime missionaries or reaching out in their own communities in Jesus’ name. GA has a long legacy of creating strong women of faith and prayer.”

As a missions discipleship organization for girls in grades 1–6, members of GA learn about, pray for, give to and do missions work. GA provides weekly curriculum, a Christ-centered peer group for girls, hands-on missions experiences, opportunities for girls to develop leadership skills, lessons about the biblical basis for missions, and godly mentors for girls. GA Journey, an individual achievement plan, further engages girls in missions.

Acteens involves girls in grades 7–12 in missions and helps them develop an authentic faith that leads them to be compassionate and demonstrate a true servant’s heart and attitude.

“Acteens is about empowering teenage girls to understand that God has a plan and a purpose for their lives and He can and will use them in His work in the world,” said Suzanne Reece, a student ministry consultant for national WMU.

“It’s about more than just sitting in a classroom and learning. Girls involved in Acteens know what it means to have a worldview that encompasses all people, and they know that God desires that all people come to know Him. Acteens teaches girls to see a need and figure out how to meet that need rather than simply acknowledging that the need exists.”

Acteens organizations are supported with ongoing curriculum, hands-on missions opportunities and supplemental resources like MissionsQuest, the individual achievement plan for Acteens. Similar to GA, Acteens provides a Christ-centered peer group for teens, opportunities to develop leadership skills, and godly role models.

Celebrating 100 years

Throughout the 2013–14 church year, WMU is encouraging GA and Acteens groups across the country to celebrate their 100th birthday.

“In the last 100 years, hundreds of thousands of girls and young women have invested time learning about and doing missions through GA and Acteens,” Reece said. “Those individuals have been and continue to change their world for Christ. Being involved in missions education truly matters, and it impacts how girls and women view the world.

“It’s also true that missions education for girls would never have survived for 100 years without the willingness of leaders to pass on their passion for missions to the next generation,” Reece said. “This year is a time to celebrate these leaders, the value of GA and Acteens in our churches and communities, and more importantly, what it means to live missionally in the world today.”

WMU is encouraging members of GA and Acteens to give back to their communities, local charities, national organizations and possibly even international organizations in honor of this celebration year.

“A birthday celebration is a great time to promote what is happening in local churches,” Keller said. “Leaders should shout about their church’s legacy of helping to educate children about missions. We want to encourage current and former GA and Acteens to work together on missions projects that will leave a lasting impact on their community, our country and our world.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Wilson is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was an intern at national WMU. Visit wmu.com/ga100 for more information, including celebration ideas, 100th birthday mission action ideas and more. New ideas and additional content will be added throughout the year.
10/3/2013 3:50:51 PM by Laura Wilson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

FamilyFEST displays a servant heart in Ky.

July 26 2013 by Bethany Webb, Baptist Press

PADUCAH, Ky. – “Many wondered why we, at 69 and 71, would try to keep up with our two 9-year-old grandchildren,” FamilyFEST volunteer Irene Murphy said. “Our family has been mission-oriented since the beginning, so we felt this would be a great opportunity to expose them to missions so that they can develop a missions heart.”

Murphy, from South Main Street Baptist Church in Greenwood, S.C., was among 155 volunteers from 13 states who poured into Western Kentucky for FamilyFEST in a partnership encompassing national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), Kentucky WMU, Mississippi River Ministry, Green Valley and West Union Baptist associations.

From July 13-19 primarily in the Paducah and Henderson, Ky., areas, volunteers served alongside local churches doing a range of community projects including prayerwalking, light construction and repair, food and clothing distribution, health care ministries, block parties, Backyard Bible Clubs and Vacation Bible Schools.

In Henderson, three families from South Carolina with children ranging from ages 6 to 15 helped Airline Baptist Church survey the community and host a block party. When the heat began to bother the younger children, they were able to serve by making cards for and singing to the homebound in the community.

In Paducah, families were involved in a community block party and sports camp and in outreach to nurses, staff and patients at a local hospital and nursing home.

“Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla ... these ingredients were key to a great week of missional service in Paducah, Ky.,” said Kathy Thompson, a FamilyFEST volunteer from Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Ky. Thompson, along with her daughter and niece, spent the week in La Center Baptist Church’s kitchen baking cupcakes and cookies. “Amazingly, we prepared over 200 cupcakes in one day’s time!” she said.

Sarah Thompson, a 9-year-old FamilyFEST volunteer, prepares cupcakes at La Center Baptist Church in La Center, Ky.

Thompson’s daughter Sarah, 9, said her favorite part of the project was seeing the smiles of people who received the goodies.

La Center Baptist Church’s sports camp, with the help of volunteers from Friendship Baptist Church in Tallassee, Ala., provided instruction to 19 children from the community in basketball, waffle ball and dodge ball.

In Henderson, along with the sports camp and block party outreach, nurses from Kentucky, Illinois and Louisiana came together to do health fairs. They took blood pressure, did glucose monitoring and gave out health information. They also helped with a revival and Vacation Bible School. The nurses are part of the Baptist Nursing Fellowship, a ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union. Dolores Gilmore, associational WMU director for the Green Valley association, said the nurses enjoyed combining their nursing skills with other skills to help the community.

One health fair was a women and children’s event that also featured a dental hygienist teaching dental health and beauticians from a local beauty college who gave free haircuts. Volunteers distributed hygiene bags for the women and did games and crafts with the children.

“Not only were we concerned about their health problems,” Gilmore said, “we were concerned about their spiritual problems and needs.” The nurses aimed to provide a friendly place where community members could ask questions about their health and the nurses could share the love of Jesus.

“The most important task of the volunteers was servant evangelism,” said Joy Bolton, executive director of Kentucky WMU “As the volunteers served, doing a variety of tasks and ministries, they had opportunity to share Jesus and why they had come. Their encouragement to our local churches was vital.”

Terri Staines, a volunteer from First Baptist Church in Ray City, Ga., said Paducah and Henderson “will never be the same [and] neither will the 155 volunteers who served during FamilyFEST.” In hosting a nightly Vacation Bible School at West End Baptist Church in Paducah, Staines said she and her team “came with a servant heart wanting to be a blessing to others, and all came away with hearts overflowing from the blessings received in return.”

“Working with Kentucky WMU, Mississippi River Ministry, the Green Valley and West Union Baptist associations, and local churches has been such a blessing,” said Kristy Carr, ministry consultant for the national WMU. “Seeing families serving together to serve others is priceless.”

WMU’s FamilyFEST is open to volunteers ages 6 and up while its MissionsFEST opportunities are geared to volunteers ages 18 and older. Kentucky has welcomed three MissionFEST events in the past but this was the state’s first FamilyFEST. Next year’s FamilyFEST opportunities will be in Salt Lake City, June 24-28 and eastern Kentucky, July 19-24. Upcoming MissionsFEST opportunities will be in Atlanta, Oct. 19-25, 2013; Rio Grande, Texas, Nov. 13-17, 2013; and Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 1-5, 2014.

For more information, visit wmu.com/trips.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bethany Webb, who is serving as an intern on WMU’s adult resource team, is a student in communication studies at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.)
7/26/2013 12:12:53 PM by Bethany Webb, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU addresses human exploitation, pornography

June 17 2013 by Julie Walters, Baptist Press

HOUSTON – For 125 years, Woman’s Missionary Union has focused on a singular purpose of engaging churches in missions, Wanda S. Lee, executive director of national WMU, told messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston.

“Throughout our history, addressing critical needs facing each generation has also been a part of our work,” Lee said. “From hunger to AIDS to violence and more, WMU has tried to raise the level of awareness of each issue within the church while offering suggestions for how Christians should respond.”

Over the past three years, WMU has focused attention and provided resources to help churches address various aspects of human exploitation, such as bullying, human trafficking and exploiting the environment.

This year, Lee said WMU is focusing on “one of the most significant issues related to human exploitation that is affecting our families and churches ... the issue of pornography.”

Debby Akerman, president of national WMU and a member of Ocean View Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C., shared the following statistics:
  • Every second, more than $3,000 is being spent on pornography.
  • Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is made in the United States.
  • There are at least 100,000 websites that offer illegal child pornography.
  • The average age of a child’s first exposure to Internet pornography is 11 years old.
  • More than 11 million teenagers engage in Internet pornography on a regular basis.
  • Of divorces, 56 percent involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
In partnership with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Jay Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., WMU launched the Join One Million Men in the War Against Pornography campaign in Houston.

“Through this campaign, we are calling out one million men to live free of pornography and challenging one million women to commit to pray for their spouses, sons and friends as we work together to combat this evil that is destroying our families and invading our churches,” Lee said.

As a church-based initiative, the campaign includes several resources produced by New Hope Publishers, a division of WMU:
  • Our Hardcore Battle Plan A-Z, a 32-page booklet for men
  • Our Hardcore Battle Plan: 1 Million Women Praying, a 32-page prayer booklet for women
  • Our Hardcore Battle Plan: Joining in the War Against Pornography, a book for men
  • Our Hardcore Battle Plan for Wives: Winning in the War Against Pornography, a book for wives
  • Our Hardcore Battle Plan DVD, a small group resource and planning guide for churches.
Also available are a website, www.Join1MillionMen.org; a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JoinOneMillionMen; and a free app with access to a daily scripture and other resources to assist individual believers in the daily war against pornography.

Photo by Bill Bangham
Wanda Lee, executive director of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), speaks about the legacy of developing women leaders during the organization’s 125th anniversary celebration. WMU is also joining in the push to raise awareness about pornography. New Hope Publishers, a division of WMU, published materials to promote the John 1 Million Men movement.

Messengers in Houston were encouraged to visit a campaign booth in the SBC exhibit hall to learn more about the movement. Dennis, author and founder of Join One Million Men, along with other men from his church, were there to answer questions about how to get involved in the movement. Representatives of WMU and New Hope were in their booths to tell about the Join One Million Women Praying effort.

“You may be thinking, ‘Why is WMU tackling such a difficult issue?’” Lee said. “And my response would be, ‘If not WMU, then who?’ Paul challenges us in Ephesians 4:1 to ‘walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.’

“Who will join us in the campaign to bring all men and women, boys and girls into an awareness of the seriousness of this issue,” Lee said, “and the knowledge of God’s love for all of us as He desires a pure and worthy life lived in devotion to Him? As we begin this yearlong celebration of 125 years of missions involvement through WMU, let’s join together and make a difference for Christ.”

Lee also announced that those present at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting June 9-10 in Houston elected Akerman to a fourth term as president and Rosalie Hunt of Guntersville, Ala., to a fifth term as recording secretary of national WMU.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)
6/17/2013 4:26:08 PM by Julie Walters, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Korean missions leader receives O’Brien Award

June 12 2013 by Laura Wilson, Baptist Press

HOUSTON – National Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and WMU Foundation presented Sook Jae Lee of Seoul, Korea, with the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development June 10 at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Houston.

“Through Sook Jae’s leadership many Korean women have enjoyed being a part of WMU,” said Angela Kim, Korean WMU consultant and a past O’Brien Award winner. “She equipped and empowered them to become mission leaders.

“... I have known Sook Jae many years,” Kim continued. “Many times we shared our visions and the joy and the difficulties of the ministry. I also had an opportunity to see her work in Korea and was very impressed by her leadership. Sook Jae’s leadership style resembles that of Dellanna in many ways ... her clear vision, her passion for missions education and leadership development, yet being humble and personal and pressing on to her calling.”

Photo by Thomas Graham
Soon Shil Beck, executive director of the Korean Women’s Missionary Union, gives a birthday greeting and presents Wanda Lee, national executive director and treasurer for the Woman’s Missionary Union, with a check and plaque during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting June 9 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston. The WMU is celebrating 125 years of missions. 

At age 16, Lee received Jesus Christ as her Savior at a GA (WMU’s Girls in Action) camp. From there, God called her to be a nurse as well as a missionary. Lee became a registered nurse, taught at Wallace Memorial Baptist Hospital in Pusan, Korea, and served rural people for 17 years as a nurse practitioner and midwife.

In 1979, Lee attended an international community health seminar in Sri Lanka. While there, she witnessed the spiritual and physical poverty of the people and began to feel called to serve as a medical missionary to Southeast Asia. Through her service, a church was built and many people were saved. Lee also was invited to become the executive director of Korea Baptist WMU (KBWMU). After two years of prayer, she accepted the position.

Through Lee’s leadership, KBWMU entered into several partnerships with state WMUs in the U.S., including Kentucky WMU from 2006-10. It was through this partnership that Joy Bolton, executive director of Kentucky WMU, had the opportunity to witness Lee’s leadership among KBWMU leaders and nominated her for this award.

“Sook Jae’s leadership and influence were evident,” Bolton said as she reflected on several trips she took to Korea. “She had a vision for the future and as a part of our partnership, Sook Jae encouraged one of her associates, Soon Shil Beck, to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. I was particularly impressed with Sook Jae’s investment in Soon Shil to prepare her to become the next executive director of KBWMU and make for a smooth transition in leadership.”

Upon Beck’s return to Korea, she was named associate executive director and then elected co-executive director of KBWMU in 2011. Later this year, when Lee completes her term as president of the Asia Baptist Women’s Union (2009-13), she will retire from KBWMU and Beck will assume the full role.

Linda Cooper, president of Kentucky WMU, said, “Sook Jae is an outstanding leader in South Korea and literally around the world. She is most definitely inspiring other women as she leads by example.”

Established in 1999, the Dellanna West O’Brien Leadership Award for Women’s Leadership Development was created by WMU and the WMU Foundation to honor O’Brien, who served as executive director/treasurer of national WMU from 1989 to 1999. It is awarded annually to a Baptist woman who has demonstrated the ability to foster Christian leadership in women and demonstrates excellence in missions education. The award is accompanied by a grant to help the recipient continue her development and ministry to others.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Wilson is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala., serving as an intern this summer with WMU’s corporate communication team. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)
6/12/2013 3:35:25 PM by Laura Wilson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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