Long before most people were aware of Diana Davis’ “fresh ideas,” her daughter witnessed her mom’s imagination and creative spark.
Diana Davis, right, and daughter Autumn Wall, coauthors of the new missions book Across the Street and Around the World, head to the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention to help lead a retreat for pastors’ wives.
“Her creativity is what has always made life in our family so much fun!” Autumn Wall said, recalling how her mother was always starting something new or turning an ordinary day into something adventuresome.
“For our family, she constantly used her creative ideas to help us understand that serving God is an adventure,” Autumn said via email.
Davis, whose “Fresh Ideas” column is a regular feature in Baptist Press and state Baptist newspapers, said missional living was something she and her husband Steve, now a vice president with the North American Mission Board, built into parenting to set the example and involve the family in reaching out to others for Christ.
“We watched our kids – and now our grandkids – learn to delight in helping others in Jesus’ name,” Davis said.
“We included our children in a variety of simple projects and actions in Jesus’ name – local ministry as well as mission trips. And we had fun. Parenting affirmed the simplicity of a missional lifestyle.”
Davis, who had authored four books, was praying about her next project when New Hope Publishers approached her with the need for a book of practical mission action ideas. She knew this was her answer to prayer and she knew she wanted to write it with her daughter.
In Across the Street and Around the World: Ideas to Spark Missional Focus, Davis and Wall offer more than 1,000 missional living ideas. Challenging readers to live intentionally for Christ, they give practical suggestions, ideas and projects to fit into multiple timeframes and lifestyles.
“Autumn would have been a behind-the-scenes partner in my book project anyway,” Davis said. “Between Autumn and me, we’d been personally involved in the vast majority of mission ideas in the book over the years.”
Wall, who went on her first international mission trip at age 11, said the lessons she learned growing up are part of her current missions lifestyle in Indianapolis, where she and her husband Yale planted a church and are raising two foster children.
Having gone on dozens of local and international mission trips with many opportunities to share the gospel, Wall noted, “Just doing it over and over again gave me confidence that I’m now able to use here in Indy to share the gospel unashamed with people I know and people I don’t know.”
Davis said she feels that the empowerment of individuals is often a missing element in many churches. That’s one reason she and Wall made the book so practical. There is something for everyone.
“We hope that this book will take away all the excuses we make to not be on mission,” Wall said, “and help families, small groups and churches get up and get out to do something across the street and around the world from where they live.”
“This isn’t a reading book. It’s a going book,” they write in the book. “We’re praying that you’ll become so enthused you’ll hardly be able to finish a page before starting a project.
“Often, the church does a great job of caring for its own, but it seems we’re lacking in the going,” they write. “The harsh truth is, we are not reaching the rapidly growing population around us fast enough.”
Chapters of the book include one-hour, one-day, one-week and long-term mission ideas. Events like a Christian concert on church grounds might take some planning. Other suggestions, like an evangelistic message on the church’s sign, can be done quickly but will reach the community, Davis and Wall write.
Davis hopes the organization of the book into time commitments will emphasize that missions can be done simply and quickly, but that it’s important enough to make a lifelong habit.
The habit of living intentionally for Jesus is one Davis is glad to see families embracing. She said it’s exciting to watch parents make family plans to save for mission trips or do acts of service together in their communities.
The vast majority of the world, they remind in the book, is “without hope. Without peace. Without someone to cry out to in times of pain and confusion or to rejoice with in good times.
“The longer we live as believers the more difficult it can be to remember what life was like without Jesus,” Davis and Wall write, “but as we begin to recall the emptiness we felt before Christ we are reminded of the urgency of this mission to go make disciples of all nations.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Leslie Peacock Caldwell writes from New Kent, Va.)