Around 250 Southern Baptists gathered for the opening session of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) 2017 Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting on June 11 in Phoenix.
Photo by Van Payne
Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director and treasurer of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), celebrates the 20th anniversary of Christian Women’s Job Corps during the opening session of the WMU annual meeting June 11 at the Renaissance Hotel ballroom in Phoenix. The job corps trains women for life and employment.
“Every moment has a series of defining moments – moments that shape us and change and make us the person we are today,” Sandy Wisdom-Martin, newly-elected national WMU executive director said. She and Linda Cooper, national WMU president, opened the evening and shared personal and biblical “Defining Moments,” in keeping with WMU’s theme for the year. The focus for the opening night was “Redeemed.”
Throughout the evening, various others shared with attendees moments that defined them, ranging from childhood calls to salvation to adulthood calls to live a missions oriented life.
“A defining moment in our lives was when we discovered, even though where we lived was good, and life was great, we had a holy discontent inside of us. We could not sleep peacefully at night knowing that there was something more that God had for us,” said Brandi Parrish, a North American Mission Board church planter in Colorado, originally from Texas. Brandi and her husband Kelly were the highlighted missionaries for the Sunday evening session.
Brandi continued, “Not knowing what that was, we began to pray ‘yes, Lord.’ We didn’t know what we were praying yes to.” They prayed for 12 months and they saw the Lord begin to lay a foundation for them to become church planters. Previously, Kelly worked in executive sales and their only formal ministry experience was as lay leaders.
Eventually, they knew they were called to plant a church in Fort Collins, Colo. The Parrishes shared that the community in which they live has a population of more than 300,000 and over 70 percent of the people have no religious affiliation whatsoever.
“We were scared to death,” Kelly said. “We do know that God doesn’t always call the equipped, but He equips the called. When He called us, we stepped into the ‘yes Lord,’” Kelly said.
He noted, “That means getting up every day and saying ‘yes, Lord,’ whatever it is You have for me today we are going to say yes. We are going to love these people well, and we are going to do whatever it is You have for us because we believe that when we live in the ‘yes, Lord’ we see miracles with our eyes that we would never see if we did not live in the ‘yes Lord.’”
Photo by Van Payne
Kelly and Brandi Parrish, church planters with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Colorado, share stories of changed lives June 11 at the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) annual meeting opening session at the Renaissance Hotel ballroom in Phoenix.
Kelly said they saw the fruits of their labor with their Bible study group growing to around 80 in attendance, overflowing their home and becoming a church. “God has continued to bless. God has continued to do the miracle of bringing the dead to life and we get to be a part of that. You get to be a part of that,” he added.
In addition, a special highlight was placed on the 20th anniversary of Christian Women’s Job Corps, a “WMU dream” and a “nationally recognized program for helping women in poverty become equipped for life and employment in a Christian context,” as described by Wisdom-Martin. A brief history of the ministry was presented, as well as stories of the countless lives touched by the ministry.
Worship for the evening was led by Teresa Harmening, with special music by the Native American Praise choir. Before the general session, a reception was held to welcome Wisdom-Martin as well as a series of speed conferences.
The WMU annual meeting continues June 12 with general sessions in the morning and from 2-3, breakout sessions from 11-12 and 4-5, and a pre-screening of the documentary Mully at 6:30.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Myriah Snyder is assistant editor of the Western Recorder, westernrecorder.org, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)