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WMU elects new president, unhindered mission
Charlie Warren, Jim White & Julie Walters, Arkansas Baptist, Religious Herald & WMU
June 15, 2010
9 MIN READ TIME

WMU elects new president, unhindered mission

WMU elects new president, unhindered mission
Charlie Warren, Jim White & Julie Walters, Arkansas Baptist, Religious Herald & WMU
June 15, 2010

ORLANDO, Fla. — Participants

at the 122nd annual meeting of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) elected

a new president, listened to Sudan’s ambassador, honored Kaye Miller’s five

years as WMU president, and heard missions challenges June 13-14 in Orlando.

Debby Akerman of Ocean View

Baptist Church of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was unanimously elected WMU president to

succeed Miller. A native of Massachusetts, she has led Girls in Action

organizations in her church since 1982 and served as WMU director many years.

Akerman served as WMU

president for the Baptist Convention of New England from 1993-97.

BP photo by Cat McDonald

Debby Akerman, left, of Oceanview Baptist Church of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was elected as the new president of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), and Rosalie Hunt of First Baptist Church of Guntersville, Ala., was re-elected recording secretary for the WMU during the 2010 National WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting.

In 2007, she

received the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development.

Akerman, a nurse for 30

years, and her husband, Brad, share a ministry leading Bible studies at Street

Reach, a mission in Myrtle Beach that ministers to the homeless and people

struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

Akec Khoc, Sudan’s

ambassador to the United States, requested prayer for an African nation torn

apart by civil war.

“Those in the north and

south are trying to bring results through the barrel of a gun,” Khoc said. “But

healing can come only through prayer to God. … We are appealing to you to pray

to our Heavenly Father for the people of Sudan. Only through him can we find

peace. … Pray that north and south can agree on peace and unity and partnership.”

Ken Welborn, North American

Mission Board missionary to the United Nations, noted Sudan’s civil war has

resulted in genocide. The fight is over oil, he said, but Christians in Sudan

are fighting for their homeland. A fragile peace accord had been reached, but

current tensions threaten to break it, he reported. Welborn urged the women to

join Sudanese Christians in 40 days of prayer, Dec. 1-Jan. 9, for peace in

Sudan.

In her last address as WMU

president, Miller followed the program theme, “Unhindered,” based on Hebrews

12:1, speaking of facing challenges in God’s strength despite hindrances.

Miller, a member of Immanuel

Baptist Church of Little Rock, Ark., said while growing up as a missionary kid

in Thailand, she learned many things try to hinder the work of missionaries on

the field.

She recalled how her

childhood Thai friend, Sombon, suddenly quit attending school.

“She just

vanished,” Miller said.

Years later, Miller saw her in Bangkok.

“Because there was no money

in her family, she had been sold into prostitution … Her father, an opiate

addict, sold her services from the time she was about 11 years old,” Miller

explained. “My heart broke, partly because I felt guilty for not being able to

find her earlier, and for all that she had been through. She looked old and

used. She was just a shell of who she used to be. … I never saw her again.”

In November, Miller received

a letter from Sombon.

“After I saw her, something

had stirred in her soul and she knew she had to get out of the life she was

living. A Southern Baptist missionary woman who felt called to minister to

these trapped women often came by her club to talk with her, … to share about

Jesus,” Miller said, noting that missionary felt called to missions as a GA.

“Sombon escaped from the

life of prostitution to a life in Jesus Christ and was able to make a life for

herself and her family. She was redeemed in Christ. … Sombon is now teaching

young girls that they too can be all they can be through Jesus Christ.”

Human exploitation “is not

just happening on the other side of the world,” Miller said. “Right where you

live, young girls are being trafficked for prostitution or some form of

exploitation.”

She encouraged the WMU

annual meeting participants to open their eyes and hearts, learn about the

issues and seek out ways to help.

Reflecting on her term as

WMU president, Miller said: “These have been five incredible years of serving

the Lord through Woman’s Missionary Union. There have been many hindrances

along the way, but the Lord continues to have his hand upon WMU and continues

to guide and greatly bless us as we continue to be radically involved in his

mission to reach the world.

“I pray the fire for

missions never goes out, never dims as you serve our risen Lord.”

Noting Wanda Lee has

completed 10 years as WMU executive director, Miller told the assembly WMU is

renaming its Joy Fund — which meets pressing current needs and secures the

organization’s financial future through the WMU Foundation — as the Wanda Lee

Joy Fund.

In his first public address

after being elected president of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee,

Frank Page challenged participants at the WMU annual meeting to guard against

complacency.

Citing Luke 13:1-9, he shared the parable of the fig tree and said

the sin of uselessness is paralyzing Southern Baptist churches.

While God has a plan, Satan

also has a plan — to move Christians from their initial excitement over

salvation to becoming useless, like the fig tree that did not bear fruit, to

being a negative influence in the church, he said.

“It is a satanic strategy to

destroy the Great Commission work in the church,” Page asserted. “But the

reality of grace is that Jesus is interceding on our behalf … to give us another chance, another

opportunity to do what he called us to do in the first place.”

Major General Doug Carver,

Army chief of chaplains, addressed how he remains unhindered as he carries the

Great Commission “in a somewhat restricted environment.”

Carver said he feels total

freedom in Christ, “unhindered, uninhibited and unrestrained.”

Noting 300,000 soldiers are

deployed, many in harms way, he said everywhere troops are “there are chaplains

bringing the presence of God.”

Soldiers “are stretched and stressed” in a

“destructive environment” that sometimes results in suicide, divorce, and

alcohol and drug abuse, he said.

Chaplains play a unique

pastoral position, Carver said, supporting the U.S. Constitution with “close

attention” to the First Amendment, allowing exercise of total freedom of

worship for all religions, while they “look for ways to share the hope we have

in Christ.”

A missionary couple who

serves in South Asia and cannot be identified for security reasons, told of the

billion and a half spiritually lost people in South Asia. They shared stories

of movements of God among Hindu and Muslim people groups, and they asked WMU to

pray that Muslims “will have a holy curiosity about the Bible and about Jesus.”

Author Jennifer Kennedy Dean

challenged her audience to put aside any hindrances to Christian service, just

like elite athletes do what is necessary to give themselves an advantage in a

race.

“They shave themselves from

head to foot and diet so they don’t have any lumps causing drag, and they will

wear clothing that pokes in anything that might stick out and create wind resistance.

That’s how it is with us,” she said. “Let us do the same thing they do. Lay

aside anything that hinders.”

Monica Allen, a missionary

in Swaziland, described her call and of the needs of that African nation.

“Over

40 percent of our adult population has AIDS,” she said. “We may become the

first nation to wipe itself out through the AIDS epidemic.”

Sharon Fields-McCormick, a

NAMB missionary, addressed the commercial sexual exploitation of children in

the United States. Painting descriptive word pictures of the tragedies each

girl endures, she challenged WMU to do more to bring justice to these children.

Mary Lou Serratt of

Amarillo, Texas, received the 2010 Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s

Leadership Development. Serratt has served in church, associational and state

WMU leadership, including serving as vice president of Texas WMU and a

volunteer multiethnic consultant.

She has been involved with Laotian,

Vietnamese, Cambodian, Sudanese, Burundian, Iranian, Iraqi, Korean, Liberian,

Burmese Chin and Karen people through First Baptist Church in Amarillo.

Joy Cranford, a member of

First Baptist Church of Fort Mill, S.C., received the Martha Myers GA Alumna of

Distinction Award, given annually to recognize a GA alumna who influences the

lives of others for Christ and serves as a positive role model for girls.

Cranford has served as GA

leader and director in her church, GA director for the York Baptist Association

and GA consultant for South Carolina WMU. She served on the first advisory

council for the Christian Women’s Job Corps of York County, S.C., during the

pilot year and was one of the first to serve as a mentor. She remained an

active volunteer in the CWJC ministry all 13 years of its existence in the

association.

Angela Kim of Houston and

Lee reported growth in missions education among Korean Baptist churches in the

United States.

In 2007, national WMU and Texas WMU partnered for a special,

three-year project to provide Korean-English bilingual missions curriculum for

preschoolers and children.

With these materials, the Korean leadership team,

comprised of Korean pastors’ wives across the United States and led by Kim,

began missions education in more than 10 percent of Korean churches in the

first year of publishing.

“WMU has long embraced the

importance of equipping and involving every church of every language and ethnic

group in the Great Commission,” Lee said.