Adult Team Blog

Growing Friendship

Deborah and her husband, Rob, walked around suitcases and boxes crowding their living room floor. They were days from a trip they had planned for months. The kitchen phone rang, interrupting Deborah’s packing.

“Hello?” she answered.

Deborah listened in dismay as a dear friend, Sarah*, shared about a family crisis that suddenly rose up and overwhelmed her.

“I know you and Rob are supposed to leave this weekend, but can you help?” Sarah pleaded. “Please. I have no one else to ask.”

Deborah didn’t even hesitate to assuage Sarah’s concerns; of course, she and Rob would help. Deborah hung up and began making the necessary calls to reschedule their impending trip.

“You can have 100,000 friends on Facebook, but they aren’t your friends,” Deborah says. “They won’t be there for you when you need them.”

Rob and Deborah Brown have made it their life’s quest to form deep bonds with others—the kinds that are sacrificial and mature.

Home Missions

When we think of missions, most of us visualize passports, suitcases, and travel. We seldom consider the possibilities at home. Yet, opportunities abound where we live.

International students, business people, migrant workers, and more live all around us. Many need to hear the story of God’s love and see it demonstrated in our lives.

Without knowing a word of another language, we can serve as conversation partners to help international friends practice their English skills. We can share meals, holidays, shopping, and daily experiences. Learning about one another’s culture opens countless doors.

Imagine how we would feel and what we would want under reversed circumstances. Pray for God’s guidance. Then take the plunge.

Let me warn you: This can be addictive. As God touches others through us, He also changes our hearts.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV).

 

In the Bag

A number of years ago, my husband took a new pastorate. I was quite saddened to learn that there was no missions organization in the church and determined that I would seek to change that.

Shortly after settling in, I mailed a plain brown lunch sack to each woman who actively attended the church. Inside it was an invitation to a women’s get-together at the church with instructions to put something in the bag that represented her and bring it with her to the meeting.

As the women gathered, we shared what was in our bags. Some women brought an item from a favorite collection. Some brought items representing their hobbies. One woman brought a favorite recipe. One woman brought pictures of her grandchildren. Another brought a book she was reading. One after another, the women showed what they’d brought and told their story. We oohed and aahed . . . and had fun learning about each other.

Call to Refocus

“How are you?’ the teacher asked.

“Ready to go home.” I had been at work for an hour and felt defeated already.

Tension filled our office. We complained about work conditions and each other. Most communication from upper management was about unsatisfactory productivity or additions to our workload. I was unsure why God wasn’t intervening although I prayed for help daily.

One morning while praising God for His sovereignty, I released my worries and fears to Him. I decided to trust God and do my work as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). I focused on praising God, setting healthy boundaries, and asking God to help me meet agency requirements.

I told a coworker of my desire to pray with others in the office with similar frustrations, sharing how I found peace after changing my focus. She told me about a self-care group sponsored by a previous employer and encouraged me to “do it.”

Why Bother?

WMU meetings and activities demand an investment of time and finances. Regardless of what we do, they remind us more needs to be done. So, why bother?

Why not spend those precious moments and dollars on ourselves and our families?

A recent associational missions fair answered those question for me. Pressed for time, I quickly set up my table, pasted a smile on my face, and greeted our guests. I discussed my display, stamped the children’s “passports,” and answered questions.

Then two teens approached. After a few moments of chatting, we began exploring in depth the challenges of sharing God’s love at home and around the world. A mixture of excitement and anxiety played across their faces and in their voices. And I saw myself.

I remembered God’s call to share His love. I relived The Great Commission’s tug on my heart. And I thanked God for the reminder.

WMU Wins Souls for Christ

I’ve worked with WMU for several years. I attended several leadership conferences, and I was a workshop leader representing Sisters Who Care. During one conference, Ms. Chocolate spoke about the needs of children in her community. She encouraged us to spread the gospel in our neighborhoods stating, “How will they know unless we tell them?”

I’ve recalled those words often. I’ve interviewed missionaries who are thankful for readers’ prayers for them, their families, and for the salvation of the people groups they serve. Missionaries sacrifice the comforts of home to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those who’ve never heard nor thought of having a relationship with God who created them. “How will they know?”

Lead from Your Strengths

Delores does not like being in the limelight and prefers to work behind the scenes. Evelyn delights in speaking from the platform. Donna has never met a stranger and is very outgoing. Kay’s quiet demeanor and gentleness are well respected by those who have been blessed to know her. Sandy is creative and thinks outside the box. Dawn appreciates her strong missions heritage.

What do these women have in common? They are all strong WMU leaders. I have had the privilege of working alongside each of them.

Perhaps the greatest leadership truth I’ve ever learned came from this collective group. They have taught me that there is not just one way to lead. In fact, there are as many different styles of leadership as there are leaders—because no two leaders lead exactly the same way.

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Follow to Lead

While it may be popular to talk about leadership and to dream about being in charge, the Bible paints a different picture of leadership. Christians who lead because a still, small voice* calls them to do so know the difference.

Why follow God’s leadership? Following God’s leadership works differently than planning our own future. It requires us to hear His voice. While some hear His voice daily, others have not positioned themselves to listen. Sometimes God has to get our attention so that we can hear Him. God often uses circumstances to bring us to a position to lead, and getting to that position may require a strange and unexpected journey.

On a journey, we usually experience some discomfort. Our muscles get tired. Our bodies ache. Our habits may change. We may find ourselves sleeping on uncomfortable pillows or eating foods that don’t taste quite the same as our home-cooked meals. These are small discomforts compared to what our Bible heroes experienced.

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Refocus Every Day

Has God ever had to refocus your life?

When I first got married I went through a period of massive insecurity. I was more concerned about my appearance than when we were dating. The more gentle and loving my husband was, the more terrible I felt. Every mistake I made bothered me twice as much, and every good thing I did only counted half as much. I had big dreams of being an “excellent wife.” I tried, but I couldn’t seem to get it right. I berated and belittled myself for not being good enough. I pleaded for God to show me what to do.

God didn’t turn me into the excellent wife I wanted to be.

Instead, He reminded me that my identity had not changed. I am still His daughter first of all. My situation had changed, but I hadn’t changed in the most fundamental way. I was so concerned with being a good wife that I took my eyes off my real goal. With the wrong goal in sight, nothing goes right.

Prone To Wander

I like to take pictures of my children. Since I have a smartphone, this task has become easier than ever before. Whenever my children are doing something funny or cute, I quickly whip out my phone, open the camera app and snap. In fact, at the time of this writing, I have 2,622 pictures on my camera roll in my phone. Clearly, I like pictures of my children. And since I like to capture these moments, nothing is more frustrating than when I aim my camera, ready to snap, only for the image to soften and lose focus. Suddenly, I’m tapping the screen, trying to refocus the image. Inevitably, by the time I get the camera refocused, the moment is gone. I’ve missed an opportunity.

Sometimes, this happens in our spiritual lives as well. We can lose focus on God’s purpose for our lives through distraction or waywardness, and we can miss out on divine opportunities if we don’t refocus. Let me give an example from my life to demonstrate.

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