Children's Blog

Christmas Traditions

Growing up in Mission Friends, Girls in Action, and Acteens, I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know about Lottie Moon or the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Giving to this special offering each year is just as much a part of my Christmas traditions as decorating my house, baking holiday treats, and caroling with family and friends!

While Lottie Moon will forever be my “missions hero,” she was very much like the missionaries serving around the world today. She heard God’s call to go to China, and she obeyed. For 39 years, Lottie faithfully lived among the Chinese people and shared the love of Jesus with them.

While there, she wrote numerous letters home asking Southern Baptists for their support through prayer, financial gifts, and missions involvement. As a result, Southern Baptists gave enough money to send three more missionaries to China.

To honor Lottie Moon and her missions efforts, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is collected each year at Christmastime. The entire offering—100 %— directly helps missionaries around the world tell all God’s children about Jesus!

Really Quiet Moments

I have a friend who talks about RQM (Really Quiet Moments). For her, those moments are a time to pause, stop talking, and listen more intently to God.

I have another friend—whose job involves the constant use of the spoken and written word—tell me that upon her death, she wants this description etched on her tombstone: “I ran out of words.”

I understand both of these friends. Besides being an editor at WMU, I also serve as a bi-vocational pastor. I understand the need to be quiet at times. By the time I’ve preached two sermons on Sunday, talked with countless church members and guests, attended commitment meetings, and etc., I’m ready to head home and enjoy some peace and quiet. No words spoken. No words heard. Just quiet.

Ever have those moments? Ever desire to run out into the woods, get away from everyone, and just be alone?

Make a Difference in Your Church’s Giving

There’s a lot of talk about ways churches can increase the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year. With that in mind, consider this 10–step plan any congregation can incorporate that will ensure their Lottie Moon Christmas Offering will make an internal impact on those who are ministered to, those who give, and those who go.

Begin making a difference in your church’s giving by:

Pastor/Church Staff Appreciation

 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:11–13 (NIV).

October is traditionally Pastor/Staff Appreciation Month. It’s not too late to honor your church’s pastor and staff. As you do, there are a few things to keep in mind. Never forget that serving as a pastor or church staff member is a remarkable and awesome blessing and privilege. But, sometimes, church staff members are the most misunderstood people in the church. Often their hours are long, their pay minimal, the criticism considerable and constant. Despite the joys of serving God, feelings of disappointment and discouragement can plague the best of them.

However, there are several ways that God can use you to become a blessing in their lives:

One Good Turn

Recently, I heard from a church planter in Louisiana and a Girls in Action® director from a larger church in Mississippi. Besides both being from the South, these individuals only have two things in common: they both love Jesus and value children’s missions discipleship.

Their understanding of the need of children’s missions discipleship is what brought these two together. Through a mutual friend, the churches were connected and the larger Mississippi church purchased a Children in Action subscription for the church plant in Louisiana for three years.

We’re talking approximately $200. Just a drop in the bucket to any large church. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

This gift—small to that Mississippi church—will allow the church plant to share the Great Commission and tell stories about missions work happening across the street and around the world with children who have never been part of a missions organization. Eventually, those children will participate in missions.

To the church plant in Louisiana, this is a big deal.

Why Missions Education is Still Relevant

A new church year is underway. It could be you’ve served in children’s missions education for years, or it could be that this is your first year. Either way, there may be times over the next year that you will wonder just how relevant missions education is in your church and for God’s kingdom. It could be that you’ll ask if missions education still has any importance.

Of course, you would expect WMU® to say that missions education is vital! After all, missions education is all that we are about! But, to answer the question about the relevance of missions education, you’ll need more than our word on it.

So, what is the relevance of missions education in 2015? Why should churches continue with missions education programs for children? Here are three reasons to consider.

A Christmas in August Story

This summer, I met a NAMB/state missionary while I was at a missions camp in South Carolina. After introductions, I asked about his ministry on the college campus where he and his family work. He shared with me his passion for reaching the nations through the international students on the college campus, but the conversation quickly changed when he realized I worked for WMU. He wanted to share his Christmas in August testimony.

He and his family were Christmas in August recipients several years ago. As NAMB missionaries, their ministry was chosen as one that could be supported by WMU members around the country through the Christmas in August initiative.

His face lit up as he told me about being overwhelmed with gifts and notes of encouragement. We laughed when he shared that they had trouble deciding where to store the gifts. They were sent so many gifts that they are still using some of the supplies! They are amazed when they receive a card or note in the mail from the churches that sent material support and are still sending encouragement through continued prayer—years after being chosen as a Christmas in August missionary.

Packaged with Love

In an earlier blog last spring, I described how my church does missions during the summer. We take a break from traditional children’s missions programming to better accommodate summer schedules. Now, that’s not to say we take a break from doing missions. Oh, no—not at all! This summer has been packed full of engaging, hands-on missions opportunities for children of all ages!

It’s been a fun summer for everyone, but now all area school systems are back in session. As school teachers have been getting ready to welcome students back to school, my church’s missions leaders have been busy, too, getting ready to welcome returning and new children back to missions!

This past Wednesday night we kicked off a new year in missions with a Christmas in August party. Each missions group was assigned a different Christmas in August missionary and asked to bring items from their list. Rooms were decorated with Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights. Christmas music played in the halls as children gathered in their missions meeting spaces.

Our Changing Times

In the 1960s, Bob Dylan sang a song titled, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

I would go out on a limb to say those words still ring true in 2015, wouldn’t you?

Our favorite soap is new and improved. Our year-old car has now been redesigned. Our six-month-old computer is considered outdated and in need of upgrading.

The times truly are changing. Things change, people change, churches change, and ministries change. I suppose change isn’t terrible—it’s just a reality of life.

However, just as real is the certainty that while all of life changes around us, God and His Word never change! The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

I am so thankful that I can depend on a Savior who is changeless! I am thankful that I don’t have to stand on a foundation that was built this morning or yesterday, but was formed before the foundation of the earth itself!

Meet Sheila Barksdale

Sheila Barksdale is serving her community of Sturgis, Mississippi, as the 2015–2016 Oktibbeha County Assistant WMU Consultant and the Oktibbeha County GA, RA, and CASM Consultant. She and her husband have five children and three grandchildren whom they love to see growing in Christ.

Growing up, Sheila and her friends participated in GA activities, which Sheila says they lived for. She went on to serve her church as Children’s Director, Vacation Bible School Director, and Sunday School teacher. After five years of service as an interim piano player at a friend’s church, Sheila says God called her back to her home church, Morgan Chapel Baptist, where the church’s GA leader asked her to join in leading. “God opened the door wide for the opportunity,” she says.

Sheila says she knows that girls in the GA age range are impressionable. Like sponges, they soak in everything. “This is the time to be training, teaching, and motivating them to a life of servanthood, a life of continual service to God’s plan for each of them.”

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