Children's Leaders

Beat the Wintertime Blues: Plan a Cool Missions Event

Here in the Deep South, we have been experiencing some unusually frigid days this past week. For this Goldilocks-type girl—you know, not too hot, not too cold—the sub-freezing temperatures make me want to stay indoors, all bundled up in my sweats and furry socks in front of a warm, crackling fire. It's even been too cold for my "It's-not-cold-I-wear-shorts-all-year-long" 12-year-old son. Needless to say, he has a bad case of cabin fever and can't wait to get outside to ride that new bike he got for Christmas.

More than Resolutions

I've never been very good at making—much less keeping—New Year's resolutions. Oh, I'll give it a passing thought as I hear others talk about their resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with their kids, etc. However, I've learned over the years that many, if not most, of those people who made those resolutions never kept them for more than a few weeks. Don't believe me? Visit a local gym on January 2 and then again on February 16. See if you notice the difference!

What it comes down to for me is not so much about making yearly resolutions I won't keep as it is about digging in and doing the hard work to accomplish what needs to be accomplished—in other words, setting goals and accomplishing them.

Mangerside Reflections

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, let's take time to consider some of the people who saw this story unfold firsthand.

Mary was intimately connected with this event. Jesus was born to her in a humble stable. Her willingness to let God work wonders through her life was truly inspiring.

Joseph may have been a little confused by the whole thing! Engaged to be married, he was shocked to find Mary was pregnant before their wedding day. Faced with a difficult decision, Joseph stepped up to the plate to help raise this child after a little heavenly intervention.

The shepherds were nothing special. These dirty, flea-bitten dregs of society found themselves in the presence of a mighty host of angels. Imagine their surprise when they discovered they would be the first among men to bear witness to the coming of the Messiah.

Wise men from the east saw a star in the sky that signified a spectacular event had taken place. Traveling from far away, they set out seeking the one true King. They brought their best gifts to give to a Savior they had not yet encountered.

Prepare Your Heart

This past Sunday marked the beginning of the Advent season, a time of preparation for the birth of Christ. I spent the weekend decorating my house, both inside and outside. At church, we adorned the sanctuary with wreaths, garlands, holly and ivy, poinsettias and Chrismons during the traditional Hanging of the Green service. It's even beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at the national WMU building!

Yet, just as we decorate our homes, churches and offices for this special season of the year, we should also prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child into the world. A meaningful way to do this is by participating in the Week of Prayer for International Missions from December 3–10.

Throughout the week, pray for missionaries around the world as they share the good news of Jesus with all the nations. Visit this page on the International Mission Board's website for more details about the missionaries, as well as specific prayer requests for each day:

Connecting the Dots: Help Start a New Missions Organization

Do you remember doing connect the dot puzzles when you were a kid? As you traced your pen from dot to dot, a picture was slowly revealed. It was fun and exciting without being labor intensive.

Did you know that helping other churches set up missions groups is much the same? Each new program is a dot that helps reveal the picture of God’s work in your area. By working together in our own special ministry locations, we add more dimension to the picture—opportunities to reach more people with the gospel.

Just like the childhood puzzle, it is fun and exciting without being labor intensive. You don’t have to worry about where to place the dots, because churches already exist in the communities of your association. You don’t have to fret over who will participate—churches know their members and their communities. Your joy is in sharing missions organizations for children. Share your loves, passions, and thrills. Excitement is contagious, and the gospel is the most exciting news ever!

Family Traditions

Country music fans are probably familiar with the song titled “Family Traditions.” It plays quite frequently on the radio.

This weekend, that song went through my mind as I remembered my family's tradition of putting up Christmas decorations during Thanksgiving weekend. Back in my childhood days, my father, brother, and I would head out to the woods to look (for what seemed like hours) for the perfect Christmas tree. Finally, once we had found the perfect tree, my dad would take the axe and cut it down. Then, we’d head home and get the tree ready to be decorated. For the next few hours, we’d pull out old decorations, lights, and even that long, stringy, silver tinsel that wound up everywhere but on the tree.

Tips for Keeping Older Kids Engaged in Missions Education

As you have probably noticed, kids have short attention spans. Often, a large dose of creativity is required to keep their attention for even a few minutes at a time.

A practical way to keep older kids engaged in missions education is by varying presentation methods. This takes time and preparation. As the missions leader, you must plan ahead to provide an assortment of informational items.

You can use the Internet to show videos about the focus country or people group. This is a great way to find a wealth of information, but be sure to preview any search results beforehand to avoid inappropriate material. Some older kids may be interested in becoming pen pals with a group of children or MKs in another country. As the leader, you can use social media to facilitate these interactions!

Don’t be afraid of trying foods from the area you are focusing on. Recipes are readily available and sometimes include suggestions for substitutions if something unusual is not accessible at your local grocery store. Kids will be delighted to try different dishes, especially if you eat it first!

Catching Up with Donna Shelenhamer

WMU is honored to interview Donna Shelenhamer, a longtime Girls in Action leader. Donna has taught Girls in Action for 52 years and counting. She felt a calling to missions when she was young and wanted to share her passion, so she began teaching first- and second-grade GA groups and fifth-grade boys in Sunday School. Her most vivid memory from teaching GA is something that occurs at every recognition service: she always says, “This is the best group I’ve ever had!” and genuinely means it every year.

All Aboard the Kindness Express! IMS: Russia

In early October, Janet Erwin (Missions Mosaic editor) and I traveled to Appling, Georgia, to experience this year’s International Mission Study (IMS) at Patty Blanton’s farm. For nearly 20 years, Patty has sought fun, creative, interactive, and meaningful ways to provide an unforgettable IMS experience for the Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors of Kiokee Baptist Church and Damascus Baptist Church. It was an invitation we did not want to miss!

As we turned down the gravel drive leading to her farm, the brightly painted onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral peered through the clearing in the trees. Just around the curve, the whole facade of the barn had been transformed into the iconic symbol of Russia, welcoming everyone to a whole new world. I knew then that we were in for a treat! Patty’s husband later exclaimed, “I can see Russia in my backyard!”  

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