Leaders Blog

Pray for Missions

Prayer is vital to all we do in WMU. We can’t all go, but we can all pray.

Hold a special prayertime focusing on those serving globally and in the United States. Pray also for those without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel.

Recently I had the privilege of meeting a missionary family who served in Brazil for many years through the International Mission Board (IMB) and learning the story of their miracle daughter, Priscila: 

In 1996, we were pregnant with baby number 4. We were just out of language school and living in Niterói, a city of around 500,000. We had planned on having this baby like the previous 3 and doing natural childbirth. We had finally found a doctor who would agree to not do a C-section and had just begun practicing our Lamaze breathing methods. However, God had other plans. Our youngest daughter, Priscila, was not going to come into this world on time but would instead arrive 2 months premature.

Learn about Missions

WMU resources engage people of all ages in learning about missions. 

In May 2013, children learned about homeless ministries in Baltimore, Maryland. And the weekly lessons quickly turned into a ministry project for the Children in Action (CA) at Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas, when a homeless woman named Delores began coming to the church. 

Steve Lasiter, Woodland Heights Baptist’s codirector of family and children’s ministry, said Delores made homelessness even more real to the children.

As CA members learned more about homeless ministries, they prayed for Delores and helped her as much as possible. The church later found out that she had suffered a stroke and been placed in a rehabilitation facility.

“As we wrapped up our study of São Paulo, Brazil, [in June 2013] and learned how some missionaries share Christ through graffiti art, our CA kids got busy encouraging and loving on Delores through their own graffiti,” Lasiter said.

The Art of Suffering

Suffering—is it a topic any of us are really comfortable with? I personally don’t like to think about it.

Jesus talked a lot about suffering and in Philippians 3:10, I am reminded “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings” (ESV). Really? Participate in suffering? Yet in this verse, suffering speaks to me as an avenue to know Christ better and refine me to be more like Him.

We all experience suffering in varying degrees at one time or another. David Crosby reminds us in his book Your Pain Is Changing You that we can choose how we respond to it. 

On a personal level, my most challenging experience with pain and suffering was my diagnosis and battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It took 6 months to diagnose and a lot of physical pain was experienced. Through God’s grace, I am now in remission.  However, the spiritual battle to stay focused on Christ and relinquish my will to His during the adversity was equally challenging.

See a Need, Meet a Need

One size fits all. Not really. I have never been a “one size fits all” woman. We are all unique. Some are tall, some are small, some are thin, and some are not at all. So if “one size fits all” doesn’t work with our clothes, why do we think it would work with our missions efforts?

There are a lot of approaches to missions growth. But I don’t think that there is one magic approach that fits everyone. Here are a few that have worked in New Mexico.

Look for a need, and then find a solution for that need. We had a small Children in Action group that we wanted to grow. We noticed that many of the elementary students had to wait for older siblings to get out of sports practice to go home. So we changed the time of our CA group to that hour. Now years later, we have more than tripled the size of our original group.

Spirtual Formation as a Leader

We all have opportunities to lead and to follow, and in both cases, our spiritual formation makes a difference in how we treat one another in those roles.

The Bible says that God knew us while we were in our mother’s womb and that He knows our days—including every experience we’ve had. So, often with gaping wounds, we limp into positions of leadership. We want to present ourselves to everyone as a whole person, and we hope that they won’t notice our bandages and scars. Yet the more we try to hide our wounds, the more we expose them.

How does this relate to spiritual formation? In the words of Dr. Noel Forlini, “Spiritual formation is a process of presenting our whole selves to God in order to experience the love of God, so that we can love God, others, and ourselves.”

The whole self includes everything—even the parts that we’ve worked so hard to forget about. Our hidden wounds are actually an important part of our spiritual formation. If we present them to God, we will find ourselves more able to love God, others, and ourselves.

Give and Pray

It is December, time to trim the tree, decorate the house inside and out, and send Christmas cards. Not to mention shop. Shop for family, friends, co-workers, the pastor’s family, the mail carrier, Sunday School teachers, and school teachers. Then there is the entertaining, baking, Christmas parties, Christmas cantatas, and everything else that we are supposed to do in December. Wow! Are you tired yet?

All these things are so fun and make Christmas special and memorable, but they aren’t what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about the incredible Gift that was given to us all, Jesus. We need to make sure that all our activities are about Him and not just about the holiday.

Emphasize International Missions

Look at the Southern Baptist Convention’s calendar and you’ll see that almost every Sunday, week, or month, there is an emphasis placed on something: senior adults, worship music, the Cooperative Program, etc. The first week in December is set aside for international missions.

And there are a number of ways your church can emphasize international missions this week and every week:

IMS Participation Often Leads to Missions Involvement

Hosting the International Mission Study is one sure way to give missions knowledge to church and community members. Participation in the study often leads to prayer for missionaries and their people groups. Many times, attendees are spurred to join missions efforts.

Gwen Moor, former president of Northwest WMU and a member of Dayspring Baptist Church in Chehalis, Washington, said prayer, advance delegating, and working out details are keys to success when hosting the study.

“We use the wonderful materials from the promotion kit to try to spark interest, [do] bulletin boards, [find] posters,” Moor said. In addition to the pastor promoting the study, it is announced in the bulletin for 3 or 4 weeks beforehand. A “guess how many of something that pertains to the country” game is presented. Church members have to attend the study to get the prize given to whoever is closest.

Pray for the World

You only need to glance at a newspaper or listen to the news to become aware of the urgent need for prayer. No longer can we be concerned with praying only for our family, community, church, and state. As leaders, we need to engage our members in sincere prayer for the entire world.

Why not start with the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer on November 7? Consider implementing one of the strategies Gwen Moor, former president of Northwest WMU and member of Dayspring Baptist Church in Chehalis, Washington, used to involve her church in the Day of Prayer:

• Involve all the Baptist churches in your area. Make phone calls and send invitations. Enlist a contact person from each church and ask her to personally invite women to attend.

• Plan to alternate which church hosts the prayer event each year. Or host the event at a Christian Women’s Job Corps site to highlight the ministry hosting the prayer event.

Promote Missions Growth

Our pastor concludes every Sunday morning service with the same reminder: “We are the people of God, sharing God’s love, because God’s love changes the world.”

At any time, our church has members on one or more missions trips or we’re planning trips—domestic, international, or both.

We have an international university student outreach program with welcome activities at the beginning of the academic year, an international Bible study, and friendship families who open their homes to students. For many of these students, this is their first time to attend church or hear the gospel message.

Our church also plans local community outreach, either one-day blitzes or ongoing activities, such as Bible studies at the jail or support of the local crisis pregnancy center. (The pregnancy center rents a house from the church for $1 a year.) In addition, we partner with the university’s Baptist Campus Ministries for local outreach and missions trips.

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