Leaders Blog

Reporting: Share Your Heart

Reporting. It is a word that immediately conjures up negative thoughts in the minds of many. Reporting is often associated with endless facts and statistics, which can lead one to lose interest in the subject that is being reported. It doesn’t have to be that way!

It’s Christmas . . . in August!

Christmas in August—yes, that’s right! No need to wait until December to celebrate. You can get in the spirit of giving right in the middle of summer.

Christmas in August allows members of all age-level WMU organizations, entire churches, and even associations the opportunity to be involved in mission support through providing needed items for North American missionaries.

Cindy Skelton, Girls in Action leader at St. Andrews Baptist Church, Columbia, South Carolina, shared that her GAs choose a missionary for whom they will bring gifts. In September, they have a meeting where they sing Christmas carols, make an ornament to remind them to pray for the missionary, and enjoy Christmas cookies. If possible, they invite the missionary to come to receive the gifts and share about his or her ministry during the meeting.

Sandy's Desk: Cultivating a Missions Lifestyle

Someone once asked me, “How do you cultivate a missions lifestyle in young believers?” I answered the question with examples from my life. It started when I was in Acteens. The Girls in Action leader of my church asked if I wanted to help her with GAs. Then I was given opportunities for leadership through state missions camps and state Acteens Activators teams.

In college, the associational WMU council invited me to join its team. We traveled for hours together to state training events. I taught missions discipleship conferences in the association. I was awful. They loved and encouraged me anyway. When I felt God’s call on my life and made the decision to go to seminary, my associational WMU director used her own money to drive me to visit the campus two states away.

Do you get the picture? Missions leaders taught me. They loved me. They accepted me. They gave me responsibilities. They let me fail and learn. They poured their lives into mine. We have to love, nurture, bless, and turn our young people loose for God to do what He wants through their lives.

Christmas in August gifts create 'pathway to sharing the gospel'

Kathy Parsons with daily delivery of items from donated through Christmas in August

Do you ever wonder if Christmas in August matters to missionaries and church planters? Just ask David and Kathy Parsons who serve as missionaries through the North American Mission Board in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They were recipients of Christmas in August gifts in 2016.

“The Christmas in August items sent to us expanded our vision and gave us resources we did not have,” David shared. “This program caused us to humbly stop and see how God works and that He has used others across America to provide for our needs.” 

For 90 years, members of WMU missions organizations such as GA, RA, and Acteens have purchased and sent items to NAMB missionaries to help advance their outreach efforts.

David and Kathy provided WMU with a list of items they needed and soon received 20 to 30 boxes a day, with around 500 boxes received in total.

“We received the boxes on our front porch and I would bring them into the living room to stage for delivery,” he reflected.

Bitten by the Missions Bug

Missions is in my blood. I grew up with a mother and a grandmother who loved missions and it has always been a part of my life. Even though my love for God and missions started at a young age, becoming involved in missions requires no set age or way.

People both young and old can pray for missions, give to support missions, and participate in missions close to home or far away. Once you have been bitten by the missions bug, praying, giving, going, and serving are things you will continue to do forever as you develop a missions lifestyle.

Find ways to get others involved in missions by connecting the DOTS

A Life-Changing Event

When you hear the words kids, summer, and camp, some pretty awesome memories probably pop into your head, but add the word missions to the mixture and you have an amazing adventure waiting to happen!

Missions camp is full of all the exciting things summer camps usually consist of, such as canoeing, swimming, silly songs, arts and crafts, and making s’mores over campfires, plus a missionary or 2 to talk and interact with campers all week.

But it is more than just the experience of doing fun activities and seeing old friends and making new ones. It can be life changing as campers hear stories of how God has used missionaries both in faraway places and in places very close to home and called them to serve in ways campers may never have heard of before. Missions camp may be when kids and teens accept Christ or what motivates them to pray, give, and serve others on a whole new level once they return home.

Feed the Hungry

Rather than just a once-a-year emphasis like Global Hunger Sunday, some churches maintain a year-round global hunger missions plan that involves all age groups and missions organizations. Some events are churchwide, some specific to a particular age or life stage, and some sponsored by one organization but open to all. Events might include the following:

CHRUCHWIDE

• Host a community Thanksgiving meal. Invite participants to bring nonperishable items for the church or community food pantry or an offering for Global Hunger Relief

• Schedule regular offerings for global hunger, the local food pantry, or the church benevolence fund—after Lord’s Supper services, one Sunday per quarter, or other times the church chooses.

• Invite a North American Mission Board or International Mission Board missionary to share how funds given to the offering for Global Hunger Relief have been used to meet physical as well as spiritual needs.

SENIOR ADULTS

Experiencing the Ripple Effect

Have you noticed that when God is at work, there is a ripple effect? Not only does He change the life of an individual, but often He also affects the individual’s friends and acquaintances.

I love seeing this happen in Luke 5:17–26. A man is lowered by his friends to Jesus. He is healed. Not only is the man healed but his friends’ faith is also strengthened and the crowd is amazed. I saw the same ripple effect course through the Familyfest held in our city of Indianapolis in 2015. 

Here’s a glimpse into what took place to plan our Crossroads Baptist Association Familyfest:

The Association: More than Marketing

We support lots of organizations throughout our lifetime: parent/teacher groups at our children’s schools, local and national charities that touch our lives, neighborhood supper clubs, professional organizations related to our employment. All these groups are excellent and meet a relevant need, but what about your local Baptist association? When was the last time you celebrated what God was doing in and through your association’s churches?

People are starved for meaningful community, and they want more than just being a target of marketing and consumerism. Associational missions can be the connector for people to experience a holy more as you partner with others of like mind. Heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul encounters through associational missions are a beautiful thing that changes you and your community.

Many church members have forgotten or never learned how Baptists partner through the association. An Associational Missions Emphasis event is a fun way to educate them. The payback is huge. God is glorified and people are loved and helped in the name of Christ.

Plan

Celebrating WMU Missions

Nothing is more inspiring and encouraging than a room full of like-minded women who are passionate and excited to serve God. It gets your heart pumping! That is how I felt attending the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Saint Louis, Missouri, in June 2016.

As a state WMU leader, I am always looking for workshops, ideas, and content that can be recreated in our churches, associations, and state WMU annual meeting. National WMU is always there with an encouraging word and prayer support. The national staff encourages us to realize the goals of informing churches of the necessity of missions education. As state WMU executive directors, state WMU presidents, and church and associational WMU leaders gather from across the country, we are reminded of social issues that are affecting our society today, such as human trafficking, pornography, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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