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Nell Branum

My name is Nell Branum. I am one of your Preschool Team writers, and it is a joy! I love preschoolers (good thing, as I have 8 grandchildren!) and I love writing. But as 2018 picks up steam, a new opportunity has presented itself to me, and it has to do with your WMU Preschool Team.

Our beloved editor, Robin McCall, is making a shift in her job responsibilities at WMU. For the past 5 years, Robin has served as editor of Preschool Resources, leading the team that produces our helpful Mission Friends curriculum and products. Robin was a Mission Friends teacher long before she became an editor, and she has a true love for preschoolers and missions. She has done an amazing job. But the trouble with multi-talented people is that they can do many things! And God has led Robin to shift into helping our WorldCrafts and WMU customer engagement hubs to deepen their ministries. Robin, we thank you for your energy and commitment, your invaluable contributions to preschoolers, and your sweet spirit, and we are praying for you as you follow this new path.

Getting to the Gospel in Everyday Conversation

I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d gotten us into, but we paid for the special entry pass and entered the temple.

I was showing some friends around my city and made it a point for us to visit some of the larger temples in the area.

We walked around, observing the worshippers praying and walking in front of a gold altar displaying ornate, manmade gods. Our special entry pass gave us an opportunity to talk to a priest. He wanted to pray to his gods for us, but I quickly explained to him that we were followers of Jesus and prayed only to Him.

The priest said he knew of Jesus and began to explain that Jesus was a messenger, the Son of God but not God incarnate. I replied, doing my best to find the right words to explain the gospel in a way he would understand. The priest continued to argue his point, but seeing that we wouldn’t come to agreement, he prayed to Jesus for us and we finished our temple tour.

No matter if I find myself in a temple, a coffee shop, or the back of a taxi, when I’m in a conversation with someone, I do my best to look for ways to bring the gospel into it.

Doing a Lot with a Little

I recently had the opportunity to re-read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

To recap, over 5,000 people came to hear Jesus and even be healed by Him. Gathered out in the middle of nowhere, people started getting hungry as the day wore on. Jesus perceived the need at hand and asked His disciples where they could find food for the people there. His disciples were not very optimistic. Even if they could find something for everyone, it would cost as much money as a single man could earn after 200 days of work just to give 1 person a tiny piece of bread to eat. What they did find was a small boy who offered to share what he had: 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.

Spoiler alert: with those 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, Jesus was able to abundantly meet the needs of the people. Not only was He able to meet their stomachs, but there were also 12 baskets of food left over! It was a miracle! Something only God could do.

How Do We Teach about Places So Far Away?

As we talked about the ministries of Ryan and Seané Rice in New Orleans this month, my little Kathryn said, “I went to New Orleans.” I could tell a spark of recognition in her expression. Then I was able to ask her what she saw there and what she did in New Orleans. This was unusual because my Mission Friends have usually never been to the missions areas we learn about in Mission Friends. How do we teach preschoolers about a place they have never been before?

Preschoolers are limited in their understanding of time and distance. To them, and hour’s drive to their grandmother’s house seems like a long distance. They do not fully understand a map because on the map another state or country is only a few inches away, and that doesn’t seem like very far. They cannot yet translate in their minds how many miles those few inches on the map represent. How do we teach about places so far away?

The Thread of the Gospel

Quilting runs in our family. Our girls will inherit quilts made by their great-great-grandparents, which I tend to think is a neat concept. An old quilt can somehow make a person feel right at home. Through the years, the fabric gets soft but the threads hold together. Each piece was sewn together uniquely by hand or machine—using fabric our grandparents and great-grandparents probably had as scraps from an old dress or shirt. A quality quilt will last for generations.

In the same regard, sharing our story of how the gospel has affected our lives has been passed down to us from someone else and is a unique story we share with others.

Second Peter 1:3 gives us assurance that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

Focus on WMU: It’s about Missions

Focus on WMU is not about WMU. It’s about missions. It’s about the work of God through the church by which the gospel of Jesus Christ is extended in word and deed to all the people in the world.

WMU is just a vehicle through which Christian believers can “understand and be radically involved” in the work of God. It encourages participation in the work of the church and denomination. It aids in developing spiritually toward a missions lifestyle, which includes learning about missions, praying for missions, giving to missions, serving in missions, and supporting missions.

Use Your Strengths to Reach Others in Your Workplace

When you look around your workplace, what do you see? Or rather, whom do you see?

You probably see people with various backgrounds and personalities. Some you may identify with and others you may find quite different from you. But do you see your workplace as brimming with outreach opportunities? After all, your workplace is probably where you spend most of your time second only to your home.

So how do you build relationships with people at work? There are nuances involved in work relationships such as trust and support. The key to navigating these nuances is to know your strengths and understand others’ strengths.

Start by taking a test to determine your strengths and different aspects of your personality. Think on each of your strengths and traits and take some time to write out ways you can use your strengths to build relationships with others. You don’t have to have almost all relationship-building strengths in order to accomplish that. All you have to do is work through different nuances with your co-workers by combining your strengths with theirs.

Lead with Confidence

As a small child, I was afraid to go to the counter at a fast food restaurant to ask for a drink refill. I hated it so much. I couldn't tell you why—the people behind the counter didn't have a reason to refuse me a free refill. And I highly doubt the scenarios of humiliation I pictured in my head would have ever happened in real life. Nevertheless, I was too shy. My parents would usually make me go anyway; otherwise, I wouldn't get a refill. I’m thankful to them now for trying to get me to be less shy, although I'm certain I didn't appreciate it at the time!

When I was in school, I had so many opportunities to speak up and answer questions posed by my teachers. I probably only spoke up about 15 percent of the time. I felt a desire to raise my hand when I thought I knew the answer, but I didn't want to risk being incorrect and humiliating myself. As it happens, I usually had the correct answer and would be disappointed that I didn't speak up. But I couldn't risk it, right?

Focus on WMU "by All Means"

I remember so vividly my years as a GA. I enjoyed learning about missions, praying for missions, giving to missions, and doing missions. It was in Girls in Action that I learned about the Cooperative Program and how the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support missionaries. GA was my window to the world.

As an adult, I knew the impact WMU missions organizations had had on my life and I so desired that my daughters would also have that biblical worldview. I became a GA leader before my daughters were in the first through sixth grade. It was such a joy seeing the gospel come to life for them as we learned about missions in GA.

Throughout GA and all the other WMU missions organizations, you will find the following 6 objectives in the curriculum and other resources:

Extending the Story

Extend the story of I Can Do It! through activities related to the story. As you read the book with preschoolers, use these activity ideas with your Mission Friends® to continue learning about the concepts in the book.

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