WMU Blog

Church Planting in Arizona

Psalm 96:3

“Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:2–3 NIV1).

In Phoenix, Arizona, Hernando and Alcira Cardenas live out this Scripture every day. Mr. and Mrs. Cardenas are able to take the gospel to the nations, because like so many church planters in the United States, the nations have come to them. Incredibly, Mr. Cardenas is currently planting two Hispanic churches.

Pen Pals

Making friends is so important for kids! It is especially fun to make friends who share your interests but live somewhere else—a different city or state, a different culture or family. Connect with other missions groups to pair children with a pen pal. Missions leaders can connect over social media with other leaders. Post a photo of your group and then send details.

Lead children to write a letter or email. Or, send a package as a group filled with items. Here are some fun ideas children can include:

  • natural items that you find in your hometown, such as flowers, leaves, rocks, or sticks
  • handmade items like a special photo album, artwork, a keychain, or a craft
  • a postcard from your hometown or state
  • a candy or snack item
  • a favorite Bible verse
  • a map you drew of your town and church
  • a copy of your favorite song
  • a sheet of stickers to share
  • anything from a dollar discount store

5 Things Every Graduate Needs to Hear

The month of May usually finds students across the country with only one thing on their mind: Summer vacation! But for many, this yearly pause comes with an added weight of expectation.

Graduation. The end game of the elementary, the medal of honor for the middle schooler, and the holy grail of the high school senior. For many, this long awaited day is fast approaching. But before these happy few take off for parts unknown, make sure they take a little time-honored wisdom with them as they go.

 

Change Is Coming

Truly, graduation marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Peeking out from underneath the shelter of family and the security of childhood can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Dive in to the “new.” Don’t be afraid to live into this time of transformation!

 

Rise to the Challenge

You got this! Yes, “adulting” is hard. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will find that the world is a lot more complicated than you thought. But you can make it! When you fall, get back up again.

 

Plan a Recognition Service That Celebrates Everyone

I remember recognition services where proud parents beamed as their children’s achievements were celebrated. Little boys squirmed and little girls smiled at the attention from the adults. Where did those days go?

Recognition services are out of sync with our sophistication today. But what have we lost? The entire church was enlivened by the simplicity, beauty, and joy on the faces of its children. Adults saw the fruit of their hard work and were encouraged. Those who worked with children and youth were celebrated and honored for their faithfulness. Children and teens felt as if they were part of the whole church and that their service to God mattered.

But what about the children with developmental challenges? How do they and their parents feel?

Our church was celebrating the end of the semester, before the holidays, with a special Sunday night service and fellowship time. The children had memorized their verses and made posters of their missions projects. They were excited and a little scared about Sunday night’s service. Their leaders were, too.

Be Real!

Genuine, bona fide, true. . . all key ingredients to relationships that matter. Being real with people can help us earn the opportunity to share the Gospel. So, how do we cultivate authenticity with those around us?

*Start with honesty. Find common ground without pretending to be something you’re not. Share strengths and struggles with humility, at appropriate times.

*Accept others. Refrain from judging people when they share things happening in their lives. Even if it’s not something you’ve encountered, try to acknowledge their feelings. When you need to share a differing opinion, respect their right to make their own decisions.

*Be trustworthy. Do what you say you’ll do. Make every effort to align your words with your actions. Keep confidences! Let others know if they confide in you, you will not share the information with others without permission (even disguised as a well-meaning prayer request.)

Being Authentic—OK, but How?

Being authentic has become somewhat trendy. What do we mean by authentic? What is it about that word that draws our attention? In our world of impersonal social media and fake news, perhaps we sense the need for something we can trust—something deeper in our relationships.

In an article for Christianity Today called “Keeping it Real: The Truth about Authenticity,” author Megan Hill shares that authenticity is transparency, truth-telling about all areas of life. She offers five principles for being an authentic Christian:

• Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.
• Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.
• Authenticity seeks the good of the body of Christ.
• Authenticity honors wisdom.
• Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

Her thoughts resonate with me, especially about pointing ahead to a perfected future. In the past, I feel like I have really tried being authentic with mixed results. It seems that the more I try to be authentic with people, the more confusing it can become.

Are We Spending Too Much?

Imagine this conversation between a pastor and a WMU director:

Pastor: “You know, I’ve been thinking about our missions education program. I’m concerned that we spend too much money on curriculum and missions products.”

WMU Director: “Pastor, I’m with you! We all want to protect God’s money that is given to the church. And, as the WMU director, I constantly watch how much we much spend and why we spend it. Our leadership team regularly evaluates our missions education budget and we try to squeeze as much out of it as possible.”

Pastor: “Have you considered dropping WMU materials and going with another missions education program? There must be a lot of them out there.”

God Hears the Prayers of Preschoolers

God hears me when I pray

“Tell all the Mission Friends to keep praying.” These were the words we heard from missionary, Tobey Pitman, after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I do not think it was by coincidence that Mission Friends® featured Tobey and Cathy Pitman as our missionaries that August. Preschoolers learned all month about New Orleans and the Pitmans’ ministries to the people of New Orleans. Immediately after the devastation of the hurricane, Mission Friends leaders from across the country contacted WMU with concerns about the Pitmans. Their preschoolers had heard about the flooding in New Orleans, and the preschoolers were asking about Mr. and Mrs. Pitman. The leaders told us their preschoolers were praying for the Pitmans. When we heard from Tobey Pitman and told him all the Mission Friends were asking about them, his response was to “tell all the Mission Friends to keep praying.” What a difference it made to these missionaries to know our preschoolers were praying. This is why I believe that God hears the prayers of our preschoolers.

Celebrating 20 Years of Christian Women's Job Corps

Flo speaking to CWJC partcipants

After hearing the diagnosis, she asked the doctor, “How long do I have to live?” The doctor said, “Two months, maybe three.” That was more than 50 months ago. Flo (pictured at right) intends to minister in Christ’s name through Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) until she draws her dying breath.

“Looking at women who came in broken and left whole, I knew this was where I was meant to be,” Flo said. “I thank God every day for the gift of love. I fell in love with them and knew this was where I could make a difference; I felt like this was my purpose.”

She added, “How awesome it is to enjoy what your purpose is—ministering and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”

God Speaks to Us in the Quiet

Have you ever noticed that you hear a lot of sounds at night that you don’t usually hear during the day? Maybe it’s a dog barking, a quiet clock ticking, or even the wood in your home making clicks and pops as it settles. The Bible tells us that when Samuel was a young boy, God spoke to him one night as he was lying in bed. Samuel did not know it was God at first, but once he figured it out, he responded, “Speak. I’m listening.” Then God gave him a message. For the rest of Samuel’s life, God continued to speak to him in this way.

God speaks to us, too, but we often have to settle down and listen so that we can understand His message. This is one reason it is so important to make time to spend in prayer with God. When nothing else can distract us and we can listen carefully, God can speak to us the best. Samuel knew this well.

Do you want to find out what God has in store for you? Just start listening!

Have children practice these exercises with a friend to see just how much they can hear when they are focused. Give these instructions:

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