WMU Blog

Listening Is like Exercise

I’ve lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for 12 years. Moving here was scary. It was the largest city I’d ever called home. I went to college with my roommates but had never lived with any of them before. Nonetheless, I took the leap. And it was terrible. I’ll spare the details but, as a result, I began to suffer from mild depression. I needed to talk to someone and work through what I was experiencing. I needed that individual to have no personal stake in my situation.

So, I found a Christian counselor. We talked about what was happening in my life, what had happened in my past, and what I wanted for my future. She gave me the confidence to face some issues, overcome some fears, and remember what true surrender to the Lord looks like. I moved out of that apartment. It was lonely and scary, but it was the right thing to do.

Since that phase of my life, I have tried to be the kind of friend and ministry partner who knows when others need to talk and is available to listen. And the trick to listening is that it’s like exercise. You have to do it to get better at it.

Let’s Learn About . . . The Christian Concept Areas

Let's Learn About . . .

The Christian concept areas are the building blocks of faith development for preschoolers. Each weekly session includes one learning outcome based on the work of the missionaries and one learning outcome based on the concept area being featured that month. How are you incorporating the Christian concept areas into your Mission Friends® sessions?

The book Let’s Learn About . . . by Angie Quantrell is an excellent resource for helping your preschoolers learn about how specific facets of Christianity apply to their lives. In this book, Molly and Mikey explore the concept areas with their teacher, Miss Goodwin. Here are a few suggestions for using Let’s Learn About . . . during your Mission Friends sessions:

  • Each month, during your first session read about the month’s Christian concept area as an introduction before your begin your group time story.

The Mission of Listening

Many times I find myself completing my 84 year old Mother’s sentences. Now she is more than capable of being able to speak the words and finish her sentences. But in my rush to move on in the conversation I complete her sentences or interrupt with the answer. It’s become a habit birthed out of my busyness. Justified? No! Rude? Yes! Additionally Scripture warns not to give an answer before one hears (Proverbs 18:13).

Mission opportunities occur everywhere. Around the globe and in my Mother’s home. What is God saying to my missions heart lately? Simply this: It’s time to develop the Ministry of Listening. The ministry of listening reflects patience, love, understanding, my relationship with Christ and the ability to truly hear. In this season of care giving I have the opportunity to share the love of Christ through listening.

No matter the age there is always a new mission which God is calling me to or making me aware of. You are never too old or too young to develop the Ministry of Listening. What about you?

CA: On the Grow!

I recently traveled to Seattle, Washington, for the Northwest Baptist Convention’s CM52 conferences. I led a series of conferences about kids’ missions discipleship and spent time hearing about children’s ministry work in the Pacific Northwest. While I loved every bit of my time there, a certain pastor will stick out in my mind for quite some time.

I never thought to ask him why a pastor was at a children’s ministry conference. I suppose that he was there to support his children’s workers who came to the conference. But when he found out that I work for national WMU and was there to talk about Children in Action, he and I became fast friends.

I heard stories about what the CA leader at his church is doing each week with children. And I got to meet her in person. The pastor’s excitement for missions discipleship was more than obvious—it was contagious! The CA leader was eager to share her work with me, and I was excited to walk away with a few new ideas.

Just Listen: 3 Ways to Connect Your Family to People Groups

We fell in love with South Asians. Maybe it was the warm milk tea, the curried food, the bells and loud music, or the welcoming smiles (OK, sometimes stares), but South Asians stole our hearts. Since moving to a rural area of Alabama, we wanted to look for ways our family could meet South Asians in our area. At first, we were told there weren’t many South Asians in this area. As we began to seek internationals in our area, we found that many families from South Asia reside in our town, and we wanted to get to know them.

A dinner, an English class, a Thanksgiving celebration—whatever could be used as a way to build relationships—we wanted to connect. We had a successful first get-together. Then for a couple months afterward, we tried to establish something else. And for months, this “something else” never quite worked out. The relationships were there just not the events.

What were we doing wrong? We weren’t listening—to God, to the people we were trying to reach, or to our family’s missional gifts.

The following are a few ways we’ve learned to connect to a people group through listening:

Girls' Friendship Party

Celebrate your girl friends by hosting a party or sleepover. Have girls take the lead in planning the evening—they will plan the food, games, and activities.

Here a few ideas:

Thank you for Listening!

I am a Vietnam War veteran, U. S. Women’s Army Corps, stationed in Augsburg, Germany during my tenure. Over the years I have met veterans who were dealing with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, PTSD is not confined to those coming home from military service. It affects people from all walks of life who are dealing with traumatic situations. The good news is we’ve come a long way in being able to recognize this disorder and offer support. You and I may not be trained counselors, but we do have the same credentials—ears to listen.

Listen with your body language. Sometimes it is not about the talk, simply be willing to be there. Listen with your facial expressions. This means good eye contact, a smile, not sighing or rolling your eyes when the individual is sharing the same scenario or event repeatedly. Listen with your heart. Be patient, don’t push them to talk, be respectful and non-judgmental. Listen without expectations and remember you are not there to tell them what do or how to move on.

“Thank you for listening to my story,” may be the compliment which opens the door for you to share His story.

Are Summer Camps Still Relevant Today?

We live in a world where technology is integrated into just about every aspect of our lives. Self-driving cars, microwaves, phones with computers in them (or is it the other way around?) and even electric toothbrushes! And yet, every summer, thousands of children and their leaders flock to summer camps all over the country. How can this be? No WiFi? No phones? Say it isn’t so!

Send out the Missions Volunteers

Your missions team has prayed and is ready to go. Now it’s time to figure out how to get them there. The more folks involved in sending, the more will also be praying and feeling they are a vital part of the kingdom work God has planned for the team. Many hands also make for easier—and quicker—work.

Consider these ideas to spur your church on in its sending efforts:

Bake and Serve Silent Auction

As the WMU director, solicit donations from church members: plates of cookies, loaves of bread, or gift certificates for a pan of lasagna or a homemade meal. Consider asking for services to be donated as well: 2 hours of leaf raking, 3 hours of housework, or 4 hours of babysitting.

Carryout Dinner

Sell tickets for a barbecued chicken dinner. Ask members of adult missions organizations to gather at the church kitchen early in the day to prepare chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and rolls. Set up an assembly line to fill carryout boxes, and deliver to vehicles as folks drive by to pick up. Recruit students to direct traffic in the parking lot.

Missions Books for Bucks

The Blessing of Listening

When was the last time you really felt heard? When have you really felt like you heard someone else’s heart?

This month, we have been thinking a lot about how to grow relationships. One way that is harder than it sounds is by learning to listen.

The gift of listening is more than just keeping our mouths shut. To listen, really listen, we need to engage with our minds and hearts. We need to enter into someone else’s reality to the point that we can sense what God is doing in their lives. It is rarely what we think about on the surface. Something is always deeper. Our God’s love is deep and wide. It removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Truly only He knows the plans He has for us. Only He can walk us through the valleys. Our relationships with others recognize His work in their lives and we must listen well to even begin to see His ways. He often surprises us in the journey.

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