WMU Blog

Week of Prayer for North American Missions 2018

The Week of Prayer for North American Missions is nearly upon us! Starting on Sunday, March 4, 2018, Southern Baptists from all over will be specifically praying for various missionary efforts and the folks who oversee them here at home. From church planting to disaster relief and everything in-between, North American missionaries are continually on the lookout for ways to fulfill the Great Commission.

It may be difficult for some of us to think that missionary work needs to be done here at home. But as current trends of church decline and globalization of United States cities persist, missionary efforts here at home have perhaps never been needed more than they are now. In years past, to carry the message of Jesus Christ to different cultures and languages meant traveling the vast seas to parts unknown. Today, it means walking down the street to your neighbor's house! The world has come to our cities and states, and it's our job as believers to offer them a hand of friendship and the way of everlasting life through the life and love of Jesus.

Showing and Telling the Gospel

“What was it like growing up with the boy Jesus?”

My home church pastor posed that question as I listened to his sermon via live stream from the comfort of my bedroom a few thousand miles away.

It’s an interesting thought, being one of Jesus’ brothers or friends when He was a kid, before His ministry started. Being the friend or sibling of someone Who was always perfect, Whose words always matched His actions, was probably not an easy thing.

Making our own words and actions match isn’t easy either. Because we’re striving to be more like Jesus daily but still going to sin sometimes, we’re prone to mess up and show the people we’re trying to share with that we don’t always reflect the gospel.

Despite the mess-ups we have, isn’t that the message of the gospel? We are imperfect people striving to love a perfect God, which is made possible by the One Who knew no sin, the One Whose words and actions always communicated the gospel.

Can We Talk?

Can We Talk?

Four-year-old Ellie and I were watching a stink bug crawl up a window frame.

“Where do you suppose he’s going?” I asked.

She paused. Then she said, “Probably to find some food.”

“Probably so,” I agreed. “I wonder what he eats.”

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“Me, either.”

She brightened. “Why don’t you Google it?”

She looked around, then brought me my phone, and we did, indeed, find out what stink bugs eat.

It was one of those wonder moments. Have you noticed that whenever there is a real conversation with a preschooler, a wonder moment is often involved? Funny how that works.

Going for the Gold

Hello from Birmingham, Alabama! The high today — on February 20 — is 77 degrees! Can you believe it? (Probably, if you know anything about Alabama weather.) I love the cold weather, so I'm a little put out about it. It's supposed to get into the low 80s later this week. Meteorologists are saying we're going to break record highs for this time of year. If you like warm weather, I'm happy for you! If you like cold weather, we can commiserate together.

But enough about my weather pattern opinions. Let's focus instead on that word "record" I mentioned above. We're in the midst of the final week of the 2018 Winter Olympics. While the focus is on winning that gold medal, we often hear about athletes breaking world records while they're competing. Talk about exciting! What if you could use that excitement with the kids in your missions group?

Healthy competition can be a useful tool to encourage kids' participation in missions projects and during your weekly meetings. Here are some ideas to help you take a cue from the Olympics and get your kids more involved than ever.

Excuses, Excuses

Every day God gives us opportunities to share His love with people around us. But how often do we walk right past these open doors? If you are anything like me, then you have a million reasons for missing these opportunities that you wrap up in pretty little packages with bows on top.

But in the end, these fancy explanations are just excuses. We have to recognize them for what they are and learn to overcome them.

Here are some common excuses I recognize in my life:

Pride

What will people think about me if I share the gospel with them? Will it be awkward? What if they reject me?

Well, it turns out these are all the wrong questions. My natural tendency is to focus on how I am affected by an interaction rather than thinking about how God can be glorified through it. In these situations, I am continually reminded to shift my focus to God.

Extending the Story: I Like to Go to Church

An activity related to a story book helps preschoolers make connections to learn more from the book. In helping preschoolers learn about your church, read the downloadable book I Like to Go to Church. Take the ideas below and extend the story for more learning about your church and missions.

CMD 2018: Go Serve

Children's Missions Day (CMD) 2018 is coming soon! In fact, this annual February event will celebrate its 11th year this Saturday, February 17. It's not too late to join other children's missions groups nationwide in a great day of service to share God's love with people right in your own community. So, lace up your sneakers and get ready to hit the road and go serve!

Appropriately, the theme for this year's event is Go Serve. As you prepare your group for this special day, help children identify people in your area who are hurting — whether it's physically, spiritually or emotionally. Remember that a successful CMD project gives children the opportunity to tell someone what they know to be true about God while also meeting a physical need or offering words of encouragement. Ask children, What would you do for these people to share the love of Jesus with them?

Showing Love by Sharing the Gospel

Raising a 2-year-old toddler has raised quite a lot of parenting discussions in our home.

Two-year-olds need a lot of guidance for life. They need a lot of patience from their parents. And they need a lot of love and comfort to know they are secure.

We will teach our girl many things as she grows in our home over the next 16 years until we send her out.

But what if I failed to tell her that we love her? What if I skipped over teaching her a basic concept like brushing her teeth? What would happen if I never shared with her how to eat properly and healthily, how to be kind to others, or how to take care of herself?

Many would question my love for her. Raising children means loving them. Loving them means teaching them fully how to live.

Sharing the gospel with others is not much different.

Boldness to proclaim truth in the midst of persecution

Amazon rainbow

Decimation, hopelessness, and abuse. Three words that describe the indigenous in the Colombian Amazon,” shares Bronson Parker.* Diego, a 60-year-old Cocama man, grew up seeing the aftereffects of the rubber boom industry in which thousands of indigenous were enslaved. Diego “is a fisherman, a carpenter, and an artist. Now, he is a Christ follower and His messenger,” says Bronson. Discipling is what Bronson Parker enjoys most about his ministry in the Amazon.

Bronson, Anna,* their three daughters and son share the gospel through storytelling. “The people are without hope, and are living in the consequences of their sinful lives,” shares Bronson. His family and missionary friends strive to encourage one another in the work being done.

Shifting Gears

My husband tore a tendon in his shoulder. He cannot drive his six-speed car, so we’ve switched vehicles. It’s been nearly three decades since I drove a car with a manual transmission. I was a bit nervous, wondering if I would be able to manage the clutch. After a few excursions, I fell back into the rhythm of shifting gears. The experience has reminded me of key leadership principles.

Focus on WMU is this month. As you bring attention to the programs and ministries of WMU, take a moment and focus on your own missions influence. Often plans are made at the beginning of the church year and WMU leaders are on automatic cruise control by midyear. Take time to assess missions progress. Do you need to speed up and shift to another gear to implement a new initiative? You may need to consider reducing speed and downshift to spend more time emphasizing a particular missions strategy of your congregation. You must be flexible to shift gears as needed.

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