WMU Blog

Faith without Works Is Dead

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:14–17 NRSV).

Our friend James certainly raises a compelling question. Is faith without works truly dead? To some, the book of James (and his focus on what to do with your faith once you have it) downplays the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Martin Luther, the famous German reformer, certainly struggled with these words. So much so, he debated whether or not to include this letter in his new translation of the New Testament. To others, these words highlight the very foundation of faith. James puts his actions where his faith is, so to speak… But how are we, as Christians living in the modern era supposed to read this passage of Scripture? One way to describe missions is faith into action.

Better than Nothing

Sometimes in college it’s easy to have the “better than nothing” attitude. It’s a familiar story: You have weeks and weeks to work on a paper but somehow it only gets started 10 hours before the actual due date. Is it the best paper? Nope. But hey, it’s better than nothing.

If I’m being honest, this “better than nothing” attitude has bled over into my relationship with Christ. It’s affected my time with Him and trying to live on mission.

A quick devotion on my phone right before I doze off to sleep at night has become routine because it’s better than not doing a quiet time. Smiling at those people the Spirit tugs on my heart for has become a replacement for actually talking to them because it’s better than just ignoring them. Promising to pray for people that don’t know Jesus has taken the place of actually sharing the gospel because it’s better than nothing.

When did I become so OK with choosing between better and nothing? And when did I begin to believe that those were my only two options?

Your Friend, the Chaplain

“When you’ve seen one chaplain . . . you’ve seen one chaplain.” Many people lump chaplains into one big group and, quite honestly, don’t have a clue as to what they do or who they are. In many environments, such as the military, chaplains gain a great deal of respect. Even respect, however, can become burdensome.

The word chaplain originates from the root word, cappella, indicating a piece of music unsupported with instrumental accompaniment. In a very real sense, that definition could be applied to most professional chaplains. By the very nature of their calling and ministry, they are often left standing alone, carrying the burdens of those to whom they minister.

A chaplain friend told me that one of the loneliest times of his life was his deployment in Iraq. “I listened to their struggles and secrets during the day. Then, in the evenings when they got together just to let their hair down, I was never invited. They couldn’t imagine just having fun or relaxing with me.”

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Give to Missions

The foundation of giving to missions is biblical tithing and sacrificial giving through the church. Giving to missions work is not only a blessing but also an honor and a privilege. WMU actively promotes giving to the 2 missions offerings, which supply about half of the annual budgets for the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, and giving through the Cooperative Program, the foundational means of supporting Southern Baptist work in each state, nationally, and around the world.

Children’s “Faith into Action” Day 2017

By now, we’re sure you’ve heard all about Children’s Ministry Day 2017. It’s been the subject of a multitude of blogs, popped up on social media, and may have even found its way into your inbox. But now that you know, what are you planning to do?

The belief that our faith should inform our actions is one that runs deep in our hearts here at national WMU. Just about everything we do here is done in an effort to inspire and empower Christians to take an active role in God’s mission. Our purpose is to challenge “Christian believers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God.” We want every Christian to be aware of God’s work in the world and to feel equipped to be a part of that work.

There is a passage of Scripture from the book of James that speaks to this marriage of faith and action in a profound way:

Pray for Missions

Prayer is vital to all we do in WMU. We can’t all go, but we can all pray.

Hold a special prayertime focusing on those serving globally and in the United States. Pray also for those without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel.

Recently I had the privilege of meeting a missionary family who served in Brazil for many years through the International Mission Board (IMB) and learning the story of their miracle daughter, Priscila: 

In 1996, we were pregnant with baby number 4. We were just out of language school and living in Niterói, a city of around 500,000. We had planned on having this baby like the previous 3 and doing natural childbirth. We had finally found a doctor who would agree to not do a C-section and had just begun practicing our Lamaze breathing methods. However, God had other plans. Our youngest daughter, Priscila, was not going to come into this world on time but would instead arrive 2 months premature.

Teaching the Christian Concept Areas

Every month in Mission Friends®, we feature one Christian concept area to be studied along with the work of missionaries around the world. The Christian concept areas can be thought of as the building blocks of spiritual formation for preschoolers. These concept areas offer us the opportunity to help preschoolers begin developing basic understandings of the Christian faith.

As you work through the interest areas and Group Time and share Bible thoughts with preschoolers, you will see that the Christian concept areas are woven throughout the components of each session. An additional resource for teaching preschoolers about the Christian concept areas is the “Missions and Me” Series of digital downloadable books.

This series gives you affordable, downloadable, and/or printable books for talking to your preschoolers about the Christian concept areas. Each book focuses on just one concept area. This series has recently been revised and updated so that each page is full-color. The books’ simple text and illustrations draw preschoolers in and open opportunities for simple conversations.

Are You Willing to Follow Where He Leads?

As I read the words, my eyes began to tear. The Prayer Patterns focus in Missions Mosaic was on Moses. Judith Edwards wrote, "‘Burning bush’ experiences come without warning and often in ways that are indescribable in human words. Any encounter with God causes us to examine where we have been and what may lie ahead, but ‘burning bush’ encounters are those that catch us by surprise, take our breath away because of their inexplicable wonder, and sometimes leave us asking, ‘God! Are you sure?’”

That sums up my journey to national WMU. In a way, that sums up my entire life. I am the daughter of a coal miner and foundry worker and have been caught by surprise time and time again. Repeatedly I have asked, “God! Are you sure?”

A friend sent me a book by Alton Lee Webb. In Go Outside, he writes, “So, if you feel completely called and completely inadequate at the same time, you are in the perfect place to get up, get out, and change the world.”1 I do feel completely called and utterly inadequate.

Learn about Missions

WMU resources engage people of all ages in learning about missions. 

In May 2013, children learned about homeless ministries in Baltimore, Maryland. And the weekly lessons quickly turned into a ministry project for the Children in Action (CA) at Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas, when a homeless woman named Delores began coming to the church. 

Steve Lasiter, Woodland Heights Baptist’s codirector of family and children’s ministry, said Delores made homelessness even more real to the children.

As CA members learned more about homeless ministries, they prayed for Delores and helped her as much as possible. The church later found out that she had suffered a stroke and been placed in a rehabilitation facility.

“As we wrapped up our study of São Paulo, Brazil, [in June 2013] and learned how some missionaries share Christ through graffiti art, our CA kids got busy encouraging and loving on Delores through their own graffiti,” Lasiter said.

Don’t Follow Your Heart

“So, where are you going to college?”

“What’s your major?”

“What kind of job are you looking for?”

“Graduate school on your mind?”

“Are you going to marry him?”

“Where will you live?”

“So, do you have a five-year plan yet?”

I’ve been asked all of these questions—some more than a few times—over the course of the last eight years. Maybe they sound eerily familiar to you. Maybe you remember the panicky feeling clouding those questions more than the people who asked them. Maybe you’re desperate to answer a few of them right now.

I teach high school students who are just on the cusp of the top of that question list. They tend to answer questions with feelings, a follow-your-heart approach.

“I just felt at home on that college tour.”

“We have been going out for a year. I just feel like he’s the one.”

“I don’t feel important. I feel like I should be doing something different.”

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