WMU Blog

The Ox in the Ditch

My pastor tells the story of discovering the best over the better in a former church. Fairly new in the farming community, he arrived at 6:00 for evening services. He arrived, but no one else did. The building was empty at 5:45, 6:00 and even at 6:15. Discouraged, disgruntled and puzzled, he slowly started to his car. That’s when he saw the lights. Even a mile away on the flat country plains he could tell there were car lights, many car lights. Curious, he drove toward them.

What he found amazed him and then inspired him. Mr. Heiland’s fence was torn and his cows had gotten out. Some were on the road and others were grazing on the grass along the road. My pastor looked from one car to another and there he found his church. Every person he had expected to be at church was trying to help Mr. Heiland lead his cows back into their pasture.

Facing Life’s Storms

A student whose mom has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and is waiting to find out if the tumor is malignant.

A friend who has early onset Alzheimer’s.

A mom of five children who has stage 4 cancer.

A woman with substance abuse who has yet to recognize she desperately needs help.

Shootings and terror attacks around the world.

Refugees. Disputes about government and division in our country. Poverty. War.

Check your Facebook newsfeed, visit a news website or lesson to a newscast, and be present for your friends and coworkers. Just a few minutes doing any one of these things and you can create a list like the one above. The only problem is that this list could go on and on.

Both those right next door and those around the world are hurting. Struggling to persevere in the midst of what likely feel like impossible circumstances. There is sadness. Frustration. Anger. Fear.

Learn, Pray, Give — Now Do

Each week in Girls in Action, girls learn about missions. They pray for missions. They give to missions. But sometimes as leaders, we struggle to find time to actually do missions.

Well, look no further—we have the perfect opportunity for your GAs, and it’s time to start planning now!

Join other GAs all over the country on Saturday, February 18, 2017, for our tenth annual Children’s Ministry Day.

The theme this year is Love Your Neighbor. As girls participate in hands-on missions projects, they can share the love of Jesus with those who are hurting in their neighborhoods.

Before the event, lead girls in a discussion about what Jesus meant when He told us to love our neighbors, and help girls identify their “neighbors”—specifically those who are hurting in your own community, association, and state. Guide GAs as they brainstorm ways to reach out in a missions effort to connect their hurting neighbors to the church.

The Art of Suffering

Suffering—is it a topic any of us are really comfortable with? I personally don’t like to think about it.

Jesus talked a lot about suffering and in Philippians 3:10, I am reminded “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings” (ESV). Really? Participate in suffering? Yet in this verse, suffering speaks to me as an avenue to know Christ better and refine me to be more like Him.

We all experience suffering in varying degrees at one time or another. David Crosby reminds us in his book Your Pain Is Changing You that we can choose how we respond to it. 

On a personal level, my most challenging experience with pain and suffering was my diagnosis and battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It took 6 months to diagnose and a lot of physical pain was experienced. Through God’s grace, I am now in remission.  However, the spiritual battle to stay focused on Christ and relinquish my will to His during the adversity was equally challenging.

Mission Friends Leadership Certificate

Would you like to shape your leadership skills as a Mission Friends® teacher? Taking the online training courses that make up the new Mission Friends Leadership Certificate will help you sharpen your leadership skills. The following courses are included in the Leadership Certificate offered by WMU® through Develop online training. When you purchase 4 of the courses, you can get your 5th course free!

  • Leading Mission Friends—Explore the purpose of Mission Friends, the main teaching components, resources, planning, and teaching through activities and Group Time.

  • Uniquely Designed: Preschoolers—Take a look at the unique characteristics of preschoolers and how they grow physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

  • How Preschoolers Learn—Discover the 4 learning styles of preschoolers and the ways preschoolers learn. Consider how to encourage preschoolers to learn about God and missions.

What Role Should Children Have in Ministry?

When you think of church, do you think of it as a place where boys and girls walk in each week, sit down, color a few Bible-character pages copied off the Internet, and wait to be entertained?

Is church something for children to check off the weekly “to-do” list just because their parents said they should be there?

Are children too young to understand missions and ministry and the idea of serving others in Jesus’ name?

Before answering these questions, take a good, long, hard look at your church and your children’s ministry. Are the children in your church being encouraged to participate in ministry? Are they regularly being trained to serve others through ministry? Is your church’s focus simply on keeping the children entertained, busy, and out of the way of the adults each week?

For a few minutes, think about what it would mean if your church’s children were fully involved in your church’s ministry. Think about what it would mean if they were actually “being” the church instead of church “being done” to or for them.

Seek Out the Best

It’s January! Have you kept up your New Year’s resolution so far? A lot of people see the new year as the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, give up an old habit, or start a new one. According to my Internet searching, 25 percent of resolutions don’t make it the first week! Anybody been there? *Raises hand while drinking that caffeinated beverage* Some of the most popular resolutions last year were to lose weight, to quit smoking, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to get organized. I love that third one—enjoy life to the fullest!

But how exactly do you know if you’re enjoying life to the absolute fullness of its vast potential? What does that look like for each of us? For a lot of Christians, we may choose things that are better than other things, but we don’t necessarily choose what’s best for ourselves or for our relationship with Christ.

Best Challenges Better

Which door should I go through? The popular television show Let’s Make a Deal serves as a reminder that none of us know for sure what is behind the curtain or beyond the door. Often in living our lives for God, we find safety in just staying where we are. That may be in church, in a position of leadership, or simply showing up and doing what we’re asked. After all, there is nothing inherently wrong with where we are. It’s better than doing nothing.

But living in the realm of better can blind us to the best. So what can we do?

1) Open our eyes to the range of possibilities available.

2) Prayerfully and honestly assess the better option and the best choice.

3) Do not be afraid to step out of our comfort zones. The best will always carry a little more risk. It may demand more from us than we are currently giving.

4) Trust God to support us in carrying out the best when better seems good enough.

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

Praying for Disaster Relief Chaplains and Workers

pray for disaster relief volunteers

In one of my earliest experiences with Baptist Disaster Relief, I learned firsthand the precious value of those who support the ministry from behind the scenes.

Hurricane Hugo had devastated huge areas of our state of South Carolina. A friend from our church offered to care for our two preschool-aged children so that my husband and I could both serve with a Disaster Relief (DR) unit in a hard-hit area. Others in our church prayed as we served. The experience convinced me that those in support roles back home are just as much a part of the ministry of Disaster Relief as those on site in the disaster area.

You can be part of the DR ministry by praying for the chaplains and other volunteers who respond to offer help, hope, and healing to disaster survivors.

 

Pray for open eyes to see inner needs.

Pray About Everything

I’m using Mark Bethea’s book, 30 Days of Hope for Peaceful Living, as part of my devotional material for January. The topic of Day Five is Prescriptive Prayer. Mark writes, “Paul declares that if we are not to be anxious about anything, then we pray about everything. If we mix prayer with rejoicing and add thanksgiving, we have a recipe for living free from our anxious tendencies.” Later he outlines the exact prescription for dealing with anxiety and living with the peace of God.

 

We pray.

We pray about everything.

 

What a great reminder as we begin 2017. As we try to discern God’s future for us, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything. When friends, family members, and colleagues have hurts both large and small, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything. When we are overwhelmed by our list of tasks to accomplish, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything.

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