WMU Blog

The Gospel and Cigarettes

Carrying coffee, my heart pounding out of my chest, I knew the conversation we were about to have. Discussing pleasantries of our week, we sat down on a bench in the park and watched the ocean.

Joy and I had been friends for a while, we met at a wedding and grew a friendship from there. She knew about my life and I had heard all about hers. Joy knew I was a Christian, but we had commonalities in our views of global politics and the beauty found in diversity.

As she lit her cigarette, I began to tell her how excited for Easter I was because it’s one of my favorite holidays. Having never really heard the meaning behind Easter, Joy asked me to explain more. With my heart fluttering, I sensed from the Holy Spirit this was the moment to share about Jesus.

#CMD2016 Project Ideas

Children’s Ministry Day is just around the corner (February 13). If you don’t yet have an activity planned for the children of your church, don’t fret. Consider one of these easy-to-incorporate ideas:

Courageous and Faithful

“My favourite verse is Psalm 63:3 ‘Because your love is better than life, my lips will always praise you.’ The last 4 years, I’ve gone through two bouts of cancer. God has been teaching me that His love for me is greater than even living on earth. This helps me as for the last 12 years I’ve lived in areas of great poverty and social challenges, with folks who have very broken lives. I get the privilege of sharing with them how great God’s love is.”

Gena Wilson’s life truly is a testimony of courage and faith. She describes the area that her team focuses on as the area where tour buses do not go in Glasgow, Scotland. In the midst of this urban deprived center, she reaches out intentionally to the outcasts and those who have been marginalized, bringing to them a message of faith and hope and love. Miss Wilson feels especially drawn to those who live with addictions and violence and abuse. She knows that the love of Jesus Christ is the only answer to their issues and fears. 

A Childlike Faith

This past week in GA, as we learned about missionaries serving in Miami, Florida, I asked girls to think about their own personal testimony and how they could share it with a friend. Children, being concrete learners, need examples, so I shared my story with them:

I was born into a loving, Christian home in the heart of the Bible belt. My parents took me to church every Sunday (not once, but twice) and every Wednesday night. I was blessed with wonderful Sunday School teachers, missions leaders (Mission Friends, GA, and Acteens), and ministers (children, youth, and music) who taught me Bible stories, engrained biblical principles into my daily living, and demonstrated God’s love through missional lifestyles. At the age of seven, I asked Jesus into my heart and made a personal commitment to follow Him as my Savior through baptism. From that moment on, God gave me a desire to serve people and a heart for missions.

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Time for Missions

Our fast-paced society leaves us with little time to devote to missions. If we are not careful, then we schedule all our time doing “good” things and often overlook the “best” things God has for us.

Here are a few tips to help you make room on your calendar for missions:

  • Look at responsibilities for which you have volunteered. Decide which ones are in line with what you believe God has called you to do in your life.
  • Determine the time frames for these current responsibilities. If there is a specific end date to fulfill a responsibility, do your best to make it through that time so you can complete your commitment. If it is an activity that has no specific end time and is not aligned with what you believe God has called you to do, eliminate it from your schedule.
  • When asked to take on another commitment, spend a lot of time in prayer and consideration so that you do not automatically take on something else that will distract you from God’s purposes for your life.

With just a little planning and a lot of prayer, you can make time to be involved in missions.

To Lead as He Directs

As missions education leaders, we have a tremendous responsibility to the children under our care. We must keep them safe while we are leading them. We must teach them about God, His church, and missions. And, we must teach them to become responsible leaders.

Here are some ways that leaders can help their children develop the right leadership skills in the future.

First of all, leaders must set a good example. As a leader, we must allow our children to see us balance our work, church, family, and leadership roles. By setting a good example, we teach them to be accountable for the tasks they need to accomplish.

Second, we must emphasize perseverance. The best leaders learn how to handle failure as gracefully as they handle success. Our children need to be exposed to disappointment. We must learn to stop sheltering them from seeing things go wrong. They must see us working through failure and mistakes and finding ways to overcome the negativity that is often present in our lives.

The Word Gap

Words are so important. In my everyday work, words are extremely important. At WMU, we have editors and copy editors who check the words of writers like me. They make sure writers use the right words (Is it affect or effect? Ensure or insure?) when writing curriculum, articles, web content, and even this blog. Words are important in what we do every day at WMU as we develop missions materials for churches.

Words are important to preschoolers, also. They need to hear words in order to develop their language skills. Long before babies can say the words or three-year-olds can put a sentence together, they need to hear parents and other caregivers saying words and talking in conversation with the preschooler. They learn how to form the words and they develop their vocabulary as they hear words in a rich language environment.

Read books with preschoolers. Over and over.

When a Preschooler Experiences Trauma

A plastic bin sat on the floor to use as a doll bed. The baby doll sat in the bin with a baby blanket next to it. A preschooler took the doll and wrapped it in the blanket. She then placed the doll facedown on the floor and turned the plastic bin over on the doll, totally enclosing the doll underneath the bin. This was one week after devastating tornadoes had ravaged the landscape and homes, and taken lives in the surrounding area. I served on a Disaster Relief Child Care team in which we cared for children whose homes had been damaged.

As I watched this preschooler play with the doll, I wondered if this was what happened to her. Did her family get under furniture for protection? Did they place something on top of themselves to keep safe? What was the best way for me to respond to this preschooler?

As you teach Mission Friends®, you also may have a time when there is a natural disaster. The preschoolers you teach may have been impacted by disasters such as flooding, a hurricane, fire, or a tornado. When preschoolers experience trauma from natural disasters, how can you help them feel safe and secure when they are at church?

New Year, Fresh Vision?

On a personal level, I’ve been examining my missions vision. God has given me an overall vision of being involved in missions ever since I accepted His gift of salvation as a child. Yet the specific vision has changed as I’ve gone through life stages. Can you relate?

I have participated in missions trips at home and abroad. Several good friends serve as missionaries with either the North American Mission Board or the International Mission Board, personalizing missions to me. I have been involved in missions education and served as president of Mississippi WMU.

My specific vision now is, on the one hand, to be willing to serve Him wherever He calls, yet on the other hand, I believe that I’m to be a missions encourager. An encourager to my church to share the wide vision with them. An encourager to smaller churches around me in my association and state to participate in missions as fully as they can.

Could you take some time to discover the missions vision God has for you? He may want to give you a fresh vision for this New Year. All you have to do is ask.

Go Forward

I have been privileged to lead Girls in Action in my church for more than 13 years. I have taught first-, second-, third-, and sixth-grade girls.

Through all these years of teaching, the missionaries we have studied have inspired me, too. It is not just the girls who learn about missions during our class time.

I am excited that we have several young mothers who are leading in GA this year. My missions vision is to not only teach my third-graders but also encourage these young teachers.

You see, the more these teachers learn, the more they are going to want to know, give, and go. They can’t help but be inspired to become involved in missions and go forward just as the girls are learning to do.

As a result of these young women sacrificing time to teach GA, they are laying the foundation for teaching their own children about missions.

I can’t wait to see the impact these moms are going to have in our church and around the world because of their excitement about missions!

Jennifer Booth writes from her home in Little Rock, Arkansas. Connect with her on her blog at JenniferBooth.com.

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