WMU Blog

Reaching out to the Lonely This Thanksgiving

I look forward to Thanksgiving, a time for family and really good food! We enjoy meals with my father’s side of the family, my mother’s side of the family, and my husband’s family. It’s a lot of calories but a lot of fun.

While I do not yet host a family gathering myself, my aunt and mother-in-law have taught me something very important over the years: how to show thankfulness by giving to those who may not have a family to celebrate with. At both of their homes, you never know who may be showing up for dinner. My aunt often invites friends or co-workers who do not have a family to celebrate with. My mother-in-law lives in a retirement community and often invites older neighbors who are alone.

It is not just a gift of food but also a gift of companionship. Who do you know who may be facing loneliness over the holidays? Is there someone you could minister to by inviting him or her to Thanksgiving dinner? There is no better way to show God’s love this holiday season.           

Laci Post writes articles and historical fiction from Dallas, Georgia, where she lives with her husband, Jason, and sons, Avery and Eli.

Mission Friends and the Holidays

So, what does your December schedule look like? If you are like most Mission Friends leaders, you are probably looking at a church calendar with at least two fewer Mission Friends sessions than usual. There are many ways to get creative in completing your Mission Friends unit and the International Mission Study in the month of December.

Choosing Unconditional Love

If something is unconditional, it is absolute. There are no restrictions. We can count on it. God’s love is unconditional. He is always there for us no matter how badly we mess up. Isn’t that reassuring? As Christians, we are called to show that same unconditional love to others.

When I became a parent, I gained a greater understanding of what that meant. I can be thrown up on, ignored, and lied to by 1 of my 2 sons and still love him just as much the next day. My sons’ choices may sometimes hurt deeply, but I never stop caring for them.

Over the years, I have learned to love others unconditionally as well. An old friend may fail to call for a long time, but when she does, I am just as happy to talk to her. My husband and I may have different opinions about our finances, but we work it out and remember that our relationship is far more important than any amount of money.

Remembering daily God’s unconditional love for us helps us give that same love to others. No one is perfect. We will be disappointed by those in our lives. We must choose unconditional love.

Surprise! I’m the Leader!

You may remember the children’s game “follow the leader.” One child chosen as the leader goes to the head of the line. All the other children line up behind the leader. The children mimic whatever actions the leader does. This silly example supports the oft-heard quote “You’re not a leader if no one is following you.”

So how does a leader get people to follow her? What does an effective leader do to keep followers and get new ones? She serves. The role of servant leader is what I have found to be the most effective tool in leading others. If I am not willing to serve others in His name and lead others by serving alongside them, how can I expect others to catch the vision of the ministry or the task?

The servant leader shares the responsibilities of the task and helps her team develop and perform to its best potential. She encourages team members and challenges them to use their spiritual gifts in serving the Lord by serving others.

I used to think you could motivate others to serve. Then, I heard a seasoned WMU conference leader say, “You cannot motivate others. You can only create an environment in which they will motivate themselves to act or serve.”

Loving Unconditionally

Loving unconditionally . . . what does that even mean?

The high divorce rate even among Christians testifies that most come to a relationship with the conditional “I love you if . . . ”

In a world where parents and children can divorce or at least attempt it, relationships become strained. Distant. People pull away from those who don’t fill in the blank properly.

Our love for God is often conditional if He doesn’t fill in the blank properly—properly to us.

Who then? Who can love that way?

I know a Father. You may know Him, too.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The awareness of God’s matchless unconditional John 3:16 love gives us cause to pause and offer thanksgiving for the One and to the One Who unconditionally says, “I love you” and—

forgives us.
leads us.
carries us.
sees us.
hears us.
heals us.
changes us.
fights for us.
died for us.

What does He unconditionally do for you? Fill in the blank.

How to Love

Many times I have wished the English language did a better job at breaking down the word “love.” In the Hebrew language, “love” is broken down into raya, ahava, and dod. In Greek we read of phileo, agape, and eros. Both languages break down “love” into the aspects of friendship, commitment/relational, and passion. Why does the English language ball all these aspects into just one word?

Our relationship with the Lord should be our number one priority and should be the first love of our life. But in our culture and with the definition of love as we have, it is difficult for us to grasp and identify what this looks like. How do I begin to compare and define love for my husband, my children, my family, and my Lord? It can’t be the same for all. We are talking about the love for a Savior Who died for us, an eternal love, and a love for those in my life that is an earthly, temporal love.

Unconditional

 One big slip.

That’s what I was always waiting for—that one moment when I would slip up and it would be too major for a recovery.

God would look down on me in disdain and walk out the door. 

Deep places within my heart have believed this for years. I always wondered if my tenacious heart would eventually exhaust God and He would call it quits.

I built cadences of work and production into my spirituality in order to prove to God my loyalty and hopefully earn His love.

I knew the gospel. I had heard it my entire life, but it took being transplanted to the Middle East to learn unconditional love.

I had lived my life under the “A student” mentality. Hard work eventually pays off and everything should or at least could receive a grade. 

Rules set before me from a young age became my benchmark for affection. I believed in the pit of my soul that love is only earned.

Until God took me to the end of my effort, to a distant land where I no longer knew the measures of success. He took me out of the realms of a grade to tell me He loved me. 

Unconditionally.

Keep Knocking

It’s easy to pray for wisdom during a test, courage for a job interview, or safety while traveling home. We’re confident that God can answer those prayers. More than that, the answer to the prayer (or the result of the situation) is coming soon. You pass the test, don’t get the job, or arrive safely at home.

However, praying for people can be different, especially people you don’t like or agree with. I’m ashamed to admit that I have thought, “Is it really worth praying for them? They’re never going to change.” Even though I may not feel like praying for someone, I have to realize that I don’t act upon my feelings. I act in obedience to God’s Word.

In Luke 11:5–8, Jesus tells a story about a man whose friend showed up at his house at midnight. The man had no food to offer the traveler, so he ran to another friend, banged on the door, and asked for three loaves of bread. The supposed “friend” answered, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything” (Luke 11:7 NIV).

Loving Her

Most think that just because we are missionaries we must all get along. Somehow when we go under that occupation label, all of our humanness leaves us. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's simply not true.

We simply wouldn't have been real life friends, our personalities didn't mix well; these were actually things we talked about, joked over, and had a few laughs in between. We knew that a deep friendship would have never happened in normal circumstances. However, we found ourselves thousands of miles from our home culture and in a place where few foreigners lived. We were about to spend lots of time together.

Weekly (and hourly if I knew we were about to see each other), I'd pray for common ground. I'd pray for His love to overpower any petty things I felt when spending time with her. I wanted to love her and I wanted her to love me. Slowly, the Lord built a friendship based on Him. He was our common ground. He had given us both a love for this place that we now called home. He had created our personalities, which means He knew how different we were. He knew that we'd be together thousands of miles away from our friends and family. He knew we'd struggle.

Let’s Get Together

Does your myMISSION group ever get together with the other women’s missions groups in your church? How do you feel about younger and older women doing missions projects together and celebrating missions milestones? Is there value to being with women of all ages? Here’s how one young woman feels about this:

“I love intergenerational groups. I think there needs to be understanding on both sides for them to be successful. Younger women have so much to learn from other generations. I know that when I raise children the world around me will be totally different than it was for my parents when they raised my sister and me in the 80s and 90s. However, it was totally different for them than it was for their parents when they were being raised in the 50s and 60s.

“The world around us changes, principles don't. I will still need advice and wisdom on how to pray for my children, teach my children biblical discipline, and how to be a good wife and mom. I want to surround myself with women who I see that have done that well (which, for me, luckily includes my mom).

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