WMU Blog

Making Missions Memorable

Azaleas, dogwood blossoms, tulips, blue skies, warm weather, baseball games, rain, robins, pollen, allergies . . . the list goes on and on. But they all can only mean one thing—spring has sprung!

I love spring. But, I have to be honest: it is a crazy, busy time of year! There is always something to do or some place to go. Just this week, I drove nearly 200 miles in the span of 24 hours—all within the metro-Birmingham area—chauffeuring my children from one activity to the next.

Thank You!

Christmas in August

Do you ever wonder how your Christmas in August gifts are received and what happens after you send them? Be encouraged today by this thank-you message from Arlene Miller of Impact Ministry in Hopkinsville, Kentucky:

"Thank you for allowing Impact Ministry to be included on the Mission Friends [Christmas in August] list of ministries to get donations. It has been such a blessing to get boxes and letters. Many of the boxes contained pictures and items that the children had made. Most of them had a note saying they had prayed for us. Some local churches brought their children to visit and deliver their donations.

"We received gifts from 17 different states and 130 different churches. Some sent 1 package while others sent as many as 7 boxes.

"We know that the prayers of all of those collecting and packing the boxes were heard and His Holy Spirit touched hearts and people were saved. Several people gave their heart to Jesus these past few months as they met with our spiritual counselors the day they came for assistance.

Global Missions Involvement

Getting the church involved in global missions can be intimidating. Distance, cost, language, and numerous other factors seem to prevent meaningful involvement, yet we know from Christ’s words in Acts 1:8 that we are to be His witnesses “to the ends of the earth.”

The church plant with which I’ve been working for a couple of years is still quite small. We do not have a lot of resources to send people to the ends of the earth, yet I have been so blessed to see how our little congregation has made such a big impact globally.

One of the primary ways we participate in global missions is through awareness and prayer. We take time during each service to discuss current events and intercede for the people of the world and the missionaries and ministries serving them. Time and again, we hear testimonies of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer. Prayer is one of the most effective, powerful tools we have, if we only make time and room for it in our lives.

The Cross of Crossing Town

It’s amazing how quickly we can become “comfortable.” I vowed after my years in the Middle East I wouldn’t give in to the American lifestyle, feeling entitled to a certain standard of living and implementing levels of fear and distrust into my life about the world around me.

Over the past year and a half, my small home I rent has started to feel really cozy. After my husband and I got married, we decorated and began to shape it more into ours. In this past year we had no idea the changes God was about to place in our lives. We discovered God was blessing us with a child and instantly we have started to take the steps to shift and adjust to the new addition coming to our family this summer.

One of the areas of our life we have been praying about from the beginning of our relationship is how to serve the community around us. We have been asking God for His vision for us and who He wants us to be as a couple in service to Him.

God has answered that prayer recently in big ways. He has opened up a part of the city for us to move to, with an opportunity to serve the community and show His love to people who inhabit the homes around us.

Different Is Good!

What does it mean to be a leader? I think it can mean many different things. I’ve had the privilege of starting 2 different myMISSION groups and have loved every minute of it! I lived in Seattle, Washington for a few years—that was where I started my first group. I now live in Birmingham, Alabama, and I just helped to start another group. They are very different from each other but I’m loving it . . . I said that already, right?

Different is good. I’m learning that God is doing something different in each of our lives and that our groups can reflect that amazing collage. So many different colors and shapes, different callings and places in life, different opportunities, different ways of growing—different is good!

Missional Motherhood

Apartment living when you’re a family of four can be a challenge, especially when you live on the second floor and you have two toddlers. Every day is a regular chorus of “Shhh! People are sleeping!” and “Don’t put that in your mouth!” as we walk to and from the car. Apartment living also means you regularly encounter people whose lives and families are different from your own. We share a building with three other tenants, and we regularly run into them in the stairwell or parking lot. It gives us a unique opportunity to be salt and light in a world in desperate need for the light of Christ, and when we moved into the building, we prayed that God would use us to minister to our neighbors.

The woman who lives below us is a single mother of two, and her youngest is an infant. As you can imagine, her hands are literally full. Every time I see her, she’s juggling the car seat while carrying in groceries and keeping an eye on her little boy. God has placed this woman on my heart since we moved in, and I’ve prayed that He would provide opportunities for me to build a relationship with her so I could share Christ’s love with her.

Intentionally Following Christ

I’m a list-er. I have at least one list for every area of my life: work, home, personal development, and so on. These lists are constantly growing and changing as things are added and (hopefully) crossed off. If I don’t write something down, it may not get done.

Now as for my spiritual life: to list or not to list?

On one hand, reading my Bible, praying, and writing in my journal are a part of my (un-listed) nightly routine along with brushing my teeth.

On the other hand, it is challenging to fit times of silence, solitude, prayer, reflection, or other spiritual disciplines into my busy life, especially at work.

A busy workplace can also challenge the traits that are supposed to mark us as Christ followers, even when you love your job. Have you ever lost your patience in the office? Is it easy to be kind and gracious when a customer is being anything but?

Jesus said His followers would have to take up their crosses daily. Whether your spiritual life is part of your routine, an item on your list, or something in between: taking up your cross daily requires action. You can’t accidentally pick up a cross. You can’t accidentally follow Christ.

Not Just Another School Subject

One of my favorite classes in college was about different cultures and religions. We studied many ancient texts from authors like Aristotle, Buddha, St. Augustine, and Job.           

During this class, I befriended a student named Julie*. I could tell that Julie struggled with the material, and I offered to help her study. I didn’t know if Julie was a Christian, and I prayed that one of these study sessions would provide an opportunity to share the gospel.           

One day we were studying in the food court and discussing Christianity. This is the perfect time, I thought, and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to speak up.           

“You know, sometimes we talk about Jesus and Christianity like it’s just another school subject,” I said to Julie. My heart was pounding, and I tried to have a strong voice. “Actually, I believe that the Bible is true, and I believe in Jesus.”           

Julie looked at me, clearly intrigued. “Jesus isn’t just a character,” I continued, “He is real. I believe He died on the cross for my sins, and that is what gives me joy in life.”           

Taking Up Your Cross

If you are involved in a missions group, you’ve probably heard of Jesus’ command in Matthew 16:24, where he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (NIV). The cross was an instrument of execution that gave criminals a long and excruciating death. When Jesus spoke these words, He was asking His disciples to give their lives for the gospel.

Thankfully we live in a country where we are free to proclaim God’s truth. However, the fact that we don’t face physical persecution does not excuse us from actively obeying Christ’s command.

In fact, Christians in America definitely relate to one element of Jesus’ experience in taking up His cross—ridicule. Matthew 27:27–30 describes when an entire company of Roman soldiers relentlessly mocked Jesus. They dressed Him up as a king, gave Him a twisted crown of thorns, spat on Him, and repeatedly beat Him on the head.

Not-So-Nice People

I’m not sure how it fell on the ears or landed in the hearts of the disciples when Jesus called them to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Him (Mark 8:34), but for me, it painted images of beautiful sacrifice.

I’m talking about teaching Bible stories under a scrubby tree in sub-Saharan Africa, climbing rocky hillsides to take the gospel to an unreached people group tucked in high-elevation villages, eating raw fish to take one for the team (the missions team, of course), or studying long hours over complicated Bible passages. These are the self-denying, cross-bearing activities I was ready to embrace. But when a selfish, whiny, paranoid woman wandered into my life and God told me to deny myself and love her unconditionally, well . . . it knocked me for a loop.

Don’t get caught up in the larger-than-life, grandiose ideas of what sacrificial living has to look like for a believer. It can be all those things, but it can also mean sitting at the bedside of an aging parent or learning to love a difficult person who has never known Christ’s love. Look far away and then look close to home: how is God calling you to deny yourself?

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