WMU Blog

A Teaching Degree

The box next to "Christian Studies" was marked. My college major was chosen. I felt confident and somehow more mature. Checking that small box on the blue form seemed to be one of the biggest decisions I had ever made.

Why would I choose anything else? God had shown me that I would be serving Him overseas once I graduated so what good would any other major do for me? Two months into college, God began to speak to my heart. He wanted me in the education building. A teacher? Really? I looked into seeing if it could be my minor. No such luck.

Reluctantly, I filled out the form to change my major and over the next three and a half years fell completely in love with teaching. Fast forward four years after graduation, and I'm getting on a plane to go and serve as an international missionary in Madagascar. His plan remained and He did not need my help to get me there.

That teaching degree opened up doors to an English-as-a-second-language community that I would not have had otherwise. He gave me a classroom of precious deaf children that I was welcomed into because of my education degree. He saw the future so much clearer than I ever have.

Are You Really Listening, God?

Many of the population of military veterans I serve in my job as a VA hospital chaplain suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. One such veteran is very special to me, as he is a fellow chaplain. I asked him if PTSD affected his ability to listen to God. Without hesitation, he said, “Absolutely!”

First, he told me his ability to hear at all was affected. Distractions are much worse for one suffering from PTSD than for most of us. Even trying to focus on God still takes concentrated effort.

A career military man, he had trained most of his adult life for war. Though he admits it was a naïve assumption, he thought he would be immune to PTSD since he was serving both God and country. Surely God would protect him so he could minister to those whose only purpose was to protect their country. But that’s not the way it happened. He now suffers from severe PTSD.

Now, he asks, can he still trust he is hearing God correctly? Can he trust God to answer? Listening to God is now a challenge. He finished his conversation with me by saying, “But I heard Him this morning as I preached.” Thanks be to God!

One Good Turn

Recently, I heard from a church planter in Louisiana and a Girls in Action® director from a larger church in Mississippi. Besides both being from the South, these individuals only have two things in common: they both love Jesus and value children’s missions discipleship.

Their understanding of the need of children’s missions discipleship is what brought these two together. Through a mutual friend, the churches were connected and the larger Mississippi church purchased a Children in Action subscription for the church plant in Louisiana for three years.

We’re talking approximately $200. Just a drop in the bucket to any large church. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

This gift—small to that Mississippi church—will allow the church plant to share the Great Commission and tell stories about missions work happening across the street and around the world with children who have never been part of a missions organization. Eventually, those children will participate in missions.

To the church plant in Louisiana, this is a big deal.

That’s What I Thought He Said

Standing in the living room of the perfect house in Georgia, I looked at my husband and knew what we had thought we heard God say wasn’t correct. The house had it all; it checked all our boxes. Located on a lake, it was just the right style and size, and it was in our budget—only it was in the wrong state!

Moving to Georgia seemed like God’s choice for us. Georgia was closer to our families, the job was great, and multiple opportunities were available for our children and me. It all made sense. Only we had heard wrong. God wanted us to step out in faith and follow Him without knowing what the next step was for us.

After getting over the shock, we confessed our disobedience and stepped out in faith. God quickly led us to another state, where both of our children met their future spouses. God blessed our journey from disobedience to obedience!

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Learning Styles

The preschoolers in my Mission Friends class all learn in different ways. I can see their learning styles by the activities they gravitate towards in our class. Ellie goes straight to the Art area because she likes to make a picture she can see. She is a visual learner. Kasey can answer the questions after listening to the mission story at Group Time. He is an auditory learner. Kinsley can usually be found moving about in the Homeliving area taking play food from the oven to the table. She is a kinesthetic learner. Just as we learn in different ways as adults, preschoolers also learn in different ways. They all have a learning style that they prefer. They will also learn from the other styles, but there is usually one of the learning styles they favor over the others.

When you choose activities from Mission Friends Leader, think about these three ways preschoolers learn. Choose activities for each learning style. Here is a quick overview of what to look for in planning for each learning style.

Wherever He leads, I’ll Go

“Go to the Middle East.”

That was the clearest call I had received from God. The next eight years were spent praying about, dreaming about, and preparing for my move to the Middle East.

I have always been the ambitious sort, the type who prepares for every change and possibility and attempts to plan the next 15 years, now. If possible.

So I went. God gave me the call. And I went.

Naturally, during my eight years of planning I began to dream about what the call from God might mean. I convinced myself He must want me to live overseas forever.

So I told others I would move there for my whole life. And quite honestly, my heart was willing.

But God had different plans.

Getting me there was simply the beginning of the life-changing, faith-rocking journey He was starting me on.

I thought it was a forever kind of call. Instead, God was asking me to follow Him in the faith-based kind of pursuit where He is the Good Shepherd and I am the lamb following Him wherever He would lead me.

Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to years and slowly God began to whisper to me that it was time to move home.

Little Becomes Much

WorldCrafts Blessed Hope Artisan Group

“It’s the little things that count!” This familiar saying is one we have all heard many times. We often think only the big gifts, the great acts of kindness, are what count in life, when in reality it’s the little things that give us the most joy. I love a large bouquet of flowers, for instance, but the single bloom presented by a grandchild grinning from ear to ear as he delivers it? Well, that means so much more.

At national WMU®, we spend many hours creating missions education resources, editing New Hope® books, and supporting artisan groups through WorldCraftsSM. There are so many details required for each magazine, book, or craft to become a reality and arrive at your home. If we are not careful, we can get lost in the magnitude of the project and miss the joy of the little ways God uses it to bless someone else.

Nothing Wasted

I love to sew! When I sew, I ponder, figure, and experiment until I find a way to use the least amount of fabric possible. I do not want anything wasted. It’s the same with life. I do not want to waste anything. I want to learn from every experience.

Finding out that my husband and I had misheard God’s direction and plan, the two of us puzzled over the experience in order not to waste any knowledge that could be gained from it. We realized this experience taught us to listen to God without having a preconceived idea of what He is going to say.

The misunderstanding occurred during a hectic season in our life; we learned to hear God without the noise of daily life. Taking a step away from the busy-ness of life takes away distractions from hearing clearly.

It also taught us to admit we heard wrong quickly and then follow. God blesses when we listen and obey!

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Is That What You Said, God?

I was speaking to a group of women in a Haitian church in Canada. Since I am one of the dwindling number of Americans who only speak one language, I needed a translator. A beautiful young Haitian woman home from college on summer vacation was mine. She was not a professional translator but seemed to understand what I was saying. However, there were a number of times that weekend when the women giggled when I thought I was being serious or looked concerned when I thought I was being funny.

In my work as a hospital chaplain, my most dreaded visits are those with patients on a ventilator. Somewhat sedated with a huge tube down their throats and out their mouths, they try to tell me something. How often I plead with God on those visits, “Help me understand so I can minister to their needs. Let me not offer an ice chip when they need to hear about Living Water.”

And there are times when I’m listening to God that I similarly plead, “Help me understand, God, so I can obey!”

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com

Why Missions Education is Still Relevant

A new church year is underway. It could be you’ve served in children’s missions education for years, or it could be that this is your first year. Either way, there may be times over the next year that you will wonder just how relevant missions education is in your church and for God’s kingdom. It could be that you’ll ask if missions education still has any importance.

Of course, you would expect WMU® to say that missions education is vital! After all, missions education is all that we are about! But, to answer the question about the relevance of missions education, you’ll need more than our word on it.

So, what is the relevance of missions education in 2015? Why should churches continue with missions education programs for children? Here are three reasons to consider.

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