WMU Blog

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.

Reaping a Harvest

Aylett Family

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9 NIV1)

This is a favorite verse for Jeremy Aylett. Mr. Aylett shares, “Any time you step out in faith and obedience to Jesus, there is always adversity and difficulty. What’s important is that we remember growth takes time and we shouldn’t grow weary in doing good. As long as we do what is God-honoring and good, there will be a harvest. We must pursue wisdom, skill, and feedback from others, but we trust God to bring the growth in His time!”

Indeed, the Ayletts stay very busy and have much work to complete. San Diego is an incredibly beautiful and temperate city. People who live there enjoy a vast array of recreational opportunities. With almost 70 miles of beaches, theme parks, and attractions like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, this city offers virtually unending sources of play and creativity. Jeremy Aylett explains that while these activities are enjoyable, they are also distractions to spiritual thought and conversations.

Hear My Heart, Oh God

A friend recently texted me, “I thought about you today. I guess you will always be in my heart.” I answered her, “That was music to my ears. So I guess since I’m in your heart and you’re in my ears, we’re biologically related!” Of course, that was meant to be ludicrous, but it did make me think. How connected are my ears and my heart? When my heart is seeking God’s answer, but my ears are deceiving so that I disobey, can God still bless me? Or can He still bless others through me?

I have learned the answer to those questions is “Yes!” Thankfully God’s blessings don’t depend on my understanding. However, I have also learned through the times I mistakenly “obey” God’s will, the route is longer, the terrain is rougher, and the outcome may be less effective. Because God knows our human frailty, He offers grace when our hearts are right.

The most important lesson I’ve learned through unintentional disobedience is God will never give up on me. He will always speak to me again, maybe just a tad louder.

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

A Christmas in August Story

This summer, I met a NAMB/state missionary while I was at a missions camp in South Carolina. After introductions, I asked about his ministry on the college campus where he and his family work. He shared with me his passion for reaching the nations through the international students on the college campus, but the conversation quickly changed when he realized I worked for WMU. He wanted to share his Christmas in August testimony.

He and his family were Christmas in August recipients several years ago. As NAMB missionaries, their ministry was chosen as one that could be supported by WMU members around the country through the Christmas in August initiative.

His face lit up as he told me about being overwhelmed with gifts and notes of encouragement. We laughed when he shared that they had trouble deciding where to store the gifts. They were sent so many gifts that they are still using some of the supplies! They are amazed when they receive a card or note in the mail from the churches that sent material support and are still sending encouragement through continued prayer—years after being chosen as a Christmas in August missionary.

Are They Real?

As I showed the picture of the Aylett family to my Mission Friends, Conner looked at the picture and asked, “Are they real?” I assured him that yes, the missionaries are real. We then talked about the Ayletts living in San Diego, and that there are people there who have never heard about Jesus.

Later I was still thinking about his question, “Are they real?” It seemed odd to me at the time because the picture is a photo, so it is obvious to me that these are real people. But at Conner’s four years, he still has difficulty discerning what is real and what is not real. In today’s world of photo editing programs, even photos can be manipulated so that what is not real appears to be real. As we think about preschoolers and their development, we know that preschoolers have difficulty discerning fantasy from reality. They have difficulty telling the difference between what is real and imaginary.

Focus! Focus!

My niece grabbed my face in her chubby little hands, looked deep into my eyes, and said, “Focus! Focus!” She did not want just a casual listener; she was demanding I listen for total understanding. If we desire to understand the meaning of what is being said, focusing by blocking out distractions is essential. The same is true for hearing from God.  

Blocking out distractions means we intentionally choose to listen not only with our ears but also with our whole being. So how do you do that?

I Can’t Hear You, God

I’ll be the first to admit I often block out God to take care of distractions. Shouldn’t that read, “block out distractions to listen to God”? It should. But honesty won’t allow me to make that claim often.

When I intercede for others, I can stay on track. I can easily block out distractions when I’m the speaker. But when I’m the listener, I’m overrun with incidental thoughts. They jump up and down for attention. I can’t keep them quiet or still.

So how do I practice crowd control with my thoughts? I distinguish between prayer chats and prayer conversations. I chat with God often during the day about everything from needing that parking place to blessing that person in the ambulance whizzing by. But serious conversations demand time, silence, and solitude.

Often I take a pen and paper into prayertime with me. When an incidental thought interferes, I quickly jot it down. It’s gone, and later in the day, I can tend to those interruptions.

I practice centering prayer—repeating a short phrase that focuses my mind on God (e.g., “Jesus, hear my prayer”).

Can You Hear Me?

Congratulations! If you are reading this then you have successfully found a moment to break away for some time for you. I know how precious and fleeting this time can be so please know these blogs that I write and share will honor what time you have. So let’s not waste any time…

Have you ever felt so distracted in your own environment that you can’t hear God? The sounds of little people’s voices arguing, chairs scooting across the kitchen floor, doors opening and closing, questions being asked, the clinking and clanging of snaps and buttons hitting the side walls of the dryer, dogs barking, a baby crying? It can be very challenging to find a place of peace, of quiet, and be able to focus, to talk to the only source to replenish our weary selves, God.

New Beginnings

Fall is the time for new beginnings—school, football, and a new church year. What are you dreaming up new for your myMISSION group this year? What worked well and made you determine it was a keeper?

Did you use Missions Mosaic and myMISSION Leader with your group? Faith, community, and missions continue to make up the core of myMISSION, and meeting plans are centered in those areas.

This year some tweaks have been made to the meeting plans. The meeting plans for faith are built for the Bible study in Missions Mosaic. These plans are interactive, fun, and move us to make life changes. We’ll also consider where we could take this Bible study (women’s shelter, jail, dorm, neighborhood) or what other group could join us for the study.

The missions meeting plans help us learn about the featured missionary in Missions Mosaic. But we are going to do more than just learn; we’re going to try to apply the missionary’s missions project ideas to our own local projects.  

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