My WMU story began when I overhead a teenage friend talking about her YWA (Young Woman’s Auxiliary) meeting in excited tones. I asked her what the meeting was about, and she said it was a group of teenagers in her church who met together, fellowshipped, and learned about missionaries and mission work. She invited me to come and bring friends, so since I had my driver’s license, I took my sister, picked up some friends, and drove over to the meeting. We all loved what they were doing and learning, so we sent off for the study material we needed and asked one of our mothers to be our leader, and we have never looked back.
Soon we realized the women in the church needed to organize also, so I called to find out when the associational WMU meeting would be held. We attended and invited the WMU director to our church to teach us how to become a full-fledged church organization. My dear mother and I, along with 4 or 5 other women, met to organize, and we soon realized we needed to organize a group for toddlers and children. We now had all the age levels: Mission Friends®, GA, YWA, and Baptist Women. So many young people like me who had begun in YWA wanted their own group, so we organized Baptist Young Women.
We have had some wonderful leaders who taught Mission Friends, GA, and YWA the experiential way (dressing as various missionary types, as in nurses, farmers, doctors, preachers/evangelists, etc.). They would cook or bring foods related to the country being studied, conduct mission fairs, etc. We learned about our WMU heritage and the brave women and men who began to reach out beyond our borders more than 200 years ago: Adoniram and Ann Judson, Lottie Moon, etc.
God allowed me to led YWA and then Acteens® for about 20 years as well as do pinch-hitting for GA one year and Mission Friends for a short time. When we began Baptist Young Women in the ’70s, I served as president of that group for a while. Neither my mother nor I would have ever dreamed that one day, God would call on me to serve on the executive board of our state WMU and then as assistant secretary, secretary, second vice-president, first vice-president, and finally North Carolina WMU president. I was privileged to serve for 2 years before my own limitations caused me to have to resign.
Our church and state now has a sound heritage of missions. Recognizing that missions is a biblical mandate given by none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, I must say I have grown more as a Christian through WMU than anything else our church and association does because WMU® trains mission leaders.
Delores A. Thomas served as president of North Carolina WMU from 2009 until 2011.