:: 12/22/2014 - 10:42am ::

Allow me to introduce you to some of my favorite gals. They are no ordinary bunch of women. In fact, these women put the “extra” in extraordinary. They are intentional, tested, committed, and true. Most of them work all day and are willing to serve all night. They’re beautiful reflections of what it means to deny self and take up one’s cross.

Notably known as the “Sloppy Joe” Girls, they generously feed English as a second language groups at First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. They also permeate the church walls by taking Jesus into their community by running races to combat human trafficking.

Head north on an autumn evening, and you’ll find them in Atlanta sorting shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. On Saturdays, they enjoy fellowship as they serve in the clothes closet at our pregnancy resource center.

These are the praying, sowing, Jesus-sharing women of the Coleman Women on Mission® Group. Graciously they negotiate life’s detours with faith, hope, and love. Prayer and service consume their monthly meetings, and their mission field is wherever God chooses to place them.

Merry Christmas, ladies! What a joy to call you friends. May you keep on serving and sharing Jesus for years to come!

Through the example of the Coleman Group, Joanie Ballard is inspired to serve intentionally.

:: 12/17/2014 - 8:23am ::

The big reveal comes and what was formerly unsightly, inefficient, and all-around horrible is now gorgeous, marvelously functional, and all-around wonderful. That is how it works on the makeover reality shows.

Whether it is a house or a person, what was unwanted becomes something everyone desires. It is the same when we do a mission trip makeover.

A mission trip makeover happens when we discover what we thought of as a mission trip is not the reality. We think of mission trips, especially international ones, as being for other people, too expensive, and only for the spiritually mature. Consider these points:

  • Our world is getting smaller; travel is easier.
  • The price of a mission trip is small compared to the value of life.
  • Mission trips are for people who are growing in their faith.
  • With a Bible app, anyone can share anywhere (check out apps that share the gospel in any language!).

One mission trip will makeover how you think so step out in faith and go! A makeover may be just what you need!

One trip changed Deb Douglas’s life! Now she leads trips for women for First Baptist Church, Bossier City, Louisiana.

:: 12/15/2014 - 9:11am ::

Quietly I enter the room. Before my eyes rests a sea of girls’ dresses humbly displayed wall to wall. A pure and unedited outpouring of God’s omnificent love is deeply woven throughout every stitch. My heart is overwhelmed.

A group of missional women at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia, is sharing Jesus’ heart 1 stitch at a time. These women recognize the importance of a missional lifestyle as they surrender, sacrifice, and serve. While some may not be able to physically travel abroad, each woman embraces this occasion to apply her gifts in meeting an international need.

What began as a single request for 150 dresses to be taken on mission to West Africa has resulted in nearly 400 dresses completed in 6 short months. The dresses, intricately sewn and uniquely designed, will bless girls as far away as Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Haiti, and Thailand.

Making a commitment to international missions transforms the human heart. Among every thread and embellishment, God is revealing His heart through the hands of these missional women. For them, the mission is clear. God calls us to “go and make disciples,” (Matt. 28:16–20) and that calling makes these women “SEW” blessed!

Joanie Ballard is a Southern girl with a Jesus heart for international missions.

:: 12/10/2014 - 8:15am ::

I love to give the perfect gift! The gift that makes someone smile from his or her toes up! What if we could give Christ the perfect Christmas gift?

After all, it is His birthday. Celebration of the greatest birth in history should be memorable and missional! I cannot see Jesus getting excited about another robe, but I do think these ideas might bring a smile:

  • Invite military men and women to join your family celebration.
  • Take your family’s meal to a homeless camp to share. Be sure to take extra paper products and toiletries as gifts.
  • Make gift bags and hand them out to people who are working or truck drivers at a nearby truck stop.
  •  Prepare and serve a meal at a homeless shelter.
  • Give children’s home workers a break by organizing a fun day of activities for the children.
  • Provide meals for foster families.
  • Spend an afternoon visiting residents of an assisted-living home.

Finding a way to involve missions in the celebration of Christ makes Christmas unforgettable! 

Deb Douglas believes Christmas is the best day to do missions in her town, Bossier City, Louisiana.

:: 12/08/2014 - 9:37am ::

Making our list, checking it twice. All the while, the message echoes: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. In 4 small letters, the reason for the season is clear.

If it’s better to give than to receive, how can our family share Jesus this season? How can we impact our world for Christ?

Pause, pray. Seek, find. God is ready to direct us. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, we’ll shift our focus outward and into our community. We’ll visit a shut-in and give of our time to lovingly encourage. The sacrifice of a personal gift or 2 will bless a struggling family while soothing their aching hearts with hope. Our traditional post-Christmas vacation will joyfully be replaced by Familyfest in July 2015.

Christmas morning will include a trip to our local homeless shelter to live out His love. Dinner will follow as we invite our neighbor, who would otherwise be alone, to join us. Our prayer life will include intercession for our missionaries, and we will spend less and give more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®.

Our mission is possible; God’s message remains true. The gift is to give. And yes, it’s always better to give than to receive.

Joanie Ballard loves to unwrap Christmas through giving and living out Jesus to others.

:: 12/03/2014 - 7:19pm ::

I took a detour through Kansas. I’ve learned it is the detours that bring the most adventure. It wasn’t the world’s biggest prairie dog that made this detour worth the miles but an old Catholic cathedral, 1 of Kansas’s 8 wonders. Stark and beautiful against the giant blue sky, it’s a reminder of strength against the world’s whipping winds.

As a child, I expected life to be a pink trailer in my parent’s backyard, but I took a detour when I accepted God’s call. The result has been a wild ride around the world, filled with people of all types. From story to story, I’ve seen God’s hand at work. I have had the privilege of being His vessel in helping the hurting.

Detours can be scary, frustrating, and challenging, but they’re also filled with unique moments of experiencing God. I know it’s been worth it all; I wouldn’t have missed it!

Deb Douglas’s detour has taken her to Bossier City, Louisiana, where she serves as a minister to women.

:: 12/01/2014 - 12:06pm ::

In a mere breath, 49 birthday candles are extinguished as quickly as years dissipate. Reminders of previous aspirations swirl around each smoldering wick. Is life what I expected it to be? How has my Creator worked through unforeseen detours?

Though I had ambitions of playing collegiate basketball, my life was suddenly redirected after my grandfather’s untimely death. No longer was I drawn to the love of the game. Rather I was moved toward a deeper desire for God and His everlasting love.

Along the way, plans continue to change, and I with them. However, God never changes. Through personal expectations left unfulfilled, I continue to discover that His will is always best. His plans are greater than mine.

This missional journey is paved with evidence of His presence and infinite mercy. I cannot deny the spiritual markers along the way, continued reminders that God is found within the most intricate details of every detour.

We’re fashioned after clay pots, designed to serve, carry His love, and pour out His heart to a broken world. In the flicker of 49 candles, I see His reflection. God continues to sanction detours while safely directing me toward a delightful destination called contentment.

Joanie Ballard is a Georgia clay pot that recently celebrated 49 years of divine detours.

:: 11/26/2014 - 9:55am ::

I believe my biggest daily challenge in following God has been trusting Him for all my daily “happenings.” I trust Him for my eternal life, so why do I worry about little things in my life?

God provided my salvation, so won’t He also provide food and clothes and money to pay the bills? God raised Jesus from the dead, so can’t He take care of that broken air conditioner? God parted the Red Sea, so can’t He get me safely to work when it snows?

Each day, I’m learning to deliberately turn it all over to Him. Just as the Apostle Paul pleaded 3 times for the Lord to take away his thorn in the flesh and learned that God had His reasons for refusing him, I have been learning that God always has His reasons for everything in my every day.

I now know that God has every detail of my every day scooped into His hands like a captured firefly. He knows, He listens, He watches, and He cares. And yes, He makes things happen, and then He sets the firefly free.

I can trust my Lord God Almighty!

Keneta Wolfenbarger blogs at AbundantlyPardoned.wordpress.com.

:: 11/24/2014 - 9:00am ::

How different our world would be if we embraced the truth that we’re all more alike than different.

In an Asian city, a Hispanic community, a former Soviet country, an African village, or any part of the world, children love to laugh; make cotton ball sheep; play “duck, duck, goose;” and sing “Praise Ye the Lord, Hallelujah.” In addition, we all have a hole in our heart that only God can fill.

Worshipping with people of other languages offers a preview of heaven’s praise. The singing—Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Russian, or whatever the local language, blended with my Southern-style English—lifts me like nothing I’ve ever known. A unified family of nations, we raise our voices in joy to God Who loves us all.

“We will praise the Lord, both now and forever. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 115:18 HCSB). 

Diana Derringer serves with her husband as a friendship family to international university students. Visit her at DianaDerringer.com.

:: 11/19/2014 - 9:20am ::

In my never-ending quest to satisfy a thirst for a stronger Christian walk and relationship with Christ, for a deeper knowledge of the Bible, and for a better walk in the mission field, I am reading the book The Journals of Jim Elliot, edited by his widow, Elisabeth.

Jim Elliot made extensive notes on personal Bible study, ministries, and mission work. His journals are filled with ongoing study. He touches my heart and inspires me with his deep love for Jesus and his longing to be a better Christian. I find that I’m traveling the road with him all the way up to just before he was martyred.

Elliot was never worldly-minded. His heart, mind, and soul were always fixed on Jesus and heavenly things. His journals inspire me to center my focus on the One Who is our Savior and cause me to take a deep look at my Christian walk.

May I learn much from reading The Journals of Jim Elliot. May I better learn obedience to Christ and how to look more deeply into God’s Word.

Keneta Wolfenbarger writes in a journal about her Christian walk and struggles in this world.

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