125 Years of Stories

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The year 2013 is a special one in the life of WMU. In June, we will begin a yearlong celebration of our 125th anniversary! What began with a small group of women following God’s call to be missions advocates in the late 1800s is now a powerful force for missions causes. These early women—who were not allowed to vote in public elections, had limited opportunities for meaningful employment, and little discretion over the use of family resources—found a way to rally the church for missions by setting a personal example of sacrificial giving. Women of great faith and a deep understanding of how much God loved all the people of the world advanced a vision of radical missions involvement and missionary support through what became known as WMU.

I began my WMU journey as a young pastor’s wife learning the ropes of church life and discovering where to use my gifts in service. My first job in the church was leading a small group of teenage girls in Acteens®. It was the beginning of God working in my life, opening my eyes and heart to a world about which I knew very little. I quickly recognized (and I suspect others did as well) that my nursing skills did not qualify me to teach teenagers. WMU provided the help I needed in the context of missions. It was a gradual awareness at first, but I began to realize God doesn’t just use preachers and missionaries in His work; He uses ordinary people like me and yes, even teenage girls. The more we ventured out into our community on missions projects, the greater our understanding of the needs around us and our personal role in the Great Commission.

In reflection, I can see how God used these missions experiences to lead me to service as a career missionary, as president of Georgia WMU, national president, and now as executive director of national WMU. As I began my service as executive director in 2000, I sensed God was bringing all of my past experiences, along with my professional career in nursing, into a significant moment in my journey. My story, one that seemed so small and insignificant, was being enriched through WMU in ways I could never have imagined.

As you reflect on your WMU story, where did it begin? Who introduced you to missions? At what point did you begin to understand God could use you to make a difference in the world? Your personal story is connected to the stories of so many others across generations who have been involved in missions through WMU. This shared commitment shaped our foundation and continues to shape our future today.

As we celebrate 125 years of missions commitment this year, let’s remember we have been called to challenge people and churches to reach those who need to know His story and provide opportunities for His people to be involved in telling the story. As we remain faithful to His calling I can only imagine how God will use WMU in the next 125 years!

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GA’s, Acteens, camp, mission

GA’s, Acteens, camp, mission projects, and steps these were all terms my friends in middle school and high school used as they talked excitedly about their WMU groups and activities. Not being a Southern Baptist myself, I had no idea what they were referring to, but I knew it sounded fun and exciting. I often longed to be part of such a group.
Many years passed and I joined a Southern Baptist church, but a marriage, several moves, and three children were born before I finally found the time to join a Baptist Young Women’s group. I loved every aspect of it. We meet once a month at night. It was a time of great fun, fellowship, and learning about missions while participating in various projects with my peers. I always looked forward to the meetings.
Eventually, my husband accepted a new job in my home state of South Carolina, and we relocated. It took a while for us to find the right church for our family, but we finally settled on a large Southern Baptist Church near our home. I joined a Women on Mission group which was comprised of senior ladies. Many of them had been involved in WMU since the days of Sunbeams.
My WMU group meets all of the objectives listed for Women on Mission. We pray for missions, give to missions, learn about missions, support missions, participate in the work of our church, and work toward developing a missional lifestyle. Even though I am in my early fifties, the age difference between me and my fellow group members has become a sweet and most unexpected blessing.
Most of these ladies have been faithful, tireless church workers all of their lives. They have been on numerous mission trips and some have retired from the foreign mission field. They have seen the church perservere through good times and bad. They have experienced cultural changes within the church as well as out in society. Many of my new friends are widows. Some live on limited incomes, others live with serious health concerns. Through it all, these ladies remain faithful to the objectives of WMU month after month and year after year. They possess a wealth of knowledge about many subjects and serve as excellent role models for how to be a devoted wife, a loving mother, a good church worker, and a faithful servant of Christ throughout all sorts of trials and circumstances. They exhibit grace and compassion, steadfastness and kindness. I never dreamed my life could have become so blessed just by joining a WMU group. As we reflect on the past 125 years of WMU, it is my prayer we do all we can to ensure the legacy we have been given will continue on well into the future.

History with WMU

My relationship with WMU began with a scholarship to seminary from Mississippi WMU. It has included everything from teaching Mission Friends to working for national WMU. Now I serve with the International Mission Board in Southeast Asia. Congratulations on 125 year!

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7.20.14

When we met in Houston last year for the WMU® Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, we launched the Join One Million Men campaign designed to address the issue of pornography. The goal was to raise awareness and encourage conversation in the church as well as develop a ministry plan to help men live free of pornography.

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