Students

Facing Life’s Storms

A student whose mom has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and is waiting to find out if the tumor is malignant.

A friend who has early onset Alzheimer’s.

A mom of five children who has stage 4 cancer.

A woman with substance abuse who has yet to recognize she desperately needs help.

Shootings and terror attacks around the world.

Refugees. Disputes about government and division in our country. Poverty. War.

Check your Facebook newsfeed, visit a news website or lesson to a newscast, and be present for your friends and coworkers. Just a few minutes doing any one of these things and you can create a list like the one above. The only problem is that this list could go on and on.

Both those right next door and those around the world are hurting. Struggling to persevere in the midst of what likely feel like impossible circumstances. There is sadness. Frustration. Anger. Fear.

17 Ideas for 2017

Happy New Year! As you think about leading your Acteens in 2017 use these 17 ideas as ways to connect with and guide your girls in the coming months.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We say that, don’t we? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We sing it, too. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Toys in every store.” What do we mean when we use this phrase? Are we referring to the décor and music and characters that fill our mantles, living rooms, and malls, and TVs during this time of the year? “We put up our tree, it sure is beginning to look like Christmas around here?” “We took the kids to the mall to see Santa. It sure is starting to feel like Christmas.”

Is it December snow that causes it to feel like Christmas? What if the only snow you get in your part of the world is the kind you sing about? If it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, what did the first Christmas look like? How do we know it’s really beginning to look like Christmas? Because the days of the calendar are slipping by one by one until we reach the end of December? Certainly the first Christmas wasn’t filled with shopping malls and reindeer and mad scurrying with long lists of gifts to purchase and groceries to buy.

The Unsuspecting Father

The Christmas season is full of amazing stories. Each year, we roll out the old favorites to tell and retell in growing anticipation of the Big Day. But of these Christmas favorites there is one story which always seems to leave me scratching my head in wonder year after year.

Through the Gospel of Matthew, we receive a unique recollection of the Christmas story through the eyes of an unsuspecting father. Joseph was a regular guy. Part of a family tree with roots firmly planted in his native soil, he had his own feet firmly planted on the ground. Joseph must have brought in a dependable income from his talents as a craftsman given his status as an expectant groom. Sturdy, stable, dependable, grounded. These are a few words I would use to describe the man about to take Mary as his bride.

Missionary Prayer Calendar

January 13
California: Hortencia Aguilar, Gabriel Beltran
Florida: Lisette San Martin
Illinois: Sherrie Cash
Kansas: Son Biswa, Adrion Roberson
Louisiana: Rebecca Lusk
Missouri: Chuck Beem, Rick Friesen
Nebraska: John Mark Hansen
Nevada: Afsaneh Amin Akbari
New Mexico: Yulisa Mendez
North Carolina: Kelli O’Day
Ohio: Randy Chestnut
Texas: Ender Zambrano
Washington: Daniel Son
Wyoming: Amber Corcorran
American Peoples: Mark Cody
Central Asian Peoples: KM
European Peoples: Lynsi Rigney
Northern African and Middle Eastern Peoples: KS
South Asian Peoples: KS
Sub-Saharan African Peoples: PL

Add a Little Christmas to Your Life

Shopping. Partying at school. Cooking. Wrapping. Baking. Decorating. Traveling. Getting together with friends. And that doesn’t even include the church activities, choir programs and special Christmas services.

It feels like time speeds up between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we move at a faster pace through the month of December, trying to do all we feel like we are “supposed to do” at this time of the year.

Added to our attempts to juggle all of the extra activities and events and responsibilities that Christmastime brings, we also must continue our regular tasks of going to work or school, buying groceries, doing laundry, and running the children from this lesson to that activity. No wonder it feels like everything is moving at warp speed to the point that when the New Year comes our December feels like a blur and we long for time to rest.

Does Prayer Really Matter? Really?

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You close your eyes, bow your head, and before a word crosses your lips you start to wonder, “Does this prayer really matter?” I mean, since when have words spoken in private ever changed global catastrophes like the war in Syria or the refugee crisis in Europe? Is prayer even all that important?

Oh, my friend, it is so important. When we pray, we’re really doing two things at the same time. We are (1) cultivating our relationship with God and (2) refining our own hearts in the process.

We pray out of a concern for others and with the faith that the One we pray to can actually hear us and cares about us. It’s an exercise in faith, plain and simple.

By voicing our hearts to God, we also underscore how important our words are. Sometimes we find that all we need is to sit in silence, at peace in the presence of a God beyond words.

Prayer is also the first step toward action. How many examples can we find in Scripture where someone wrestled with God in prayer over something they knew they had do? Honestly, more than I’d prefer to count . . .

Christmas in August: Students

Ornaments in Sand

Through Christmas in August you can directly help a North American missionary with items needed for ministry and outreach.

Christmas in August is a program sponsored by WMU® and the North American Mission Board. It allows members of WMU organizations to participate in the work of North American missionaries by supplying them with items needed in large quantities in their ministries.

Here’s How It Works

Ukuleles, Gratitude, and the Presence of God

There are certainly typical Thanksgiving week activities—traveling to visit family members, making pies ahead of time and putting them in the freezer, cleaning the house in preparation for company, and making gratitude trees, jars, leaves, banners, and so on—as a way to visibly express our thankfulness. And then there are the not-so-typical Thanksgiving-week activities. Like the ukulele concert I attended last night, for instance.

A friend of mine plays the ukulele and has taken group lessons the past couple of years. Each November the group has offered a concert. Several of us have gone to support our ukulele-playing friend, and to enjoy the concert of a group of 10–12 ukulele players. Not only do they play in concert, but they play fun, popular songs, including some oldies. Audience members are given lyrics sheets and invited to sing along. And to my surprise, the audience has enthusiastically participated in these concert experiences.

Leading Students with WMU in Mind

As you lead your student group, I’ll bet the last thing on your mind is the list of WMU objectives. Before you flip past it in your next WMU Catalog or Year Book, take some time to think through each one. You might be surprised how integral these points are to our shared faith.

Pray for Missions

When was the last time you led your group to pray for a missionary? What about praying for someone you knew needed to feel the love of Christ? Praying for missions is no small thing. When you bring these prayers and petitions before God, it solidifies them in your own heart and often motivates you to action.

Engage in Mission Action and Witnessing

As followers of Christ, our faith must move us to action. It’s never enough to simply “feel” for someone who needs Christ. Share that love with them, my friend! And help your students see that they too are a valuable part of the mission of God.

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