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Family missions involvement highlighted in WMU report

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–Families are important to Woman’s Missionary Union — so important that WMU spent most of its report to the Southern Baptist Convention emphasizing key opportunities for families to learn about and do missions together.

“Families — that’s where a love for missions begins,” Wanda Lee, WMU executive director, said.

“Children learn from their parents or, in some cases, parents learn from their children. When children work alongside their parents through ministries that make a difference in the lives of others, they realize the value of serving God; and a future generation is better equipped to be involved in missions,” Lee said.

WMU has responded to these growing needs by implementing a new versatile line of missions curriculum and implementing FamilyFEST, an intergenerational missions experience.

The new curriculum, called “Generation M” (missions), is based on the Book of Acts. The lessons are downloadable off the Internet and designed for small churches, cell groups or individual study. Each of the 13 session units features suggestions for missions activities that families can do together.

Another custom-made opportunity for families is FamilyFEST – offering families a chance to engage in missions together. This is an extension of WMU’s MissionsFEST, which involves adult volunteers from across the United States in missions initiatives with Southern Baptist personnel. FamilyFEST reaches out with volunteers from the age of 6 and up.

“For the families who understand and appreciate the importance of praying for and giving to missions but also want to experience missions through action –- to be the hands and feet of Christ -– MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST are the perfect avenues for allowing that to happen,” Kaye Miller, national WMU president, said.

There have been 17 MissionsFESTs since its inception in 2000 and 10 FamilyFESTS since 2001. At the completion of this year’s events, nearly 4,000 volunteers will have served more than 113,000 hours sharing the love of Christ.

Teaching families about stewardship and promoting sacrificial giving through missions education helped Southern Baptists’ mission offerings reach record totals, Lee said. The 2005-06 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions recorded $137.9 million while Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions came in at $53 million in 2005.

“Stewardship and sacrificial giving for the cause of missions has been at the heart of WMU since 1888. Promoting the Cooperative Program is something we’ve always done as well,” Lee said. “What is needed is an ongoing infusion of these principles (of biblical stewardship) through the teaching of the church — the kind of teaching found in age-appropriate missions organizations.”

Miller pointed out that according to the SBC’s 2005 Annual Church Profile, churches that have WMU organizations gave significantly more to CP and the two missions offerings than those churches without WMU.

Rounding out a total missions experience for family members in their teens, WMU will host a special event for junior high, high school and college girls. “Blume,” formerly known as the National Acteens Convention, is open to all girls -– whether they are involved in Acteens or not – July 10-13, 2007, in Kansas City, Mo.