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WMU addresses exploitation, pornography

HOUSTON (BP) — For 125 years, Woman’s Missionary Union has focused on a singular purpose of engaging churches in missions, Wanda S. Lee, executive director of national WMU, told messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston.

“Throughout our history, addressing critical needs facing each generation has also been a part of our work,” Lee said. “From hunger to AIDS to violence and more, WMU has tried to raise the level of awareness of each issue within the church while offering suggestions for how Christians should respond.”

Over the past three years, WMU has focused attention and provided resources to help churches address various aspects of human exploitation, such as bullying, human trafficking and exploiting the environment.

This year, Lee said WMU is focusing on “one of the most significant issues related to human exploitation that is affecting our families and churches … the issue of pornography.”

Debby Akerman, president of national WMU and a member of Ocean View Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C., shared the following statistics:

— Every second, more than $3,000 is being spent on pornography.

— Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is made in the United States.

— There are at least 100,000 websites that offer illegal child pornography.

— The average age of a child’s first exposure to Internet pornography is 11 years old.

— More than 11 million teenagers engage in Internet pornography on a regular basis.

— Of divorces, 56 percent involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

In partnership with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Jay Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., WMU launched the Join One Million Men in the War Against Pornography campaign in Houston.

“Through this campaign, we are calling out one million men to live free of pornography and challenging one million women to commit to pray for their spouses, sons and friends as we work together to combat this evil that is destroying our families and invading our churches,” Lee said.

As a church-based initiative, the campaign includes several resources produced by New Hope Publishers, a division of WMU:

— Our Hardcore Battle Plan A-Z, a 32-page booklet for men

— Our Hardcore Battle Plan: 1 Million Women Praying, a 32-page prayer booklet for women

— Our Hardcore Battle Plan: Joining in the War Against Pornography, a book for men

— Our Hardcore Battle Plan for Wives: Winning in the War Against Pornography, a book for wives

— Our Hardcore Battle Plan DVD, a small group resource and planning guide for churches.

Also available are a website, www.Join1MillionMen.org; a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JoinOneMillionMen; and a free app with access to a daily Scripture and other resources to assist individual believers in the daily war against pornography.

Messengers in Houston were encouraged to visit a campaign booth in the SBC exhibit hall to learn more about the movement. Dennis, author and founder of Join One Million Men, along with other men from his church, were there to answer questions about how to get involved in the movement. Representatives of WMU and New Hope were in their booths to tell about the Join One Million Women Praying effort.

“You may be thinking, ‘Why is WMU tackling such a difficult issue?'” Lee said. “And my response would be, ‘If not WMU, then who?’ Paul challenges us in Ephesians 4:1 to ‘walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.’

“Who will join us in the campaign to bring all men and women, boys and girls into an awareness of the seriousness of this issue,” Lee said, “and the knowledge of God’s love for all of us as He desires a pure and worthy life lived in devotion to Him? As we begin this yearlong celebration of 125 years of missions involvement through WMU, let’s join together and make a difference for Christ.”

Lee also announced that those present at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting June 9-10 in Houston elected Akerman to a fourth term as president and Rosalie Hunt of Guntersville, Ala., to a fifth term as recording secretary of national WMU.
Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).