TALLADEGA, Ala. (BP)–Woman’s Missionary Union affirmed a call to prayer by Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page in which he urged leaders in the church to “beg God for His reviving Holy Spirit.”
“Revival has to begin within each one of us first … before we begin to pray for others to have revival,” Kaye Miller, national WMU president, said at the annual WMU January board meeting at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala., Jan. 13–16. “I want to ask all of WMU to join Wanda [Lee] and me in prayer for spiritual awakening and unity among Southern Baptists so that our focus can be Jesus and then about taking His name to the ends of the earth.”
The affirmation of Page’s call to prayer earlier in January was woven throughout Miller’s address on Jan. 17 but also was brought before the board by Evelyn Blount, executive director of South Carolina WMU, in the form of an official recommendation. The board unanimously passed the recommendation, which called for WMU to accept Page’s invitation to join him in calling Southern Baptists to “pray for forgiveness, reconciliation, and spiritual awakening.”
Miller encouraged, “I pray that we [WMU] won’t miss one single opportunity that comes our way and we will, as Dr. Page says, ‘have a year of unmatched passion for the Kingdom of God.’ WMU is more focused than ever on what He has called us to do and He continues to guide us each step of the way.”
More than 200 people attended the WMU sessions including WMU executive board members, national and state WMU staff members, WMU Foundation board members and staff, and staff and field personnel from the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board.
ANNIE ARMSTRONG OFFERING
Carlos Ferrer, interim chief operating officer of the North American Mission Board, shared that giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions surpassed $58 million in 2006, exceeding the goal by more than $2 million.
“We want to express our gratitude to all Southern Baptists who so generously shared their resources with us so even more [missionaries] can go do missions in North America,” Ferrer said. “In addition, I want to tell our friends at WMU a special thank you for everything you do each year to promote the offering. We know your support is critical to our success, and we want you to know that every bit of this blessing will go directly to do the missions work so needed here on our continent.”
Upon Ferrer’s presentation of an oversized “Thank You” card signed by many NAMB staff and missionaries, Miller voiced appreciation for NAMB’s expression of gratitude and said, “It is a privilege to partner with NAMB and Southern Baptist churches in supporting missionaries ministering across North America.”
Ferrer also reviewed NAMB’s revised organizational structure with the WMU leaders, noting that the mission board is structured to address three key focus areas: sharing Christ, starting churches and sending missionaries.
Mark Snowden, director of NAMB’s missions education team, underscored the importance of missions education and said, “We see missions education as something that all Southern Baptist churches should have.” In regard to missions education for children, Snowden said he is excited to see WMU and NAMB working more closely in the development of Girls in Action (GA) and Royal Ambassadors (RA) materials to help the two programs mesh wherever possible. Although NAMB provides RA materials and WMU produces GA materials, Snowden acknowledged that many churches don’t view them as separate and the coordination of the two should be helpful to church leaders.
During a report from several IMB staff, Gordon Fort, vice president for overseas operations, voiced appreciation for WMU and their commitment to involve others in missions. “Our [WMU and IMB] task is doable,” Fort said. “Our goal is that every tribe, nation and language will have a [Christian] witness.
“God has entrusted us with every resource we need to complete the task,” Fort continued. “There are people out there who are lost — not because they want to be, but because no one has ever told them about Jesus. How long will they wait until they get their opportunity?”
IMB President Jerry Rankin told the group that countless numbers of people are receiving an opportunity to hear of Jesus for the first time as field personnel reach new people groups and seek to foster church planting movements. Rankin said 104 new people groups were reached with the Gospel through IMB efforts in 2005.
Ken Winter, IMB vice president for church and partner services, shared research related to different categories and characteristics of Southern Baptist churches being utilized as the mission boards and WMU plan initiatives to engage all Southern Baptists in missions.
Among highlights noted in reports by WMU age-level and ministry consultants were redesigned materials to be available in the fall for Girls in Action and Children in Action; “Blume,” the missions event for teenage girls and collegiate young women planned for July 10–13 in Kansas City, Mo.; missions opportunities in 2007 through WMU’s International Initiatives; and a 10th anniversary celebration of ministering to women through Christian Women’s Job Corps, slated Oct. 17-20 in Little Rock, Ark.
New WMU resources for involving entire churches in missions also were introduced, including new guides on how to involve preschoolers, children, youth and adults in missions and a promotional brochure series illustrating the benefits of missions involvement in a church. Each age-level brochure plays off the idea of “Change a Life, Change the World” and explains how missions touches hearts and changes lives.
Leadership development and training also was a key area of focus as WMU’s leadership development team outlined a comprehensive training strategy through 2011, including some dates and types of training that will be offered to equip and engage even more people in missions. Additionally, they outlined preliminary plans for some new initiatives, such as the development of a volunteer leadership corps.
During her report, Wanda S. Lee, WMU executive director/treasurer, recounted WMU highlights from 2006; reported actions taken by WMU’s executive board in executive session; and provided a progress report on WMU’s Vision 2010 goals. Lee also underscored the importance and necessity of missions education and involvement.
“Discipling new believers in every aspect of the Christian faith includes teaching them that the Great Commission was given to all followers,” Lee said. “Missions education is discipleship training; it is understanding the teachings of God’s Word and developing the necessary skills to live out the faith effectively.”
Devotionals and testimonies of God’s faithfulness were shared by IMB and NAMB missionaries: Donna Logerstedt, who serves with her husband Perry in West Africa; Diane Combs, who serves with her husband Don in Belarus; Thea Ford, who serves with her husband Jeff as a resort missionary in Gulf Shores, Ala.; and Montira Siengsukon, a native of Bangkok, Thailand, who serves as an instructor and textbook writer at the Lao School of Ministry as well as accounts payable supervisor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. She and her husband Thira are involved in a local Lao/Thai ministry.
“Let it be said that the Lord is our passion,” Miller said in her closing comments at the meeting. “As we trust His leading, let it be said of us that we are faithful to live the call that He has for WMU.”
The next WMU board meeting will be in June 2007 in San Antonio prior to WMU’s Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting and the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.