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WMU marks Mission Friends birthday, urged to ‘live the call’

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director Wanda Lee ended WMU’s annual Missions Celebration by urging women to go forth with a heart of joy and “live the call” of God.

“When I have followed God’s call, I’ve discovered He works through me despite all of my imperfections,” Lee told the WMU audience. “His call is a singular call. It’s a call to stand fast for our purpose -– missions. We (WMU) will stand fast because missions is why we exist.”

The June 11-12 event attracted more than 950 participants who helped launch the WMU’s new two year emphasis -– “Live the Call,” while at the same celebrating the 110-year birthday of Mission Friends and honoring a Kentucky woman with the Dellanna O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development, named for the WMU executive director who preceded Lee.

Living the call was something that Eileen Mullins never imagined she would do. But after a family crisis when one of her sons killed his wife and went to prison, God cast a vision for Haven of Rest, a hospitality house in Inez, Ky., for those who have loved ones in a nearby federal prison.

Mullins’ vision was recognized by the WMU Foundation with the O’Brien award. The award recognizes Baptist women who foster Christian leadership in other women, display the potential to be a leader in their community and world, and excel in missions education. Along with the recognition, the WMU Foundation awarded a $2,000 grant to go toward ministry efforts for Haven of Rest.

Mullins founded Haven of Rest in 2004, supplying food and lodging to visitors of those incarcerated while they visit the prison.

“God does not call those who are already equipped,” Mullins said. “God equips us and God is the provider. When He calls you, God gives you a vision and you do it.”

Celebrating 110 years of Mission Friends, Joye Smith, national WMU preschool consultant, recounted the history of the organization from the days of Sun Beams — the original name in 1896 — to the present, and recognized leaders who taught in both eras.

Six teenagers who were once Mission Friends and now serve on the National Acteen Panel played an active part in the missions celebration by leading the missionary prayer calendar. Each panelist also gave a personal testimony of how missions influenced their lives. All six panelists have been on mission trips. The panelists are Kara Fonville of Garland, Texas; Paula Hill, Statesville, N.C.; Sydney King, Athens, Ga.; Abbey Konz, Humble, Texas; Ashley Nash, Wylie, Texas; and Sarah Riley, Jackson, Mo.

Norma Melton, a North American Mission Board missionary to North Carolina, said the prayers offered on behalf of missionaries give them confidence to continue in their work and accomplish great things. Melton encouraged everyone to embrace God’s call to all Christians by considering partnerships with missionaries and their ministries.

“It’s only through partnerships that will we be able to reach all areas for Christ,” Melton said. “God needs everyone to get involved. This means you and me.”

Marvina Hooper, a former International Mission Board missionary to Panama, emphasized that the call of God is not for a special few, but for everyone.

God totally surprised her when He called her to missions, but the blessings of following Him are immeasurable, Hooper said. She challenged the group to find God’s call in everything they do -– whether on the mission field in another country or in the “corporate” mission field.

Harriet Bowman, IMB missionary to West Africa, passed on greetings from Nigeria’s WMU. Bowman challenged participants to take the time to know the names of people they pass every day. The West African missionary said there are people everywhere who need to know Christ and are willing to listen.

Living the call is not just for missionaries, Lee reminded participants. God calls all of His children into service, she said, no matter where they live. She told the women there are tough decisions to make along the way, but in the end, it is well worth it.