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WMU sends 1st national team to Nagano’s Winter Olympics

NAGANO, Japan (BP)–A 16-member team of Women on Mission Enterprisers were among the 60 volunteers representing Southern Baptists at the XVIII Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
The women, representing nine states, were members of the first national team to be sent out
By Volunteer Connection, the three-year-old volunteer program of Woman’s Missionary Union. Women on Mission is the WMU adult organization and Enterprisers is the volunteer program of the organization.
The WMU team was in Nagano Feb. 3-16. Their ministries included street evangelism, face-painting and activities at two Japanese churches. All of their activities were coordinated through Tony and Marsha Woods, Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries in the country who served on the Nagano Olympic Evangelism Committee.
Delane Tew, Volunteer Connection specialist, lead the Enterpriser team. Before joining the WMU staff, she had served 12 years as a missionary in Japan.
Tew said she had a twofold goal for the Olympic project. First, she wanted the women to have an opportunity to share the gospel and minister to and with people at the Olympics. And, secondly, she wanted them to have a true cross-cultural missionary experience. The former missionary said both aspects of her goal were fulfilled.
“I was so proud of the women,” Tew said. “They were truly ‘Women on Mission.’ They took every opportunity to look outside themselves (as a group) to see who was around them that they could reach out to.
“They didn’t try to stick together,” she continued. “Rather, they deliberately split up on the train and buses so that they could meet new people and have an opportunity to share their faith. It was exciting to see them sharing gospel tracts and Scripture portions with everyone they met.”
As for the cross-cultural experience, Tew also had high praise for the women. “They were not afraid of the new culture. They adapted easily to the culture and did not retreat from the new experiences at all.”
One of the unique aspects of the trip for the Women on Mission Enterprisers was the opportunity to stay in Japanese homes. The host families were members of the Japanese churches where the volunteers helped in ministry projects.
“A couple of the women stayed in a home where the wife is a Christian and the husband is a devote Buddhist,” Tew recounted. “Normally, the husband would never attend church with his wife, but he did the Sunday the women stayed in their home.
“I pray that our presence in these churches and homes will have a lasting spiritual impact,” Tew said. “I know that the presence of the ‘foreigners’ brought people to the churches who otherwise would never have attended. Hopefully, the churches will see results from the seeds they were able to plant because we were there.”
Members of the team were Jacqueline Gilbertson, Central Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif.; Cindy Crews and Pamela Manley, West Hillsborough Baptist Church, Tampa, Fla.; Kelley Shelton, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Overland Park, Kan.; Jean Brown, Florida Boulevard Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, La.; Ruth Lowry, First Baptist Church, Joplin, Mo.; Jackie Horn, Pinecrest Baptist Church, Charleston, S.C.; Ann German, First Baptist Church, Winchester, Tenn.; Rebecca Brumitt and Donna Proffitt, First Baptist Church, Hampton, Tenn.; Pat Luttrell, Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church, Dallas; Bonnie Walters, North Hardim Baptist Church, Silsbee, Texas; and Ronda Ireton, Bonnie Franklin and Nancy Bradshaw, all from First Baptist Church, Stanton, Texas.
*Name changed for security concerns.

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  • Tanya Dawson*