CHARLESTON, S.C. (BP)–It won’t be Rainbow Row and the Battery in Charleston or Market Street or even Fort Sumter and the historic harbor that 260 women from 19 states will remember most from their April 30-May 6 visit to the historic South Carolina city. Instead, they will recall the faces of 3,471 lives they touched through the first Woman’s Missionary Union MissionsFEST.
Working with Charleston Outreach, a ministry of Charleston Baptist Association, and missionary Jack Little, the women were involved in more than 20 missions projects in North Charleston and with the association’s Seafarers Center.
“MissionsFEST is an opportunity to be Christ’s hands,” Wanda Lee, new executive director of the national WMU, told the women in the opening worship service. “Whenever someone asks you ‘What is WMU?’ I want you to think MissionsFEST,” she urged.
“Yes, we actively support missions with our prayers for the missionaries. And, yes, we are supporters of missions through our promotion and giving to the missions offerings,” Lee said. “But the heart of who we are in WMU is found in doing missions. We have heard God’s call to touch a hurting world and share his love with those we meet.”
Among missions opportunities from which participants could choose were construction on inner-city homes, teaching sewing, leading adult Bible studies, reading to school classes, prayerwalking, visiting nursing homes, delivering furniture to needy families, distributing bread to the hungry, holding backyard Bible clubs, repairing bikes and hosting block parties.
WMU leaders hope that the 264 MissionsFEST participants will return home excited about missions. Each night at services hosted by Charleston’s Highland Park Baptist Church and at the celebration service, the women eagerly shared how God was at work through their lives. About 70 decisions for Christ were reported.
“Our church got involved with MissionsFEST because we felt that being with a large group we could really do a lot,” said Lisa Pearce of First Baptist Church, Oxford, Ala., who came with four others. “We wanted to be more involved in missions, and we want our children to become involved,” she said. “We came to learn and take home what we experience to do in our own community.”
Pam Bass, a member of Spears Creek Baptist Church, Elgin, S.C., who came with her daughter, Jackie Amerson, found it “encouraging that women from all over the nation would take a week off from their jobs and families to come help lead people to Christ.”
Jeannette Thomas of Knoxville, Tenn., who visited nursing home residents, told of a woman who said she had been praying for three weeks for someone to come and bring her a Bible.
Tammy Jones of Fyffe, Ala., who went on prayerwalks every day in several neighborhoods, met a woman who was “at the end of her rope.” Her group invited the woman to a Bible study at an area church and led her to the Lord.
Tish Singletary of Hebron Baptist Church, Scranton, S.C., worked with an 11-member team, which included individuals from Alaska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Florida, to sponsor a Backyard Bible Club that drew 60-plus children from an apartment complex. But one of the most rewarding aspects for Singletary was seeing not only the transformation made by repainting four rooms of an inner-city home, but also in the homeowner’s outlook by the rapport developed.
The host state had the largest contingency with 59 participants. Tennessee, however, wasn’t far off that mark with 57 women. Rounding out the top five states were North Carolina, 29; Texas, 26; and Alabama, 19. Some came from as far away as Arizona, Oregon and Washington.
“For these women, MissionsFEST is an avenue of ministry opportunities to become involved in,” said Sandra Tapp of South Carolina’s WMU staff. “There are so many needs, and we should be involved in as many creative ways as we can think of to help others know about Jesus Christ.”
“MissionsFEST was an opportunity to see the power of God at work and how obedience affects the lives of others,” said Debra Berry of the national WMU staff in Birmingham, Ala.
“The goal is that what these women started here, they will take home and be on mission there,” added Andrea Mullins, a national WMU consultant.
“WMU ventured into new areas of ministry for Charleston Association and bolstered many of our other ministries,” Little said. “Out of all the missions weeks we do, this was one of the best because of their enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to do whatever was needed.”
MissionsFEST is coordinated by WMU’s Volunteer Connection. Events are scheduled in three locations during 2001. The sites and dates are Stone Mountain, Ga., April 26-28; Little Rock, Ark., June 24-30; and Philadelphia, Pa., Oct. 4-6 and 7-13. A FamilyFEST will also be held in Little Rock, June 20-23.
For more information on any of these events, contact Delane Tew at (205) 991-4097; e-mail, [email protected]; or visit www.wmu.com and select Ministry Opportunities.
Additional (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library. Photo titles: FACE PAINTING, BIKE REPAIR and FLOOR REPAIR.