WMU celebrates missions at home and abroad

WMU Miller

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INDIANAPOLIS—Missionaries serving locations ranging from Yellowstone National Park to the Philippines and Mozambique challenged participants at the 2008 Woman’s Missionary Union missions celebration to join them in sharing Christ’s love with their communities and around the world.

Brad Lartigue, an 18-year veteran resort missionary with the North American Mission Board, described his work in the resort community of Big Sky, Montana, and in Yellowstone National Park.

Kaye Miller, president of Woman’s Missionary Union, speaks June 8 at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting.

“God has given us freedom to color outside the lines,” Lartigue said, referring to his call to reach people outside the walls of the church. “In this day of extreme recreation and adventure sports, the possibilities are endless.”

God has given him a passion to minister through skiing, snowboarding, swimming, hiking, backpacking, kayaking and mountain biking, Lartique said.

“I am overwhelmed when I get to be an instrument used of God to help usher someone into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Is God’s love contagious in your life? When people see you, are they drawn to our Father God? Do you need to work on being a reflection of Christ?”

Student ministry in the Philippines

Jeff and Kim Cruse, International Mission Board missionaries to the Philippines, described their work teaching English at a university, training Filipinos as English teachers, providing a coffee shop ministry for young adults, leading a campus Bible study for professors and hosting a house church in their garage.

“We try to meet a need … (Filipinos) know they have so we can meet a need they don’t know they have,” Mrs. Cruse said. Twelve professors who participated in their campus Bible study have trusted Christ as Savior and now take turns leading the study, she reported.

Her husband told of their visit with Alan, a Filipino student, while sitting under a covered picnic table on a university campus. “God sent a torrential rain, which stranded him with us for three hours,” he recalled.

The missionaries shared the gospel, and the student received Jesus as Savior. Less than a week later, he shared his newfound faith with his friend, Mark, who also became a follower of Christ. Now, Alan is on an international cruise ship, witnessing and discipling others on the ship. Mark is in Cypress, sharing the gospel with his co-workers.

Inner-city missions

Jon and Mindy Jamison, NAMB missionaries in inner-city Des Moines, Iowa, spoke about the ways they reach out to their community by providing clothing, food and English classes.

“As we meet these needs, we endeavor to share Christ,” Jamison said.

The couple asked for prayer as they reach out to the growing gang population, many of whom have begun to play basketball at the center where they work.

“Keep praying for Des Moines, that God will transform lives and change the hearts of those who live there,” Mrs. Jamison said.

Bondage of superstition

IMB missionaries Charlie and Angie Lechner, who serve in Mozambique, said the people there live in bondage to ancestor worship.

“Loving our neighbors in Mozambique means building relationships with those around us so we can shine light in the darkness that holds them in bondage,” Mrs. Lechner said.

Her husband asked for prayer for the Mozambiquean Baptist Convention, local pastors and for God to call workers to the region.

Lorri SeGraves, an IMB missionary to Valencia, Venezuela, described outreach ministries to university students, and Rebekah Naylor told how the power of prayer sustained her throughout her long missionary career as an IMB medical missionary in Bangalore, India.

Need a new perspective

Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Christian Resources director of research, speaking from 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, said Christ’s love should compel Christians to have a new perspective.

“There’s something wrong with the Christian faith if it produces unhappy, miserable people who are then sent out to share their faith,” said Stetzer. “All of us have to see people … who are far from Christ and treat them with the love of Christ because something new has come into our own lives.”

Christians, sent on a mission of reconciliation, should represent Jesus and his kingdom because of the Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary, Stetzer said.

“The reason I have to live a life that is shaped by Christ’s love … is because of what he’s done on the cross,” said Stetzer.

Missional leadership

Charisma, divine presence, preparation and encouragement set the Old Testament figure Nehemiah apart as a missional leader, Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page told WMU leaders at a banquet during the group’s annual meeting. Page’s new book, The Nehemiah Factor: 16 Characteristics of a Missional Leader, will be released this month by New Hope Publishers, a WMU subsidiary.

“The charismatic leader is perceived as possessed by a purpose greater than himself or herself, an enthusiasm for life, composure under stress and dedication to the goal of striking blows for the kingdom,” Page said.

Believers possess a power beyond themselves, given by God, which gives them an edge beyond worldly leaders, he noted.

“Grasp the concept that you are a part of something greater than yourself,” Page urged. “When you become a missional leader, your people will follow.”

Officers and resolutions

During a business session, WMU elected 2008-2009 officers, approved resolutions of appreciation to the North American Mission Board and a former WMU leader, awarded the annual Martha Myers Girls in Action Alumna of Distinction Award and heard testimonies from the 2008 national Acteens panelists and former Girls in Action members.

Kaye Miller, a member of Immanuel Baptist Church of Little Rock, Ark., was unanimously re-elected as president. Kathy Hillman of Texas was elected recording secretary.

The NAMB resolution marked the 100th anniversary of Royal Ambassadors. WMU established the missions organization in 1908. It later became a program of the Brotherhood Commission and then became a part of NAMB in 1997. The resolution noted the role RAs has played in calling men and boys to missions and ministry and congratulated RAs on its centennial.

A resolution of appreciation for the life and legacy of Martha Leathers Wennerberg, who died earlier this year, highlighted the ministry and mission service of the former national recording secretary and WMU vice president in Florida.

Deborah Kidd, a member of Southside Baptist Church of Huntsville, Ala., received the Martha Myers award. Kidd, who suffered a debilitating stroke a few years ago, has been a GA leader 24 years and served on the Alabama Children’s Resource Team.

Missionary Kids

At a desert fellowship following the missions celebration, the WMU Foundation presented the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development to Angela Kim for her work in missions, particularly with Korean WMU of Texas.

WMU Executive Director Wanda Lee spoke about how WMU and WMU members care for MKs—missionary kids—through scholarships, an annual MK re-entry retreat and  various other ministries. She told how WMU volunteers ministered to MKs at Union University after a tornado wiped out several dorms on the Jackson, Tenn., campus.

She introduced a group of MKs, including WMU President Kaye Miller; her daughter, Allison Dearing; and Angie Lechner, an MK who now serves as a missionary. Each gave a testimony of her MK experience.

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