WMU challenged to pursue as God has pursued them

Nik Ripkin, an International Mission Board missionary for more than 35 years, speaks during Pursue, the Woman's Missionary Union Missions Celebration at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. The event was held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, June 11-12. (BP Photo / Van Payne)

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)—With “Pursue” as the theme of the 2019 Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, about 900 attendees heard testimonies of how God pursues his people.

The sessions were held June 9 at The Church at Brook Hills. The next day, attendees had the option of participating in any of 131 missions activities throughout the area.

Power of prayer

Retiring missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken, authors of The Insanity of God, thanked WMU for being part of their story through prayer.

“God pursues his people, even when they are in tough places. God pursues those on this (WMU missionary) prayer calendar, even if they are having a very bad day. But it takes your help,” she said. “Who are you praying for so that persecution will not cease but so that persecution will be that God is being glorified?”

She told about a group of 150 Christians in Somalia. All but four had been martyred until one day, the last remaining four were killed. Soon after, the Ripkins received a list of another 150 names who were to be killed within the next two weeks.

With desperate hearts, the missionaries personally called believers in America and asked them to pray. Nik Ripkin told them, “They’re killing everything that we love and that love Jesus.”

The friend Ripkin called told the missionary within five minutes, 25 people in the United States would be praying.

Hours later, he informed the Ripkins there were hundreds of people praying, then thousands. Within days, 10,000 American Christians were praying for those being persecuted in Somalia.

And after 25 years of intense persecution, there were no more martyrs for the next five years.

That situation, and many others taught them many things, including how to be a “sheep among the wolves,” Nik Ripkin said.

“I think one thing that missions does for you and sometimes to you, is to get you inside the context of the Bible, when we’re so addicted only to the content of the Bible,” he said.

Ripkin left the audience with a word of exhortation: “Fear always chooses us. But in the midst of that fear, we can choose to trust and we can choose obedience to our Savior.”

Live a life that pleases God

North American Mission Board missionaries Phillip and Jummai Nache, interviewed by NAMB President Kevin Ezell, described the work God is doing among Nigerians in Minneapolis.

International Mission Board missionaries, interviewed by IMB Executive Vice President Todd Lafferty, talked about their calling, their struggles, and how God pursued them in their work among East Asian peoples.

National Acteens panelist Grace Cain presented her testimony, saying: “Pursuing God’s will doesn’t mean finding the one straight path that he laid out for me but testing every single one of my choices to what the Bible says.”

“I know that (God) has a path for me, and nothing that I do will mess that up. I am beautifully powerless in that instance, and I thank God every day for that,” she said. “I am learning to chase after a deeper knowledge of God so I can live a life that pleases him.”

Other national Acteen panelists, Dominique DuPar, Ashley Fan, Emily Morrow, and Annsley Pugh alongside national WMU president emeriti Wanda Lee, Dorothy Sample, Kaye Miller, Debby Akerman and Carolyn Miller told their stories of God’s pursuit of them as well.

Officers elected

Linda Cooper of Forest Park Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky., was reelected to a fifth term as president. Texan Shirley McDonald of Greens Creek Baptist Church in Dublin was elected as recording secretary. Vice presidents were presented as well.

“As a Christ follower, above anything else, our primary assignment is to stay in a fresh relationship with our Savior—pursuing him,” Cooper said.

“It is then that we will hear his voice of direction and hear his words of wisdom and inspiration so that we can then pass it on to others. Our missionaries and many of you are doing just that—passing it on to others—as you pursue him.”

National WMU Executive Director Sandy Wisdom-Martin challenged the WMU to “live like missionaries.”

“We strive to live our lives in such a way that we are on mission—on call as Christians—each and every day, 24/7. We are to live like missionaries in our own context and community no matter our age, limitations, situations, culture or spiritual development,” she said. “We are to be relentless in our pursuit of him and driven to carry out the assignments he has for us.”

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