WMU Blog

I Was Blind, but Now I See

Rwandan children in poverty

At the beginning of this year, I traveled to Rwanda to study economics for 10 days. This trip opened my eyes to a level of poverty I had never seen before. Yet I witnessed radiant joy in the midst of desperate circumstances. People were enthusiastic and welcoming, even to a complete outsider like me. Children’s faces would light up when they saw my group and me, and they would immediately start waving at us.

Walking into a situation like this, it is easy to think that we have all the answers and resources to help people. Since we live so far removed from the harsh realities facing different people around the world, it is especially easy to fall victim to thinking we can “fix” situations and people. However, that is something only God can do.

New Products Hot Off the Press!

We're always excited at the national WMU office when June 1 rolls around each year. Can you guess why? It's not because it feels like the start of summer (although it does). It's not because June is our favorite month (although I'm sure it is for some of us). It's not because it's peak wedding season or even time for Annual Meeting (though both of those are pretty exciting). No, it's because we get to introduce you to our new products! After months of hard work getting our new products just right, we're ready to release them for you to enjoy.

Let me introduce some new children's products I think you’ll be excited about.

When you're ready to start planning for the coming year in missions:

Endure the Storm

I missed my 35th high school reunion. A high school classmate tracked me down on social media to find out what I was doing. She ended her message with these words: “I’m wheelchair bound now. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is winning.” On the same day, I was traveling with a friend to an event in North Carolina. We had just arrived at Fort Caswell Baptist Assembly right on the Atlantic Ocean. We rounded a bend and a tree captivated my attention. I asked my friend to take a picture of the tree because it told a story.

It was easy to see the plant had weathered storm upon storm. Undoubtedly hurricane-force winds tried time and time again to uproot the tree. Yet she stood firm. Although you can clearly observe the effects of sustained assaults, the tree refused to relinquish her place.

Serving Him by Teaching and Encouraging

While taking a philosophy class in college, Bart Gibbs was assigned a book titled, Man’s Search for Meaning. After reading the book, he was drawn to continue seeking God’s leading to find true meaning in life. Through volunteer experiences, while visiting Burkina Faso in 1981, he “found meaning in life through serving the Lord in bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God to people in West Africa,” shares Bart. Bart and Jane Anne Gibbs met while in college at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), at Calvary Baptist Church, and were married in 1983. They have 2 daughters and a son.

Experience Something New Somewhere New

group of young women holding hands

June is an amazing month. So many celebrations occur—the end of a school year, graduations, weddings, and more. Then, there is the beginning of summer with new plans, opportunities, and routines. June is kind of in between. There is the finishing of one thing, perhaps a deep breath, and the starting to prepare for what’s next. What’s June like for you? What’s next? What has God planned for you this summer?

Many may have the opportunity to try something new, perhaps to find a change of scenery. It helps us to expand our borders, get outside of our own box, meet new people, and experience something new. Many prefer to learn in this active way—by experience.

Building with Blocks

Amazon Pool

Do you ever notice when your group of Mission Friends tend to gravitate towards certain activities? My group this year seem to be drawn to the Blocks area. Every week, that is the first interest area that they go to. It is not just our boys who gravitate towards activities in Blocks. Some of the girls are in the Blocks area each week, also. Our preschoolers, who are 3s and 4s, spend a lot of time building really elaborate structures. A couple of our preschoolers concentrate so much on what they build, that sometimes the Blocks area is the only interest area in which they play in 1 session of Mission Friends. I have to make sure they learn about missions in this interest area.

Embrace the Nations as Your Neighbors: Help Refugees Dream Again

woman grocery shopping

My favorite grocery store remodeled recently to my frustration. Imagine your first visit to an American grocery store after spending several years in a refugee camp. Add in a language barrier, and a task we take for granted can be overwhelming.

Refugees entering the United States come seeking housing, schools, jobs, and community. Displaced by violence and persecution, most refugees lost belongings and even family members to arrive in crowded camps with limited resources and then wait up to 10 years before resettling in a receiving country. Fear of the unknown often accompanies relocation to the US, increasing stress and often leading to anxiety disorders—including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—may surface within a few months of arrival in their new home. Refugees may have suffered a loss of self-esteem and the ability to dream, and many are living in survival mode.

Near and Far: Sharing the Gospel in New Places

praying hands

My heart beat wildly as I felt the plane wheels hit the runway on that late October night. After almost a day of traveling, I was anxious to get off the plane and hit the ground running in South Asia again.

I wondered many times if I’d ever get to return to this area after my first summer there, and by God’s provision, I was there again. I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving to God and stepped off the plane into what has been one of the most challenging but also the most rewarding seasons of my life.

Before coming to South Asia a second time, I never thought I’d attempt to learn a new language and culture in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I never thought of myself as someone who’d go up to a student I didn’t know on a college campus and share the gospel.

I was fortunate to grow up learning about other religions and the cross-cultural workers who gave their lives to share the gospel with people who followed other gods. But never did I think that I would get to be a cross-cultural worker like the ones I learned about.

Reach Out to Refugees with PTSD

refugee and child in a camp

Do you remember what it was like to cram for a test in high school or college? You made sure that everything you could possibly need to know was fresh in your mind so you would be ready to answer any question that might be thrown at you. Then, at some point after the test, all or most of that knowledge slowly faded from memory.

Don’t let that happen with what you’ve learned over the last 4 years about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Knowing how to walk alongside those with PTSD will come in handy as WMU shifts its focus for Project HELP to refugees beginning with the 2018–19 church year.

IMS Participation Leads to Missions Involvement

Hosting the International Mission Study is one sure way to give missions knowledge to church and community members. Participation in the study often leads to prayer for missionaries and their people groups. Many times, attendees are spurred to join missions efforts.

Gwen Moor, former president of Northwest WMU and a member of Dayspring Baptist Church in Chehalis, Washington, said prayer, advance delegating, and working out details are keys to success when hosting the study.

“We use the wonderful materials from the promotion kit to try to spark interest, [do] bulletin boards, [find] posters,” Moor said. In addition to the pastor promoting the study, it is announced in the bulletin for 3 or 4 weeks beforehand. A “guess how many of something that pertains to the country” game is presented. Church members have to attend the study to get the prize given to whoever is closest.

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