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Volunteer and Let God Work through You

group of volunteers

I have spent many hours volunteering at local ministries, but it wasn’t until I was a program director at a ministry that I fully understood the impact of volunteers. I could do everything I needed to prepare for Monday night classes for those in my program, but without volunteers, the classes we offered would not have taken place. Each volunteer brought a unique set of skills and gifts and impacted the lives of the women in the program, perhaps in ways he or she will never know. And for some of the women, it was through the life and testimony of a volunteer that they came to know Jesus and His love for them.

Have you ever wondered how your church might serve your community? Have you considered volunteering in your community as an individual or a family? What impact might volunteering for a local ministry have on your life and the lives of others? Here are a few tips to consider as you seek ways to serve:

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I've Never Planned a Recognition Service! Now What?

I know who you are. I talk to someone just like you several times during spring recognition season. You’ve never planned or prepared a recognition service, and you have no idea where to start. You’re a tad bit overwhelmed with the idea of a formal service, and you’d just like a simple plan.

The good news is that you’re not alone. The even better news is that you can make a recognition service as simple (or as complicated) as you’d like to make it. As long as girls are being recognized for what they’ve learned and experienced this year in missions discipleship, you are on the right path!

Together, let’s plan a simple recognition service that will allow your GAs to be recognized for all their hard work this year.

Unshakable Pursuit: The Devotional

There’s an eternal momentum coursing through our veins.

There’s a God pursuing us in love, tapping our shoulders and telling us life will only find its rhythm when we chase Him back with everything we’ve got.

There’s a world walking the paths God has orchestrated, just waiting for someone to be fully engaged in His story — and share it with them.

It’s the story we see in Acts 17:16-28, the story this book focuses on for 30 days of devotionals. It’s the story that gives us the unshakable foundation to the chase of our lives, the one that leads us to Him.

We’ve been invited on the chase, and if we say yes, life will never be the same.

Unshakable Pursuit, a 30-day devotional, is the companion book to the new WMU churchwide emphasis for 2018-2020. It will quicken your heart to see God’s steadfast pursuit of His people. Award-winning journalist Grace Thornton shares stories from around the world as she calls you to engage the eternal momentum coursing through your veins. God wants you to live fully engaged in His story — and share it with others.

Tips for Mentoring New Leaders

So, good news and real-talk news (because there is never any bad news when we talk about investing in someone’s life). Which one do you want first?

Let’s go with the good news first: The good news is that you have found your new leader! Yay! Give yourself a pat on the back for that one. Sometimes that’s the hardest part.

Now . . . real-talk news: You have to plan and be intentional about mentoring a new leader. Mentoring someone takes more than just a one-time effort. You’re in it for the long haul. So develop a plan of action.

While this is not an exhaustive list, to get off on a good foot and effectively engage in a mentoring relationship, you must have the right (1) mindset, (2) commitment, (3) availability and (4) integrity.

False religion to personal relationship

Eric Maroney, his wife Julie, and 2 children, Nathan and Kayleigh, have served in Croatia for 18 years. Both children have spent their whole lives there. Sixteen years were spent in Split, while the last 2 have been in Zagreb. The Maroney family is involved in a church plant just outside of Zagreb that is around 2 years old. Mr. Maroney serves as the lead team strategy leader for south central Europe, which means he serves as an administrator and coach for 4 countries, including Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, and parts of Bosnia. He grew up on the missions field in Africa, and felt his call to missions in his late teens. Mrs. Maroney felt the call after meeting others in seminary with a similar call.

Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered

friends on a bench

I am so blessed and grateful to have loving friends who take time to be intentional and invest in my life. These Christ-centered relationships are incredibly meaningful and encourage me to pour into others. My sweet friend Anna, who is a junior in college, is passionate about building these kinds of authentic relationships, so I asked her to share some of her thoughts and experiences:

Why do you think it is important to grow deeper in relationships?

“Thinking back to my middle school [years], high school [years], and even first years at college, I see how much I was poured into. I’m so grateful to have had such incredible people around me that wanted to invest in me, but I also know the gaps that I felt were not as invested in. I needed people who would ask questions until I was finally open and honest about what was truly going on. I needed people who would send that quick text of encouragement that perfectly matched what I was dealing with. I needed older mentors who would prioritize spending time with me because they wanted to be available for me.”

What are some ways you intentionally invest in friendships?

MK Schooling

We truly counted it a privilege to serve as International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Our family was blessed beyond measure, not only for the financial support, but for the spiritual and emotional support as well.

Our MK schooling story includes many moves. Serving in a restricted access country means that you don’t really know what might be next. God was faithful and led us every step of the way. We landed with a 2-year-old and an almost- 4-year-old. Our first year of language study by immersion had us balancing tutors, child care in our home and some kindergarten homeschooling. The lessons and creative arts gave us a needed routine for the day. And it was fun! Little sister even got her own sheets to color, and almost every day we had a fun family time of interacting with something new.

There Are 5 Seasons?

In elementary school, I learned there are 4 seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter.

Working on the national WMU staff, I learned there are actually 5 seasons. You read correctly . . . 5!

What’s the fifth season I’m referring to? RECOGNITION SEASON!

It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I love it because it reminds me of when I was a GA and received my Mission Adventures badges in front of my church congregation. I remember feeling like the adults thought what I had learned and had to say about the projects we did during the year was important. And I remember adults asking questions and wanting to see things I had done during the year. Empowering!

Does It Matter that I Teach Preschoolers in Mission Friends?

Teaching preschoolers matters

One of the advantages to being—um, seasoned—in life is that I have been able to watch children around me grow up. Well, OK, granted, it’s a little less than flattering when your dental assistant turns out to be your former student—when she was in elementary school. Or when you call for an appliance man to fix your freezer, and the young man who shows up at the door says, “Oh, hi. Weren’t you my librarian in sixth grade?”

Children do grow up! But maybe you have discovered, as I have, the feeling of gratification that comes as you realize you had a small part in helping that grown-up become what he or she has become.

It’s Worth Your Time: Reach out to Refugees

reaching out to refugees

Have you ever moved to a new place where you didn’t know anyone? It seems as if it takes forever to find your way around and get used to new roads, grocery stores, and schools. Without family or friends nearby, it’s easy to withdraw.

Then it happens. A new colleague at work or person at the church you’re visiting offers some advice or recommends his or her most trusted mechanic. Life gets easier and you settle in. While we can probably all identify with this experience at one time or another, can you imagine doing it without knowing English? The majority of the refugees in our midst encounters this reality daily.

We focus in our churches on the need for refugees to learn English, and that is important. But in the meantime, how do they find housing, enroll their children in school, and understand how to get insurance or a driver’s license? The details of life can be overwhelming for a person who has never had to register his or her child for school or go to the health department for immunizations.

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