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WMU explores ‘defining moments’ and missions involvement at Missions Celebration

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) – April 11, 2017 – Be encouraged to identify those defining moments that affect and inspire your missional journey during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, June 11–12, in Phoenix.

Defining Moments will be a consistent theme of featured missionary speakers, including Kelly and Brandi Parrish, church planters serving with NAMB in Denver; Jacob and Jessica Dahl, church planters serving with NAMB in Washington; and Ross and Dena Frierson, IMB. Focused times of prayer will be led by Carlos Ferrer, executive vice president and chief financial officer NAMB; Edgar Aponte, vice president of mobilization for the International Mission Board; and Ken Weathersby, vice president for convention advancement for the SBC Executive Committee.

Spartanburg Missionsfest Volunteers Serve in Creative Ways

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Music fills the air as participants sing and motion along with the lyrics. Later they gather together to listen to a Bible story and then construct a related craft. This may sound like a typical Vacation Bible School for the children in your church, but for the volunteers at Missionsfest in Spartanburg, S.C., this VBS was for a more mature audience: residents of a local nursing home.

Missionsfest, held July 16–20, allowed 85 volunteers age 18 and older to gather from 12 states to spread the gospel throughout Spartanburg through construction, outreach projects, evangelism, acts of kindness, prayerwalking and much more.

Throughout the week, volunteers found unique ways to approach the community for Christ. Residents of White Oak Manor, a 192-bed nursing home, experienced a VBS, complete with decorations, crafts, music, memory verses, and Bible stories.

“It was such a hit!” exclaimed Sandra Tapp, associate executive director of South Carolina WMU and trip co-coordinator. “It also proved to be life-changing for one resident of the facility.”

During the week, two volunteers led a resident to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Familyfest displays Christ’s love in Colorado community

Members of Moundville Baptist Church, Moundville, Ala., came to Familyfest to serve the needs of the people in Aurora together as the body of Christ.

AURORA, Colo. -- For 10 years, Owen and Ruth Ann Smith prayed a special prayer for the people of Colorado. After serving 14 years on short-term missions trips in various locations across the country, the couple longed for their state to experience a nationwide missions event as well. This year, that prayer was answered, as the Smiths served at Familyfest in their home city of Aurora, Colo., from June 25–29, marking their 25th missions trip with national Woman’s Missionary Union.

The Smiths served alongside 110 other volunteers, 50 of whom were children. The volunteers represented nine states and served eight ministry sites in Aurora through construction projects, outreach events, evangelism, acts of kindness and prayerwalking.

Familyfest offered a real-world, hands-on opportunity for families, youth groups and friends ages 6 and up to bridge generational gaps and display the love of Christ together among those who don’t know Him.

Wisdom-Martin elected executive director of WMU, SBC

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director of WMU of Texas, was unanimously elected executive director/treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union, SBC, by the WMU executive board during a special called meeting, July 29-30, in Birmingham, Ala.

Wisdom-Martin succeeds Wanda Lee, who has served as executive director of the 128-year-old missions organization for the past 16 years. Wisdom-Martin, who will begin her new role on Oct. 15, was presented to the board by a search committee appointed in February following Lee’s announcement of her intentions to retire.

Prior to leading WMU of Texas since 2010, Wisdom-Martin served as women’s missions and ministries director for the Illinois Baptist State Association, 2001-2010; and as Cooperative Program Missionary with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, 1991-2001.

National WMU welcomes new ministry consultant for boys

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) – Zachariah Seanor joined the staff of national WMU on July 18 as ministry consultant with responsibilities for the growth and development of missions education for boys through Royal Ambassadors (RA), WMU’s missions program for boys in grades 1–6, and Challengers, for boys in grades 7–12.

“We are delighted to welcome Zachariah to our staff,” said Carol Causey, director for WMU’s Missions Resource Center. “His personal knowledge from being raised in RAs, along with his training in education and missions, make him uniquely equipped for this position. We look forward with great anticipation to his contributions.”

For the past year, Seanor served as chaplain and interim dean of student life at Live Oak Classical School for grades 7–12 in Waco, Texas. From 2013–2015, he served as associate director of student recruitment for Truett Seminary at Baylor University in Waco; and minister of students at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church in Temple, Texas, from 2012–2013.

WMU opening sessions honor Lee, highlight missions

Women registering at WMU missions celebration

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- About 500 Southern Baptists gathered June 12 for the opening sessions of WMU's 2016 Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

With a theme of "By All Means," the two Sunday programs recognized current and retired missionaries, as well as International Mission Board staff, and celebrated Wanda Lee's service as she retires as executive director of WMU.

"I believe just as strongly today as I did 16 years ago that WMU is important to the Kingdom," she said. "We have the opportunity to make a difference. Our charge first and foremost is to be a light to the nations. There is strength in our union. There is strength in our collective purpose of missions. May our song truly be a song for the nations."

Lee said she was working as a nurse when God called her to missions. When she returned home to serve in the U.S., her call to missions did not end.

"My calling was to go wherever God leads," she said. "My call has not changed, only the place. No other ministry in Baptist life devotes itself exclusively to missions. What we do matters because we are shining a light."

Jamison receives O'Brien Award

Photo by Van Payne

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- Mindy Jamison, co-director of Friendship Baptist Center in Des Moines, Iowa, for the past 17 years along with her husband Jon, is this year's recipient of the Dellanna West O'Brien Award for Women's Leadership Development.

"Mindy pours her life into people living in the inner city of Des Moines, and at the same time invites and encourages others to minister alongside her," said Joni Wilkinson, executive director of Iowa WMU and volunteer at the Friendship Center, who recommended Jamison for the award. "She is a mentor to women of all ages and backgrounds and continues to teach about her passion -- living out her faith in her community and seeing people living in poverty come to know Christ."

Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU, presented Jamison with the award during the WMU Missions Celebration on June 13 in St. Louis. The gathering was held there in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting.

WMU highlights missional discipleship

Wanda Lee addressing audience

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- Wanda S. Lee, executive director of national WMU, thanked Southern Baptists for partnering through missions education to equip the next generation of missionaries, an endeavor she described as more critical than ever before in an increasingly postmodern world.

Lee noted to messengers June 15 at the SBC annual meeting: "It is our desire to partner with every Southern Baptist church in discipling preschoolers, children, youth and adults by engaging them in meaningful missions involvement right in their own communities or on the other side of the world; to support those who go to the nations for a lifetime with our praying and giving; and to accept the mandate of the Great Commission in whatever way God calls us."

National WMU President Linda Cooper thanked Southern Baptists for the largest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in the history of the offering.

"When the financial needs were made known, Southern Baptists stepped up as they always have and gave over $165.8 million dollars," Cooper said. "This is a reminder that what we do together is far greater than anything we can do alone as one person or one church."

WMU urged to 'not grow weary in doing good'

Linda Cooper

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- International Mission Board church planter Sabastian Vazquez couldn't escape the inevitable emotions as he stood before a group of women whose legacy had led to four generations of pastors in his family.

Speaking during day two of the 2016 Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, Sabastian unsuccessfully fought off tears as he told the story of a new Southern Baptist missionary who a century ago handed a Spanish-language evangelistic tract to an illiterate baker named Angel Vazquez, his great-grandfather. Angel knew the missionary had given him something very special because of the way in which he gave it to him. He became a Christian and asked the missionary to teach him how to be a pastor, too. His son, grandson and great-grandson, Sabastian, would follow in his footsteps.

Lee honored for 20 years leading national WMU

Wanda Lee Portrait

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- Approximately 150 Southern Baptist leaders, family members and friends from across the country gathered in St. Louis on June 11 to honor Wanda Lee and her leadership of national WMU over the past 20 years -- 16 as executive director and four as president.

Frank S. Page said he got to know Lee in 2010 when he assumed his current role as president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. Page recited Micah 6:8, "What does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

"I believe Wanda Lee has exhibited that great trio of imperatives from our Lord," Page said. "I believe she has done what is right, what is just. She is merciful, and many of you are the recipients of her mercy and ministry in your own life. She is a strategist, an organizational genius, yet is always humble and gives credit to those around her. I am honored to call her my friend, and I thank God for her."

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