Generational Missions Discipleship: A Future to Fulfill

Written by Allison Turner.

Your investment matters.

How do I know it matters? How can I say this with absolute certainty?

Allow me to introduce you to a baby girl: born in 1988.

Her first WMU meeting was the Centennial meeting of WMU emphasizing: A Century to Celebrate, A Future to Fulfill.

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Of course, at 3-months-old there wasn’t much celebration or understanding; but the investments started to be made in her life. Women came alongside her godly parents and poured a deep-rooted passion dripping with love for the nations into their child’s life.

That child was me. Your investment matters.

My first WMU meeting certainly wasn’t my last. Since that time, I have had the honor and privilege of serving WMU on many levels and have seen the absolute treasure that comes in the form of women across the world who pray, give, and go.

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The prayer warriors WMU produces are unmatched. I have been blessed beyond measure to be raised by a mother and grandmother who have proved that to me. Melvadeen Friday and Denise Henderson poured their lives out for the sake of God’s work among the nations through our missionaries. Tears have been shed and countless hours of sleep have been lost for the sake of furthering His kingdom. And the beauty is: they are not alone.

We may never know how many men and women pick up their Missions Mosaic every day and weep over the lives and struggles of our missionaries serving (even those whose names we cannot know).

My brothers and I always knew that if the door was closed in the Florida room at home, it was God’s time. (And you don’t disturb God while Mama is talking to Him!) This wasn’t sporadic. Every single day Mama was faithful to invest in the lives of missionaries and those they would be serving through her prayers.

It was easy to develop a love for missionaries with this upbringing. I prayed all my life for opportunities to go and serve alongside these missionaries I’d been taught to love so well. I tried to go to different places—China, Russia, Swaziland, the list goes on—but none ever came to fruition. I was always left stateside praying for those who went.

Then, the opportunity came this year. This year, I got to go on the most special trip imaginable for a WMU baby like me. I had a few opportunities to go out into a lost nation and serve. But the main point of our trip was to serve missionaries. I was able to go with a small team on a 27-hour flight to bring a women’s retreat to 40 IMB missionaries. These beautiful servants I’d been praying for since I learned how to pray. I would get to serve them! And I cannot fully explain the absolute joy I experienced in those few days filled with laughter, tears, and new friendships that will certainly last a lifetime.

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Because I of the investment of WMU women instilling in me a passion for those who serve on our frontlines, I was able to pray for these women missionaries serving in hard places. I was able to listen to their stories and share them with others who will pray.

Specifically, because of the investment of my grandmother, Melvadeen, and my mother, Denise, the trajectory of my life has been set towards missions. Missions here, missions abroad, missions everywhere I go.

To the young mother who is exhausted and trying to sneak in quality time with God: those babies are watching. Let them know He’s important.

To the businesswoman rushing around to meet deadlines: your co-workers see you. Let them see God’s love in you.

To the retiree feeling like your purpose has been fulfilled: someone is waiting for you to speak life to them. Let those who come behind you find you faithful.

Your investment matters.

Did a mother or grandmother pour their missions heart into your life? Honor them or their memory through the Walk of Faith.

Long-Term Investments: The Payoff of Missions Education

Written by Kelly King, Women’s Ministry Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources.

I’m not an expert at financial planning, but I learned some simple investment principles when I began working at a financial institution full-time right after college.

Invest early. Save consistently. Reap rewards later. Time is your friend.

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These simple principles were great advice for financial help, but I also saw these principles displayed in the life of one of my mission mentors. Othella Thompson was my next-door neighbor from the time I was born until my family moved when I was in fourth grade. She and her husband Bill raised three boys in the home where she lived until she passed away a year ago at the age of 81.

While she never mentioned wanting a daughter, Mrs. Thompson taught my Girls in Action (GA) class at the small church plant where my family attended and where I came to know the Lord. Our church rarely broke the 100 mark in attendance, but Mrs. Thompson faithfully taught our GA class during my early grade school years. Occasionally, she sang solos in the worship service and her shrill soprano voice was a source of suppressed giggles among my friends and me.

For the most part, I was a fairly compliant child and loved learning about Jesus. Those early years learning about missions and missionaries were foundational stones that shaped my heart and made me tender towards others who sacrificed so others could hear the gospel.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Thompson didn’t always see how I was being shaped. For some reason, every Wednesday evening, I gave Mrs. Thompson trouble. I was a bit sassy and a bit of a know-it-all. Some people might say some things haven’t changed, but I always seemed a bit rebellious during that hour. She would gently scold me, and remind me that my behavior was unbecoming. She desperately tried to help me be a young lady, but she also challenged our group of girls to get dirty and serve others. I still remember our class planting flowers at church and how I shuddered at the thought of digging in the dirt. Even so, she smiled and encouraged us to serve Jesus by serving our church and serving others.

We may have literally planted those seeds, but she “planted” the seeds of missions into our young lives. I still remember learning about various countries, praying for missionaries, giving to mission offerings, and learning how we serve a big God who cares about the eternity of the entire world.

It would be years later before Mrs. Thompson would see the fruit of those seeds.

When my husband and I married, we began the task of finding a church. Because we taught teenagers at two different churches, one of our first big decisions was determining where God wanted us to serve together. After a few months, we joined the church where Vic was already a member. He had established relationships, but I was looking for ways I could be involved and make new friends. In a few months, I made the decision to join the church choir.

As I entered the choir room, I found a place among the alto section and tried hard to fit into the group. As I looked around the room, a familiar face waved from the soprano section. It was Mrs. Thompson! Little did I know she was a member of the same church. She quickly made her way towards me, hugged my neck, and welcomed me. In the back of my mind, all I could think of was the way I had misbehaved as a young girl. A few weeks later, I mustered the courage to approach her and ask her forgiveness. She winked and smiled, “I don’t remember any of that and I’m so proud of who you are today.”

For the next 29 years, Mrs. Thompson saw the rewards of investing in a small group of GA girls. She saw my calling into ministry and how God opened opportunities for me to serve. Each time we had a conversation, she would tell me how proud she was and how she prayed for me.

Even so, the reality is: I know her long-term investment in a young girl was the greatest gift I could be given. The impact of teaching girls about God’s word and God’s world was the payoff of a faithful woman who answered the call to teach missions education. That’s a great investment.

Who invested in you?

CHECK OUT THE WALK OF FAITH TO honor Those who made long-term investments in your life.

I Wish I Had a Mentor

Written by Katie Orr.

I wish I had a mentor.

I’ve heard that statement from many women. I’ve uttered those words myself. Most of us have a deep-down desire to be intentionally poured into. We sense our great need for change and feel helpless to invoke it on our own. Yet we also hold with this desire an unrealistic expectation of what the mentor-mentee relationship should look like. For me, it’s often been dreamt of as a weekly, 2-hour time together with hot coffee, freshly-baked blueberry scones, time in the Word, prayer, and an intense time of coaching. I’m always the teachable, eager disciple. She’s always the loving yet firm truth-teller.

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Who knows, maybe this sort of relationship does exist, but I’ve not experienced it personally. There is nothing wrong with that situation (if it indeed does exist); however, there is danger in holding to this as the mentoring ideal. Mainly because it blinds me from seeing the mentors I had right in front of me. For too long, I assumed that mentoring would come primarily through one soul. Looking back, I see that God instead (and in His wisdom) has sent me multiple mentors throughout every step of my spiritual journey who have each uniquely shaped me into who I am today.

  • My parents, Jim and Donna, who sacrificed to send me to Christian private school so I could learn about God, and who drove me all over town so I could attend children’s ministry, youth group, and various other activities that laid a gospel foundation for all God had planned for me.

  • Judy Crewell, our neighbors and carpool-friends, who intentionally and regularly took time to tell us kids about the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

  • Cynthia Seeger, the super-cute young mom who helped her husband lead the small youth group I attended. She got to know us, loved on us, and pointed us to Jesus when we barely knew which side was up, spiritually speaking.

  • The teacher in high school (I don’t even remember her name…) who one year invited a few girls to meet in her office once a week to go over The Navigator’s discipleship materials.

  • Josh Long, a friend who had the guts and love to confront me my senior year of high school when my sinful choices were getting out of control. He called me out and up to a higher standard of integrity as a leader who claimed the name of Christ.

  • Mia Murphree, a junior in college, who led a freshman girls’ Cru Bible study. I showed up having zero clue how far from knowing Jesus I really was. Through her group, I quickly realized that I knew all about Jesus, but I didn’t know Jesus. I had salvation, but I didn’t have a daily, intimate relationship with God. Mia’s faithful service through praying for, loving on, challenging, and teaching me every week for several years has brought much change and fruit in to my spiritual life.

  • Ruth Rhea, a Cru staff member, who entrusted me with a stack of response cards to follow-up on. I was just learning how to walk with God, yet she invited me into Kingdom work before I even knew exactly what God’s Kingdom was all about. For years, Ruth pursued me, checked in on me, prayed for me, and saw Kingdom potential in me I never would have believed was there.

  • Bill and Julie Bolt and Scott and Katrina Moffatt, two couples who have faithfully served college students for decades. Beyond benefitting from their discipleship efforts as Cru staff members, getting to watch how they loved on their kids, involved them in missions through prayer, and lived a missional lifestyle as a family still shapes my own parenting journey.

  • Kathy Bourque, my pastor’s wife before I myself became one. As a busy homeschooling mom of 6, she made time to hang out with me several times. I still go back to many nuggets of wisdom shared with me through our conversations.

  • Kristen Snow, my parallel friend who has faithfully prayed for, listened to, and spoken truth to me for over 15 years. Though our growth and stages of life have mirrored one another’s for years, we are very different people. This sporadic, loud-mouth bulldozer consistently learns from her gentle, quiet, intentional spirit.

  • Kathy Litton, who I worked for and got to watch for 5 years. I observed how she balances the complexities of life as a high-profile ministry leader while also being an involved pastor’s wife—all the while consistently prioritizing and loving on her family.

  • My husband, Chris, whose servant leadership, excellence in preaching, and daily integrity shapes my walk with God as well as my own ministry.

I know I’m missing many more who belong on this list—not including all the books I’ve read from those long-gone whose gospel-centered teachings and missional life examples have shaped the trajectory of my own. So, while I haven’t had the 2-hour, candle-lit sessions with the same person for years on end, I have been the recipient of much mentorship over the years. From a simple sentence stated, a note of encouragement, a hard conversation, or the testimony of a life well-lived, I have been mentored by many.

My guess is, you have been, too.

Who are your mentors? And how can you thank them?

Check out the Walk of Faith to find a unique way to honor your mentor.

Missions Mentors

Written by Judith Edwards. 

When I was asked to tell about someone who mentored me along my missions journey, a parade of faces walked across my memory window. Faces like F. O. Polston, our associational director of missions in eastern New Mexico where I grew up. In the summer, he loaded me and a field “pump organ” into his pickup; we drove to migrant field worker camps to conduct an abbreviated version of Vacation Bible School. I saw Helen Lee Lambirth’s face, the missions advocate in our small rural church. Sunbeams and GA (then Girls Auxiliary now Girls in Action) were where I first learned about and sensed God’s call to missions. Mrs. Lambirth saw to it that we had missions education in our “growing-up” years. Because my church had no YWA, she presented me with a white Bible when I married.

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I saw faces of women whose names I’ve long forgotten – women in Fort Worth, Texas, who never gave up on me, and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Because of their trust in me while we attended SWBTS (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), I was given leadership responsibilities far beyond anything I thought I could do. Women who, while Dalton was serving as chaplain in Vietnam, continued to push me beyond what I thought I was capable of, “volunteering” me to positions where I was being trained while serving.

Then, when Dalton and I became home (North American) missionaries in New Mexico, Vanita Baldwin, NM WMU executive director, once again trained me while giving me leadership opportunities. She brought such an air of elegance and grace to our casual, western culture. She and the capable women under her leadership mentored me in a rather unexpected way; they demonstrated for me the way that WMU serves to support missionaries. I suppose, if I were given the opportunity to place only one of my WMU mentors’ names on a brick, it would be Miss Vanita’s. Hey, I do have that opportunity!

Back to the mentor windows; one face appears in each frame. My mother. Mama. I do not recall any specific conversations or mentoring experiences. She was not my GA leader; I do, however, have her Royal Service magazine (now Missions Mosaic) from May, 1948, the 60th anniversary edition. I keep it next to her Bible, the one in which she didn’t mind writing! Please allow me, however, to tell you why I would call her my grandest mentor.

She saw to it that I had a missions education. She began, as soon as I could sit alone, I’m sure, teaching me the joy found in playing those black and white things called piano keys. When, as a Sunbeam, I came home after hearing a missionary from China speak, I said, “God wants me to be a preacher.” Mama didn’t laugh at me; she didn’t tease or discourage me. She listened to me. I never remember her speaking in public; she was a very reserved woman. But I remember her playing for church; I recall her ministering to neighbors and friends as they needed help. (On one occasion, she made a potato salad to take to someone. While she went to get ready, my humanity took over! It was the best potato salad I ever tasted!)

She was not embarrassed when, as a 10th grader and church pianist, I left the congregation singing unaccompanied while I went to Bro. Rich, telling him that God was calling me to be a missionary. She supported me when I announced my engagement and subsequent marriage to Dalton Edwards, another mission volunteer.

Skip forward several years. Following Dalton’s service as Army chaplain (one year of that in Vietnam), he and I felt assured that God’s next “foreign” (international) mission assignment would be right in our native state of New Mexico, specifically at First Baptist Church, Shiprock, on the Navajo reservation. Extended family members said to one another, “They must be crazy taking three small children into a culture where they will be the minority.” Even state and national mission leaders doubted that we would stay long. After all, the church had ten pastors in the previous ten years; how would this young family adjust to this post-military life?

Not Mama. She supported us each step of the way. She encouraged the WMU in her church to send us “care packages.” Mama’s sister, my Aunt Rena, was a proud member of the Judy Edwards circle in her church. On several occasions, they sent resources to supplement our ministry.

Just a few months after our arrival Mama and Daddy came to see us; Daddy put on his carpenter apron and got busy doubling the size of the pastor’s house. Mama followed my footsteps, encouraging me all the way and falling in love with our Navajo people. On one occasion, after washing dishes all day, she commented, “You don’t have to go anywhere. The world comes to your door!” During that same visit, I received a card informing me that the article I had submitted to “Home Life” magazine (my first attempt at publication) was accepted. Mama always wanted to be published. I do believe she was as happy as I was!

Oh, I forgot to tell you something very important about Mama. When I was in the 9th grade she had a radical mastectomy. Doctors told my daddy she might live six months; they forgot to tell Mama! She lived that six months plus 14 years. Just prior to her death on May 7, she told me how proud she was of my missions lifestyle. The following Sunday, on Mother’s Day, Dalton and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia, to be commissioned as home missionaries.

Mission mentors. They come in all ages, careers and relationships. They train, empower, support. They encourage, enlist, equip. I thank those who mentored me, and prayerfully have served as mentor to others along my journey.