A ‘Missions Hero’ Who Pushed Others to Use Their Gifts

When Martha Pitts was a young girl, Mary Quick talked her into going with her to an associational Girls in Action (GA) meeting. Quick asked her if she would say the prayer there.

Pitts assumed it would be a small group.

“I said I would do it. I was probably 10 or 11 years old,” Pitts said. “And we went to this church and it was full of GAs. There were probably 300 GAs in this small church, and I realized I was supposed to get up on stage behind the podium and say the prayer.”

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She panicked a little.

“But Mrs. Quick pushed me on up there,” she said, “and I don’t have a clue what I said or how it was, but ever since then I have never had a fear of talking in front of people.”

And Pitts, now president of Tennessee WMU, said Quick probably had no idea how life changing that moment was for her.

“There are a lot of things I don’t remember from when I was younger, but that experience stuck with me,” she said. “It was one of those encouragements that changes you. I feel like WMU has a niche in that, in helping you develop your skills.”

Quick did that for girl after girl at Whitehaven Baptist Church, hundreds of GAs who grew up through the ranks and were introduced to Quick’s love of missions.

“I loved GAs because of her,” Pitts said. She remembers the coronation services, giant celebrations for girls who had completed their steps. And she remembers as Quick got older and there were fewer GAs doing the work, she kept urging them to persevere.

“She kept after the girls, saying, ‘Come on, you can do it.’ She was an encourager,” Pitts said.

One of Pitts’ fondest memories is the first time Quick introduced her to a missionary who was home on furlough from Indonesia.

“Mrs. Quick didn’t just introduce us to her — she had us hyped up,” Pitts said. “She told the story of who she was and how important her work was, and then we walked down to the pastor’s office and sat around with her and talked.”

Pitts said it was like meeting a star.

“Mrs. Quick just had such honor for missionaries, and she wanted to pass that on,” she said.

It connected the dots for Pitts that missionaries were special people, but they were also real people — a lesson that stayed with her for life.

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It’s because of those moments that Pitts recently honored Quick by purchasing a brick in her memory for the Walk of Faith at WMU headquarters on Missionary Ridge in Birmingham.

“She probably didn't realize when she made me pray in front of the church or allowed me to meet a missionary that it would mold my life,” Pitts said. “By her teaching us Scripture and then showing us how to put action to the words, I learned to pray, give and go.”

One hundred percent of each brick purchase helps meet the needs of WMU. Learn more at wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith or call (205) 408-5525 for more information.

HEART Fund Grant to Help Tornado Victims in Cuba

After a huge, rare tornado devastated Cuba’s capital Havana on January 27th, a WMU Foundation grant is helping undergird a local Baptist seminary’s effort to care for those affected.

The storm killed 4 and injured 195 as it swept through, damaging buildings, pushing over trees and causing flooding in low-lying areas. Cuba is threatened frequently by hurricanes, but a tornado of this magnitude is unusual for the Caribbean island nation.

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A $3,650 grant from the WMU Foundation’s HEART Fund will help Havana Baptist Theological Seminary with generator power and bulk food purchases.

“The seminary is right in the core area of the devastation, so they are able to accomplish things and do so in the name of the Lord,” said L.M. Dyson, a member of First Woodway Baptist Church in Texas who has partnered with ministries in Cuba for 20 years. “They’ve set up feeding and food distribution there. There’s so much need, it’s mind boggling.”

Dyson, who is administering the HEART Fund grant, said people on the ground in Cuba are looking for the pockets of greatest need so that they can apply the resources there first.

It’s an effort that’s an extension of the organization’s long investment in Cuba.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin, WMU executive director, said WMU’s first national offering in 1888 was to help build a church there, and now—131 years later—WMU still wants to get the hope of the gospel to Cubans.

“Often in the overwhelming aftermath of a tragedy, people’s hearts are more receptive to accepting the hope found in Christ,” she said. “We pray our efforts will reap Kingdom rewards.”

Since the HEART Fund began in 2001 in response to the 9/11 terror attacks, the WMU Foundation has granted more than $492,000 to help with disaster relief all over the world.

The WMU Foundation accepts gifts to the HEART Fund for disaster relief victims online or by mail to WMU Foundation HEART Fund, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242.

Written by Grace Thornton.

Time To Invest: a Q&A on Retirement

We asked Dick Bodenhamer, former Marketing Team Leader at National WMU, his thoughts on retirement and how he spends his time investing in others.

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1. How many years did you spend in your career, and what did you do?

I started my 37-year career at WMU as a 23-year-old graphic designer. After working in this position for 12 years, I moved from the Art Department to doing promotions and finally to marketing. I spent my final years as the Marketing Team Leader for WMU.

2. When you were younger, what did you imagine retirement would be like?

Frankly, retirement seemed so far away it seemed that I would never actually experience it. I remember telling my mother, a retired school teacher, that we have this “retirement thing” all wrong. We should have the freedom of retirement when we are young then work during our twilight years. She actually laughed out loud at that suggestion! My idea of retirement was sleeping late, going out to eat any time I liked, taking extravagant vacations, and generally learning about this fabulous world we live in.

3. What was retirement actually like?

I remember telling my wife, who worked as a school librarian, that since she had experienced a change of pace during the summers for many years, I wanted to take the first few months of retirement to simply do nothing (and she agreed)! I found that sleeping late, meeting friends for lunch, and doing odd chores around the house was good for a little while, but it was overrated. I needed something else to energize and motivate me.

4. How did you know it was time to retire?

My father died when he was 56 and never got to experience retirement; therefore I always had a dream of retiring by the time I turned 55. During that year, the Great Recession hit and, while my wife and I probably could have made it financially, I felt that WMU could use my experience to help navigate those uncertain days, so I postponed retirement for another five years. As I turned 60, the organization seemed to be regaining its footing, and in some areas, sales were up, so I seriously started thinking that this was the right time. Also, I knew that my genetic code still could result in premature death, so my wife and I decided that it was time. She and I both retired the same year and have not looked back!

5. Now that you are retired, how do you spend your time?

I still sleep in periodically, but typically spend my days working on gardening, improving our house and yard, and reading great books I didn’t have time to read while working and rearing a family. We enjoy being with our two adult daughters and their husbands, and now we have twin grandchildren (a boy and girl) who occupy some of our time. In addition, I have served in several positions in my church which give me great joy (my favorite is co-teaching an adult Sunday school class). I treasure the freedom to meet friends for lunch and for the potential of taking extended trips with my wife. We have taken at least one two-week trip each year. This is something we could never have done when deadlines pressed on a regular basis. The best part of how my time is spent is that I can decide when and how to use it!

6. How do you invest in others in your retirement?

I have the good fortune of serving as an adjunct professor at Samford teaching two courses: “Family Resource Management” (financial planning for non-business majors) and a business school course, “Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations.” This opportunity allows me to influence the next generation with lessons I have learned over the course of my life and career. I also have had the opportunity to serve as a marketing/communications consultant with several churches through the Center for Congregational Resources at Samford. I have served as an interim Executive Director for a local nonprofit that serves those mired in poverty, and one of my latest exploits is serving along with our church’s RAs each month as we take responsibility for providing a monthly meal at a local homeless shelter for men. During this phase of life, these engagements are combining elements of my career and interests, bringing together many of the lessons learned throughout life.

During this phase of life, these engagements are combining elements of my career and interests, bringing together many of the lessons learned throughout life.

7. What advice would you give other retirees about using their time wisely?

In churches and nonprofits, there is often so much that needs to be done, I have noticed is that on the day you retire, you will have a proverbial target on your back! I have friends who accept every opportunity for involvement that comes their way, trading the deadlines and pressures of their career to deadlines and pressures from other people. My advice is: be judicious in saying yes to opportunities for involvement and agree to serve only when the thought of not serving will leave you disappointed. Seek joy in your volunteering! Your service will be more effective.

8. What advice would you give younger people about planning for retirement?

I stress to college students that they have one commodity I no longer have: time. The most important action a young person can do to prepare for retirement is to start investing in their retirement account the day they start their first job! It is proven that small amounts invested early and consistently over their working years will generate much larger returns than far larger amounts of money invested later in life. Regardless of career path, even those in relatively low-pay organizations (such as with nonprofits or church-related professions) can have financial security during retirement with proper planning. This provides freedom to serve others during these special years.

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The WMU Foundation has resources to help you retire well and continue investing well (relationally, missionally, and financially). Contact us for more information.

T-shirts + missions

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day (March 8, 2019) by supporting women around the world through the sale of our For Such a Time As This T-shirts.

WE ARE NO LONGER TAKING ORDERS FOR THESE T-SHIRTS BUT YOU CAN STILL SUPPORT WORLDCRAFTS AND BEGIN ANEW THROUGH THE PURCHASE OF THEIR PRODUCTS OR SUPPORT WOMEN THROUGH CWJC BY GIVING TO THE DOVE ENDOWMENT.

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100% of your gift supports Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) through the Dove Endowment.

How will you support women around the world by getting a T-shirt?

  1. Your gift supports women like Dove Award recipient, Akevia Wilson, who, through Christian Women’s Job Corps, went from being homeless to achieving all A’s and receiving her education degree. Your gift to the Dove Endowment makes it possible to grant the Dove Award and provides funding for scholarships for several CWJC participants each year (those who are pursuing more education and those who need special assistance to complete the CWJC program). It also provides grants to help CWJC sites develop new programs that benefit participants.

  2. Your gift supports women like WorldCraftsBegin Anew refugee artisans who screen-print the shirts in the USA and are a part of a CWJC in Middle Tennessee. Through this CWJC site, refugees learn to speak English, develop job skills, and receive words of eternal hope.

  3. Your gift supports women around the world for International Women’s Day!

Thank you for creating opportunities for women through your gift.

If you have any questions, you can call the WMU Foundation at (205) 408-5525 or email us at wmufoundation@wmu.org.