Why Women's Leadership Development?

Why in the world would we, the WMU Foundation, care about women’s leadership development? Why would an organization created to financially support missions invest in SHE leads? Shouldn’t we just focus on raising the money and making the grants?

Without women’s leadership development, the WMU Foundation would not exist. The women who founded WMU made a commitment to support the spread of the gospel no matter what challenges stood in their way.

Women in 1810 didn’t have jobs. But Hepzibah Jenkins Townsend, a wealthy South Carolina woman, defied her husband’s wishes and sold gingerbread at the market to raise money for missions. She found a way.

Early WMU leaders who organized women in support of global missions did so in the midst of a society that did not welcome or encourage women to lead anything. This did not stop them.

Eliza Broadus, one of those early leaders, said, “God demands not success but effort, leaving the results to him.”

The women in WMU’s history were Christ followers who were unwilling to allow anyone but God to define their mission in life. Their call was to go into the world and make disciples. We are committed to continuing their legacy.

Through the Second Century Fund (SCF), over $2.5 million in grants since 1988 have allowed women in the United States and around the world to receive the missions leadership training they needed to respond to God’s call. Women like Lisa in Uzbekistan, a SCF grant recipient who has fought against human trafficking and made disciples in the former USSR for the past 15 years.

We support women’s leadership development because it is part of our history and vital to our future. We will invest in helping women respond to God’s call because it helps fulfill the Great Commission.

Why in the world do we care about women’s leadership development? Because Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples, and we believe in helping women do exactly that.

Here’s how you can join us:

  • Pray for the women God has placed in your life to mentor and disciple you. Write them a thank you note.
  • Think about who you could mentor and disciple. Write them an encouraging note and reach out to them as you see their leadership potential.
  • Take a leadership course through the Christian Women’s Leadership Center.
  • Serve through national WMU’s MissionsFEST or FamilyFEST.
  • Volunteer at your local Christian Women’s Job Corps site.
  • Start missions education in your church. National WMU has curriculum available for preschool through adults to help pray for and support IMB missionaries around the world and NAMB missionaries and ministries in the States.
  • Give to the Second Century Fund. Your donation helps provide leadership development for generations of women to come.

iPhone Backgrounds: March 2017

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Learning to Lead Through WMU

Judith Edwards wasn’t afraid to say it — WMU wasn’t for her.

“When I got to seminary, a couple of friends and I decided WMU was outdated and we weren’t going to be involved,” she said.

But people just wouldn’t stop inviting her to go to the Woman’s Missionary Union meeting on campus, so finally she and a friend decided to go — and the unexpected happened.

“We fell in love with it,” Judith says.

And now, looking back, she says she realizes that if it hadn’t have been for WMU, her entire life would have been different.

“I say WMU is my mother, because God has used WMU as the channel through which He’s done so many things in my life,” she said.

It started when Judith was 5 years old, a Sunbeam in pigtails, soaking up the stories of missionaries before she’d ever even heard of WMU.

“It was right there listening to a missionary from China that I heard God’s call to missions, even as a young girl,” she says.

About 10 years later, after she had been through the Girls in Action program too, she made that call public. One Sunday during church, she stopped playing the piano halfway through the offertory hymn, left the congregation singing a cappella and walked down the aisle to “Trust and Obey.”

A little later, she got married, went to seminary and met the organization that had brought that missionary from China to her as a young girl.

“That first night we went to that WMU meeting at seminary, everybody was leaving, their husbands were graduating. I was elected program chairman, president and director,” Judith said, laughing. Her friend who went with her was elected to every other available position.

“It turned out to be the most unexpected training ground for me and was better than any leadership class I took, just getting in there and doing it,” Judith said. “WMU is how I learned to lead and speak. I really didn’t know how to do those things before.”

After seminary, Judith and her husband Dalton moved to New Mexico to become missionaries to the Navajo. After about 14 years, they moved to Albuquerque and started an ethnic leadership development program, training up leaders among the deaf community as well as among the Hispanic, Korean and Native American populations.

They’ve kept it going with the Dalton and Judith Edwards Endowment through the WMU Foundation.

“I’m thrilled and honored to have that — people have given graciously,” she said. “We launched that program, and it’s still going strong. My husband trained pastors, and I trained wives and taught piano lessons.”

Judith also began writing WMU materials along the way — GA and Acteens curriculum, books, magazine articles — and eventually became a state WMU president, a director on the board of the WMU Foundation and held a position on the national WMU staff.

“So much of our missions work was in the training area. For all of it, I give God the glory, and I give WMU the credit for giving me skills and the opportunities to use them,” Judith said. “Just about everything about me is missions.”

To prove it, she’s got a small dog named Lottie Moon, after the pioneering missionary to China.

“We have such a legacy of missions, and we have to keep that going,” she said, noting that it’s vital to pass the training she and others received on to the next generation.

“This is how missions will live on — we have to tell them,” Judith said. “If I’d been in a position where there was no missions education, no training for women missions leaders, my life would’ve been totally different. It’s about becoming equipped to do what God has called you to do, and WMU is such a good channel for that.”

This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Missions Mosaic

Let Us (Reintroduce) Ourselves

We’re the WMU Foundation. Nice to meet you.

Many people in Baptist life know WMU. They maybe personally be involved or they’ve had a mom or grandmother who loved WMU. But you may not know the WMU Foundation, and we would like to introduce ourselves.

We love WMU, and we are committed to the work of God’s kingdom through their organization. We believe in what WMU stands for, and we work hard to financially support WMU’s commitment to missions.

However, the WMU Foundation is a separate organization, independent of national WMU. The WMU Foundation was established in 1995 as its own 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation so we can most effectively support WMU and other Baptist ministry partners.

Our staff is small. We have 5 employees, and only 3 are full-time. We manage money for other Baptist organizations, like churches and Baptist ministries. We earn a small management fee from these clients, which helps us pay salaries and expenses. Because of this, we do not have to take a portion of your donation to pay our operating costs.

100% of your gift goes exactly where you intend for it to go—supporting those who take the gospel to all nations.

We have a talented board of directors. It is made of current and former missionaries, missions and ministry leaders, and business experts. Their job is to make sure we wisely and effectively manage the resources entrusted to us. Our board members travel to Birmingham, Alabama, twice a year where they make decisions about investments, scholarships and grants, and development efforts.

Whatever your missions or ministry passion, we are your Foundation. We have funds and endowments supporting every interest you can imagine—scholarships for missionary kids, disaster relief, literacy missions, women’s leadership development, WMU in your own state, Christian Women’s Job Corps®/Christian Men’s Job Corps®, and much more. We invite you to join us in supporting missions and ministry in the United States and around the world.