When Laurie Register was in seminary, each class would go around and introduce themselves individually sharing what God was calling them to do.
“For two and a half years, I gave the same information,” she said. “Every time, I would say, ‘I don’t know what God is calling me to do — I just know God has called me to go to seminary.’”
Never once in any of those moments did Register imagine that she would spend the next 24 years working for South Carolina Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). She came there looking for a place to serve, and through WMU’s training, she kept finding herself equipped for more tasks.
“The Lord kept me here,” said Register, who now serves as South Carolina WMU executive director, after serving previously as a consultant for Acteens and then Women on Mission. “My work here has given me lots of opportunities and given me the resources that I needed to carry out those opportunities.”
Where she is now is the result of a seed for missions her mother planted years ago.
“One of my first memories of being at church was in our preschool missions class,” Register said. “My mom was my leader for years, and she had no background in missions. She had heard about GAs and knew it was something we needed.”
But not only that — her mom got her involved in missions in her community.
That’s one reason one of her favorite parts of her role these days is visiting churches and getting to see how God is still spreading the missions call through generations.
“I got to go to a church recently that was in the middle of nowhere, and it was packed — little children, toddlers, all ages involved in their missions organizations,” she said.
The church shared with Register how the children had made gifts and taken them to the fire department and police department.
“To see at that early age how their leaders are modeling that for them and they are taking it in — one day it will be second nature for them,” she said.
That’s what happened when her mom modeled it in her young daughter’s life — one day, decades later, Register was sitting on her couch watching TV when news of major flooding in her community came across the screen.
“I just started weeping uncontrollably and thought, ‘I can’t sit here and not do anything,’” she said.
It wasn’t long before she went to where the waters were rising, helping disaster relief personnel.
“I will never forget that flood. Just to be a calm voice to someone who is experiencing some disaster, some tragedy — it’s hugely rewarding,” she said.
Register had decided to get trained for crises back when her Women on Mission role put on her on the disaster relief task force. She’s put her learned skills to use in the wake of a number of disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Matthew. Her primary role has been to volunteer in the Disaster Operations Center.
“We have opportunities to help, and WMU provides a place for women to be trained and use the gifts that God has given them locally and around the world,” she said.
When Register’s staff met for a retreat recently, she asked them what they felt was the most important thing they needed to concentrate on to ensure the success of missions education. Their answer? Leadership development.
And Register agreed. “Having strong, successful organizations; leading people to be radically involved in the mission of God; helping individuals understand God’s call on their lives and where they can be plugged in, be it overseas or in their own communities — all these things are driven by strong, committed, trained leaders,” she said.
This article first appeared in the July 2017 issue of Missions Mosaic.