Acteens

Steady Missions Investment

Mary Splawn said that when she was growing up, everything her mom had at her fingertips was a tool for ministry. She served on mission trips. She promoted mission offerings. She wrapped a lot of school supplies for the children’s home.

And over the years, with every small act, Judy Frady wrapped her daughter’s life in missions.

“My mom always taught me that I was to be a missionary every day,” Mary said. “She, along with my dad, modeled the importance of missions giving, missions involvement and devotion to the church.”

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It showed in their home — Judy often hosted the church’s Baptist Young Women at the family’s house. Those nights were special to Mary, even though she wasn’t old enough to be a part yet.

“I used to love when the ladies would come to our home,” she said. “My dad, brother and I would usually make other plans, but we’d come back in time to hear them laughing and praying together in the living room — and maybe we’d get some of the yummy food that Mom had prepared.”

It might seem simple, Mary said, but over time her mom made missions tangible.

“Each year Mom would set up a sign in our sanctuary with notes to a song like ‘Joy to the World’ that had big Christmas bulbs as the notes, and for every so many dollars we raised for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, we’d get to light up one of the notes and sing part of the song,” Mary said.

Lottie Moon and other missions pioneers were regular table talk for the Fradys — and vacation destinations too. Once when the Fradys traveled to Alabama from South Carolina to visit family, they detoured through Birmingham so they could stop and see Moon’s trunk and Annie Armstrong’s bed on display at national WMU headquarters.

“These were names very familiar to me, because we made a big deal about the offerings in our home and in our church,” Mary said.

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And over the years, Mary’s own list of personal missions heroes began to stack up, too. There was her mom, of course. There were several aunts — her mom’s sisters — who got Mary involved in ministries like packing bags for prisoners. And there was Dot Stephens, her committed Acteens leader.

“Sometimes we only had one other person and me in our Acteens class, but Ms. Dot was faithful to teach us about missions,” said Mary, who recently bought a brick in her honor on the Walk of Faith at national WMU headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. “She helped us expand our knowledge of Christ’s mission around the world.”

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And because of her and the rest of Mary’s list of heroes, Mary has spent her life investing in missions too. As a young woman, she served as a journeyman overseas, and now she serves on staff at Mountain Brook Baptist Church in the Birmingham area.

“I am humbled thinking about their investment in me and others, and I thank God for them,” she said. “Mom, my aunts, Ms. Dot and many other women have ingrained in me that the Great Commission is for each of us.”

Former Acteens Honor Leader with Brick on Walk of Faith

Decades ago, Barbara Joiner found out about a group of migrant workers who came to Baldwin County every year to pick potatoes. She felt burdened for them.

So she loaded up some high schoolers in her small town of Columbiana, Alabama, drove down there, walked out into the fields — and picked potatoes.

“She felt like that way, at the end of the day after the work was done, they would be in a better position to sit down with the migrant workers and say, ‘Hey, we would like to share some things with you,’” said Jody Tallie, who grew up at First Baptist Church, Columbiana, where Joiner led Acteens.

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It was effective. And that simple act of love kicked off a 45-year-long ministry that’s still going strong.

“Barbara ate, slept and breathed missions, and she did everything she could to pass that on to us,” Tallie said. “Because of her, the migrant ministry still happens every year, and when we go and see the same families there, it’s like a reunion.”

Though Joiner passed away in 2016, the ministry continues to be a testimony to her heart for missions. And ever since Tallie and others heard about the chance to honor Joiner with a brick in WMU’s new Walk of Faith brick garden in Birmingham, it’s started another kind of reunion — a reunion of dozens of women who are different because of Joiner’s influence in their life.

“My life is very different because of Acteens and Barbara,” said Denise Gardner, who also grew up at FBC Columbiana. “I probably would not be in church today without her helping me catch a vision for hands-on missions and ministry. When I heard recently that the Walk of Faith was being built to honor missions heroes, I knew she was one of them.”

So Gardner wrote a message to some former Acteens, which led to a Facebook group called “Barbara’s Girls” that grew larger every day. In that group, the women reunited and shared memories — and within a few weeks they had the brick paid for.

“Anywhere we went with Barbara was an adventure,” said Tallie, who now leads middle school Acteens at FBC Columbiana. “She taught us that you don’t have fear — you just go.”

Joiner went with them on overseas trips, and she organized events like a 24-hour seesaw-a-thon to benefit work in Bangladesh. She led them to pray about everything, Tallie said. She remembers once when Joiner was going on a trip to Bangladesh and she asked them to pray that she would “keep her curry down and her sari up.”

“She could be as silly as anyone around, but she was also so genuine,” Tallie said.

Gardner gets emotional remembering Joiner’s prayer circle.

“It was just around her coffee table, but we never missed it,” she said. “We always had Acteens at her house, and anyone was welcome. It was more of an outreach than anything else at our church.”

And now Acteens from Joiner’s circle are scattered all over the world serving as missionaries.

“She believed if God asked you to do something, there was no obstacle too big,” Gardner said.

For more information about the Walk of Faith or to purchase a brick in someone’s memory or honor, visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith.

Generational Discipleship Brings Global Investment

Are you involved in making disciples and sharing Christ with others through missions education? People like Cindy Walker cannot imagine their lives without it. She grew up with WMU as part of her life—she started out as a Sunbeam, then became a GA, taught GAs, and now teaches Acteens, WMU’s missions education curriculum for youth girls.

Learning and teaching about missions for years gave Cindy a passion to reach the lost all over the world. Her eyes were opened to the fact that the world was far more than her community, and she wanted the world to know about Jesus.

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In the last ten years, Cindy has gone on eighteen mission trips to Nicaragua, often taking Acteens with her. She has been able to teach God’s love to these girls and help them put that love into action in their hometowns and across the world.

Cindy’s teams have been able to work with the Emmanuel Home of Protection in Nicaragua, which serves victims of sexual abuse and trafficking. Unfortunately, in October 2017, Tropical Storm Nate caused almost insurmountable damage to the safe house.

“Poverty is rampant. Hopelessness is evident everywhere you look,” Cindy explained. But she also noted she had heard story after story of people in the area who had come to know Christ because someone from the safe house reached out to them and met their physical needs then shared the gospel with them. The home “is a beacon of hope and light in a dark area of our hemisphere,” she said.

At Emmanuel Home of Protection, missionaries provide girls from birth to age 18 with a formal education and training in life and job skills. The staff offers psychological, emotional, and spiritual care to the girls introducing them to the unconditional love of Jesus. “That’s why it’s vital to keep the ministry up and running at full speed,” Cindy said. “Anything we can do to help these missionaries minister in this community is wonderful.”

The WMU Foundation sent a $2,500 HEART Fund grant to help them rebuild and recover as quickly as possible. The grant will help replace roofs, windows, walls, and doors at the safe house. Cindy’s involvement with WMU through the years helped her be a voice for a small organization in Nicaragua that might have otherwise been overlooked. Because someone chose to teach her the importance of making disciples and helping others through missions education and her own dedication to reaching the lost in Nicaragua, the lives of girls have been changed both physically and spiritually.

Several of Cindy’s former GAs are now missionaries and others have girls who Cindy teaches now. “I’ve had the opportunity to serve another generation. The mothers who grew up in these missions programs see how missions education influenced them, and they want to emphasize that to their children. It’s been such a blessing.”

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Cindy was discipled through missions education as a young child and discipled countless others as well.  Because she was invested in and invested in others, lives have been changed around the world. How has Christ changed your life through missions education? How are you making disciples because of the investment someone else poured into your life?