Walk of Faith

Texas Woman Honors ‘WMU husband’ For His Years Serving in the Background

Elaine Mason remembers vividly the moment all the older WMU ladies fell in love with her husband. It was the night they saw him playing a game with the younger WMU ladies’ kids while bouncing a baby on each hip.

He was a hero that night, she said. The women were holding an associational WMU training, and Ronn Mason was the last-minute, emergency childcare.

“They thought that was the most wonderful thing any man had ever done,” Elaine said. “It meant the difference in whether or not those moms could come.”

And she realized she had something special — a WMU husband.

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Over the years, he’s taught Royal Ambassadors (RAs), but he’s also done pretty much anything needed for Girls in Action (GAs) too, like cut shapes out of wood or cardboard for the crafts.

When the Masons’ children were small, he helped with Mission Friends and led the Mission Friends choir. When their daughter grew into GAs, he helped her with her projects too.

“I’m so very grateful God gave me Ronn,” she said. “He has been a wonderful WMU partner. I tease him that he’s become my private secretary.”

In a way, it’s a miracle they ever ended up together, she jokes. Long before Elaine was throwing tasks as him, she was throwing something else — dirt.

“I grew up in New Mexico, and after church on Sundays, all the kids would take turns going to play at someone else’s house,” she said.

At one of those houses, a little blond boy showed up and kept trying to interrupt a game a house that Elaine and her friend Mary were playing.

“Finally, we realized the only way we were going to get rid of him was to be mean to him and throw dirt clods at him,” Elaine said.

Their plan was successful. But years later in college in Texas, a mutual friend realized they were both from New Mexico and decided to introduce them. It wasn’t long before they put the pieces together and remembered the dirt clod incident.

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“He had grown up in a non-Baptist church, but he was so impressed with the way we supported our missionaries,” Elaine said. “He just thought it was wonderful that we all banded together through the Cooperative Program to do that. He wasn’t raised in RAs either, and he wanted to be a part of that kind of missions education.”

The couple married and has served in a variety of ways at First Baptist Church of Texas City, Texas. Ronn was always supportive, and for that reason, Elaine honored her “WMU husband” with a brick in the Walk of Faith brick garden on New Hope Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama.

“He has just been the background person all these years, quietly serving, and I’m so thankful,” Elaine said.

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

Written by Grace Thornton.

Ann Judson: An Inspiration for Missionary Women

Rosalie Hunt said that ever since she heard about the Walk of Faith being built on New Hope Mountain, she knew she wanted to buy several bricks to honor the “missions heroes” in her life.

And she knew which one she wanted to buy first — a brick dedicated to the memory of Ann Hasseltine Judson, “the one who started it all,” Hunt said.

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“Ann Judson led the way for all women missionaries, for the many thousands who have followed,” said Hunt, missions author, former Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) president and a former national WMU recording secretary.

Judson — who headed to Burma with her husband, Adoniram, in 1812 — was America’s first female international missionary.

“She knew she would never see her family again,” Hunt said. “She knew she was giving up everything she knew.”

Judson stared death in the face and decided the risk was worth it for the people of Burma to know Jesus, Hunt said. “She made a leap of faith and courage that has been so inspirational to us.”

And her legacy extends far past Burma, Hunt said. Follow the trail of the lives influenced by Judson, and you’ll find people like Lottie Moon, a missionary who gave her all for the people of China and laid the foundation for Southern Baptist missions support. You’ll find Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend, who founded a missionary society that was the precursor to WMU. And you’ll find Fannie E.S. Heck, who was WMU’s first president.

“Each of those women was directly inspired by the dauntless Ann, and they, in turn, have inspired those of us who have followed,” said Hunt, who wrote about Judson’s life in her book “The Extraordinary Story of Ann Hasseltine Judson: A Life Beyond Boundaries.”

And because of that impact, Judson’s name has been engraved on a brick for the new prayer garden at national WMU headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. Hunt said she also wants to buy other bricks to honor missions heroes in her life whose names may not be as well known.

But she said it’s important to remember our roots, too.

“I realize that Ann Hasseltine Judson is not a little-known or unsung hero, but she is indeed the number one to us.” Hunt said. “The brick is a tangible way for us to hang on to that legacy.”

Judson blazed the trail for the thousands who came behind — both those who answered the call to missionary service and those who “held the ropes” by giving, praying, and teaching children about missions, Hunt said.

“Each person she influenced is a stepping stone, an important step in passing that missions legacy on to the next generation,” she said. “We need to pass it on. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes every person answering the Great Commission in their own way making an investment in lives.”

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

Rosalie Hunt, board member for the WMU Foundation, wrote about Ann Hasseltine Judson in her book, The Extraordinary Story of Ann Hasseltine Judson: A Life Beyond Boundaries.

Rosalie Hunt, board member for the WMU Foundation, wrote about Ann Hasseltine Judson in her book, The Extraordinary Story of Ann Hasseltine Judson: A Life Beyond Boundaries.

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.

Support WMU Through the WMU Foundation

By Joy Bolton, former Executive Director of Kentucky WMU.

When I saw the Baptist Press headline “WMU Foundation: $512,354 to support national WMU work,” I knew what I needed to write about next on my blog, DiscoverJoy.org. There has been stirring in my heart a message about supporting WMU. I believe it is vital for us to intentionally support National WMU.

I grew up in WMU and have been influenced by WMU’s determination to make disciples of Jesus who live on mission. As I became aware of how the work of WMU was funded, I knew that National WMU received no Cooperative Program funding or dollars from the missions offerings, but instead funded their work through the sales of missions literature and giving through the WMU Foundation. But there is more to the story.

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Past “Recall” Funding

A quick look at A Century to Celebrate by Catherine Allen reminded me that from the time WMU incorporated, they knew they would need funds for literature and communications. “They agreed on three principles: they would receive no missions money, but have the women send it directly to the mission boards for expenditure; the officers would receive no pay; and its expenses would be paid by the mission boards.”

“For more than 66 years the process of WMU funding was commonly known as ‘recalling.’ WMU officers would incur or estimate expenses, then ‘recall’ from the mission boards the amount they wished. Always this was done with reluctance and self-sacrifice, for the women wanted as much money as possible to go to the missions fields” said Allen.

The “recall” system was changed as WMU increasingly supported her work through literature sales and earnings from reserves.

WMU Foundation Established

In 1995, the WMU Foundation was established and has become a significant partner in channeling financial support to WMU. This is more important than ever before.

In an era when publishing has experienced radical change, WMU has struggled at times to sell enough literature to fully fund the national office. This is both a symptom of changing times in our churches and in the distribution of information. People today want to find information and resources at little to no cost on the internet. However, even to give away information on the web, there are production costs which must be funded.

When I have attended meetings with other WMU leaders, we have discussed these challenges. We understand that putting “free” information on the web has costs, and that WMU would love to provide some missions resources to churches on the web while continuing to support those who create and develop the content. This is where you and I come in and can help provide the support needed to produce these resources.

We need to step up and fund National WMU work. There are several ways to do this through the WMU Foundation and WMU:

Funding National WMU

  • Support WMU and WMU Ministries: Purchase WMU literature, WorldCrafts, and other products produced by WMU. Keep your subscriptions current. Don’t be among those who say, “I used to subscribe.” You may be too busy to read every word of Missions Mosaic, but subscribe anyway. This is our flagship magazine and your subscription matters. Give gifts from WorldCrafts that are not only beautiful but provide hope for a better life and share Jesus who gives us hope for eternity.

  • Giving Regularly: Give to support WMU ministries through the WMU Foundation. Give automatically through selecting recurring monthly or quarterly giving. Gifts for various ministries of WMU were among the $512,234 given recently. You can support an hour of ministry by giving $34 to the Vision Fund. You can support missions education for preschoolers by giving to the Dixon Endowment for Mission Friends. You can support leadership development through gifts to a number of endowments. See the Funds and Endowments List and pick one! You can also choose a Touch Tomorrow Today endowment which divides distributions between National WMU and WMU in your state.

  • Estate Gifts: Plan a gift to WMU from your estate. All of us will die. We must decide now, however, where our assets will go if we want to have a say in the distribution. Much of the $512,234 came from earnings on endowments. You may want to establish an endowment with WMU, but you can also specify a dollar amount or percentage to go to an existing endowment. Your wishes must be in writing through a will. Do not assume that your family knows you would want this. Put it in writing. The WMU Foundation can assist you with Planned Giving.

  • Memorial Gifts: Memorial gifts are a great way to honor people who love WMU and missions. Give to a WMU endowment at their passing. Or purchase a brick for the Walk of Faith. 100% of your Walk of Faith gift goes to operational needs of WMU. And let your family know where you would like memorial gifts sent when you die. Again, don’t assume they know. Put it in writing and let them know your wishes. Gifts to support WMU are a great way to honor and be honored.

The National WMU Office is important to all of us. It guides our work together and is the hub for WMU work across the country. WMU has a mandate to fulfill and keeping our home office strong and able to provide the resources we need is vital.

Join me today in supporting WMU!

This article first appeared on DiscoverJoy.org.