discipleship

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.

A Lifetime Investment

If you’re looking for investment advice, June Morris is the woman to ask. June spent the better part of her life making investments, and, at 91 years old, she’s still going strong. Her investments have nothing to do with the stock market. June is an investor in people.

For over 25 years, June has mentored a group of five women. Through various seasons of life and a variety of ministry callings, she has been an encourager, a prayer warrior, a spiritual mentor, and a friend to a special group of women she calls “my girls.”

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“She has mentored and mothered us through the maze of life,” explains Beth Campbell, one of the women June has invested in. “We call her Mama June.”

Twice a year, all five women meet at June’s home for lunch. They laugh, and sometimes they cry, as they share memories from their 25-year history.

“We still share that bond,” says June. “Each time we are together, we thank God that He has implanted in our hearts the passion we have shared of praying, giving, going, and telling the Good News.”

June invested time and prayers into these five young women, teaching them to love the Lord, love missions, and pray without ceasing. Through the years, June’s girls have followed their individual callings, serving in various regions of the world. June’s investment in their lives made an impact the women appreciate and celebrate today.

BACK ROW: Beth Campbell, Barbara Potter, Pat Cogburn  FRONT ROW: June Morris, Jeanette Nichols, Sue Giesecke

BACK ROW: Beth Campbell, Barbara Potter, Pat Cogburn
FRONT ROW: June Morris, Jeanette Nichols, Sue Giesecke

Recently, the women donated a brick to the Walk of Faith in honor of June’s investment in their lives. June was overwhelmed at the gift and excited that the brick in her honor benefits WMU.

“My name on a Walk of Faith brick is one of the most precious gifts I have ever received, given by a few of the most precious friends God has ever given me to love,” said June. “These five friends and I have a common bond—a love for Jesus and a passion for missions.”

Many WMU women, like June, have spent years investing in others. Through prayer, giving, and serving, they have cultivated missions-centered lives and encouraged others to join them. Those investments reap the rewards of changed lives and a fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Honor your missions mentor by donating a brick on WMU’s Walk of Faith. One hundred percent of your gift supports the needs of WMU.

For more information, visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith, email walkoffaith@wmu.org, or call (205) 408-5525.

If you would like to support the needs of WMU but do not wish to donate a brick, we appreciate gifts of any amount. Give online or mail your gift to WMU Foundation, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL, 35242.

Each Moment Has Purpose: Celebrating International Women's Day

On Sandra Waters’ refrigerator there’s a handmade card with a photo that smiles back at her every time she looks at it.

It’s a picture of her and her friend Carolyn Suyderhoud, and it says, “Ain’t we a pair? Good friends since 1993! Hope it never ends.”

But it ended much sooner than anyone could’ve imagined, at least the chapter here on earth. Suyderhoud passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 2015.

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“Carolyn — or ‘Caroline in the morning,’ as we called her — was a brilliant gem,” Sandra said.

For 22 years, Carolyn, Sandra, and their husbands — both named Richard — shared in friendship and ministry together at Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Warsaw, Missouri. Over many a plate of Mexican food, the group listened to Carolyn share her heart for people — especially children and the terminally ill.

“She had a quiet disposition, yet her dedicated, selfless, and humble service spoke louder than words could ever express,” Sandra said. “Although she is now with the Lord, the lives she touched through the work she did lives on.”

Carolyn had a doctorate in biblical theology, and she felt like her theology had practical application.

“She was passionate about studying the Bible and learning more herself so she could share it,” Sandra said. “She studied tirelessly and used her knowledge to share Christ’s love with other people. She was a giver — very compassionate, very caring and giving.”

Carolyn was a chaplain for a local hospice and volunteered as a grief counselor. She also served on the boards of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home and LIGHT Ministries, which provided maternity care and adoption services for young mothers.

It’s a legacy worth honoring, Sandra said. That’s why she’s wearing her “For Such a Time as This” T-shirt in Carolyn’s honor on International Women’s Day on March 8.

“I can’t think of a better person to honor with that shirt than her,” she said. “Her actions spoke volumes. It is an honor and a privilege to wear it in her memory.”

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That’s why Sandra kept the card on her refrigerator, too — to remind her of her friend and the way she lived as though every minute of her life had a divine purpose.

“Those beautiful handmade cards were a part of who she was and how she loved people. She loved making cards like that,” Sandra said. “She made them for friends and family members at birthdays, Christmas, all the holidays.”

She also made them for hospice patients and for the women at the Cedar Grove Ladies Outreach Group, a ministry she helped start in 1992 to find ways to assist people in need.

“Carolyn was a wonderful role model who reflected the light of Jesus wherever she went,” Sandra said. “She was motivated and determined to get the job done.”

And after Carolyn passed away, her husband found a whole stack of handmade cards in her craft room ready to be delivered to hospice patients.

“It’s one way her ministry lives on, in the cards that so many people still keep,” Sandra said. “She loved and served the Lord with gladness. I’m better because I knew her.”

Sandra is wearing a “For Such a Time as This” T-shirt made by the Begin Anew refugee artisan group. The $2,585 raised from these T-shirts supports women receiving job and life-skills training at Christian Women’s Job Corps sites through the Dove Endowment for CWJC.

Partner with us to support women as they work towards a better future in Christ by making a gift to the Dove Endowment for CWJC. The Dove Endowment supports Christian Women’s Job Corps by providing scholarships to participants, program development grants for sites, and a grant for Dove Award recipient.

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.