mentors

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.

I Wish I Had a Mentor

Written by Katie Orr.

I wish I had a mentor.

I’ve heard that statement from many women. I’ve uttered those words myself. Most of us have a deep-down desire to be intentionally poured into. We sense our great need for change and feel helpless to invoke it on our own. Yet we also hold with this desire an unrealistic expectation of what the mentor-mentee relationship should look like. For me, it’s often been dreamt of as a weekly, 2-hour time together with hot coffee, freshly-baked blueberry scones, time in the Word, prayer, and an intense time of coaching. I’m always the teachable, eager disciple. She’s always the loving yet firm truth-teller.

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Who knows, maybe this sort of relationship does exist, but I’ve not experienced it personally. There is nothing wrong with that situation (if it indeed does exist); however, there is danger in holding to this as the mentoring ideal. Mainly because it blinds me from seeing the mentors I had right in front of me. For too long, I assumed that mentoring would come primarily through one soul. Looking back, I see that God instead (and in His wisdom) has sent me multiple mentors throughout every step of my spiritual journey who have each uniquely shaped me into who I am today.

  • My parents, Jim and Donna, who sacrificed to send me to Christian private school so I could learn about God, and who drove me all over town so I could attend children’s ministry, youth group, and various other activities that laid a gospel foundation for all God had planned for me.

  • Judy Crewell, our neighbors and carpool-friends, who intentionally and regularly took time to tell us kids about the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

  • Cynthia Seeger, the super-cute young mom who helped her husband lead the small youth group I attended. She got to know us, loved on us, and pointed us to Jesus when we barely knew which side was up, spiritually speaking.

  • The teacher in high school (I don’t even remember her name…) who one year invited a few girls to meet in her office once a week to go over The Navigator’s discipleship materials.

  • Josh Long, a friend who had the guts and love to confront me my senior year of high school when my sinful choices were getting out of control. He called me out and up to a higher standard of integrity as a leader who claimed the name of Christ.

  • Mia Murphree, a junior in college, who led a freshman girls’ Cru Bible study. I showed up having zero clue how far from knowing Jesus I really was. Through her group, I quickly realized that I knew all about Jesus, but I didn’t know Jesus. I had salvation, but I didn’t have a daily, intimate relationship with God. Mia’s faithful service through praying for, loving on, challenging, and teaching me every week for several years has brought much change and fruit in to my spiritual life.

  • Ruth Rhea, a Cru staff member, who entrusted me with a stack of response cards to follow-up on. I was just learning how to walk with God, yet she invited me into Kingdom work before I even knew exactly what God’s Kingdom was all about. For years, Ruth pursued me, checked in on me, prayed for me, and saw Kingdom potential in me I never would have believed was there.

  • Bill and Julie Bolt and Scott and Katrina Moffatt, two couples who have faithfully served college students for decades. Beyond benefitting from their discipleship efforts as Cru staff members, getting to watch how they loved on their kids, involved them in missions through prayer, and lived a missional lifestyle as a family still shapes my own parenting journey.

  • Kathy Bourque, my pastor’s wife before I myself became one. As a busy homeschooling mom of 6, she made time to hang out with me several times. I still go back to many nuggets of wisdom shared with me through our conversations.

  • Kristen Snow, my parallel friend who has faithfully prayed for, listened to, and spoken truth to me for over 15 years. Though our growth and stages of life have mirrored one another’s for years, we are very different people. This sporadic, loud-mouth bulldozer consistently learns from her gentle, quiet, intentional spirit.

  • Kathy Litton, who I worked for and got to watch for 5 years. I observed how she balances the complexities of life as a high-profile ministry leader while also being an involved pastor’s wife—all the while consistently prioritizing and loving on her family.

  • My husband, Chris, whose servant leadership, excellence in preaching, and daily integrity shapes my walk with God as well as my own ministry.

I know I’m missing many more who belong on this list—not including all the books I’ve read from those long-gone whose gospel-centered teachings and missional life examples have shaped the trajectory of my own. So, while I haven’t had the 2-hour, candle-lit sessions with the same person for years on end, I have been the recipient of much mentorship over the years. From a simple sentence stated, a note of encouragement, a hard conversation, or the testimony of a life well-lived, I have been mentored by many.

My guess is, you have been, too.

Who are your mentors? And how can you thank them?

Check out the Walk of Faith to find a unique way to honor your mentor.

Missions Mentors

Written by Judith Edwards. 

When I was asked to tell about someone who mentored me along my missions journey, a parade of faces walked across my memory window. Faces like F. O. Polston, our associational director of missions in eastern New Mexico where I grew up. In the summer, he loaded me and a field “pump organ” into his pickup; we drove to migrant field worker camps to conduct an abbreviated version of Vacation Bible School. I saw Helen Lee Lambirth’s face, the missions advocate in our small rural church. Sunbeams and GA (then Girls Auxiliary now Girls in Action) were where I first learned about and sensed God’s call to missions. Mrs. Lambirth saw to it that we had missions education in our “growing-up” years. Because my church had no YWA, she presented me with a white Bible when I married.

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I saw faces of women whose names I’ve long forgotten – women in Fort Worth, Texas, who never gave up on me, and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Because of their trust in me while we attended SWBTS (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), I was given leadership responsibilities far beyond anything I thought I could do. Women who, while Dalton was serving as chaplain in Vietnam, continued to push me beyond what I thought I was capable of, “volunteering” me to positions where I was being trained while serving.

Then, when Dalton and I became home (North American) missionaries in New Mexico, Vanita Baldwin, NM WMU executive director, once again trained me while giving me leadership opportunities. She brought such an air of elegance and grace to our casual, western culture. She and the capable women under her leadership mentored me in a rather unexpected way; they demonstrated for me the way that WMU serves to support missionaries. I suppose, if I were given the opportunity to place only one of my WMU mentors’ names on a brick, it would be Miss Vanita’s. Hey, I do have that opportunity!

Back to the mentor windows; one face appears in each frame. My mother. Mama. I do not recall any specific conversations or mentoring experiences. She was not my GA leader; I do, however, have her Royal Service magazine (now Missions Mosaic) from May, 1948, the 60th anniversary edition. I keep it next to her Bible, the one in which she didn’t mind writing! Please allow me, however, to tell you why I would call her my grandest mentor.

She saw to it that I had a missions education. She began, as soon as I could sit alone, I’m sure, teaching me the joy found in playing those black and white things called piano keys. When, as a Sunbeam, I came home after hearing a missionary from China speak, I said, “God wants me to be a preacher.” Mama didn’t laugh at me; she didn’t tease or discourage me. She listened to me. I never remember her speaking in public; she was a very reserved woman. But I remember her playing for church; I recall her ministering to neighbors and friends as they needed help. (On one occasion, she made a potato salad to take to someone. While she went to get ready, my humanity took over! It was the best potato salad I ever tasted!)

She was not embarrassed when, as a 10th grader and church pianist, I left the congregation singing unaccompanied while I went to Bro. Rich, telling him that God was calling me to be a missionary. She supported me when I announced my engagement and subsequent marriage to Dalton Edwards, another mission volunteer.

Skip forward several years. Following Dalton’s service as Army chaplain (one year of that in Vietnam), he and I felt assured that God’s next “foreign” (international) mission assignment would be right in our native state of New Mexico, specifically at First Baptist Church, Shiprock, on the Navajo reservation. Extended family members said to one another, “They must be crazy taking three small children into a culture where they will be the minority.” Even state and national mission leaders doubted that we would stay long. After all, the church had ten pastors in the previous ten years; how would this young family adjust to this post-military life?

Not Mama. She supported us each step of the way. She encouraged the WMU in her church to send us “care packages.” Mama’s sister, my Aunt Rena, was a proud member of the Judy Edwards circle in her church. On several occasions, they sent resources to supplement our ministry.

Just a few months after our arrival Mama and Daddy came to see us; Daddy put on his carpenter apron and got busy doubling the size of the pastor’s house. Mama followed my footsteps, encouraging me all the way and falling in love with our Navajo people. On one occasion, after washing dishes all day, she commented, “You don’t have to go anywhere. The world comes to your door!” During that same visit, I received a card informing me that the article I had submitted to “Home Life” magazine (my first attempt at publication) was accepted. Mama always wanted to be published. I do believe she was as happy as I was!

Oh, I forgot to tell you something very important about Mama. When I was in the 9th grade she had a radical mastectomy. Doctors told my daddy she might live six months; they forgot to tell Mama! She lived that six months plus 14 years. Just prior to her death on May 7, she told me how proud she was of my missions lifestyle. The following Sunday, on Mother’s Day, Dalton and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia, to be commissioned as home missionaries.

Mission mentors. They come in all ages, careers and relationships. They train, empower, support. They encourage, enlist, equip. I thank those who mentored me, and prayerfully have served as mentor to others along my journey.

SHE leads: Introduction

If you search the internet for books about leadership, you find more than 250,000 results. There are books urging us to be assertive so everyone knows we are in charge. Others teach how we can convince others to follow us. And some explain servant leadership and how to lead as Jesus did. The Bible is the ultimate book on leadership. From the very beginning we see a holy God using imperfect and incapable people to lead. We learn in God’s word that His purpose was fulfilled in mighty ways when human beings relied fully on His strength and not their own.

Countless women in WMU history heard God calling them to action. They chose to trust who He is, obey His call, and depend on His power. Leaders like Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, Fannie Heck, Kathleen Mallory, and many more did not seek power or control. They were first and foremost followers of Christ. There is no step-by-step guide that magically transforms ordinary people into leaders. Truly great leaders are those who have chosen to be followers. They set their own priorities aside to pursue the kingdom of God.

This year the WMU Foundation will celebrate women, past, present, and future, who exemplify great leadership through the SHE leads campaign. As we celebrate these Christ followers, we invite you to pray for and support the next generation of missions leaders.

What is SHE leads?

SHE leads is the WMU Foundation’s celebration of great missions leaders, past, present, and future. For more than 20 years, we’ve supported female missions leaders around the word by granting over $2.5 million from the Second Century Fund for WMU women’s leadership development. You can support the next generation of missions leaders by making a gift to the Second Century Fund. Give online here or mail your gift to WMU Foundation SCF, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242.

I was not a born leader, but I was called. The mentors I had in WMU made the most difference to me, and now we have to reach out to the young women who come behind us.
— Carolyn Miller served as president of Alabama WMU, national WMU president, and a member of the WMU Foundation board

SHE leads in action: In January, let’s say thank you to someone who has been important in your missions journey—a WMU leader, a mentor, someone who helped you understand God’s plan more in depth. Also, encourage someone who is coming behind you in the same way—possibly someone you are discipling or mentoring.

Find more information about SHE Leads and the Second Century Fund, follow us on social media: 
Facebook.com/WMUFoundation
Twitter: @wmufoundation
Instagram.com/WMUFoundation

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