missional motherhood

Generational Missions Discipleship: A Future to Fulfill

Written by Allison Turner.

Your investment matters.

How do I know it matters? How can I say this with absolute certainty?

Allow me to introduce you to a baby girl: born in 1988.

Her first WMU meeting was the Centennial meeting of WMU emphasizing: A Century to Celebrate, A Future to Fulfill.

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Of course, at 3-months-old there wasn’t much celebration or understanding; but the investments started to be made in her life. Women came alongside her godly parents and poured a deep-rooted passion dripping with love for the nations into their child’s life.

That child was me. Your investment matters.

My first WMU meeting certainly wasn’t my last. Since that time, I have had the honor and privilege of serving WMU on many levels and have seen the absolute treasure that comes in the form of women across the world who pray, give, and go.

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The prayer warriors WMU produces are unmatched. I have been blessed beyond measure to be raised by a mother and grandmother who have proved that to me. Melvadeen Friday and Denise Henderson poured their lives out for the sake of God’s work among the nations through our missionaries. Tears have been shed and countless hours of sleep have been lost for the sake of furthering His kingdom. And the beauty is: they are not alone.

We may never know how many men and women pick up their Missions Mosaic every day and weep over the lives and struggles of our missionaries serving (even those whose names we cannot know).

My brothers and I always knew that if the door was closed in the Florida room at home, it was God’s time. (And you don’t disturb God while Mama is talking to Him!) This wasn’t sporadic. Every single day Mama was faithful to invest in the lives of missionaries and those they would be serving through her prayers.

It was easy to develop a love for missionaries with this upbringing. I prayed all my life for opportunities to go and serve alongside these missionaries I’d been taught to love so well. I tried to go to different places—China, Russia, Swaziland, the list goes on—but none ever came to fruition. I was always left stateside praying for those who went.

Then, the opportunity came this year. This year, I got to go on the most special trip imaginable for a WMU baby like me. I had a few opportunities to go out into a lost nation and serve. But the main point of our trip was to serve missionaries. I was able to go with a small team on a 27-hour flight to bring a women’s retreat to 40 IMB missionaries. These beautiful servants I’d been praying for since I learned how to pray. I would get to serve them! And I cannot fully explain the absolute joy I experienced in those few days filled with laughter, tears, and new friendships that will certainly last a lifetime.

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Because I of the investment of WMU women instilling in me a passion for those who serve on our frontlines, I was able to pray for these women missionaries serving in hard places. I was able to listen to their stories and share them with others who will pray.

Specifically, because of the investment of my grandmother, Melvadeen, and my mother, Denise, the trajectory of my life has been set towards missions. Missions here, missions abroad, missions everywhere I go.

To the young mother who is exhausted and trying to sneak in quality time with God: those babies are watching. Let them know He’s important.

To the businesswoman rushing around to meet deadlines: your co-workers see you. Let them see God’s love in you.

To the retiree feeling like your purpose has been fulfilled: someone is waiting for you to speak life to them. Let those who come behind you find you faithful.

Your investment matters.

Did a mother or grandmother pour their missions heart into your life? Honor them or their memory through the Walk of Faith.

A Mother's Influence

I have always been a little bit on the…how do I put this…dramatic side. Growing up, I was always jumping, dancing, singing, and storytelling. I’m not much different as an adult. I feel big and I talk big. I have somehow found myself in the public domain, writing for a living and sharing my strong feelings and dramatic life events with others. This is kind of a dream job for me.

My life is lived out loud, and I’ve been told I have a voice of influence. But when I think of influence, a much different picture comes to mind. I envision a cold January night. I had been tossing, turning, praying, and blogging. My life had been turned upside down by a chain of events and I had never felt so helpless or desperate. After a day filled with legal battles and angry tears, sleep just wouldn’t come. I stumbled into the dark kitchen of my parents’ house, and there she was: my mother. Sitting in the dark, head bowed, praying for me. A silent warrior, storming the gates on my behalf.

My mother never has liked the spotlight. She would much rather serve behind the scenes than have all eyes on her. She’s quiet and soft spoken; steady and strong. While I blog about things like what it means to lay down your life, she consistently lives a life of service. And the Internet does not praise her. There are no “like” buttons for months of bedside palliative care or nights slept on the floor beside a sick child. There are no comments sections for the hours spent on her knees, petitioning the Father for the hearts of her children. She has no audience. And yet, she serves. She prays. And she does so with joy.

Have I been given influence? Maybe. But my impact will never exceed the quiet, fixed influence of my mother—whispering fervent prayers at one a.m. Wiping fevered foreheads. Laying her life down for others again and again and again, and telling not a soul about it. Her quiet strength behind the scenes gives me courage to be strong in the public sphere. Her steady love for me makes me brave in vulnerability. Her joy in suffering gives me hope in the midst of my own pain.

I may speak to the masses, but her life has spoken profoundly to my one soul. When I grow up, I want to be just like her. 

To honor the mom in your life, be a part of the WMU Foundation's Give 34 Challenge to honor the most influential woman in your life. 

Jennifer Phillips is the New Hope Publisher's author of 30 Days of Hope for Adoptive Parents

Missions Through Motherhood

Jenn B says one day she will get to put her passion on a plane and go on a “real live mission trip.”

Until then, her love of missions is in her vehicle. And, she said, it’s in her heart, her life, and her family.

Jenn, who serves as communications coordinator for North Carolina Woman’s Missionary Union, spends her days raising and homeschooling her three children ages 9, 6, and 3. She does a lot of her work after their bedtime. And when she has events and ministry during the day, the kids go too.

“I’ve had to learn and God has affirmed that they are my mission field right now,” Jenn said. “I want to expose them to the missions opportunities that are available in our community. I believe missions is not just a project but a way of life.”

And that intentionality is something she wants to pass on to them—and to others—as best as and as often as she can, she said.

“Teaching Mission Friends when I was in high school—that’s when I was first exposed to WMU, and it nurtured my love of teaching,” said Jenn, who went on to get a degree in elementary education.

That initial contact with WMU “really spearheaded a love for missions for me too and gave me a desire to teach it in a way that’s tangible and engaging,” she said.

And it was a woman with WMU who “saw a passion and a desire in me to encourage other women, and she took me under her wing and nurtured that,” Jenn said. “It’s amazing how it’s grown since then thanks to her mentorship.”

WMU is a fantastic way to encourage more seasoned women to invest in the lives of younger women and grow in them a passion for reaching the world, she said. It’s also got fantastic curriculum to engage even young children in God’s heart for the world, she said.

“The heart of WMU is missions, and it encourages people to live intentionally, regardless of age,” Jenn said. “As my children see the things I do and are a part of WMU it becomes the thing you’re doing, the way you live, not just an organization.”

She’s not only teaching that perspective—she’s living it.

When she, her husband and children moved into a new community recently, she began noticing a group of homeless people hanging out in the lot across from the bank.

“I felt a nudging to ask the teller about them, and I told her I wanted to be able to do something for them through the appropriate outlet,” Jenn said.

As I turns out, the teller’s church ran a ministry to the homeless that Jenn and her kids could get involved in.

“So many times we just turn our head, but we were able to have that conversation and follow it up with ministry as the Spirit was leading,” she said. “I don’t want them to think that missions is just having to go somewhere—it’s every day of our lives.”

Jenn said she saw the Holy Spirit leading again in her oldest son this past Christmas, when he began to sort through his toys on his own and find some to give away to children in need.

“We have encouraged them to do this for a few years, and this year he initiated it on his own,” Jenn said. “He said, ‘These are things I want other boys and girls to have,’ and I thought, ‘OK, you’re beginning to get it. It’s not a begrudgingly done act but an intentional effort of trying to meet that need. We want to help others catch that vision.”

During the Week of Prayer in December, Jenn sat down with her children each day, read through the missionary story of the day and watched the corresponding video online.

“The family in Norway talked about their children and how they nurture relationships in their community,” she said. “It was really exciting for my kids to see how those children were involved in missions.”

WMU curriculum has so many tangible things that children can grab hold of, Jenn said. For instance, as a result of some creative learning, her 6 year old “fell in love” with missionary Amy Carmichael, she said.

“It makes a lasting impact and they remember,” Jenn said. “We want to share that and get others excited about it. It’s making a difference.”

This article first appeared in the May 2017 issue of Missions Mosaic. To learn more about developing as a woman in leadership, visit our SHE leads page