Blackaby ponders God's message from Sept. 11 in WMU address

ST. LOUIS (BP)--Given what Jesus did on the cross and the power evidenced at his resurrection and at Pentecost, God has the right to see greater evidence of his work in the lives of his believers, Henry Blackaby told participants at the June 9-10 Woman's Missionary Union annual meeting in St. Louis.

"The attacks on 9/11 were a horrendous move in the history of our nation," said Blackaby, noting that he believes God was trying to tell his people that he is beginning to remove the hedge of protection from them because of their sins.

Of the Sept. 11 attacks, Blackaby paraphrased a message from God, "'I knew what was coming.... I came expecting good fruit from my people, but I have not found it, so I have set in motion my judgment.

"'I hold you accountable for making a difference in your nation,'" Blackaby paraphrased God's message to his people. "'My questions to you are: Where are you? What are you doing? What are you letting me do in your life?'"

With the theme, "God's Plan...My Part," WMU celebrated its 114th annual meeting with Blackaby, noted author of "Experiencing God," Debbie Morris, author of "Forgiving the Dead Man Walking," and various missionaries from the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board.

More than 1,400 women attended the WMU sessions in the Ferrara Theater of the America's Center.

Blackaby said he often asks himself, "Why have I not seen more power in my life, given what God has already done for me?"

He added, "Southern Baptists could be asked of God, 'What more could I have done for you?'"

Pointing to 2 Chronicles 7:14, Blackaby said if there ever was a time to pray intentionally, it is now.

"If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land," he quoted.

In answer to where he sees God working in North America, Blackaby referred to the hunger for spiritual growth he has witnessed among the top CEOs of Fortune 100 and 200 corporations. "Where do I think revival is going to occur?" he asked before answering, "Among the Christian CEOs in corporate America."

He also has seen spiritual movements across college campuses and on Native American reservations, but he lamented the fact that most churches don't experience revival. "It's got to happen there," he said.

Blackaby also noted how God is moving in Canada, despite a national government order preventing chaplains from even mentioning the name of God. Ironically, high-ranking government officials and Catholic authorities have studied alongside each other in a recent "Experiencing God" weekend retreat in Charlottestown, Prince Edward Island. As a result, "Experiencing God" will now be taught across Catholic churches all over Canada, he said.

Noting that Canada was birthed in her town, one nun said, "If a nation was begun in this town, then revival can start here, too."

In her annual report, Executive Director Wanda Lee pointed to WMU's mission statement, which challenges Christian believers to understand and be involved in the mission of God.

A twofold mission, the first effort focuses on an ongoing educational process in local churches through which people begin to understand missions. Awareness is created through a framework of mission materials, most notably the age-graded curriculum developed by WMU.

Currently, WMU is redesigning Girls in Action and Acteen curriculum, Lee reported. Also, the organization is developing Achievement Plans for Children in Action, similar to the GAs and Royal Ambassadors plans. After an extensive study, WMU is committed to developing more coed materials and more materials for youth ministers, she said. Lee also noted that the Missions Match is the fastest-growing resource in the framework.

As Christian believers' knowledge about God's plan for reaching the world grows, they can begin to ask, "What is my part in his plan?" Lee said. She detailed several of the ministries organized through WMU including WorldCrafts, MissionsFEST, Baptist Nursing Fellowship and Christian Women's Job Corps, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in March.

Presently operating with 125 sites in 22 states, the job and life skills mentoring ministry has added three new international sites: Chile, South Africa and an unnamed country.

Two other expressions of CWJC are being developed: a "Behind and Beyond the Bars" initiative which reaches out to incarcerated women six months prior to and for a year after their release, providing assistance in life skills and reentry into society, and an organized outreach to women involved in the adult entertainment world, assisting them with the life skills necessary to free them from their destructive lifestyles.

Speaking on the theme, "God's Plan...My Part," national WMU President Janet Hoffman urged WMU participants to remember God's purposeful, practical and personal plan as laid out in the ultimate plan book, the Bible.

Noting the theme of redemption running throughout the Scriptures, Hoffman said God's inclusive, redemptive love for all nations is the basis for WMU's age-level organizations in local churches.

"WMU leaders have championed God's redemptive message to the nations for the past 114 years," she said.

Hoffman noted that God's strategy is to use people to share his love, as exemplified in the Bible. "Who would be most apt to reach people?" she asked. "One who speaks their language, the old and the young, a physician, a runaway slave, a tentmaker, a seamstress?"

God uses "plain vanilla folks" who are convinced of God's redemptive plan, Hoffman noted, folks like Hilda, a 75-year-old woman who hosts WorldCrafts parties at her church to help women learn to care for women in Third World countries; Carrie, a mother who assists the elderly in errands by transporting them day and night, but has still found time to start Mission Friends and Girls in Action programs in her church; Ruth, who in affiliation with Baptist Nursing Fellowship, uses her vacation time to provide medical services in North American and international mission trips; Betty, a gifted storyteller whose energy was zapped by recent cancer treatments but who still managed to minister to children at the MissionsFest in Little Rock, Ark.; and Grace, who previously served on several mission trips but now supports other mission efforts through the WMU Foundation while she cares for her ailing husband.

Hoffman shared an insight from D.L. Moody's life when a teacher confronted him about his improper use of grammar during a sermon.

"I am doing the best that I can with what I have," he had responded. "What are you doing?"

"From this day forward, may each of us do the best we can with what we have because it is God's plan," Hoffman said.

During the various sessions, there were five special presentations, including the recognition of June Whitlow for 35 years of service to WMU, most recently in the position as senior associate executive director. In addition, North American Mission Board President Robert E. Reccord presented Janet Hoffman and the entire WMU a framed resolution of appreciation.

Blackaby was given an author's copy of his book, "Called and Accountable," signed by Hoffman and Lee on behalf of WMU. Hoffman was presented an author's copy of her book for preteens, "God Is Calling You." Randy Sprinkle, mission strategist for the IMB and a program participant, was presented the author's copy of his book, "Follow Me: Lessons for Becoming a Prayerwalker."

In other WMU action:

-- Hoffman of Farmerville, La., was re-elected to a third term as national WMU president. Yolanda Calderon of Modesto, Calif., was re-elected to a third term as recording secretary.

-- National Acteens Advisory panelists introduced at the meeting included Nichole Beatty of Humble, Texas; Regina Bishop of Deming, N.M.; Stephanie Irwin of Houston; Karla Kerr of Platte City, Mo.; Jennifer Lynn Martin of Stonewall, Miss.; and Megan Smith of Waco, Texas. The teenagers served as pages for the WMU officers as well as the June 11-12 SBC annual convention meeting in St. Louis.

More than $4,900 was raised for the "Together We Bring" fund targeted to bringing 110 international teenage girls in the seventh to 12th grades to the National Acteen Conference, called "SyncroNations," in Nashville, Tenn., July 29-Aug. 1, 2003.

Another offering was taken to replenish funds for the WMU Vision Fund, which serves as the operating fund for the various WMU ministries.


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