Frank Page headlines WMU celebration
INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Loving neighbors and supporting missionaries took the spotlight as the Woman's Missionary Union, SBC, gathered June 8 for a dinner that brought 425 guests "up close and personal" with Southern Baptist missionaries and Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page.
The dinner replaced the initial session of WMU's annual missions celebration, which convened June 8-9 at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis under the theme, "For God so Loved ...."
WMU members also re-elected Kaye Miller and Kathy Hillman as president and recording secretary for 2008-09.
Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., was the dinner's keynote speaker. He shared from his new book, "The Nehemiah Factor: 16 Characteristics of a Missional Leader," recently released by WMU's New Hope Publishers division.
Today's missional leaders could learn from the examples of the Old Testament kings Saul and David, said Page, who is completing his second term as SBC president.
Page contrasted the combat leadership of Saul and David, chronicled in 1 Samuel 17 and 2 Chronicles 20. Saul's army trembled before the Philistine giant Goliath, but David boldly confronted him and killed him. In the latter account, David's Israelite army also was successful in killing Philistine giants.
"What was the difference?" Page asked. "The key is realizing who the king was in each battle. In the first battle, Saul was king; he was no giant killer. In the second battle, the king was David; he was a giant killer.
"The charismatic leader is perceived as possessed by a purpose greater than himself or herself," Page explained. "When a giant killer leads, the followers want to take on giants too!"
Brad Lartigue shared June 9 about his 18 years of ministry as a North American Mission Board resort missionary/chaplain in Big Sky, Mont.
"My initial impression of a 'missionary' was that of older folks who gave their lives to serve in some remote backcountry, jungle village or in a foreign land to bring the Gospel of Christ where it has never been heard," Lartigue said. That picture "quickly changed and broadened" when he was introduced to missions through Southern Baptist collegiate ministries.
Lartigue now ministers through various extreme sports and supervises a collegiate ministry staff, in addition to providing support for semester missionaries and retired missionary couples.
Jeff and Kim Cruse, who serve in the Philippines through the International Mission Board, shared the many ways they "love their neighbors" through student evangelism, offering free English classes, providing a coffee shop, teaching a True Love Waits abstinence-until-marriage emphasis and in other ways sharing the message of Jesus Christ with Filipinos.
Kim Cruse told about Cecille, who participated in missions to a remote tribal group shortly after becoming a Christian. More than 300 people accepted Christ that summer. "She is passing on the legacy of loving her neighbors with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ," Cruse said.
Woman's Missionary Union Executive Director Wanda Lee emphasized the importance of supporting the children of missionaries. She reported that the organization's executive board committed almost $19,000 to scholarships for deserving "missionary kids" and that WMU sponsors a re-entry retreat to help "MKs" transition back into American culture.
Lee also told about an e-mail from a thankful missionary to Africa who learned that a Tennessee WMU member had taken care of her child, who was a student at Union University and lost everything when a devastating tornado struck the Jackson, Tenn., campus Feb. 5.
In her address, "Change a Life. Change the World," Miller called attention to the early days of Woman's Missionary Union, when the first WMU women communicated the missions message with pen and paper.
"Now, 120 years later, we have not just pen and paper as resources, we have the World Wide Web," she said. "We can reach around the world."
Miller challenged her audience: "In this 'high-tech' world could it be that we have lost the 'high-touch' with each other and with God from whom we draw our strength?"
Miller said she wanted WMU to be "the most attractive avenue for missions involvement in the local church" because "WMU believes that the church members must be radically involved in the mission of God."
In other business, WMU participants:
-- saw awards presented to Angela Kim of Houston, this year's recipient for the Dellanna West O'Brien Award for Women's Leadership Development, and Deborah Kidd of Huntsville, Ala., the 2008 Dr. Martha Myers GA Alumnae of Distinction recipient.
-- heard about the February 2008 Children's Ministry Day, when more than 15,000 children shared the love of Jesus through mission action.
-- adopted a resolution of appreciation for the life and legacy of Martha Leathers Wennerberg, who died March 5, 2008. Wennerberg served as WMU national recording secretary from 1991-1996; as vice president from Florida, 1984–1989; on various committees for the WMU Executive Board; and on the board of trustees of the WMU Foundation since 2004.
-- marked the 100th anniversary of Royal Ambassadors with a resolution of appreciation presented to the North American Mission Board and given to Rob Carr, national RA director.
-- heard testimonies from this year's national Acteens panelists: Gretchen Allie of Charlotte, N.C.; Paige Baker of Huffman, Texas; Kailee Barfield of Fort Mill, S.C.; Kristi Damon of Amarillo, Texas; Rachel Krome of Oostburg, Wis.; and Amanda-Grace Richey of Smithfield, Ky.
Shannon Baker is the national correspondent for Baptist Life, journal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.