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        Passion. According to Webster: comes from the Latin “pati” to suffer, it is defined as a strong or intense emotion, something desired intensely, the suffering of Jesus at the cross. During February the commercial world would like us to see passion as an intense emotion of love for another person.  When I think of the Latin word of origin, to suffer, it is hard to think “romance”!         

        However passion is defined, it is the emotion that has inspired people through generations to do incredible things. It is that thing deep inside the heart that just cannot be let go of until the task is complete. For athletes like Cal Ripkin it inspires them to practice hour after hour after hour. Athletes often compete with painful injuries because they just cannot let go of the desire to “be in the game”. For those in the early days of the space program, it was the driving force that got Neal Armstrong to the moon. Writers like Beth Moore stay up late at night and start the days early in the morning because there is still one more thought that needs to be put on paper.  Evangelists like Billy Graham keep going because there is one more place that needs to hear the message of Christ. I would guess that passion is the emotion that drove Paul to go on each missionary journey, endure his prison stay, write letters to fellow believers, and spend hours teaching about Jesus.               

        February 15-21 is WMU Focus Week. I can’t help but think it was passion that inspired a group of women in 1888 to form an organization with the purpose of “stimulating the missionary spirit and the grace of giving, among the women and children of the churches”  (from the preamble of the first constitution of WMU). The constitution has gone through a few changes since this very first constitution but the goal and purpose has never changed.  WMU is still “stimulating the missionary spirit.” This past December while at the International Learning Center in Virginia, I heard the testimony of a young woman just out of college share how reading The Mosaic (WMU magazine for women) inspired her to apply for missionary service. I heard another missionary share how being a GA (the organization for girls 1st-6th grade) was the beginning of her call to missions. I heard a young man share how his mother praying for missionaries from the missionary prayer calendar (published by WMU) every evening at the dinner table was the influence that led him to missions. The foremothers of WMU would be blessed to hear how the organization formed so long ago is still “stimulating a missionary spirit.”          

        The “passion” of the women from 1888 is still working today through thousands of women who are passing on the passion to be involved in missions locally, nationally and internationally; women who continue to look for new ways to lead others to Christ through their praying, giving and going. Women who have been inspired to start ministries such as Christian Women’s Job Corp which helps women come off welfare and move into the working force. Pure Water Pure Love is providing clean drinking water for missionaries and communities all over the world. WorldCrafts is providing a means of family support for women living in poverty overseas. Because of WorldCrafts, women have been able to avoid human trafficking and stay home with their children. Project Help continues to look for ways to address the issue of poverty both in America and around the world. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Offering are supporting missionaries and their ministries everyday. Web sites such as missionsinterchange.com and myMISSIONfulfilled.com are telling the stories of missionaries and providing Bible study material and prayer experiences for collegiates and adults. New Hope publishing provides Bible studies, inspirational stories, lifestyle helps and more through it books. And preschoolers, children, students, collegiates and adults are still learning about missions and being inspired through Bible studies found in printed WMU program literature.             

        Passion, that thing that drives people to strive to do more has certainly taken us to new heights and places. And I pray it will continue to drive us to reach out with the love of Christ to those who do not know him. I pray it will keep us up at night and wake us early in the morning with a deep concern for the lost. I pray it will not let us go until every tongue, tribe and nation has heard the message of Christ.             

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