By Shawn Hendricks
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–One changed life for Christ can change the world, Kaye Miller said. Miller, president of Woman’s Missionary Union, gave the challenge to nearly 1,200 attendees on the second day of WMU’s missions celebration and annual meeting, June 22 at St. Matthews Church in Louisville, Ky.
The Monday sessions focused on changing lives across America and around the world. Miller, an MK (missionary kid) who grew up in Bangkla, Thailand, shared stories about her parents’ medical missions work with the International Mission Board in a 25-bed hospital.
“Growing up, I saw love and action from my parents,” said Miller, recalling her father touching the hands of a leper while leading him to Christ.
“I saw that love every day.”
Throughout the day, WMU members heard stories of sacrifice and passion for the Gospel being taken to some places that can only be accessed by a helicopter or snowmobile.
Svetlana Parish learned about Jesus in an underground church in Russia, recounting, “I wasn’t raised in Acteens or GAs,” but during the days of persecution for those who followed Jesus. “We didn’t have the privilege of mission education, [but] we learned that our God is stronger than any circumstances in your life.”
In 1993, she moved to the United States where she met her husband Steve. Years later, both were appointed to serve in Russia by the International Mission Board.
Living in Russia has given the couple opportunities to see lives changed for Christ. They work with local churches and have helped start a recovery ministry for drug and alcohol addicts, through which several people have given their lives to Christ.
“We are so glad to be a part of God’s business with so many people,” Svetlana said. “We are in Russia and we want to sing ‘Victory in Jesus.'”
Earlier in the day, North American Missionary Brenda Crim — wearing polar bear and seal skins, told of her ministry in Alaska, which includes outreach in a remote part of Alaska that presents a variety of logistical challenges. But that doesn’t stop her from bringing in hundreds of volunteers to reach the region.
“I always enjoyed the tough challenges,” she said. “I think that is part of what drew me to Alaska. “We’re breaking down barriers for the local church there.”
Crim thanked WMU members for their prayers and support, noting, “I wouldn’t dare go there if I didn’t know that [WMU is] behind me praying.”
TRIBUTES AND AWARDS
During the meeting, WMU re-elected Miller as president of WMU and elected Rosalie Hung as the recording secretary.
They also took time to honor the lives of Alma Hunt and Dellanna West O’Brien, who died last year. Hunt, a former longtime executive secretary, devoted her life to the advance of the Gospel and the support of missionaries. She once declared that “missions is what makes me get up in the morning.” She died at age 98.
O’Brien led WMU as its executive director/treasurer from 1989-99. She was known for her love, commitment and years of service to missions and ministry to children. She died at age 75.
During an awards luncheon, Diana Lewis of Benton, Ark., received the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development. Lewis has served as a missionary with the North American Mission Board for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention the past 18 years. She was honored for her dedication to helping poor communities through assisting churches with hunger ministries, block parties, substance abuse and health care ministries and literacy outreach.
Margaret Brown of Mountain Rest, S.C., received the Martha Myers GA Alumna of Distinction Award for her missions work with her church. She serves as WMU director at Mountain Rest Baptist Church and started the church’s GA organization for girls. Brown is a member of the SBC Executive Committee.
Miller challenged WMU members to search out ways that they, too, can impact lives for Christ. “So why are we waiting?” she said. “What is keeping you from training a tender heart to love as Jesus loves? “If a life is changed, then the world can be changed.
Change a life. Change the world.”
Shawn Hendricks is a writer for the International Mission Board.