By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director, Missionary for Missions Education and Customization, Missions Innovator Specialist (WMU, SBC)
Daniel 11:32b says, “but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”
This past fall Wanda Lee, the executive director/treasurer, of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), SBC, gave WMU of Maryland/Delaware the 1915 prayer calendar for women. When WMU began in 1888, the office was here in Baltimore, Md., led by Annie Armstrong. As the years passed the offices were moved to Birmingham, Ala. Most likely, this 1915 prayer calendar was the last piece published in Baltimore.
As I read through the pages, I was amazed at the questions that were already being asked, the countries that were already being prayed for and the social issues being addressed. These were the words written preceding the prayer guidelines for the month of September:
“Read slowly and think:
Does my life please God? Am I enjoying my Christian life? Is there any one I can forgive? How much time do I spend in prayer? Am I trying to bring my friends to Christ? Is there anything I cannot give up for Christ? Just where am I making my greatest mistake? How does my life look to those who are not Christians? Is the world being made better or worse by my living in it? Have I ever tried giving one-tenth of my income to the Lord? Am I doing anything I would condemn in others?”
Just imagine: 96 years ago women were already praying daily for missions efforts in Japan, China, Africa and Mexico; 96 years ago women were asking themselves about the impact of their lives; 96 years ago women were examining their hearts for sin; 96 years ago women were concerned that they were too absorbed with self and not enough with others; 96 years ago women were praying for the social issues of the day like poverty and orphans; 96 years ago women were praying for people groups with no known believers.
I began to wonder what else was happening in 1915. Thanks to the Internet world, it was easy to find out. In 1915, the first stop sign appeared in Detroit, Mich. Today I drive past at least 50 on my way to work every day. World War I was well underway. David Rockefeller was born. Today we still talk about the Rockefeller family. The U.S. began its occupation of Haiti. An interesting thought in light of all that is happening in Haiti today. The first prototype tank was tested. Today it is still being used in the Middle East. The Rocky Mountain National Park was established. Today hundreds of thousands will enjoy that park. The U.S. House of Representatives rejected the proposal to give women the right to vote. Today politicians seek the votes of women. The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put into place. Today it stands completed. A hurricane in New Orleans killed 275 people. Today New Orleans is once again recovering from a hurricane. Germany used poison gas for the first time against Russia. Today we worry about poison gas in the hands of terrorists.
Ninety-six years ago our world was changed by the events that took place. And all the while women were praying, women were giving, women were going, and women were seeking to know God more. And the world today is different because of their efforts. Today China, Japan, Mexico and Africa have thousands of believers. Today orphans have legal rights and advocates. Today women are still publishing a prayer calendar in the monthly issue of Missions Mosaic and asking themselves, “Is the world being made better or worse by my living in it?”
Daniel 11:32b says, “but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Just like the WMU of 1915, the WMU of 2011 encourages women to stand firm in their faith and take action that will impact lostness and the world. Missions Mosaic, mymissionfulfilled.com and womenonmission.com include Bible studies, ministry ideas, social justice articles, mission stories and prayer guides for women to use daily. WMU of 2011 is taking a stand on human exploitation issues through awareness and ministry programs.
I have to wonder 96 years from now in 2107, will the world be better or worse because I lived in 2011. Who will know Christ as Savior because I lived today? What country will be transformed from a lost nation to a Christian nation because I lived today? In 96 years will the name of Jesus Christ still be heard because I stood firm in my faith and took action today?