SAVANNAH — Missions education and missions service remain at the heart of Georgia’s Woman’s Missionary Union existence, and those goals were front and center during the agency’s annual report to Convention messengers.
State Missionary Beth Ann Williams, who oversees the ministry as Georgia WMU executive director, showcased the efforts by teens and women to tell the story of Jesus Christ and His love for people worldwide.
Messengers gathered at Calvary Baptist Temple for the 195th Annual Session of the Georgia Baptist Convention viewed a video of how Camp Pinnacle Summer Missions Camp is building missionaries for today and tomorrow, and listened in on a live Skype telephone conversation with a Georgia missionary couple in Mozambique.
The video featured the testimony of Melissa Ringwalt of Rowland Springs Baptist Church in Cartersville and Paige Knox of Thomson and their summer 2015 introduction to lostness in the African nation. That summer as camp workers – where they studied about the ministry of International Mission Board missionaries Chris and Katie Nalls – resulted in a trip to serve as semester missionaries alongside the couple the following year.
The Nalls served as guest missionaries at the camp in 2012 but appeared as long-distance guests in 2015. Each day after breakfast the campers Skyped the couple and asked questions in real time across six time zones. The interaction added a flesh-and-blood dimension to the weeks and removed it from an impersonal study.
By the end of the summer the Pinnacle campers had given nearly $4,000 to be used by the Nalls among the Nyungwe people of Tete. While the funds were greatly appreciated, the couple stressed that flesh-and-blood volunteers were just as equally welcomed.
That’s when the seeds of missionary service were planted in the hearts of Knox and Ringwalt.
“We know that God can use a weeklong focus on Mozambique in the lives of some of these girls that will have an eternal impact – not only in their lives, but in the lives of other people here,” Katie Nalls told The Index in a 2015 email interview.
“Some of them may continue to pray for the Nyungwe people with whom we work in Tete. God may call some of them to come and work here in the future. Hopefully, they will all understand God’s calling for believers to go and make disciples at home and abroad.”
Responding to God’s call to missions
As messengers viewed the video testimony they learned how the girls responded to God’s call to serve alongside the couple earlier this year. They learned about the joy of service to Christ and the frustration of a cross-cultural missionary experience. And when they returned home they left a foundation of new relationships that the Nalls could cultivate for evangelistic follow-up.
This past summer Ringwalt returned to Camp Pinnacle to serve again as summer staff to share her real-world experience on the mission field.
“Paige and Melissa developed contacts with people who otherwise would never have crossed our paths. They extended our ministry in ways that we are now using to share Christ and disciple new believers,” Katie Nalls said in the live video call cross six time zones.
“We continue to need volunteers such as these girls to serve alongside us. Less than 2 percent of those in our area – the size of the state of Virginia – can be considered evangelical Christians. It is impossible for Craig and I to cover that distance by ourselves.”
Importance of missions discipleship
State WMU President Jackie Hardy of Social Circle then talked about the importance of missions discipleship.
“Discipleship means one who accepts and spreads the teaching of another while missions is the act of sending. Put those together and you have the purpose of Woman’s Missionary Union … to lead believers to be radically involved in the mission of God … to know Him and make Him known,” she explained.
She then explained the core WMU belief in four concise observations:
- God love you;
- God loves all the people of the world;
- Some people don’t know that God loves them;
- God wants you to tell them.
“The goal of missions discipleship is to create an environment where an individual can hear and respond, in personal obedience, to God’s call to fulfill the Great Commission.
“Last weekend, more than 50 young women joined together in Tucker to not only learn about and support mission efforts but to make a difference in the Kingdom. One of the participants commented that through the projects she had a chance to use the strategies she learned to have more natural gospel centered conversations.
“Just this week, in answer to God’s call, some are sharing the love of Christ by providing food to those exhausted firefighters in North Georgia.”
She then asked who would be next to respond, and how will they know if they are not told of God’s love.
Hardy closed by offering the resources of Georgia WMU “to help you and your church to create that environment where people can hear and respond in obedience.
Information on the Nalls and their Georgia connection
Chris Nalls, who grew up in First Baptist Church of Tifton, and Katie, from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, first met as International Mission Board journeymen in Mozambique. They eventually married and returned to the field and now have three children – Abigail, Emma Claire, and Daniel.