By Julie Walters
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — The stage is set in Birmingham, Ala. — the home of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) — for a missions experience “like none other,” the group has announced.
With the theme “Pursue,” participants will hear stories of how individuals have pursued God and accounts of how God has pursued them, all the while considering ways the idea of “pursuit” applies to their own lives. The WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting will be held June 9-10, prior to the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Birmingham.
“This year I’m praying your missional journey will lead you to our hometown for a time of renewal and encouragement through inspiring missionaries, worship, and reuniting with other WMU family members,” said Linda Cooper, president, national WMU.
“God is doing amazing things all around the world and you are a part of it,” Cooper said. “Come celebrate with us! You will be inspired, challenged and equipped for your missional journey.”
On Sunday, June 9, the WMU Missions Celebration will kick off at The Church at Brook Hills located at 3145 Brook Highland Parkway in Birmingham, which is less than two miles from national WMU headquarters. Sunday’s celebration will consist of two general sessions, one at 3 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m., with a dessert party and light refreshments in between.
Attendees will hear from missions leaders including Nik and Ruth Ripken who have served around the globe with the International Mission Board (IMB) for more than 32 years. Their focus is on expanding the Kingdom of God by sharing truths and practices learned from believers in persecution. Nik is the author of “The Insanity of God” and “The Insanity of Obedience.”
Born in South Korea, Hun and Eunjoo Sol immigrated to the U.S. where they planted and served in Korean churches for more than 18 years. Since 2012, they have served with the IMB among East Asian peoples, and are currently serving in South Korea.
Philip and Jummai Nache, church planters serving in Minneapolis, Minn., with the North American Mission Board, have now started two churches in the Twin Cities. Philip left his home of Nigeria in 2010 to attend seminary in the U.S. Soon thereafter he was approached by a group of South Sudanese living in Minneapolis who wanted help starting a church.
Philip shared, “I was captivated by the idea of reaching out to Africans here. The Great Commission is about disciples. So many of our people want to be trained. They want to reach out to their people and plant churches here in America and in Africa.”
Attendees will hear how God is blessing the couple today as they have opportunities to make disciples in Minneapolis, home to more than 100,000 African refugees and immigrants.
In addition to these and other missionary speakers, participants will enjoy a time of worship and hearing from national WMU presidents emerita and national Acteens panelists.
“We invite you to draw close to God and experience His presence through worship and be captivated by His work in the world through incredible missions stories,” noted Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer, national WMU. “We are unalterably committed to helping you pursue God. He beckons and awaits your response. Learn how to chase Him with everything you’ve got.”
On Monday, June 10, the Missions Celebration continues beginning at 9 a.m. at national WMU located at 100 Missionary Ridge, with 131 missions activities planned for both inside and outdoors.
“We are filling every square inch of space with a tremendous variety of missions experiences for all ages,” Wisdom-Martin said. “As we celebrate 131 years of missions involvement through WMU, we are excited to offer 131 options throughout the day.”
Just to list a few, opportunities include an interactive refugee simulation; monologues from past missions leaders; an unveiling of the Walk of Faith, an honor/memorial garden with inscribed bricks in recognition of those who love missions; games and activities, including an RA sailboat gutter regatta; self-guided audio tours of missions artifacts and history; a dedication of a prayer chapel reflective of design in 1888 when WMU was founded; interactive conferences on topics such as creativity and experiencing the persecuted church; packing boxes for refugees; being part of creating a world mosaic using glass tiles; and more.
A full schedule of activities will be posted soon at wmu.com/birmingham.
Registration for Sunday is $15 and includes a small tote bag and advance release of “On the Journey,” a 30-day devotional written by Cooper and Wisdom-Martin. There is no registration fee for Monday, but box lunches may be reserved for $5 each. Those attending Monday should park at The Church of Brook Hills; there will be free roundtrip shuttle service to national WMU. Visit wmu.com/birmingham to register and for more information.
Prior to the WMU Missions Celebration, WMU will host an “Acteens for Life” dinner at national WMU on Friday, June 7, at 6 p.m., marking 50 years of lives changed through Acteens. This gathering is for all women whose lives have been impacted through Acteens in her teenage years, as well as current and former leaders of Acteens. Visit wmu.com/ActeensforLife for more information and to register. Registration is required; the cost is $30.
“This event will be a great time for women who have experienced Acteens to celebrate how involvement in missions impacted their lives while also considering the value of missions discipleship for today’s teens,” said Heather Keller, missions consultant for Acteens. “Those in attendance will also be encouraged to volunteer on teams during Crossover Birmingham on Saturday morning.”
All Southern Baptists are invited to visit WMU while in Birmingham for the SBC Annual Meeting, June 11-12. Following Monday’s activities at WMU, audio tours of WMU are available the remainder of the week, Tuesday–Friday, from 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
See WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting schedule.
Julie Walters is WMU’s corporate communications manager.