HOUSTON (BP)—Missions stories from Africa, Asia and the Americas highlighted the 125th anniversary celebration of the national Woman’s Missionary Union during their 2013 Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, June 9-10 at the Hilton Americas in Houston.
In addition, 2013-14 marks the 100th anniversary of missions education for girls (Girls’ Auxiliary, Girls in Action and Acteens) as well as the 25th anniversary of WMU’s Second Century Fund, which was birthed at WMU’s centennial to fund leadership training for women worldwide.
With the theme “The story lives on,” the meeting featured testimonies of missionaries from both the International and North American Mission Boards, birthday gifts from WMU friends and video greetings from WMU partners throughout the world.
Gregg Fort, an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe, told WMU women, “With over 200 years of missionary experience in our immediate family, we owe a tremendous amount to WMU.”
Fort’s parents are Wana Ann Fort and the late Milton Giles Fort Jr., who served as medical missionaries in Zimbabwe for nearly 36 years.
Gregg Fort and his wife Donna recounted stories of God’s work in a spiritually dark area of Zimbabwe, where until recently no evangelical churches existed. There are now 14 churches in the region.
WMU Executive Director/Treasurer Wanda Lee presented Wana Ann Fort and writer Kim Davis with an author’s copy of their new book A Thousand Times Yes, which tells about the faithfulness of three generations of the Fort family.
Randy and Debbie M., IMB missionaries in South Asia, told how they distribute audio devices with recordings of the Bible in the country’s native languages and follow up with discipleship training. As a result, they have seen “over 600 people come into the Kingdom and 60 people become pastors,” Randy said.
“So even in the darkest places among the unengaged where it is very difficult to work, we feel we are in paradise because God is doing a work that is bigger and so far beyond us,” he added.
IMB missionary Jackie Bursmeyer, who has served in Chile for 35 years, attended the 50th anniversary of GAs (Girls in Action) when she was 13. Now celebrating the 100th anniversary of the group, she said, “I don’t think I’d be on the field today if not for your prayers and missions education.”
Bursmeyer connects with Chileans through children’s and women’s ministries and through a birthday cake ministry in which she makes celebratory cakes for people who have never had birthday cakes in their honor.
Patrick Coats, a NAMB church planting missionary in Homestead, said, “God tackled into the ministry.” He started a community Bible study at a local theater that eventually turned into a church as more and more people began attending. Over time, he baptized 30 people.
Each missionary, as well as others, expressed thanks for the ways WMU touched their lives through GAs, RAs (Royal Ambassadors program for boys) and Acteens and through the prayers and encouragement of WMU members.
In honor of the anniversaries, several denominational leaders offered birthday greetings and presented gifts to WMU.
Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, thanked WMU for its partnership in Gospel work.
“We count you as a valued, valued partner in the work of the Gospel and thank God for what you’re doing to promote the work of the Lord through Southern Baptist missions and ministries across the world,” Page said.
IMB President Tom Elliff and NAMB President Kevin Ezell presented WMU with two frames, each containing four pages from the 1888 SBC Annual—the year WMU was organized in Richmond, Va.
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