Linda Cooper, president of National Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), speaks during a plenary session at Engage conference and annual meeting Sept. 22.
WMU women Engage in ‘Unshakeable Pursuit’
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Arkansas Baptist News
BENTON – More than 160 women – along with a few men – attended the Arkansas Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) 2018 Engage conference and annual meeting Sept. 22 at First Baptist Church, Benton.
“Engage is a missions celebration for women,” said Debbie Moore, executive director for Arkansas WMU and member of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) missions team. “It’s a day to hear from our missionary partners, pray together and spend time learning about what God is doing in the world.”
The theme for Engage was Unshakeable Pursuit based on the 30-day devotional by Grace Thornton.
“God has been chasing us before we took our first breath,” said Linda Cooper, president of National WMU. Cooper led a breakout session around the conference theme where she shared stories about how she and others are pursuing God.
“There may be loss or pain if you follow Jesus. The path of your life may not look like what you thought it was supposed to look like. You may be asked to give up things you wanted or walk through times you never wanted to walk through,” said Cooper. “The bottom line is this: When we lose our life for the sake of Christ, we will find it.”
Other breakout sessions were led by International Mission Board (IMB) workers.
“There is a classic proverb that says, ‘Cars run on gasoline, and women run on cups of tea,’” said Candis, an IMB worker in Central Asia. “In Central Asia, that is true. We drink a lot of tea.”
Candis shared how she has used a cup of tea to start conversations that lead to sharing the gospel.
Kellie talked about how the Philippines have a strong Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) after years of work in the country.
“The Filipino Muslims want to be autonomous. They don’t want to be under a Christian government. Also, there are 13 different Muslim tribes, and none of them like one another. So, they are not only fighting the Christians and the government, but they are also fighting one another,” said Kellie. “There’s a lot of war in their area. We can’t go there with our American passports.”
The Filipino SBC is now sending indigenous Filipino workers to the unreached Muslims.
Two other breakout sessions talked about new mission opportunities in America.
Lorna Bius, a missionary for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), spoke about her work among her neighbors in Clarkston, Ga. Home to numerous refugees, Clarkston is known as the most diverse square mile in America.
“God is working in the refugees,” Bius said. “Half of all refugees are actually persecuted Christians. So, how can we love and bless our brothers and sisters who have escaped tragedy? How can we use the church to support them?”
Teresa “Bit” Stephens, international student ministry consultant for the ABSC, and Veronikha Salazar, assistant vice president for student engagement at Henderson State University, led a session on international students in Arkansas.
With the increase of international students in the state, Stephens sees an exciting opportunity for the Church.
“The mission field is coming to us,” Stephens said.
Tim Yarbrough, editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News, led a breakout session about how to share Christ in an “era of fake news.” During the session, he spoke about the differences between baby boomers and millennials and ways to engage the younger generations in the work of the Church.
“As millenials are reaching adulthood, the American values are changing. With that, consumer behavior is changing,” Yarbrough said. “People want active participation rather than passive consumption. They want to access media at anytime through their cell phone.”
The conference featured a time of worship led by Lee and Elizabeth Barnett of First Baptist Church of Hot Springs and prayer for missionaries celebrating birthdays on Sept. 22.
Conference attendees participated in a ministry project by bringing soap, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese and toilet paper to donate to CJCOHN, a non-profit association of 15 Saline County churches which provides clothes, food and other services to low-income residents.
WorldCrafts had an exhibit where participants could shop and, at the same time, make a difference in the world. Known for developing sustainable products through fair-trade business among impoverished people around the world, WorldCrafts has a vision to offer a dignified income and to share the gospel with everyone on earth.
Contact Sarah Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.