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Archive for the ‘Women’s Missionary Council’ Category

~ Written by Erin Shuler

I wonder if God wishes we would all stay babies.

While preparing for my return to Uganda, I’ve been thinking a lot about how ready I am to be there and to love on the children (especially the babies!). I can’t wait to sit and hold them in my arms (Baby Fever, ha-ha).

I told my mom the other day, “I would be happy for the rest of my life if all I did was sit and hold babies!” For me, there is nothing like the feel of a baby in my arms. They have complete trust and faith in the one holding them. I don’t mind the dirty diapers, the messes, or the crying (which drives some people crazy). It is all far outweighed by the feeling of love that I get as they sleep in my arms, smile up at me, cuddle with me, and just be. I feel at peace with them resting in my arms.

I often have a hard time wrapping my mind around how God sees and loves me. Today the thought hit me, “Wow, I wonder if God thinks the same way about his children as I do about holding babies. Maybe God longs to hold us in his arms the same way I long to hold a baby in mine. Maybe he doesn’t mind all the chaos, the messes, the crying that we go through, if we are going through it with him. His love goes beyond our dirt. He wants us to rest in his capable hands and rely on him.”

I’m sure God doesn’t actually wish that we would stay babies, but I wonder if he doesn’t often miss some of the qualities that we have lost over time. How often do we place our lives in his hands? How often do we just lie in his arms and be?  

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

Our world of technology has made it impossible to wait. We’ve gotten so used to getting distracted by notifications, deals and calls, silence has almost become an oddity. We have entered into a generation of constantly being plugged in. In some ways, because technology is so instantaneous, it has taken precedence over prayer. Text messages, emails and status updates come before running to the Lord.

Recently, I was in a situation which I felt desperately needed to be shared with someone else in order to feel as if I was in more control than I really was. I went to text my best friend and remembered he was at work. I went to text my mom and realized my phone was dead. I went to update my Facebook status to hopefully get shallow but immediate affirmation and realized whatever I would write would be drastically dramatic and unwise.

So, I sat fuming over things out of my control and unable to do anything with my hands.

It was only then I remembered I could pray. As I calmed down, I became comfortable with the silence and let God do most of the talking.  

No technology was needed to hand my stress over to God. 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Let’s be honest. We just can’t reach our full potential alone. Strength comes when we partner with others.

That is a foundational belief of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. We rejoice in the number of brothers and sisters whom God has brought into our circle throughout the world, and realize that we must learn to partner together. Cultural differences must not stand in the way of the mission God has given us. We need to work together to determine how our beliefs can strengthen us to reach out to a world in need.

That’s why you should feel a vested interest in what will happen in Bangkok, Thailand, next week. As delegates representing at least 19 countries meet together, their decisions will help set the stage for greater impact as we collaborate globally to make disciples for Christ.  
For some of the delegates, just getting to the meeting is a major challenge. Some of them come from war-torn countries; some are at risk of persecution. They need our prayers. It’s the best contribution we can make to bless these representatives and to help our Fellowship become effective around the world.

Please commit to spend least fifteen minutes in prayer at some point next week for the future of the international Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. Help the delegates know who “has their backs” by signing up in the prayer chain. Details can be found at http://charisalliance.org/english/prayer-chain.html.   

Thank you for your valuable contribution. 

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~ Written by Cindy Shuler

“So, what did you do this weekend?” The question was asked knowing that my husband and sons were at the annual men’s retreat with our church. I answered that a friend and I spent Saturday on a prayer retreat. 

Responses to my answer varied. Some said, “Oh, that’s nice.” Others gave me a look that said, “Really?” My daughter responded that she’d probably run out of things to pray for after two minutes. These responses didn’t really surprise me. After all, I would have reacted in much the same way until recently. 

Three years ago I was invited to spend an evening praying for our son. I accepted with fear and trepidation. It was the Christian thing to do. But inwardly I wondered how I could pray for an hour, let alone three! What would I say? What would the others think of me? Needless to say, I survived. It wasn’t that bad. Still, I was relieved when it was over. 

Now I laugh when I think about it. I’m amazed at how the Lord has changed my perspective. Prayer isn’t a duty. It’s a privilege, a conversation with our Abba Father. I now look forward to these times dedicated to seeking God’s face, to worshipping Him and to laying my requests before Him. It refreshes my soul. 

And sharing it with a friend is an added blessing. This particular day was enriched by time spent outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. We offered up praise and we worshipped. We prayed for one another, our families, our church and Women of Grace USA. At the end of the day, our hearts were lighter.  

How do you respond to the invitation to pray? How would our families, our churches, our ministries be affected if we devoted ourselves to prayer? Next time you have some free time, grab a friend or two and have a nice, long conversation with your Father. You’ll be glad you did. 

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~ Written by Gladys Deloe 

Bite your tongue! Are you serious? Shouldn’t the question be, “Is life without God worth the risk? That premise is almost as incredulous as a screen-saver I saw which said, “Without risk it is impossible to please God.” Really?  

“Risk” is defined as taking a gamble! It’s investing in an unknown; it’s a danger, hazard, peril or threat. The world says the antonym for risk is security, immunity; a guarantee or insurance. Right! I’ll have one guarantee for $500, please!  

Would a better question be “What’s the risk?” I urge you to search the Scriptures for evidence of the premise that a life of faith can co-exist with a life of risk. No…don’t do that! Instead, look up verses that promise you a risk-free faith! Do you really think that the Creator of the universe can’t take care of you at any time, in any place, and under any circumstance?  

In Deuteronomy 3:16 the Lord said, “Don’t be afraid of the nations on the other side of Jordan. The LORD your God will always be at your side and He will never abandon you.” 

And the risk is: __________________________ (You tell me.)

OK…that’s for a nation. Want some personal ones?  

How about Isaiah 8:11-19, “Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty; He alone is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe. …I will wait for the Lord to help me. …My only hope is in Him.” Don’t you love it? 

Or I Peter 3:12-14, “Who will harm you for doing good, but if you do, God will reward you for it. So don’t be afraid and don’t worry.” 

It’s the unbeliever who’s at risk. Trust me… No, trust Him! So, Girlfriend, start marking those “risk-free faith” verses!  

 

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

I grew up with a number of friends who hated their fathers. Even more so, these teenagers would tell me story after story of why they should never trust their fathers. Whether the stories were reality or falsehood; their concept of “father” was not a pleasing one. It certainly wasn’t a picture our God of the Bible would have desired anyone to paint in their minds. To these friends, “Father” meant villain, torturer, captor, and mom-beater. I understood why they didn’t like it when I referred to God Almighty as Father.

But Romans 8:15 says that that we “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!'” Since I grew up in church, I’ve heard that scripture countless times. I remember being a curious 8-year-old hearing the Greek word Abba and getting a sense of unabashed excitement that even the Greeks had an endearing word for Daddy.

I love calling my father Daddy. When all I really wanted from my Dad was love and affirmation, I’d call him Papa. The fact that God was giving us the right to that same intimacy with Him blew my young heart away.

Recently, I ran across the Romans passage again and decided to look at the cross-references my Bible provided. The first Scripture provided was Mark 14:36, which quotes Jesus pleading in Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” A very humbling truth hit me square between the eyes seeing those passages side by side.

Yahweh God is asking me to approach Him with the same adoration with which I approach my earthly Daddy. But not only that, He’s asking for me to approach Him with the same trust, confidence, intimacy and transparency Jesus conveyed that heart-wrenching night in Gethsemane.

How many times have I taken that invitation from God and belittled it? How
many times have I unknowingly portraying God as both villain and master when truly He is most assuredly my greatest Confidante and zealous Abba? Oh, may my life purpose be one of searching the heart of God to know the gift of calling Him Abba!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

I was looking for something else when I came across an old book of Women’s Missionary Council (WMC) records that showed the various committees and board members over the years. As my eye ran down the pages, I was struck, not by the number of those names I recognized, but by how I knew these ladies:

Mrs. Taber- she taught French at the high school where I taught Spanish. She never treated me like the novice I was, and gently and lovingly asked questions that challenged me to grow spiritually.

Ada Etling- a woman who challenged me to never hold a baby without praying for the child’s growth in the Lord.

Naomi Henning and Isobel Fraser- both these women poured their prayers into my involvement with the girls’ ministry, SMM.

The list goes on and on.

I realized that some of the main women who invested in my slow and rather reluctant early development as a leader were listed on these pages. I never knew (or didn’t care) that they held official titles in the women’s ministry. All I knew was they showed an interest in me that, at the time, I felt was undeserved. They cared about me as a person. I can’t imagine how any of them could have seen any leadership potential in me, yet they treated me as someone they were interested in.

My appreciation for WMC/Women of Grace USA and its history grew enormously as I stood turning pages and reminiscing. The spirit of encouraging and investing in younger women was alive then, and I trust will continue to live in all of us as we invest in God’s kingdom.

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Written by Viki Rife

My life’s goal was clarified for me this past weekend. I had the chance to host a reunion of my father’s surviving siblings. They came to Indiana from Minnesota, Kentucky and California. Each was accompanied by one of their children, who stayed close by to help them out of their chairs, bring walkers, and help them remember to take their pills.

We had been planning the reunion for months, but it looked like our plans would be thwarted by the sudden death of Dad’s sister’s husband. Aunt Betty declared that she would still come. Her courage amazed me! Yet I realized that in His wisdom, God had provided her with an opportunity to spend a weekend surrounded by her own family.

We laughed and cried over memories of Uncle Paul. He was head librarian at a large public library; he also put a carpeted bathtub in the children’s department and would take his turn in it to read during his breaks. Long after his retirement, he still avidly attended Christian clowning conventions to learn new evangelism techniques. He knew everyone and everyone knew him.

Compared to him, Aunt Betty was in the shadows. Just an ordinary wife and mom, rejoicing in his recognition and never receiving any of her own. Yet she was his rock, a wise, stable woman who served others quietly but passionately.

Throughout the reunion weekend, Aunt Betty brought an amazing sense of peace and joy to the gathering. Her heart of gratitude moved me as I saw her appreciate the little things around her. She was as attentive to the needs of others as ever. It hit me that she has been one of the great inspirers of my life, not because she was great in the sight of humans, but because it was so evident that she was one of God’s faithful daughters.

As we said goodbye, I told her, “You’ve always been an inspiration to me.” She looked at me for a moment before replying, “Well, you know, sometimes you wonder if your little life makes any difference.”

It was then that it hit me what I really want to do with my life. I’d rather have a “little life” like hers than all the honors that could possibly be given. I’d rather quietly reflect the radiance of God to those around me than anything else that could be offered. Because in the end, the least shall be the greatest.

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This is the last of a three-part series responding to a concern that by taking missions out of our name, missions will disappear from who we are. This series was co-written by Viki Rife and Janet Minnix.

Recently, Grace Brethren International Missions decided it could better operate around the world by removing the word missions from its name. However, removing the word did not change the ministry’s purpose. Rather, Encompass World Partners now has freer access to places where missions would be suspect at best, and illegal at worst. In much the same way, Women’s Missionary Council felt it was strategic to change our name to give us greater access to the woman who needs more than a missionary focus – who needs to be mentored in biblical womanhood and grounded in the sure foundation of God’s Word. However, a name change did not change our purpose. A woman who internalizes God’s truth will grow in her love for Jesus and develop a heart that listens to God, hears His calling and willingly engages in His mission in the place He chooses for her, using the talents and abilities with which He has gifted her.

We believe that the best way we can help mission efforts to thrive is to equip and inspire women with God’s call for all His people to be on mission. If we invest in helping women set aside the “fluff” that distracts them from being fully committed to God, we are preparing them to hear His calling. If we equip them with solid Bible knowledge and an understanding of how to listen to Him and serve Him, they will be ready to go wherever He sends them. And a natural outcome of their increased commitment to Him will be a desire to pray for lost people and for those who are reaching them.

We believe that if we help women grow and change internally, the results will be much more effective than just giving them a list to pray through. Their prayers and investment will then be based on a heart that understands the challenges missionaries face, because they themselves will be passionately involved in reaching the lost in their own sphere of influence. We believe that strengthening women in their walk with Christ is the best way to assure that there will be future workers for the harvest.

So, why does Women of Grace USA exist? To equip women with a strong understanding of God’s truth, to encourage them in the disciplines of prayer and study of God’s Word, and to challenge them to respond to God’s call in their lives. Is it women’s ministry? Yes, because it is ministry to and for women. Will missions disappear? No, because Women of Grace USA is preparing women to be missionaries where they are, whether next door or around the world.

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I began my last post by asking: Why does Women of Grace USA exist? I didn’t answer the question, so I’ll repeat it: What is the purpose of Women of Grace USA? The purpose of our forerunner organization, Women’s Missionary Council, was to promote the cause of home and foreign missions work, and to deepen the spiritual life of women through Bible study, prayer and sharing Christ with others. While WMC had goals that encouraged Bible reading, prayer and personal witnessing, it was primarily a missionary organization, focusing most of its attention on the first part of its purpose statement.

We did an excellent job of learning about missionaries and their work, praying for their needs, and giving to support them and their ministries on the mission field. But less time and energy were devoted to other essentials, including making disciples for true life transformation, mentoring according to Titus 2:3-4, and developing leaders for the next generation. Perhaps in many cases we put the cart before the horse, telling women they should be praying for missions when they had never developed a true heart for God.

We have been alarmed over the years to see that the commitment to missions seems to be dying in many areas. However, it is not because we removed missionary from our name. The causes, and they are many, represent a broad range of cultural and generational factors too numerous to list.

We have women in our churches today who don’t know what biblical womanhood is, who did not grow up in church and were not raised with godly role models, who do not have a strong foundation in God’s Word, who don’t know the basic stories of the Old and New Testaments. We have women who struggle in their marriages, their jobs and relationships; who suffer from debilitating physical or mental illnesses; who are living with the result of poor choices made earlier in life. Women who are so overwhelmed with the pressures of their lives that they readily admit they don’t know how to pray, let alone how to pray for a missionary. Do we have a responsibility to these women?

Women of Grace USA believes that we do. That is why, when the name was changed, a rewording of the original purpose statement was adopted:  To encourage women to grow in their relationship with Christ and challenge them to be actively engaged in God’s mission. Spiritual growth was placed first because we believe that a strong Biblical foundation and a heart for God are essential if we want to see involvement, not just with missionaries, but in God’s mission. Our present motto, “Local Ministry, Global Impact” suggests that we must minister to the women in the local church in a way that will have worldwide results. It assumes that missions is a vital part of our organization; we have just used a different term for missions.

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