WMU challenged to raise missions bar

Julie Walters/WMU Communications

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Raising the bar of missions involvement was the challenge woven throughout national WMU’s board meeting at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala.

National WMU President Debby Akerman said in her address, “With Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me,’ the bar was raised for those following Jesus.”

“For the disciples He had called, as well as those who were the unnamed, not-yet-committed faces in the crowd, Jesus raised the bar of discipleship to a level that would now require wholehearted surrender, sacrifice and service,” Akerman told state WMU executive directors and staff, state WMU presidents, and national WMU staff.

“A level that would connect the Great Commandment to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself, to the Great Commission, to go into all the world to teach all nations,” she said during the Jan. 11-13 meeting. “It requires sacrificial living.

“We, too, must say with those who came before us, taking up the Calvary cross of sacrifice, that we will wholeheartedly follow Jesus and do whatever My Lord gives me to do.”

Tom Elliff, International Mission Board president, also illustrated the need for raising the bar of missions involvement with some statistics:

• 75 percent of the world’s population live in areas hostile to the Christian faith.

• Almost two-thirds of IMB’s budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This offering provides funding for the almost 4,900 missionaries on the field. Currently there are 864 strategic need requests from the field but the current budget will only allow 576 new personnel to be sent this year. There are missionary candidates in the application process who could fill the remaining strategic needs if more funding were available.

“We need spiritual revival,” the International Mission Board’s leader said. “Missionaries working in difficult places would never be sustained by a mediocre faith.

“Missions involvement cannot be limited to a trip, or a focus for one week during the week of prayer,” he said. “We must have a furnace of prayer, 365 days a year, to pray for an awakening across our nation and to pray for the nations.”

In closing, Akerman said, “WMU in our churches strengthens every generation to live surrendered to the call of Jesus to follow Him. As WMU guides our churches to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus and to love the world through the heart of God, Who so loved the world that He gave us Jesus, they will have a biblical, missional worldview.

“We extend a call to our churches and all who are part of WMU to live a totally surrendered life in Christ,” she said, “to live a life marked by personal sacrifice to advance the gospel of Christ, and to live as a servant of our King Jesus through the missions objectives of WMU.”

In other business, the Executive Board of national WMU:

• Awarded nearly $178,000 in endowments, grants and scholarships in partnership with the WMU Foundation.

• Approved $175 million as goal for the 2014 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

• Approved $60 million as goal for the 2015 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

• Adopted a new achievement plan for Royal Ambassadors, called RA Trek, to be available in the fall.