These opportunities include educational programs, youth organizations, disaster relief, home construction, volunteer and workforce training, free trade markets, humanitarian aid, and missions trips for people of all ages.
“WMU believes in making disciples who make disciples. That’s our call. It’s the Great Commission. We are passionate about empowering Christ-followers to radically participate in the mission of God. And we do that in three ways,” Beth explains. “We engage in local missions, we establish partnerships in missions, and we empower worldwide missions.”
To engage in local missions is to create awareness of, and prayer for missions through age-level groups, from babies through adults. To that end, WMU has created publications and curriculum for preschool, students, and adults of all ages and helped create structure for groups like Mission Friends, Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, Acteens, Challengers, Youth on Mission, Go Now Missions, Baptist Student Missions, and Families on Mission, to name a few. “We equip leaders, churches and associations to do whatever they need to do. We use curriculum, magazines like The Bridge and Missions Mosaic, and online videos. We offer a variety of services: one-on-one, church groups, regional training, annual meetings for missions and celebrations, conferences and workshops; dedicated to all age levels and special interests.”
“Mission Friends is my passion! I love teaching [preschoolers] about missions. They learn who God is and how they can help others. Simple. Foundational.” When Beth saw kids running around her church while their parents were in choir practice, she knew something needed to be done. A friend invited her to attend training for Missions Friends. “That’s how I got into missions. It was the early 80s, but I can still remember that training to this day,” Beth said. “I remember the activities, the hands-on training, learning about the learning styles of preschoolers. Most importantly, I learned ‘Plan. Whether you have one child in your class, or 20. That one may become the next Lottie Moon or Annie Armstrong missionary. Plan for that one.’ That has stuck with me and I don’t take it lightly when I teach Mission Friends,” Beth said.
Then, “someone saw the potential in me and invited me to be a part of the association leadership team as a Missions Friends consultant,” Beth said. Like most volunteers, Beth got roped in by being assured she wouldn’t have to do anything more than hand out papers and take attendance. “I can do that,” she said. “Then the director resigned, and guess who became the next director. Mentors said they saw potential in me, past my lack of self confidence and fear. They trained me, equipped me, prayed over me, prayed for me. I hope and pray that I am doing the same for others on this journey.”
To establish missions partners, WMU provides opportunities like Christian Women’s Job Corps and Christian Men’s Job Corp, training centers across the US, that equip women and men with job and life skills in a Christian context. Women and men, many who are re-entering the workforce, can receive help in acquiring GEDs, preparing resumes and interviewing. They learn basic computer skills, time management, marriage and parenting skills, household management and finance. WMU welcomes volunteers to share their expertise and experience in these areas, to lead devotions or Bible studies, and to mentor the participants. You can find out more about CWJC or CMJC here:
The first week is the outside: frame, siding and roof. The second week is the inside: insulation, sheetrock, painting and the installation of appliances. They not only build a home, but they build a relationship with the family who will live in it. “You do not have to have a skill. We have coaches; we have dedicated women. We’ve done this for 11 years. We’ve built 11 houses. It’s an exciting time. I am planning to go this year for the first time. We’ll see if God puts a hammer in my hand or if I’m a runner to the hardware store,” Beth jokes.
To empower worldwide missions, WMU is inviting people to join them in a Week of Prayer, September 12-19, 2021, “but you can pray all year long,” Beth quickly adds. “Everything is on the website, stories, videos, prayer guides, and suggestions about other ways you can participate. Prayer is the biggest emphasis. Yes, it’s also a [financial] offering, but we want you to pray first. As you pray, God is going to lead you into maybe serving one of these ministries, or giving sacrificially to this.”
Beth is the project manager for The Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions, which provides financial support to more than 70 missions in Texas, some of which are mentioned above. Others include the ongoing disaster relief from Hurricane Harvey, and neighborhood reclamation projects through Bounce and hygiene kits being supplied to refugees on the border through River Missions.
This year’s goal is $3.5 million. “So many valuable things. Stopping and taking the time to pray with those in need is first and foremost. But, if they did not have the offering, they would not be able to do the work,” Beth said.
WMU also helps local churches connect to missionaries serving around the world. “In today’s age, with Zoom and video, we can visit with a missionary in Africa, in Utah, in Brazil. People can see the missionaries, see their homes and children. The children can tell stories about being a missionary kid. Technology has really opened up the mindset and views for everybody, for children and adults.” This was especially important during Covid when travel was restricted and people were in isolation. “Of course, we want to meet them, we want to touch them, but technology has afforded us to be able to be one-on-one with them.”
Beth could hardly help being involved in missions. She grew up surrounded by missions-minded people like her mom and dad, and both sets of grandparents. One of her grandfathers was a Baptist minister. “He emulated true servanthood. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws trusted Jesus in everything. Everyone of them laid that foundation for me. When I think through all those people, and then the ones who mentored me in the early 80s in the missions journey, it’s mind-boggling.
Beth and her husband Rex felt “called to special service, not knowing what that was” in the early 80’s. They were willing to serve as foreign missionaries, “but God chose to keep us in town, serving our churches, serving our associations, serving our state, and traveling around the world with [short-term] missions. And that’s how God used that special service in our life.”
Beth says, “I’m a big time introvert,” and is as surprised as anyone that God has used her to lead conferences and workshops in Texas, Arkansas, Hawaii, and places around the world. In the early 80s, she told God, “I know you are calling me to do something, but I am terrified to speak to people and in front of people.” She felt God speak to her through the story of Moses, who begged God to send someone else to do the talking (Exodus 4). And like Moses, “God has given me the ability to do that, through a lot of angst.” Her real talent is in management, and she has served in a variety of administrative positions over the years. “I see myself as organized. I love organization! God gave me the gift, and it is mind-boggling to see how God has taken that gift and moved that gift into missions service.
Missions isn’t just a vocational choice for Beth; it’s a lifestyle. Together with her husband, they built The Porch, a gathering place in their neighborhood where people can come for conversation, prayer, or just to sit and be still. “The porch was a dream several years ago for my husband and me. We were talking about building a patio in our backyard, but the Lord just said, ‘you need to build a front porch.’” So they did. And not just any porch, but one that spans the entire front of their house. They added a string of sparkling lights, comfortable rocking chairs, charming side tables, and planters that overflow with an abundance of colorful flowers. “We need to be visible,” Beth said. “We need for our neighbors to see us and we need to see our neighbors. There is a sign that says, ‘The Porch: Sit and Relax.’ It’s a place of solitude, a place of refuge, and a place of peace.”(photo from the porch)
“The reward is in being obedient,” Beth said. “Ministry doesn’t mean riches–not monetary riches–I’m not in it for that. God will supply. He has opened my heart and He’s opened my mind. And my hands remain open so that God can continue to fill them with ministry opportunities. Whether it’s with WMU or something else, my hands continue to be open.”