The stage is set in Birmingham—the home of WMU—for a missions experience like none other. With the theme Pursue, participants will hear inspiring stories of how individuals have pursued God and accounts of how God has pursued them, all the while considering ways the idea of “pursuit” applies to their own lives.
“This year I’m praying your missional journey will lead you to our hometown for a time of renewal and encouragement through inspiring missionaries, worship, and reuniting with other WMU family members,” said Linda Cooper, president, national WMU. “God is doing amazing things all around the world and you are a part of it. Come celebrate with us! You will be inspired, challenged, and equipped for your missional journey.”
On Sunday, the WMU Missions Celebration will kick off at The Church at Brook Hills located at 3145 Brook Highland Parkway in Birmingham, which is less than two miles from national WMU. Sunday’s celebration will consist of two general sessions, one at three o’clock and the second at five o’clock, with a dessert party and light refreshments in between.
Hear from inspiring missions leaders including Nik and Ruth Ripken, who have served around the globe with the International Mission Board for more than thirty-two years. Their focus is on expanding the Kingdom of God by sharing truths and practices learned from believers in persecution. Nik is the author of The Insanity of God and The Insanity of Obedience.
Hun and Eunjoo Sol, born in South Korea, immigrated to the US where they planted and served in Korean churches for more than eighteen years. Since 2012, they have served with the International Mission Board among East Asian peoples, and are currently serving in South Korea.
Philip and Jummai Nache, church planters serving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with the North American Mission Board, have now started two churches in the Twin Cities. Philip left his home of Nigeria in 2010 to attend seminary in the US. Soon thereafter he was approached by a group of South Sudanese living in Minneapolis who wanted help starting a church.
Philip shared, “I was captivated by the idea of reaching out to Africans here. The Great Commission is about disciples. So many of our people want to be trained. They want to reach out to their people and plant churches here in America and in Africa.”
Hear how God is blessing their efforts today as they have opportunities to make disciples in Minneapolis, home to more than one hundred thousand African refugees and immigrants.
In addition to these and other missionary speakers, participants will enjoy music for worship and hear from national WMU presidents emerita and national Acteens panelists.
“We invite you to draw close to God and experience His presence through worship and be captivated by His work in the world through incredible missions stories,” encouraged Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer, national WMU. “We are unalterably committed to helping you pursue God. He beckons and awaits your response. Learn how to chase Him with everything you’ve got.”
On Monday, June 9, the Missions Celebration continues beginning at nine o’clock in the morning at national WMU located at 100 Missionary Ridge, with 131 missions activities planned for both inside and outdoors.
“We are filling every square inch of space with a tremendous variety of missions experiences for all ages,” Wisdom-Martin said. “As we celebrate 131 years of missions involvement through WMU, we are excited to offer 131 options throughout the day.”
Just to list a few, opportunities include an interactive refugee simulation; monologues from past missions leaders; an unveiling of the Walk of Faith, an honor/memorial garden with inscribed bricks in recognition of those who love missions; lots of fun games and activities, including a Royal Ambassadors sailboat gutter regatta; self-guided audio tours of missions artifacts and history; a dedication of a prayer chapel reflective of design in 1888 when WMU was founded; interactive conferences on topics such as creativity and experiencing the persecuted church; packing boxes for refugees; being part of creating a world mosaic using glass tiles; and many more.
A full schedule of activities will be posted at wmu.com/birmingham.
Registration for Sunday is $15 and includes a small tote bag and advance release of On the Journey, a thirty-day devotional written by Cooper and Wisdom-Martin. There is no registration fee for Monday, but boxed lunches may be reserved for $5 each. Those attending Monday should park at The Church of Brook Hills; there will be free roundtrip shuttle service to national WMU. Visit wmu.com/birmingham to register and for more information.
Prior to the WMU Missions Celebration, WMU will host an “Acteens for Life” dinner at national WMU on Friday, June 7, at six o’clock, marking fifty years of lives changed through Acteens. This gathering is for all women whose lives have been impacted through Acteens in their teenage years, as well as current and former leaders of Acteens. Visit wmu.com/ActeensforLife for more information and to register. Registration is required; the cost is $30.
“This event will be a great time for women who have experienced Acteens to celebrate how involvement in missions impacted their lives while also considering the value of missions discipleship for today’s teens,” said Heather Keller, missions consultant for Acteens. “Those in attendance will also be encouraged to volunteer on teams during Crossover Birmingham on Saturday morning.”
All Southern Baptists are invited to visit WMU while in Birmingham for the SBC Annual Meeting. Following Monday’s activities at WMU, audio tours of WMU are available the remainder of the week, Tuesday–Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Julie Walters is corporate communications manager for WMU and is a member of Hunter Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.