GEORGETOWN - Sharing of God's faithfulness in the midst of many trials, Steve McCord stated, "We are not compelled but surrendered to Him who loved us with an everlasting love."
The theme of surrender was tied with the overall "Defining Moments" focus during WMU of Texas Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration at First Baptist Georgetown Apr. 4-5. McCord, global research analysis services team leader with the International Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia, was one of many missionaries featured at the meeting, which drew 700 people from across the state for a time of worship, fellowship and learning.
The moving program reflected on the past year of ministry and missions through WMU of Texas, highlighting areas where lives have been saved, acts of service, testimonies of survival and lives surrendered.
Program speakers highlighted areas of ministry from building a house for a low-income family in Penitas, Texas, to addressing human trafficking issues in Las Vegas.
While sharing about defining moments serving the next generation, Carolyn Porterfield, WMU multicultural consultant, addressed the need for salvation on college campuses she observed by prayerwalking in Boston.
"It is so important for us to share the gospel with the next generation," Porterfield explained. "We need to live authentic lives before them so they may know Jesus."
Defining moments in missions were expressed on Friday night through a special commissioning service for 20 new Hope 1:8 missionaries to serve across Texas. One of the new missionaries, Kenny Humphreys, shared his testimony of becoming a Christian while in prison serving a 20-year sentence. After being released last fall, he felt the Lord calling him to share the gospel and is now working as an Oil Patch Chaplain in Gonzales, Texas, with his wife, Tawalia.
Other missionaries in addition to Oil Patch Chaplains who were commissioned included Keron Jackson,music evangelist; Nelda Gerbine, missions connector for Southwest Metroplex Baptist Association; and a group of six from Meadow Lane Baptist Church in Arlington working to transition the church into a multiethnic congregation. Several other Hope 1:8 missionaries were not able to be present for the commissioning, but are serving in various roles around the state.
Following the commissioning, led by Ryan Jespersen, Texas Baptist director of Urban Missions, and Sandy Wisdom-Martin, WMU of Texas executive director-treasurer, participants from the congregation were encouraged to come and pray over the newly commissioned missionaries, as well as retired missionaries.
During the business portion of the meeting, Shirley McDonald, of Stephenville, was elected as the new president of WMU of Texas; Charlotte Watson, of Georgetown, was elected as vice president; and DeRema Dunn, of Sunnyvale, was elected recording secretary.
Outgoing President Gloria Mills shared in her address about the importance of living out individual faith and the impact it can have in the surrounding areas.
"We were never created just to go to church," Mills said. "He wants us to be the church. We are never more like Jesus than when we love the unlovable."
Breakout sessions were held throughout the weekend, providing attendees with opportunities to hear about current mission opportunities, testimonies from missionaries currently serving around the world, and ideas of ways to reach out and expand missions programs at their home churches.
Patrick and Archalena Coats discussed defining moments in Miami, Florida, where they serve as church planters. Their church, Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church, meets in a movie theater and averages 80 on a Sunday morning. The Coatses shared stories of evangelism and outreach strategies they use in their neighborhoods to share the gospel. Not every strategy is successful, but Patrick shared many victories their congregation has seen in the past two years seeking to make a difference in the city of 5.3 million.
"I always want the church to be about making Jesus famous and teaching about missional living," Patrick said. "The church does not exist to make us comfortable."
While addressing the entire group on Friday, Archalena expressed appreciation to WMU for their faithfulness in prayer and support.
"We are a product of your prayer," Archalena said. "Be faithful, don't stop praying, teaching or educating people about missions."
The impact of these defining moments in the lives of each person connected with WMU of Texas is immeasurable. Hearing the stories over the weekend helped participants gain a glimpse into the work the Lord is doing in and through WMU as they seek to share the gospel to the ends of the Earth.