By Myriah Snyder
DALLAS — More than 400 people gathered for the opening sessions of the 2018 Woman’s Missionary Union Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration on June 10 in Dallas.
The 2018 theme for WMU is “Unshakable Pursuit.” The first session, themed “The Unshakable Pursuit of Fun,” was held in a casual ranch-style events center and included a barbecue dinner. WMU President Linda Cooper gave the first part of her president’s address from the back of a life-sized fake horse. Throughout the evening, she told attendees of ministries in which state WMUs are involved.
“From conception to death, God has a plan for your life,” Cooper said. “God has been pursing you your entire life. How do we respond to such a wonderful message? Let’s get to know this wonderful God as we experience more of His presence in our lives in our unshakable pursuit of Him.”
During the second session, which turned from the earlier levity, missionary A* shared part of his story from the Middle East.
“Approximately 10 years ago, I was falsely accused of starting a political rebellion in my country,” said A, a missionary to a refugee minority group. “I was put in an individual prison cell that was three feet by three feet. At the edge of this room, there was a toilet hole in the ground. My legs would hurt so much from standing, that I would lie down and put my legs into the toilet hole.”
He continued, “Many of you may think this is the worst place you could possibly be. But to this day, I believe it was the most beautiful place on earth. It was there that I experienced God’s unshakable pursuit of me.
“Jesus transformed that place from a prison to a beautiful memory. It was there I heard the voice of God. I went to that cell as a dead person, but in it, I came back to life,” A said.
In that cell, his muscles, arms and back were in excruciating pain, but he knew if he knocked on the door, he’d be beaten. So he prayed to God to heal him, not even knowing if God was there. He dreamed that Christ came and poured oil over his body and when he awoke the next morning, his pain was gone.
“This was the first of several dreams and visions I would have in that cell,” he said.
In desperation, he prayed in that cell asking God why he was in this situation. “When I fell asleep, Jesus came to me again in a dream and said, ‘When I see you cry, I cry. When you hurt, I hurt. I love you. I chose you to be mine. Out of all the people in the cities, I chose you to be mine,'” he recounted.
“Now A is part of God’s unshakable pursuit of a refugee minority group in the Middle East,” his wife K* added. “Many have chosen to put their faith in the only one who saves.”
Additionally, missionaries C* and S* shared about the lostness that pervades the “Land of Luther” and about the various ways God is working in their ministry.
The National Acteen Panelists, Abby Kiss of Virginia, Daisy Major of Kentucky, Allison Agthe of Texas and Emma Kirkemier of Alabama shared their testimonies as well.
Cooper of Bowling Green, Ky., was re-elected president and Jackie Hardy was re-elected recording secretary during the business session. The executive board members consisting of state WMU presidents were presented as well.
The WMU also presented the Delanna West O’Brien Woman’s Leadership Development Award to Ruba Abbassi, CEO of Arab Woman Today, a ministry to women in the Middle East.
In a new set up for Monday morning and afternoon, conferences were held throughout the convention center on such topics as Hispanic leadership, online content, doing life together, chasing God, and anxiety and depression.
A refugee simulation experience also was sponsored in part by WMU and attendees were encouraged to spend some time there. The refugee crisis is WMU’s new social issue.
The WMU annual meeting continues this evening (June 11) at 7 p.m. with the theme, “A Night at the Theatre.”
Myriah Snyder is assistant editor of the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.