By Holly Jo Linzay, Regional Reporter
WOODWORTH – It’s time to embrace your own inner “Queen Esther” to fulfill God’s purposeful plan for your lives.
This was the challenge participants at the Louisiana Baptist WMU Mission Celebration were encouraged to embrace by Sandy Wisdom-Martin, the event’s keynote speaker.
“God’s best for us lies just beyond our comfort zone. God calls us to remember our past, but He does not want us to stay there. You have been made ‘queen’ for such a time as this,” Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of the Woman’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the attendees at the two-day conference.
The celebration, which was the 118th, was held at the Georgia Barnette Conference Center at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center April 13-14.
Courage, passion and humility are three traits needed to be like Queen Esther for “such a time as this,” Wisdom-Martin said in the afternoon session on Saturday.
“What fear is holding your heart captive?” she asked, adding that God has a plan for everyone’s lives and we need to stand with courage. “The future requires boldness.”
With boldness, Wisdom-Martin explained, God’s providence for everyone’s life can unfold. “There is no such thing as consequences. God’s timing is perfect.”
Friday evening, in the opening session, Fanny Mangieri, a cancer survivor with Istrouma En Espanol in Baton Rouge, told the attendees through interpreter Phyllis Rodgers, Evangeline Association WMU director, it was “time for missions.”
“If Christians do not do something, no one will,” Mangieri said in speaking about her time working with refugees in Turkey and Syria.
Mangieri shared how God healed her, and gave her a heart to help refugees and to share Jesus with them.
Trent DeLoach, North American Mission Board relief missionary who works with refugees at a resettlement center in Clarkston, Ga., spoke about the “strangers in our land.” He said there are more than 65 million refugees today that have been forcibly displaced from their home. The refugees have been persecuted and forced to flee because of war or violence or famine.
“Less than 1 percent of refugees get relocated to host countries. So many have lost everything. These people will never hear the gospel if we don’t go to them. There are many ways to show them the love of Jesus,” DeLoach said.
He conducted a “refugee loss simulation,” which was an interactive awareness exercise designed to help the women begin to understand what it means to be a refugee.
“Our natural response is to step away from people who are different than us,” DeLoach said, but he challenged the women to “step forward to be able to see others as Jesus sees them.”
In the business portion of the meeting, Cameron Mullins, FBC Lafayette, and Dot Chappelle, Pleasant Grove, Jonesville, were re-elected as president and vice president respectively while Carolyn Fountain, Franklin Ave., New Orleans, will serve as the recording secretary, and Susan Cheatwood, Magnolia, Saline, will be the assistant recording secretary.
Brenda Blackman, First, Lafayette, was elected the scholarship committee chair, and Cathy Jenkins, Baptist Bible, Shreveport, will serve as the MK representative on the scholarship committee, and Julia Parker, Calvary, Alexandria, will serve as the seminary representative. Mary Floyd, First Baptist Pecan Island, Kaplan, will be the Louisiana College representative on the scholarship committee.
This year, the acTEENS Girl Weekend, a retreat for teen girls, was held. The girls engaged in several activities throughout their retreat including a missions tasting party, adventure race, popcorn bar, assembling prayer journals, missions lunch and devotion times.
Amanda Wilson, from Grace Community Baptist Church, said the entire weekend showed her how WMU was a part of “something bigger.” “All the talk of missions and refugees gave me new insight,” she said.