GATLINBURG — The annual Missions Get-Together/Connection drew a total 1,952 women and girls here last weekend where they worshiped, learned about missions, and were spiritually enriched through Bible study and inspiring personal stories.
The April 4-6 event was held by Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. The theme was “Boldly Pray, Give, Witness, and Go” (Acts 14:3).
Girls in grades 6-12 attended Connection. At the final session, several dozen moved to the stage area of an auditorium when challenged by Chandra Peele, speaker of Houston, Texas, to be bold workers for Jesus. Also, several girls made professions of faith.
Peele told the girls how God had called her to ministry and how she had been discouraged by several people. She told them she is glad that attitudes toward women serving in ministry have become more accepting and how God has blessed her and used her despite those people and the fact that she didn’t attend college or seminary. Peele added that she had to wait some years for her ministry to develop.
Peele also told the girls how she had failed God by judging someone she didn’t know based on the girl’s appearance which included tattoos and piercings. Peele admitted that she also didn’t want to witness to her.
Yet soon Peele learned that the young woman was a Christian and strong witness despite the very difficult life she had endured.
“We so quickly judge,” said Peele. She referred them to Colossians 3:16-17, 4:5-6 and Matthew 5.
The Bible is a book of instruction, she noted. So many girls are caught up in guilt and sin and not loving themselves like God wants them to, said Peele. Through God they can experience freedom and learn how to love themselves. This often will resolve the tendency to be jealous and to judge others, she added.
She referred them to her book Cherish, which is a tool to help them witness to a friend.
“How many of you have been changed by God? … Are you missing out on what God has for you?”
She encouraged them to “tap into the Word” including memorizing Scripture.
Leigh Gray of Carmi, Ill., spoke during the Missions Get-Together.
She told of her plans to send two of her teenaged children to Peru this summer to do missions work without her or her husband. Gray and some of her children served there last year. She said she will do this despite her fears because of God’s challenges to her.
She referred to Jeremiah 20 where Jeremiah was having “a beautiful hissy fit.”
Just like Jeremiah Christians want to quit doing what we should do, said Gray. We quit because our feelings are hurt or we disagree with some decision of the church or a fellow Christian.
Christians also think they have the right or deserve such things as a vacation. She noted that the apostle Paul was under house arrest for two years but kept serving God and that David waited 22 years after he was anointed as king to be named king.
Referring to Acts 11:28-29, Gray pointed to the early church noting that the disciples gave to others “each according to their ability.”
She encouraged the ladies to pray though it is difficult because it is a spiritual discipline. It should be more important to them than Facebook, she noted. Women also should realize they have a lot of influence, as is clear by the fact that the devil went to Eve to tempt her. He knew she would then influence Adam to follow her action, said Gray.
Also during the Get-Together Vickie Anderson of the WMU staff was recognized on her 20th anniversary of service. She spoke of the people who were significant in helping her attain this anniversary.
Melody Maxwell of Texas spoke on being the author of Torches in the Corridor — 125 Years of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union. Maxwell is a former member of First Baptist Church, Collierville. The book was released at the meeting.
Both Anderson and Maxwell spoke about Katharine Bryan, who died in 2013. Bryan was executive director of Tennessee WMU from 1985-98. They both said Bryan was a mentor to them and many others.
Several missionaries of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board also spoke in both meetings and led conferences for both groups.
The missionaries included Shannon Worthy of Italy to support the Tennessee/Italy Baptist Partnership, Ruth Paul of Argentina to support the Tennessee/Buenos Aires Baptist Partnership, and George and Cathy Chinn of the Mississippi River Ministry which is supported by national WMU; the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board; and eight state Baptist conventions.
Several other IMB missionaries spoke who cannot be identified because of security issues. Also many other ministries were represented at the conference and many individuals led conferences.
The Get-Together/Connection participants gave $8,669 to assist three Acteens in serving in Italy this summer. The women and girls also gave $5,146 to the WMU endowment mainly by participating in a silent auction for gift baskets.
Finally they gave items to assist ministries in Tennessee helping victims of human trafficking.