New ABW Program for 2015-2017

by Norma Gunter

American Baptist Women’s Ministries has a new program for 2015-2017.   See… Psalm  34:18 “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.”  God who saw us in our  mother’s womb (Psalm 139) still sees us today.  We are familiar with the parable about the good Samaritan where the priest and the Levite see  the wounded man but move to the other side of the road and keep on  going.  They see, but chose not to see.  The Samaritan truly sees the man and his needs and chooses to care for his neighbor. For two years the American Baptist Women’s Ministries will focus on See…  “How we see God and how we are called to see the world through God”s eyes.”  Women will be encouraged “to grow their relationship with God through Bible study, prayer and fellowship.” You will hear more about this program in the future. (Seasons Magazine)

White Cross has changed at the International level which changes the  state and local levels.  This year, 2015-2016, there are no SET quotas.  The West Virginia State ABW has set a goal for $10,000.00 for White Cross Focus Area Education.  This money will provide needed school supplies and educational material to support educational programs around the world.  We, ABW, are encouraged to give as you feel God’s leading. The Overseas Purchase Plan  provides assistance to the following countries:  Africa, Central and South America, Caribbean, East Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  This year we can pick the area we want to help.  We need to give at least what we gave last year or even more.

There is no quota for handiwork either.  The needs are great and again we are encouraged to “just do what you feel lead to do.”  White Cross handiwork is a vital mission ministry and God will continue to bless all our efforts.

Ten hospitals in the Congo depend on items we make with our hands for White Cross.  Items needed from across the USA for ABW are:

105,000 Roller bandages (different sizes)
10,000  4” x4” (50 per pkg.) cotton squares
5,000  36” x 36 ”Baby blankets
5,000  Infant gowns
5,000  Surgical caps                5,000  Surgical masks
2,000  12” x 12” Wrappers     2,000  18” x 18” Wrappers
2,000  Triangular bandages
Before each state was assigned their share of items, and each state  chairman assigned so many to each association and the association chairman divided the items between the churches in our association.  This year no quotas were given but we are asked to do what we did last year or even more. Beckley FBC women made and mailed over 50 roller bandages in April.  These items will be due next April.  Anyone who would like to make any of the above items-I have the patterns.  JUST ASK!

ABW and the Million Women Movement

by Norma Gunter

I finally got around to mailing my list of women who have influenced my life and faith.  I came up with 25 names and I’m sure I could come up with more if I tried.  The American Baptist Women’s Ministry of WV came up with the Million Women Movement in 2014.  The following is from the ABW SEASONS magazine:

Million Women Movement is a way for us to declare God’s might and goodness throughout the world.  It is a way to honor the women who have blessed us in many ways throughout the years AND gather funds that will springboard new ministries by and for women in the coming years.  It seeks to meet God where He is doing new things and in faith join Him in His work.  The movement is not about the past and not about the present, but about the future and God’s amazing, innovative movement in the world.

 YOU have an opportunity and privilege to be a part of life changing work that seeks only to glorify God and declare His praises in the United States and around the world.  The Mission Women Movement is not about who can raise the most money.  It is not about how many projects can be funded.  It is not about adding an endowment fund.   It is not about us … It is about God!  Each new initiative benefits from the money collected and will stand as a witness to our faith and trust in God to take what we give and multiply it in miraculous ways.”

I hope I haven’t waited too long to get my names in the book of women that will be presented at the 2015 Women’s Day celebration.  “The Million Women Movement book will be a visible reminder of the work, contribution, dedication and faith of women in the past and present.”

For each name I wrote down I was to send $1.00.  “The funds collected will go towards initiatives that will evangelize, disciple, encourage, educate and empower women in West Virginia, the United States and around the world.”  I pray that you have already sent your list of women who have influenced your life to ABW Ministries of West Virginia in Parkersburg, WV  26104.

Don’t  forget the 37th annual ABW Spiritual Growth Retreat September 25-27th at Parchment Valley Conference Center.

ABW Summer Update

by Norma Gunter

I want to thank everyone for their prayers, phone calls, visits, food and concern after my fall in N.C. I’m well on my way to recovery thanks to my nephew’s wife, Carla, a RN who works in Dayton, Ohio, who dropped everything and stayed in Wilmington with me for 10 days risking losing her job. I have an appointment June 23 for a physical therapy consult and will find out more about what I need to do. I’ve missed everyone and all the things going on at FBC.

The following is from the web site of Keith Meyers our missionary in Mexico:
This past weekend in the Sierra Norte, while we were waiting on the church service to begin at Zongozotla, Boyden and I were standing on top of a flat concrete roof that over looked the community. Words cannot describe the beauty of the mountains and this small community. With the physical eye, it looks like a community that has nothing; however, the people are rich in contentment. I have so much to learn about what true contentment is in my life and they have so much to teach me.

Boyden turned 17 last week. As a parent, I appreciate those times when I am able to have a mature conversation with my teenage son. We talked about the internal change that has happened inside of us over the past couple of years. There has been a priority shift in our lives. It is more than a shift.  I have reflected much on our conversation this past  weekend. I am no longer the same person that I was two years ago. I don’t think that I will ever know that man again. A few years back, I read a book by Max Lucado called, “It’s Not About Me.” In the first chapter he mentions that before 1543 and Nicolaus Copernicus observations, we believed that the Earth was the center of the universe; not the sun. I think that is the transformation that is gradually occurring inside of me. The lives of others are of a great value in the Kingdom of God; should not the lives of others be the center of my universe as well? Each time we visit with our churches and our communities, we see the poorest of poor. Just a year ago the scarcity was the focus of my eyes. Mud floors, outside toilets; sometimes just holes in the ground, body odor, no running water and many other signs of poverty are just a few of the visual indications that my eyes were drawn to. I praise God that He is allowing me to see past the poverty and just be with the people.

Trying to be more like Jesus is hard. Let’s face it, He is perfect; however, is this not the challenge of the Christian faith? Striving to be like Jesus and allowing Him to change you from the inside to the outside. Boyden and I talked about a few other things that morning on the rooftop in Zongozotla, but I think that he and I both agree that we are content with these changes and challenges inside of us. As well, we both realized that we want to remain pliable to the call of God in our lives.

ABW June Update

by Norma Gunter

In the April BEAM I told about my stay at the CEDCAS clinic with missionary Lillian Solt in San Jose, Costa Rica. This month I want to tell you about our own American Baptist Missionary, Susan Hegarty,  that we also visited with while in San Jose.    Susan was the missionary in Nicaragua for the First Baptist mission work team led by Dick Christeliet in 1993. Lonnie had prostate cancer surgery in 1993 and we couldn’t go so  we made plans to go in 1994.  Susan was also the missionary when we made our second mission trip to Nicaragua.

Susan was at our home when we had a going-away party for Dick and Louisa and she came to First Baptist Church several times over the years.  One time she missed her flight in Charleston when we were delayed on the West Virginia Turnpike due to an accident. They put her in a hotel for the night and she flew out the next day at no expense to her. The last time I saw Susan in West Virginia was at Camp Global at Camp Cowan about 4 or 5 years ago.

After leaving Nicaragua, she was our ABC USA missionary in Cuba where she met and married a Cuban pastor. They had a daughter Katherine who is 14 years old.  About three years ago she left Cuba, with her daughter, and was reassigned to Costa Rica.

Her work for the American Baptist International Ministries is with the Baptist Federation of Costa Rica. She works with pastoral students at the Baptist Seminary and with the Pastoral Care for Women Ministries. We got in touch with Susan when we arrived in San Jose and made plans to spend Sunday with her after church. She knew where the church was located for the church is a part of the Baptist Federation of Costa Rica.  Susan also knew the pastor at St. Tomas and was at the dedication service for the new church about two years ago.

After church she took us to San Ramion, a town about and hour away, to the Maderas Restaurant.  What beautiful scenery on the way and the view from the restaurant was amazing. Susan’s daughter Katy is a beautiful young girl fluent in English and Spanish so she ordered our food. The food was good but expensive.  Most of our sight-seeing was done on our way to and from work.

After lunch we went grocery shopping for lunch food for Katy who was going back to school after break the next day.  Katy goes to an American School which is Susan’s biggest expense before housing and a car.  By the way her car was old and in need of repairs.

We saw the Baptist Headquarters and some of the small churches where she works with  women.  We spent the rest of the afternoon at their apartment.  When she took us back to the clinic we missed our evening meal due to the heavy traffic in San Jose.  Carrie and I ate our first meal from the snack food we had taken with us.

Our next visit with Susan was at St. Tomas Church when she came to help with Bible School.  Since she speaks Spanish she was able to help enroll some of the 80 children.  She also helped us with translation when we worked with crafts.

Since we were in Costa Rica Susan hosted a work team in March.  They spent a day seeing the ministries Susan works with.  They heard testimonies of women who had been impacted by Pastoral Care for Women.  Susan says,  “The reason we minister is to show how our loving and just God is the only one who can transform lives on many different levels, including those affected by abuse.”  Abuse is prevalent in the Latin American culture.  Pray for Susan, Katy and their work.  You can follow her work on Facebook and through the ABC USA website.  Susan is one of many missionaries we support around the world.  Please pray for all of them.

New Year. New Projects.

by Norma Gunter

Ladies start now to make plans to attend the American Baptist  Women of West Virginia annual conference June 5-7 at Parchment Valley Conference Center, Ripley, WV.  The theme for this year is “A Time to Serve and Thrive.”  Look up Jeremiah 17: 7-8 the conference scripture.  Lisa Simmons will be the Inspirational Speaker and Bible Study Leader.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries is starting a new year, 2015, with new projects.  Our Mission Outreach Project (MOP)  is a Chicken and veggie  project for our American Baptist missionaries in central Mexico, Keith and Debbie Meyers.  The kick-off for this project will be at the Annual Women’s Conference at Parchment Valley with CHICKEN SHIRT SATURDAY June 6th.  Purchase or make  a chicken shirt to wear that Saturday.   It costs $125  to provide one family in Mexico with chickens, chicken feed, and material to fence them in.  It also provides material for a vegetable garden.  The goal for West Virginia American Baptist Women is $6,000.  Maybe someone at First Baptist would like to sponsor a family.

The Special Project for 2015 is a truck for Parchment Valley.  There is a desperate need for a truck for the Maintenance Department.  This truck will benefit Parchment Valley Conference Center for many years as they prepare for various camps, conferences and meetings all year.  The goal for West Virginia American Baptist Women is $12,000.

The 2015 Love gift goal for West Virginia is $120,000.  Ladies we did not meet our goal last year.  So let’s keep counting our blessings and filling our purple Love Gift Boxes and together we can meet this new goal.

Our FBC ABW has again lost one of our precious members, Eugenia Sevy.  She attended the Lizzie Lewis Circle each month as long as she was able, even coming to our meetings with her faithful caregiver.  When I visited her in the hospital,  Wednesday April 15,  she had a lot of questions about my mission trip in January to Costa Rica. She said she prayed for me while I was gone. She died on Friday April 17. She will be greatly missed.

On May 30, 2015 the Raleigh Baptist Association Spring Rally will be here at Beckley First Baptist Church.  The meeting will be followed by a luncheon.  All women are invited to attend.

ABW Mission and Service

by Norma Gunter

I returned from Costa Rica, 2/5/15, after spending 2 weeks at CEDCAS with Lillian Solt and two                 work teams from Pa.    I’ve know Lillian since l994 and this was my 6th visit there.  The last was in 2003           when Lonnie and I went down for the opening celebration of CEDCAS.   I wanted to celebrate my 80th birthday there so my sister and I decided we weren’t too old to travel and made plans to go. PTL it all worked out great.

We worked at a Baptist Church, St. Thomas, about 45 min. from CEDCAS.  We ate most of our lunches there.  The food was prepared by the women of the church. It was delicious.  Three days we helped with Bible School for about 80 children.  The kids are beautiful and the people were very friendly.  Electric work, building, painting and clean-up work was also done at the church.  We saw rainbows about every day on our way back to the clinic.  The second week the sky was lit up with the full moon.  We also saw beautiful flowers and birds everywhere.  The weather was in the middle 70’s with a constant breeze.

We ate most of our breakfast meals at CEDCAS.  They were very good also.  We ate in three local restaurants.  One chicken, one Chinese and one Costa Rican.   We made two Sat. day trips to see Lillian’s work with the children and one trip to the squatter community of Guarari where the team the week before us had given away shoes.  We spent our first Sat. 1/24 with a bus load of children, from the squatters community, at a church camp in the mountains. We played games, did crafts, gave them refreshments, backpacks with school supplies and a bag of candy for over 50 children.  Different organizations try to help these  children who are refugees from other Central American countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, etc. The local Catholic church helped CEDCAS with a Christmas party for 400 of the children from  Guarari.

These children live in huts made of scrap tin, lumber, plastic and whatever they can find.  On Sun. 2/1, we visited the town which is located in a ravine near Heredia where CEDCAS is located.

There is no running water, no electricity or sewage facilities for the community.  One lady, who Lillian helps, invited us to enter her home.  An experience I’ll never forget.  There was two makeshift beds for a family of 6, clothes piled everywhere in the one dark room.  The rest of the home was outside with no kitchen and no bathroom.  Sewer water ran down a ditch in front of the houses.  Heavy rains are washing out the big ditch which runs through the town.  It is washing out the bridge to the house where Lillian was using for programs for the people.  The bridge has been condemned so they are unable to uses the bridge which is the only way to the house.  Since it is condemned they would be liable if someone was injured.  They are raising money to buy another home nearby for their programs.

We visited the second area, Harquestes, on Sat. 1/31 to visit the church and spend the day with the children.  Lillian told us they have given away over 600 cows. The people were unable to feed the large animals so they started a program 14 years ago of giving away baby chickens instead.  The team played games, did several crafts, fed them hot dogs and gave away backpacks with school supplies and bags of candy.  There were over 100 children there.  It is a very poor section of the country with frequent floods and no jobs.  The pastor’s young daughter was recently killed in a motor cycle accident.  The town is 2 hrs away over the mountains through the rain forest.  What beautiful scenery.

In our daily devotions one of the men said when someone asks, why don’t you send the money you spend instead of going there yourself?  Tell them “God didn’t send a check.”  The people know you care enough for them to come and help in person.  I think I received more hugs in two weeks than I did all last year.  If you ever get a chance to go on a mission trip—go.

More about CEDCAS and my visits with Susan Hegarty, our own American Baptist Missionary in Costa Rica, next month.  For now our ABW is getting ready to roll bandages for our Overseas White Cross Handwork quota and send a Walmart gift card for our Overland White Cross quota. We also have a White Cross Purchase Plan Request for South Africa & Burundi.  Women of First Baptist come join us in helping people around the world.  We need your help.

A Great Lady Who will be Missed

by Norma Gunter

Last month the ABW lost one of our precious members, Pearl Marie Lyons.  Marie put up a courageous fight for many years.  Since her husband, Ben, passed away we have supported each other, especially after Lonnie died.  She not only supported me but many of the other ABW ladies.

Marie was always faithful to attend and take part in our circle meetings.  She loved her church, the members and loved missions.  When her health started deteriorating, late 2012, and she couldn’t come to church or attend our ABW circle meetings several of us friends would take food & have lunch with her at her home.  She would give me money for mission projects and would send her ABW offerings to the meetings with Helen Jackson.  Last fall she shared with me about a grandson who had been to Nicaragua on a mission trip to some of the places I had been.

For months, while she waited for a house next door to her daughter to be finished, a friend stayed with her until she herself got sick.  During this time Marie was giving us, her friends, her belongings. Clothing, purses, jewelry, etc. was given away.  She was the most giving person I’ve known.  She was an avid reader and shared a lot of her book collection with us.

When she moved to Fayetteville we made several trips to share a meal or just visit.  The little log house, located in the woods, was delightful.  There was even a little loft.  I took pictures of the house to show my grandson who would some day love to build a log cabin.

Before Christmas we visited her at the health care facility in Oak Hill.  When I visited her, for the last time, at Raleigh General Hospital, she told me about the youth from the church who came over there to sing Christmas carols.  She also told me to tell everyone hello and to tell them she was doing about the same.  She asked about friends who were sick, still worrying about others.  That was Sunday after church.  On Monday I learned she had been transferred to Hospice House.  On Tuesday I received the call that she was gone.  She is in her heavenly home, free of pain, walking the streets of gold, praising our Lord and waiting for us to join her.  She will be missed.

ABW January Update

by Norma Gunter

As we enter a new year I’ve been looking back at some of the things that  happened in 2014. I was thrilled when I saw our ABW Christmas tree on the stage in Fellowship Hall.  It brought back so many memories of the year we collected the purple ornaments.  Sue Jones made a lot of the ornaments, some cloth covered.  My daughter, Marcie, wrote the names of the different  ABW missions, in white, on purple ornaments.  Thanks to those who put the tree up and has protected it all these years.

The ABW White Cross gifts of the heart project was a success.  The final report was in the church bulletin on August 10.  With the help of the children’s Bible School offering twenty school kits were provided to Church World Service for needy children around the world.

The USED STAMP ministry has also been a success.  On January 15 I sent a request to Alliance Stamp Ministry for information about saving used stamps for missions.  The first batch of stamps was mailed on March 12.  Three other mailings have been mailed since with a total of over two pounds of stamps.  I received a thank you note which said, as of November, $36,000 dollars has been sent to the Sunday School Project for Spanish speaking people. Thank you to all those who have helped with this project. Keep saving the used stamps.

The new ABW White Cross projects for 2015 include money for Burundi and South Africa.  We also have Hand Work requests, Home and Overseas Mission projects which I will share later.

Please remember me and my sister in your prayers while we are in Costa Rica later this month.  Our plans with Susan Hegarty, our American Baptist International Missionary, and her daughter Katy have been finalized. They are here in the states for Christmas but will be back in Costa Rica before we get there. It will be great to work with her again.

ABW December Update

by Norma Gunter

My love of missions has emerged again.  My sister Carrie and I are making a mission trip to Costa Rica in January for my 80th birthday.  We renewed our passports and now have our plane tickets but haven’t finalized all of our plans.  We will join a team from New Jersey when we get there.  We will be staying at the CEDCAS Clinic in San Jose.  This will be my sixth trip to Costa Rica and Carries’s first.

When our teams from FBC took mission trips to  Nicaragua, back in the 90’s, we always stopped in Costa Rica on our way home.  Our last trip there was in 2003 when Lonnie and I went to San Jose for the dedication of the new CEDCAS clinic.  Since we were there they have added a third floor to the clinic for the mission teams to stay.

CEDCAS stands for “Center for health education and health services in Spanish”.  The clinic is a non-profit org. founded in l985 and our first trip  there was in l994.  At that time Lillian Solt was an Associate Missionary with the American Baptist International Missions.  She is still a missionary with LAM “Latin American Mission”.  Lillian and her daughter Rebecca are both RN’s.  Rebecca was about 6 years old on our first visit to Costa Rica.  Rebecca was married earlier this year.

CEDCAS works with four major programs:

1. Medical/dental clinics:  They offer a wide variety of medical and dental services at a reasonable price.
2. House of Health:  A program focused on prevention, programs with different age groups such as children, teenagers, women and the elderly.
3. Communities:  They work with different communities helping them by working with groups of women, programs with children, micro-enterprises to help improve their economic and nutritional situation.
4. Volunteers:  They have programs to help people (like me) to step out of their comfort zones  and become the hands and feet of Jesus in another context.  Our group will be working in the squatter community of Guarari where there are over 400 kids and their families.  Most of these are refuges from other Latin American countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, etc.

Their MISSION is helping people become healthy.

Their VISION is to promote Godly, excellent, affordable, whole person health care, becoming the hands of Jesus, bringing people to Him.

Also in San Jose is Susan Hegarty and her daughter Katy.  Susan is our American Baptist Missionary and has been here at FBC several times.  We stayed with Susan on our first two trips to Nicaragua in 1994 & 1995.  She has stayed in our home several times.  The last time I saw her was at Camp Global about 4 years ago.  We want to visit and possibly work with her while we are in Costa Rica.  That is one of the plans we haven’t finalized about our trip.

The Beckley Register Herald had an article, Sunday November 23rd. on “Business leaders battle human trafficking” bringing to light,  like our American Baptist missionary Lauren Bethel who shared the global problem of human trafficking with us at FBC Oct. 27th.  Phil Parvin, chairman of our Mission Board, seemed quite impressed with her and her work and shared at the Sunday morning service, Nov. 23rd., about what a great job she is doing internationally .

She also made quite and impression on everyone who heard her speak.  She spoke in the morning at the Mug Muffin meeting, the Lizzie Lewis Circle at lunch, the Raleigh/Greenbrier Assn. meeting and the Fayette Assn. meeting in the afternoon.  Before leaving town she had dinner with a group from FBC where one lady said they had a good meal that was enjoyed by all.  Other ladies shared with me their feelings when she spoke about her work.  One said she was impressed with how faithful she has been over the many years to helping these young women.  Another lady said you can feel her heart and her love and caring for these women and girls.  Another said she admired her for her sacrifice of her personal life.  She has been passionate, since 1986,  sharing Jesus’ love and compassion with those trapped in the darkest corners of our world.  Pray for her and for all our missionaries around the world and for the World Mission Offering we are receiving now for missionaries like Lauren & Susan.   Pray for us as we finalize our plans for our trip in January.

ABW Mission and Service

by Norma Gunter

You who attend the Beckley First Baptist Church, have a great opportunity to help our GLOBAL SERVANTS around the world.  At this time the World Mission Offering, WMO,  is being received.  You can give generously (offering envelopes are on the back of the pews) to spread the gospel around the world.  International Ministries theme for the WMO is “Come over (numerous countries) and Help Us”.  When you give to the WMO you help to grow and sustain IM’s missionaries and global staff who serve in more than 70 countries worldwide.   Let’s rise to the challenge this year as we celebrate 200 years of missions, 1814-2014.

The American Baptist Women, ABW, fall rally Oct. 14th at the Breckenridge Baptist Church was a great success.  Joyce Mills, president of the Raleigh Assn., gave the call to order and the opening prayer.  Joan Clark, treasurer of the Raleigh Assn., welcomed us to the Breckenridge Baptist Church and Eula Stephens gave the devotion.  The business part of the meeting, roll call, minutes, treasurer report and reports from Personal Dev., Church and Community, & Mission & Service were given.

An interesting part of the meeting was reports on projects the different ABW’s are doing.  Our own Helen Green gave a great report on our backpack ministry.  The nominating committee gave their report and Martha Bennett is now President Elect of the Raleigh Assn.  Sharon Volpe, our ABW president, gave the offering prayer and sang a beautiful solo.

The women from our newest Raleigh Assn. Church, Sunset Hills Missionary Baptist Church, were welcomed to their first Fall Rally.

Joyce Mills introduced the guest speaker, Lisa Simmons, who is the Association Mission Support person with the WV Baptist Convention.  Lisa is a very inspiring speaker and to get us all involved she started out asking about funny things we have seen in church.  One was a pastors false teeth flying out during a fiery sermon.  She related to keep warm with a coal stove or floor furnace you have to stay close to the source of the heat and as Christians we have to stay close to God.

Eula Stephens, from the Breckenridge Baptist Church, was honored for her years of service to ABW.  I had the dedication prayer for the “Snacks For Hope” that the women donated for the patients at the Raleigh Regional Cancer Center.  We were blessed with a delicious lunch, as usual, by the women of the Breckenridge Church and I had the chance to thank John and Lisa Simmons for the great job they did with Camp Global.

The Raleigh Assn. Spring Rally will be here at FBC.  Ladies, if you have never been to a rally this will be the one to attend.  All  FBC women are invited to participate in any ABW meeting.

By the time you read this Lauren Bethel will have been here, Oct. 27, and I’ll report on her visit next month.