ABW January Update

by Norma Gunter

Today, January 18, as I was writing this article, watching a flock of robins eating  berries from my holly trees, I received a phone call that my friend and fellow ABW lady, Linda Lowe Buckley, had passed away.  On Friday I went to the Hospice House to tell her goodbye.  She had fought a good fight and it was time for her to go on to her reward in heaven.  She will be greatly missed by her family, friends and the ladies of the Lizzie Lewis Mission Circle.  Good bye Linda, we will see you in heaven.

This month’s February circle program from the ABW Ministries Ministry Focus Resource is  See…The Wilderness.  The scripture is Exodus l6.  Have you ever felt alone, as if you were living in the wilderness trying to figure everything out and get through it on your own, but it just wasn’t working?  We sometimes forget that God is in control.  Instead of seeing God’s hand in a situation, we see only the wilderness around us.  Hardships are part of a larger process that will make us who we are ultimately supposed to be.  We are put through trials we don’t like, but God knows the outcome and God is beside us during the entire experience.”

God provided for the Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness.  He protected them and brought them through.  Our wilderness times can be caused by many things like;  loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, depression or our own feelings of separation from God.

My own wilderness now is a possible total hip replacement after recovering from the hip pinning back in May.  As from the Ministry Focus Resource, “We are put through trials we don’t like, but God knows the outcome, and God is beside us during the entire experience.”  God will provide for us in the wilderness.

Prayer is the most powerful thing we have to get us through our wilderness time.  Pray for me and all the women going through wilderness times.

The Beckley First Baptist American Baptist Women met the challenge to raise $100 for the February Philippines Mission Trip.  The money will go to buy ministry supplies for the ten American Baptist  women from West Virginia who will be working  with Filipino women caught in prostitution.  Pray for them while they are away.  A special thank you to the women who gave to this project.

ABW Mission and Service Ministries

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)  This appeared in the October 2015 BEAM.

This month I want to share the January Circle program from the American Baptist  Women’s Ministries Ministry Focus Resource.  The name of the program is:  See…People in Bondage.  The scripture is Isaiah 61:1-3 and Galatians 5:1.   “In America we are given constitutional freedoms that allow us to speak up and live free from fear and oppression.  This is not the case everywhere in the world.  More people are in bondage in the world today than ever in history.  With over twenty-one million slaves in the world today, (United Nations,  www.unmultimedia.org, accessed January 6, 2015), it is apparent that our world needs a wake-up call.  Those of us who sit contentedly listening to preachers tell us to feed the hungry and clothe the poor need to wake up!  January is Poverty in America Awareness Month and January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  We shouldn’t wait until January to open our eyes and to see the needs in front of us.  This month will look at not only how to see those in bondage, but how to use the freedoms we’ve been given by our Lord to advocate for those who’d have no freedom.”

We at Beckley First Baptist are supporting each month our American Baptist Missionary, Lauren Bethel, who is our Global Consultant on Anti-human Trafficking.  She has shared her ministry with us several times.  We are aware and by partnering with her we are helping.  We can do more by praying for her and for everyone working in the human trafficking ministry on January 11.  Through Helping Hands Ministry we are also aware of Poverty in America.  Perhaps during January we can give more to Helping Hands.

Don’t forget the challenge to give to the Philippines Mission Trip for the 10 ladies traveling to the Philippines in February to work with Debbie Mulneix, our missionary working with women caught in prostitution.

Ladies, we have a challenge

by Norma Gunter

Ladies, we have a challenge.  Ten women from West Virginia Baptist have accepted the call to go on a mission trip to the Philippines in February.  They are going to SHARE & LIVE OUT the GOSPEL among Filipino  women caught in prostitution.

The women will be working with Debbie Mulneix, one of the missionaries FBC partners with each month.  Debbie supports the anti-human trafficking work of Samaritana Transformation Ministries in Manila, the Philippines.  She assists in the development of the Guest House facilities and in the marketing of livelihood products, such as jewelry, and greeting cards.

SMT provides a safe, comforting place for these women.  These women may have never known people who accept them as they are. Samaritana assists these women as they develop many relationships that will last a lifetime.  To learn more about Samaritana check out www.samaritana.org.

The challenge is to sponsor an event at our church to raise $100 toward the cost of the trip for your sisters in Christ and ministry supplies.  Believe me mission trips are expensive for it took me a while to pay off my trip in January to Costa Rica.  By the way, thank you to the ones who helped me with my trip.

Since sponsoring an event costs a lot of money may I suggest that anyone who would like to help us meet this challenge give a donation with a check made out to FBC and mark it for the Philippines  Mission Trip.  When we meet the challenge the money will to be sent to  Linda Carpenter, Treasurer, 63 Wakefield Place, Washington, WV 26181.  Be in prayer for these ten women and Debbie Mulneix. It takes special people to do this work for our Lord.

Most of you have heard Lauren Bethel, who spoke at our church October 27th and several other times, who is a Global Consultant on Anti-human trafficking.  She travels the world and on Nov. 22-28 she will be at the  ICAP/Central Asia Conference in Central Asia, and several other conferences in Dec., sharing Jesus’ Hope and Healing.  Lauren is another missionary that FBC partners with every month.  Remember our missionaries in prayer.

MISSION CHALLENGE TO ALL WOMEN came from the WV ABW Mission and Service Ministries.

American Baptist Women – Mission and Service

by Norma Gunter

Ladies if you missed the 132nd Women’s Day at the West Virginia Baptist Convention at the First Baptist Church of Hurricane, WV you missed a special occasion.  Jeff Oakland drove the church bus and we want to thank him.

The meeting started with Mark Burdette playing the bagpipes for the banner processional. Joyce Mills brought our banner made by Mary Nell Godbey and it hung on the wall with many other church banners. The music was great and the lunch exceptional.

Two of our WV supported missionaries spoke about their work.  Rhonda Reed told of her families work in Bolivia and Debbie Myers told of their work in Mexico.

The book with the women honored in the MILLION WOMEN MOVEMENT was presented to the group. The money collected, $1.00 for each name honored, is to be used for new work. The first project for 2015 was three scholarships for a Mexican Missionary trip.  Jordan Lallemont, a recipient of the scholarship, gave a report on the trip. Later I looked in the book and found my mother’s name, one of the ones I honored.

Claudia and Tom Tull presented special music on dulcimers and a skit,  “Light of the Storage Closet” was given by the women. The meeting closed with a video by Kathy Troccoli “Go Light Your World” and each lady was given a candle to show her light.

We learned of new things scheduled for us. April 1-3, 2016 is a Women’s Camp for women 18 and older at Camp Cowen for $35. The camp is to unite generations of women to experience a weekend focused on living life as a Christian woman. Ladies let’s get together and go to the camp. Everyone loves camp.

Another opportunity is a bus trip sponsored by the West Virginia Baptist Convention to the World Mission Conference at Green Lake, Wisconsin. Ladies I’ve been there twice and it’s worth the trip. The trip is July 3-9, 2016. The first deposit is due January 15, 2016. This is open to anyone who loves missions.

Our cancelled stamps for missions is ongoing. I mailed a 5.8 oz package October 6 to Fort Myers, Florida. Remember to leave 1/4” around the stamps for damage stamps are of no value.  May God bless the women of Beckley First Baptist.

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.