ABW October Update

by Norma Gunter

The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus circle program for October is See…My Neighbor.  The scripture is Luke 10:29-37.  “With the observances of the International Day of the Girl Child, Children’s Sabbath, and Bullying Prevention Month in October, there is ample inspiration to help women and girls consider how they might also be at work for peace and justice in the world neighborhood.”  We, AB women, can encourage children who are often forgotten by taking a few minutes to pray for them.

October is the month we receive the American Baptist World Mission Offering (WMO) and we have the opportunity to give to spread the gospel around the world.  The theme this year is “Celebrate New Life in Christ,” Matthew 6:10. “That is what IM is doing – through the support of the WMO -by praying, equipping, serving, producing, teaching, inviting, healing and encouraging in the name of Jesus.” (WMO literature)

“The good news is that our church’s support of the World Mission Offering (WMO) is helping to fuel the growth of the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention through financial and global worker support and through International Ministries (IM)-sponsored pastor conferences.  A great and surprising spiritual awakening is happening in Baptist churches in Cuba right now!  Since 1990, the number of churches in Cuba has grown by 450%.  The number of baptisms has risen by over 500%.  And the number of prayer groups and total church memberships have climbed in equally high numbers.  After decades of harsh restrictions, “the church of God has risen from the ashes,” says a retired Cuban church leader who witnessed the remarkable change firsthand.  “In God’s time, the hearts of so many people have been opened up to the goodness of the gospel.” (WMO literature) Your gifts to the WMO also supports missionaries who haven’t met their support goals, help support global partners and recruit and train new workers.  It also opens up new global mission fields and respond to global disasters.

October is a very busy mission month for the ABW here at Beckley FBC.  We start off the month with the American Baptist Raleigh Women’s Association Fall Rally at the Beaver Baptist Church October 8th at 9:30 am.  Mr. John Jones, Public Relations Officer for Hospice, will be the speaker.  We are requested to bring wrapped snack type items for Hospice House.  The meeting ends with lunch.

Ladies don’t forget Women’s Day October 20th at the West Virginia Baptist Convention at the Gassaway Baptist Church.  The theme this year is “Lord Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace.”

ABW September Update

by Norma Gunter

The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus circle program for September is See…the Peace of Christ.  The scripture is Isaiah 58:12, John 20: 19-23, 26.  “The International Day of Peace falls in September; this can serve as inspiration to explore the peace of Christ in our own lives (John) and to see how we are called to be repairers of the breach and restorers of the streets we live in (Isaiah).  We might name this month’s ministry experience ‘Seeing beyond Brokenness,’ for it offers activities that will help women and girls to look at peace in new ways and assist them in seeing areas for spiritual and personal growth.”

One way our ladies can see areas of spiritual and personal growth is through our West Virginia Baptist Women’s Ministries Spiritual Growth Retreat September 23-25, 2016 at the Parchment Valley Conference Center.  The theme, “Pattern of Living…Following God’s pattern for our lives by living according to His word.” The scripture, Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Workshops planned are:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Philippine Mission Trip
  • Crafts (bring colorful seamless t-shirt and scissors)
  • Leadership Academy
  • Pattern of Prayer
  • Book Review (purchase book/read and be ready for  discussion)
  • “Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children” by Linda Smith

Guest Speaker:  Kim Weaver, Executive Director, Weirton Christian Center.  Ladies most of you will remember Kim for she has spoken here at Beckley First Baptist and her ministry is supported by our women’s circles with Quarters for Grades, special projects, White Cross supplies, and gift cards.

Ladies you are also invited to sing in the retreat  choir.  Registration is due by September 2, 2016.

Another Spiritual Renewal event is the 133rd Annual Women’s Day, October 20, 2016 at the West Virginia Baptist Convention at the Gassaway Baptist Church.  The theme for the day is,  “Lord, Make Me An Instrument Of Thy Peace.”  The guest speaker is Vicki Eades.  Let’s get together and go for the day like we did last time.

ABW July and August Update

by Norma Gunter

The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus Resource circle program for July is See…Healthy Families.  The scripture is Hosea 11:1-4; Ephesians 6:4.  “God as a parent teaches, holds, and treats us with loving kindness.  We need to follow God’s model in our families and intergenerational relationships.  For many people the image of God as Father is disturbing.  Some people were abused or neglected or deserted by their fathers or mothers.  Some fathers or mothers  were absent from their lives.  In homes where two working parents, extra efforts need to be made to be there for the children. For some people, the image of the grandparent is the one that evokes the loving-kindness described in Hosea.”

One way our church can encourage  healthy families is by promoting programs of the West Virginia Baptist Convention like the Family Camp at Camp Cowen.  This Camp is July 29 to August 1, 2016.  More information, the cost and a registration form for the camp can be found at campcowen.org.

A healthy family mission experience can be had at Camp Global, a family mission camp, held at Camp Cowen September 2 to September 4, 2016.  Several years ago my family; daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter two sisters and me, spent the weekend at Camp Global.  We got to spend time with our missionaries, Bible study, vesper services, music, crafts, etc.  To see a schedule of events for Camp Global you can also go to campcowen.org.   All families need a camping experience and Camp Cowen is the perfect place to get that experience. Sign up today.

ABW Teddy Bear Celebration

The ladies of the church will be gathering in Fellowship Hall on Saturday, June 11th at noon for a Teddy Bear Celebration.  Anything and everything you always wanted to know about teddy bears will be talked about and even sung about during this celebration.  You are asked to bring a salad to share and any teddy bears you might have to help decorate.  The decorations are needed by June 10th.   There will be prizes given out for the oldest and largest teddy bear among other categories.

We will also be finishing stuffing some bears for our Operation Christmas Child teddy bear project.    So come and be prepared to have a great time with your FBC women.

ABW June Update

by Norma Gunter

The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus Resource circle program for June is See…Angles Among Us.  The scripture is Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 12:1-2.  “What is the difference between an immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeker?  Often immigrants come for a better life.  Many ‘illegal immigrants’ are people who overstayed their tourist, work, or study visas.  Refugees come to escape persecution.  Asylum seekers fear for their lives.  How do we treat one another?  What are our moral and biblical obligations toward the stranger?”

Juan Aragon, Strategist with the West Virginia Baptist Convention is from Nicaragua.  He works with Hispanic Ministries and writes articles for “The West Virginia Baptist Newsletter”.  In the December/January 2016 issue he writes about Building Bridges to Share God’s Love.  He says, “The times and culture we live in require our commitment to be bridge builders to share God’s love.  We need followers of Jesus who are intentional about making real and meaningful connections with people from different languages, beliefs, values, behaviors, customs and attitudes.  God is the Master Bridge Builder.  Because of His unfailing love and grace, God sent His Son to die for us, and in doing so He bridged the gap separating us from Him (John 3:16).  As the Father, Jesus was a Master Bridge Builder.  He invested lots of time building relationships.  He overcame ethnic, social, gender, cultural, political and religious barriers separating us from each other and from God. (Galatians 3:28)  He connected to and transformed the lives of the unwanted of His time: lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors”.

Several years ago God led West Virginia Baptists to start a Hispanic Church, Iglesia Bautista Comunidad Nueva Esperanza.  Good Hope and Parkersburg Associations have partnered with the new church.   Many of the people of the new church are from southern Mexico and Guatemala.  Juan wrote in the April/May 2016 “West Virginia Baptist Newsletter”,  “They have come to the United States not only fleeing the dire conditions they face in their improvised communities, but also seeking opportunities that will allow them to give their families a more dignified life.”  He says they are some of the hardest working people, but “they are not seen, not heard and often forgotten.  In spite of their hard work, these families and their children usually live in poverty, making them one of the most disadvantaged and at-risk groups in the United States.”

These local churches work together to provide a meal each Saturday during June, July, and August for the migrant  workers.  They prepare the meal and then go to the fields where they are working long hours, in the hot sun, picking tomatoes on farms along the Ohio River.  They also pray for them and sometimes give them hygiene kits.   The churches are getting ready for the summer and ask for our prayers as they share God’s love with the migrant workers.  They also need churches to partner with them by donating  basic hygiene kits.  How can we help?

Jim Ramsey has been working with Spanish speaking prisoners at the Federal Prison for years.  He taught himself to speak Spanish.  Several of us drove to Lewisburg, to take Conversational Spanish classes, for two years when we were going on mission work tours.  I’ve forgotten most  of it.

Juan and his wife Denise have been endorsed as American Baptist missionaries to Chiapas, Mexico.  They will spend the next year raising money for their support.  Another place to help!

ABW May Update

by Norma Gunter

The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus Resource circle program for May is See…Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies.  The Scripture is Luke 2:1-7.  “While it may seem strange to feature a Christmas Scripture around Mother’s Day, the connection is strong.  Mary was, after all, a young mother.  And due to her status as an impoverished woman and migrant, she gave birth in a stall, in very unsanitary conditions.  This month’s theme gives us the opportunity to explore how we can support maternal and infant health.  Sunday  May 8th is Mothers Day.  Our own Edna Nasby is planning to give each family who comes to Helping Hands a Mothers Day gift for as she said, “Every family has a mother and we want to honor them.”  The ladies at Helping Hands made up 332 gift bags containing candy kisses to give out the week before Mothers Day.  They are tied with a ribbon and have a sticker saying, “HAPPY MOTHERS DAY.  GOD LOVES YOU”.

In the February BEAM I reported that our ABW gave $100 to a group of WV Baptist Women going to the Philippines to work with our missionary Debbie Mulneix who works with women caught in prostitution.  In the April SEASONS Magazine two of the women relate their experiences with these young women.  Liz Stewart, a member of the mission team said, “I am truly overwhelmed that God chose me to be His hands and feet to work with this ministry.  It was a true blessing.  Even though there were cultural and language barriers, we were all able to come together for the love of our Heavenly Father.  I have built lifetime relationships, and through the use of modern technology, I continue to have an open dialogue with many of the women.”

Zola Miller, another member of the mission team said,  “There were so many moments in our time with the women I could see God at work.  Our team and the women came together to have a time of worship before breaking out into small groups.”  One woman, “touched my heart and was an inspiration to me and the other women in our small group.”  Ladies I think this was $100 well spent.

In the March BEAM I shared about the new Women’s Camp at Camp Cowen April 1-3.  Younger ABW had asked for ways to learn from the more “experienced” ABW so the first-ever Women’s Camp came about.   There was 189 women ages 18 to 95 who attended.  Had I been able I would have been number 190.  Read more about this camp in the West Virginia American Baptist Women’s Ministries publication, Seasons Magazine.

Ladies our next opportunity to learn more about missions is the Women and Girls’ Conference at Parchment Valley Conference Center June 3-5, 2016.  Registration is open May 1-22, 2016.  Let’s get together and go.


ABW April Update

by Norma Gunter

April’s circle program from the new ABW Ministries Ministry Focus Resource is See…Conversations of Healing.  The scripture is Acts l0. “ We live in a society characterized by division and fear.  Rather than simply addressing different perspectives, media personalities engage in angry shouting matches and name calling.  We are encouraged to fear those from other places and other religions.  Many refuse to talk to people who think or act differently than they do, rather than trying to learn from others.  It seems that people are more inclined to find those things that divide rather than looking for areas of agreement.  This month gives us the opportunity to look at our relationships with those who are different from us, with a goal of building bridges rather than walls.”

Our ABW does this by building bridges to others by supporting American Baptist Women International’s White Cross Handwork around the world. In March we mailed 100 White Cross roller bandages.  You may ask why we tear these old worn out sheets into strips, sew them together and roll them up, pack them in boxes where they are shipped to hospitals in Africa.  Without our donations the 10 hospitals in the Congo would not be able to take care of the patients who come there for treatment.

A medical missionary doctor in the Congo wrote about the roller bandages, “I don’t think there is any place in the world where White Cross bandages are used or appreciated more than in the Congo.  We say this after working here for years, visiting dozens of hospitals and hundreds of health clinics where White Cross material is used for a myriad of needs.  Dressings for burns, slings for broken arms, wrapping a newborn baby—I can think of hundreds of applications for White Cross bandages.”

Some other needs the bandage fill are:  when dipped in plaster they make a handy cast, make a tourniquet when fastened with a stick, a sling to hold a shoulder fast, attached to a nail on the wall to hold up a liter of IV fluids and colored strips hanging from an open door or window, will let cool breeze in and keep flying insects away.

Other items we can make for the hospitals are wrappers for surgical tools that have to be sterilized, cotton 4” x 4” squares, surgical caps and masks, triangular bandages, infant gowns and baby blankets.  We also mailed a triangular bandage, one surgical wrapper, a baby blanket and a baby gown with the roller bandages.  Our Baptist Women from all over the US supply these items year after year.

First Baptist ABW are proud to be a part of White Cross Ministries whose mission is to glorify God in all the earth by crossing cultural boundaries to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Thanks for everyone’s prayers.  I’m home from the surgery and doing good.

ABW March Update

by Norma Gunter

This month’s March circle program from the new ABW Ministries Ministry Focus Resource is “See…the Risen Christ.”  The scripture is Matthew 28: 1-10.  Easter Sunday is on March 27, 2016, and so we focus on seeing the risen Christ.  Indeed, the first people to lay eyes on the risen Christ in Matthew’s gospel were women:  Mary Magdalene and “the other” Mary.  The guards at the tomb passed out when the angel appeared but the two Marys, afraid as they were, held fast.  The angel commanded them to “go and tell,” and it was while they were obeying, on their way to the disciples, that the risen Christ appeared to them.  They were engaged in the ministry they had been given and, in so doing, saw the risen Christ.”

As American Baptist Women we are also commanded to “go and tell”.  One way we can do this is the new Women’s Camp.  Young West Virginia American Baptist Women have been asking for ways to learn from some of the more “experienced” women.  One way to do just that is the first ever Women’s Camp.  The camp will be April 1-3, 2016 at Camp Cowen.  The camp will, “unite generations of women from across the state at a weekend focused in God’s word, and designed for women to share and grow in Christ no matter what the age.”  (“Seasons”)

The women will participate in: group study and worship, small group discussions, and interest groups where they will share, learning new skills from each other.  The schedule includes:  worship, fun, fellowship, food, speakers, nature walks, candlelight services, SPA night, campfire, etc.   Tentative special interest  groups include:  canning, sewing/quilting, fitness, meal planning, Bible journaling, budgeting/finances and several other groups.

All women 18 years of age and older are invited to participate.  The cost is only $35.00.  A variety of housing is available.  Meals are served family style.  The registration deadline is March 24, 2016.  Women of First Baptist Church get together and go and experience a weekend focused on living life as a Christian woman.  (Registration form on next page)

Money from the Million Women Movement is being used for start-up money for camp programming for this new ministry.   Money is available for new ministries for West Virginia American Baptist Women.  Ladies of First Baptist Church do you have an idea for new ministry?


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.