ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Missionaries surrender to, sacrifice for and serve God as they minister where the Lord sends them.
National WMU Executive Director/Treasurer Wanda Lee brings the theme interpretation during the Missouri WMU Missions Celebration at First Baptist Church in St. Charles, April 10-11.
National Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director Wanda Lee challenged attendees at the Missouri WMU missions celebration and annual meeting at First Baptist Church in St. Charles, Mo., April 10-11, to embrace Mark 8:34: Those who want to be disciples must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus — this year’s theme: All for You: Surrender, Sacrifice, Serve.
Following that command requires “total surrender,” Lee said in the Friday afternoon session. “It’s not easy but it is what is required.”
Missionaries respond to God’s call to surrender and are examples. Joy is the end result, she said.
She turned to the lives of Drs. Giles and Wanna Ann Fort, pioneering physicians to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the early 1950s as examples of surrendering all of life to God. People couldn’t understand why the Forts wanted to give up success in the U.S. and chose to go to Africa. They chose to respond to God’s call to serve people who had no medical access. They wanted to link medical care to the gospel.
She challenged listeners to take Jesus’ words literally.
“Many times an all-for-you-life comes with a price,” Lee reminded attendees in the Friday evening session.
She briefly told the story of Jim Elliott and four other missionaries killed in Ecuador as they tried to reach out to a remote tribe in Ecuador in 1956. Then she pointed out that the men’s wives and some of their children later returned to Ecuador to visit the tribe. Seeing the wives’ love and forgiveness, tribal members came to faith in Christ.
“Have I surrendered that much to the Lord that would usher in that much forgiveness?” Lee asked.
That begins with giving self to the Lord — giving up time, the comforts of home, seeing family and important things.
“The call to surrender is a call to sacrifice…. We have to give up something to follow Christ,” she said. Surrender might even cost relationships.
“The blessing that comes from him far outweighs the cost,” Lee said.
She asked attendees what they have sacrificed. “Are we willing to say, ‘All for you, Lord,’ regardless of the sacrifice?”
A nurse for 30 years, Lee shared the story of another missionary nurse, Mary Saunders, whose family didn’t want her to become a nurse so she had to pay for her own training. After serving at Pearl Harbor during World War II, she felt God’s call to missions. She served with her husband, Davis, in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Regardless of the assignment, she demonstrated with her nursing skills that God loves all people, Lee said. Mary had a hard time returning to the U.S. when Davis became a regional leader based in Richmond, Va. She prayed for missionaries daily. Then when missionaries in Uganda asked for help, she led mission teams and volunteered as a nurse in Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Using 1 Peter 3:10-11, Lee reminded listeners that God gives believers the gifts needed to serve. Jesus wants believers to sacrifice their own comfort and go out and serve him, Lee said.
“Are we willing to live an all-for-you kind of life?” she asked. Believers who do can claim God’s promise of his power and presence.