I Hope To Be a Helen Lee

Connie Dixon says that if you had met her back in 1994, she wouldn’t have looked you in the eye.

“I was painfully shy,” she said. “I rarely had anything to say. Let’s just say I was a mess. The absolute last thing I was ever going to be was a leader.”

But Helen Lee Lambirth could not have disagreed more. Lambirth, a single schoolteacher, had moved to New Mexico from the East Coast. She had a good eye for potential, and she saw it in Dixon.

Lambirth “also had a personality that was hard to say no to,” Dixon said. “In fact, over the 40-plus years that I knew her, I never remember anyone telling her no.”

That’s what got Dixon to Birmingham, Alabama, for the National Acteens Conference (NAC) back in 1994 — Lambirth’s refusal to take no for an answer.

“She started talking to me about going to the conference with my then 13-year-old daughter,” Dixon said with a laugh. “Sorry, but no part of that sounded fun — a 24-hour bus ride with 36 teenage girls in July in the South.” But Dixon went, and it changed her life.

Soon after, Lambirth, who served as Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) president for New Mexico, took Dixon with her to WMU Week at Glorieta Baptist Conference Center.

“I have laughed often about that week. I went to her conference and was the only attendee. That was way more attention than I wanted.”

But that focused attention and push to be more involved set Dixon on a course. Not long after that trip, she became the Acteens consultant for her local Eastern Baptist Association. Within the year, she was the state consultant, a role she served in for more than 12 years.

Then when Lambirth passed away, Dixon was nominated for the position she had left vacant — state WMU president.

“I never would’ve imagined that would happen,” she said.

Lambirth’s influence gave Dixon a push to do something else, too — Dixon went on several missions trips overseas to places she never dreamed she would go, places she had seen in Lambirth’s slideshows.

“She had a way of speaking about missions that just brought it to life and could get you so excited,” Dixon said of her mentor, who taught GAs for more than 30 years at First Baptist Church, Elida, New Mexico, and served 10 years as state WMU president.

All of that influence is why Dixon recently honored Lambirth with a memorial brick in WMU’s new Walk of Faith brick garden. The walk, built on New Hope Mountain in Birmingham, recognizes missions heroes past and present.

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“I will never know what she saw in me that convinced her that I was worth pouring into, but I thank God every day that she came into my life,” Dixon said. “I only hope and pray that I can be a Helen Lee to someone.”

You can honor a missions mentor or add the name of your missions group to a brick that will be laid at the national WMU building in Birmingham, Alabama. 100% of your gift helps meet the needs of WMU. Call (205) 408-5525 or visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith for more information.

Zachariah Seanor

Director of Mission Advancement