Gifts that Shift Hearts

Sandy Wisdom-Martin says she doesn’t like making people uncomfortable. But that day in South Carolina, that’s pretty much all she was doing. As she saw an elderly woman approaching her with tears in her eyes, Sandy wondered what the woman was going to say.

“We faced each other for some time as she gathered her composure,” Sandy said. “Then quietly she whispered, ‘God sent me to this conference so I would change my mind about refugees.’”

Sandy, who serves as national WMU’s executive director-treasurer, said that’s exactly the reason South Carolina WMU was doing Seeking Refuge: a Refugee Simulation at their annual meeting that year.

“Participants get a glimpse into some of the difficult decisions and struggles refugees face as they’re forced to leave behind their homes and entire way of life,” she said. “Whether you are a facilitator or a participant, the experience is etched in your heart. It is emotional. It is exhausting. It is raw.”

But it is worth it, she said. As she facilitated the experience, she saw person after person see refugees through fresh eyes, just like the woman who approached her crying.

The Vision Fund enables national WMU to develop simulations like this,” Sandy said. “You have to build in some anxiety, distress, and despair into the experience to make it realistic and effective. I don’t like to be a facilitator because it’s unpleasant to watch people make gut-wrenching decisions, even if they are only role-playing. Why would we want to make people uncomfortable?”

A group of participants going through the refugee simulation in South Carolina.

A group of participants going through the refugee simulation in South Carolina.

She said there’s a good answer for that question—simulations quickly build awareness and move people into prayer, advocacy, and action.

“The world tells refugees they are not wanted, but we serve a God who desires a relationship with displaced people,” she said. “He beckons every person to an eternal home and offers a gospel that knows no boundaries.”

David George, who serves as president for the WMU Foundation, said that’s what the Vision Fund is for—to make ministries happen and see hearts changed. None of the Vision Fund goes toward operational costs—all gifts go directly to support WMU ministries, from designing refugee simulations to keeping missions education curriculum going.

Sandy said the Vision Fund is “about depth.”

“At WMU, our role is to make disciples of Jesus who live on mission. Wherever Christians are in their faith journey, we want them to go deeper,” she said. “We desire for them to pray more. We hope to challenge them to give more. We want them to be more aware of God’s work in the world. We spur them on to witness more. We awaken them to care more about the things of God.”

The Vision Fund is “critical” to that mission, she said—it helps WMU help people like the elderly woman at the refugee simulation “be relentless in her pursuit of God and what He wants for her life.”

Visit wmufoundation.com/vision to learn more about the Vision Fund and to give a one-time or monthly gift today.

Written by Grace Thornton.

Zachariah Seanor

Director of Mission Advancement