I have a question for you: what connects a baseball glove, a rubber ball, and a love for missions?
You are a part of the answer. And for that, may I thank you?
Now, please allow me to tie these three items together. While a small boy, my mother took a job as the Church Hostess in our home church, where I have been a member for 45 years. I was too young to understand her title. It could have been translated as chief cook and bottle washer. She planned and prepared all of the church menus. Then, my sister and I cleaned up.
Reflection reveals to me that I got the short end of that stick. Having no part in the planning or preparation of the meals gave me some time to fill. I was not allowed to leave the building, so my options were limited. Here is where the ball glove and the rubber ball came into play. The basement of the church was large and had tile floors and cement walls. What else could a young tike seek? How many pitches I made against those walls will never be known until I get to heaven and God calls me before the throne to answer for any damages I may have caused to His house. Mom said not a word; I was out of the way and safe.
There were many meals in those times served at our church; one that stands out was the Woman’s Missionary Union. I’m not so sure it stood out then as much as it has in my later years. The meal was prepared and served. The ballgame was over. All I could do was hide around the corner and be quiet until it was my turn to clean up.
Do you have any idea what a young boy hears while hiding around the corner at a WMU meeting? Of course, you do; you are them today. There was Mrs. Pigford, whom I later learned had given a lot of money to missions. Our church never in my time there missed our Lottie Moon Offering goal. Never. I later knew it was because whatever we were short, Mrs. Pigford wrote a check for the difference. There were three Mrs. Snowdens which I admit at first confused me. Mrs. Barham, Mrs. Vandevender, and so many others assisted in shaping my life. I cannot omit Mrs. Smith, who allowed me to take their most precious possession from her family, their daughter Nancy.
Yes, I heard some stories (sometimes known as gossip). Most of all, I remember hearing about missions and hearing the stories of missionaries worldwide. For a boy in a small town, it was a world I had never imagined. Those messages I heard from around the corner unknowingly marked me until this day.
Let me move quickly from the church basement to today. I served for 23 years on the Board of Trustees of the WMU Foundation. For the past 25 years, I have given money to that cause, and I have remembered WMU in my will. Why? Because deep down inside of me, that young boy still exists. Now, as a 79-year-old man, I still believe. I still believe in the WMU cause. I still believe that the world needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you still believe?
I’ll share this last thought: that final thought is that I believe that there is today, listening to my voice, another Mrs. Pigford. Another woman or man willing to step up and say, I’m eager to make sure that this wonderful organization will continue for centuries to come. Be careful; you may be that person.
Written by James Westbrooks, former board member of the WMU Foundation.