SPRINGFIELD—With a fresh focus and an uplifting spirit, nearly 500 women took part in M-Counter April 15-16 here at First Baptist Church.
Women were challenged to become “Unhindered,” the conference theme based on Heb. 12:1, especially in reaching out to others. Wanda Shellenbarger, women’s ministry consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), urged the women to be passionate about taking the Gospel outside the church walls.
“Women’s ministry needs to be alive and well in our churches and teaching women and girls. Because when you teach them, they’ll go back in the world and share it with their parents and friends,” Shellenbarger said.
While it’s easy to get caught up in decorating or lavish themes for events, she said, the most important thing is to focus on sharing God’s Word.
M-Counter is the combined annual meeting of the Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union (MWMU) and Women’s Ministry. Several participants noted that this year’s conference was especially uplifting.
“It is an opportunity to get together with fellow sisters and just praise the Lord. The singing and teaching are heart touching,” said Melvina Casteel, a MWMU leader from First Baptist Church, Windsor. “It’s an encouragement to know you’re not the only one going through something.”
That type of sharing is vital for ministry, Keynote Speaker Sharon Hoffman said. She noted that women don’t want another meeting to go to or another workbook to fill out.
“Women have so little auxiliary time that what they give has to be worth it and it has to literally change their life,” Hoffman said. “If I had to put it in one word, it would be relationship.”
Some women may not feel accepted in traditional programs, leaders shared. Alicia Wong with the North American Mission Board encouraged women to reach out to those of other ethnic groups. Stephanie Wood, singles ministry director for Jefferson Baptist Association, led a breakout session on living single in a fallen world. Wood said it’s often easier to live as a single in the world than in church, where women’s programs tend to focus on being a wife and mother.
The encouragement and instruction shared through M-Counter will strengthen their local ministries, participants said. Betty Owen and Kathy Nowlin are involved in a new Women on Mission at Centennial Baptist Church in Mexico.
“Every session I’ve attended has been wonderful,” Owen said. “I can’t wait to go back and teach them what we’ve learned.”
SUSAN MIRES/contributing writer