Somebody stand up for WMU
May 3 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Somebody stand up for WMU | Friday, May 3, 2002

Friday, May 3, 2002

Somebody stand up for WMU

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

When a bunch of preachers get together, it's not unusual to hear an occasional speaker taking ill-founded pot shots at the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU). It has been that way for years. Sadly, such maligning of the SBC's prayer and missions auxiliary continues unabated, and it's about time somebody spoke up for WMU.

A speaker at one of Bailey Smith's "Real Evangelism" conferences, held recently in Charlotte, reached a new low. I suspect the staff and members of the host church were as appalled as I was by his surprising assault.

The sermon in question was delivered by Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. He was introduced as a regular speaker on the "Real Evangelism" circuit.

In the course of his sermon on "Why Some Preachers Commit Adultery," Reavis praised pastors' wives as "the heroes here today" and offered to speak words of encouragement to them.

What he actually said was "I want to jack you ladies up a little bit."

Perhaps wanting to affirm a minister-wife's right to choose her own areas of interest and involvement at church, he "jacked them up" by saying, "I want you to know, ladies, you don't have to go to WMU if you don't want to. You tell 'em Brother Herb said you don't have to!"

Then, inexplicably, he launched into a diatribe against the WMU. Spitting words of disgust like a string of stilettos, Reavis huffed, "Sit around and listen to a bunch of women read out of a book about people going to hell somewhere else when they wouldn't walk across the street to win somebody to Jesus in that town!

"All they do in them meetings is sit around and gripe about who doesn't come - honey, don't go if you don't want to, don't go!

"And if we got an old mean WMU lady here today, honey, don't mess with me" (he's shouting now) - "today's not the day to mess with me!" (a notch above shouting) - "I've had it up to here!" (pausing between adjectives) "I've had it up to here with carnal, carping, backslidden, mean, ornery, demon-possessed, lost Baptist people who need to get saved" (even louder now) - "I've had it up to here!"

A chorus of cackles, hoots and shouts of encouragement - which I pray came from out-of-state visitors - punctuated the tirade. After it died down, Reavis added, "If those women say that ugly stuff to you, don't you let it get you down. God loves you, God put you in your husband's life, and God's gonna bless you and He's gonna crown you. ..."

Reavis then told the pastor's spouses not to be like women who turn to Madonna and Cher for inspiration.

And he accuses WMU women of saying ugly stuff?

It pains me to acknowledge that Reavis is not the only one to disparage WMU. There was considerable applause from the crowd. And, I've heard such harangues before, though not in this state, and never with such ferocity.

I don't know why any pastor should bear such anger and bitterness toward WMU, or how he could be so appallingly unappreciative of WMU's amazing ministries, or why he would choose to vent such poison before a gathering of pastors and spouses who have been raised up, loved, encouraged and prayed for by WMU ladies throughout their lives.

I do know that the brother owes more than 113,000 WMU members a huge apology for defamation of character, and that's just in North Carolina.

Some people might think this is not my business, and they would be correct. It is our business. When someone uses a high profile platform to spew unfounded vitriol and to slander some of the very best people that Baptists have ever produced, it's not my cause, it's everybody's cause.

I don't claim that WMU is perfect, but on the index of saintliness and selfless service, most WMU ladies I have known are way up there.

Mother's Day is upon us; an appropriate time to remember that millions of Baptists can count those maligned WMU ladies as our spiritual mothers. Whether we first felt their love and care through "Sunbeams" or "Mission Friends," or first encountered the challenge of missions through their education programs, Southern Baptists owe much of what we know about God's love for us - and about God's love for lost people in other parts of the world - to those very WMU ladies that some critics now seem to find so contemptible.

Let pastors and laypeople across our state take up the gauntlet cast down by this spirit of animosity toward WMU. May we not let this Mother's Day pass without earnest words of tribute and gratitude to those spiritual mentors whose love and leadership, pennies and prayers have proven to be as faithful as a mother's heart.

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5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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