Posted on : Wednesday July 1, 2009

By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director; WMU, SBC Missions Innovator Specialist; BCM/D Missionary for Missions Education/CustomizationGayla Parker

Pass on the Passion…something I was reminded of at the Southern Baptist Convention.  As I sat through the numerous meetings I found myself amazed at the God moments in the midst of business sessions. Sometimes the inspiration was in the missionary report, but my surprise was the inspiration that came from the very location of the first gathering.

The Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) meeting in Louisville was historically significant.

On Saturday afternoon, WMU met in House Beautiful, the home of the first WMU school for women. Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon inspired so many women to become involved in missions and social work that a place for women to live and study became a need. From that need House Beautiful was born. The young women living in the home learned all the graces of being a ‘proper’ lady and all the skills required to help others. But the amazing part of the story is in the women who made it all happen; women who were passing on the passion of Christ.

By the time the school was built and opened, it was completely paid for and full of female of students who felt called to missions. The school was so successful it was not long before more space was needed. House Beautiful moved to the campus of Southern Seminary and became WMU Carver School of Missions and Social Work.

As I listened to the history of these two schools and the passion with which women lived their lives I questioned my own life – am I that passionate? Could I make a school for women called to missions happen? Do I inspire so many women to be on mission for Christ that it would fill a school? Do I give up my ‘wants’ so my financial investments to missions truly can make a difference?

When House Beautiful was built it housed beautiful stained glassed windows in the chapel. Those windows are no longer present. After House Beautiful was sold to a news station the windows were covered with plaster in an effort to block out the light. The windows and the light they let in were not seen as important to the news station. I could not help but think about the spiritual implications behind that rationale.

Even today I’m afraid most do not see the stories told in a chapel with light pouring through stained glass windows as important. And certainly most are not interested in letting the ‘light of Christ’ into their lives. What has happened along the way to take us to this place? Does my lack of passion have anything to do with it? What does it mean to have passion? Do I have it?

According to Webster’s dictionary passion means, “suffering or agony, as of a martyr, the agony and sufferings of Jesus during the Crucifixion or during the period following the Last Supper.  Extreme compelling emotion; intense emotional drive or excitement.” I can say without a doubt that the women who have walked before me had compelling emotion and intense drive and excitement; it is evident in what they accomplished; a school, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Jesus had passion. It was seen in the movie “The Passion of Christ.” His passion however, is more than a movie, it is the agony and suffering of our Savior with compelling deep emotion that was driven to the very end that we might have the excitement and hope of the resurrection. He lived out the truest form of passion.

For me it requires a change in attitude. Instead of doing out of duty, doing out of passion; the kind of passion that comes from being passionately in love with Jesus Christ. That kind of PASSION requires that I: P-pray continually, A-am actively in His word, S-submissive to His will, S-have a servant’s heart, I – involved in the lives of others, O-on mission daily, N – doing NOW.

Today at House Beautiful. the chapel has been restored by United Way who now owns the property. When the plaster was removed from the stained glass windows they were broken beyond repair. In their place are clear windows with a cross pattern etched in the glass. The light that comes through is even brighter, the clear glass is very transparent, and the cross tells the story. Perhaps there is a lesson there as well. Maybe it is time to remove the ‘plaster’ from lives broken beyond repair and become the transparent light.  All we need is the cross to tell the story and the passion to pass it on.

At the end of the meeting, I left with renewed commitment to live my life with passion so that others might catch on and the passion of Christ can be passed from generation to generation. All of that from a business meeting…or was it really the lives of my foremothers once again passing on the passion?