By Danny McKenzie/Blue Mountain College
BLUE MOUNTAIN – For the past dozen years, Wanda Lee has visited with young people all across America and she is more encouraged than ever about the future – for them and the country.
“This generation is seeking, constantly seeking,” said Lee, the executive director and treasurer of the Woman’s Missionary Union, during a recent visit to Blue Mountain College.
“Because of the available technology there is a greater awareness of other needs, of other cultures than ever before, and our students want to do something – they want to make a difference.
“Our challenge as Christian leaders is to take this activist mentality and put faith with it. Then it becomes powerful.”
Lee, head of WMU since 2000, said it was as a high school student in Russellville, Ala., where she experienced the “nurturing connection” of Christian relationships. She had moved from her home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to help care for her seriously ill mother and she made sure she found a church home.
“There were so many groups and people who helped us through some trying times; I experienced what the church ought to be,” she said. “It needs to be more than just showing up for Sunday morning services, and that’s what we experienced. That’s the message I try to share with our young people now.”
It’s a message that young people are hearing, she said. “I have been received really well, especially when they realize that I’m a lay person without an agenda to push on them.
“Our young people want to help other people, not just on our Baptist campuses but other Christian campuses and secular campuses as well.”
Lee, a registered nurse for many years, said she tries to make it clear to students that she is indeed a lay person trying to do God’s work. “I believe we all have a purpose and if we listen closely we will hear God’s calling.”
She also emphasizes that the decisions students make are not necessarily “life decisions.”
“Our life changes, constantly,” she said, “and we have to be ready to change with it. But one thing I’ve learned, whether it’s the church or a business or any type of organization; we have to figure out what our core purpose is and focus on that. We can dabble in one thing or another, but we eventually have to make a decision and grow with it.”
And that, she said, is what she has tried to do as leader of the WMU. “I’ve tried to keep our focus on missions, while at the same time working with other entities within the church.
“There is a greater sense of cooperation among national entities, especially in the past few years, and that is encouraging. There is a great spirit of cooperation and the mission field plays a vital role in that.”