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WMU ministries highlighted in O'Brien's final report to SBC
--By Teresa Dickens
     ATLANTA, June 17 --Woman's Missionary Union Executive Director Dellanna O'Brien emphasized the involvement of the organization's ministries during her last report before the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 16 in the Georgia Dome.
     O'Brien, who retires Sept. 1 after 10 years at the helm of WMU, gave the report with national WMU President Wanda Lee of Columbus, Ga. In introducing O'Brien, SBC President Paige Patterson acknowledged the health problems she had during the year after suffering a stroke. He said he was grateful to be able to welcome her to the podium. O'Brien thanked him and the audience for the prayers on her behalf. In their report, O'Brien said, "The year 1998 was characterized as a year of exceptional ministry efforts by members of Woman's Missionary Union. Members have given their time to help others at home and abroad. They have worked individually and in teams. They have given their time in traditional and unique ways."
     She and Lee went on to highlight the involvement of members in the ministries sponsored by the national organization, including:
-- National Acteens Convention: Some 11,000 teenage girls and their leaders donated more than 20,000 hours to 220 agencies and nonprofit organizations in Louisville, Ky., and surrounding communities. NAC was held in Louisville, July 1-4 last year.
-- Volunteer Connection: The volunteer placement ministries of WMU placed 354 volunteers during 1998 in projects in Japan; in states involved in the Mississippi River Ministry; and in Birmingham, Ala., to build the first of eight houses with Habitat for Humanity.
     More than 1,400 volunteers have been placed by Volunteer Connection so far this year, Lee noted. A large number of those will be involved in Habitat builds in July and August. Other volunteers will represent WMU on projects in Bosnia, she added."I personally will have the privilege of leading a group of 14 nurses to go work in the refugee camps still remaining from the civil war in Bosnia," she said. The team will travel to Bosnia in late August.
-- Christian Women's Job Corps: O'Brien reported on the phenomenal success of this ministry since its introduction in 1996. Begun with five pilot project sites in 1996, the ministry has grown to involve 100 sites in 19 states. Each site seeks to equip women in poverty with job and life skills that will enable them to become self-sufficient.
     "While all of the women are grateful for the practical training they receive through Christian Women's Job Corps, they are most enthusiastic about the Bible study they are involved in," said O'Brien, who first had the vision for the job-training ministry. "For many, this is the first time they've ever participated in a Bible study and learned of the great love God has for them."
While most of the ministries highlighted by the women have started during O'Brien's tenure with the missions education entity, they noted that the organization has always been known for its "doing of missions."
     "To suggest that involving our members in these kinds of activities is something new would be wrong," O'Brien said. "Members of WMU's age-level organizations have always been involved in reaching out to others. Members today are not doing anything that the founding members did not do in their day."
     "Laborers together with God is more than a watchword for WMU members," Lee concluded. "It is a way of life."

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