RIDGECREST – Ruby Fulbright gave her last report as executive director-treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) dressed in a race car driver’s fire suit April 21, delighting about 925 participants in the group’s annual Missions Extravaganza.
Fulbright’s outfit was intended to highlight a programming shift by which Royal Ambassadors (RAs) and Challengers – mission programs for boys – will now come under the purview of WMU, rather than the North American Mission Board (NAMB). WMU is producing new curriculum products so the boys’ groups, along with Girls in Action (GAs) and Acteens will study the same missionaries each month.
WMU will not take over the popular Pinewood Derby competition model race car competition, Fulbright said, despite her racing getup.
During the evening session, Fulbright gave her final address. Describing her 10-year tenure as “an incredible journey,” Fulbright recalled how her father taught her about faith, unconditional love, and having a passion for the moment. “He helped me to believe that I could be or do anything God wanted of me,” she said.
Reciting a string of “incredible opportunities” to travel, to be involved in missions, and to speak around the world as well as all over North Carolina, Fulbright said “I will always be in awe at the privileges and people that have been woven into my life.”
The midpoint of Fulbright’s time in office was marked by high tension, as the WMU-NC found it necessary to surrender significant funding and move out of the Baptist State Convention offices in order to protect the group’s autonomy in hiring and managing its budget. WMU-NC moved into a Raleigh office building in April 2008.
In her earlier report, Fulbright announced that a 16,000 square foot building in Lillington is being donated to WMU-NC, which hopes to renovate it and move its offices there. Lillington is about 30 miles south of Raleigh.
Fulbright asked, “Am I thankful for the challenges and trials we faced?” The answer was “No – not in the middle of them – but I have learned how in the midst of trials God shows up. … Faith untested never grows or bears witness to the sufficiency that is found in Christ.”
Many biblical stories begin with people leaving an old place or moving to a new place, she said, citing Abraham’s willingness to follow God even when he didn’t know where the path would lead, and Jesus’ determination to “set his face toward Jerusalem” even though he did know what lay ahead.
WMU-NC has spent a lot of time “looking back and remembering who we are,” Fulbright said, and the executive board has spent 16 months at the hard work of envisioning what comes next.
“Maybe it’s time to just start walking into the possibilities of who God wants us to become,” Fulbright said. “Sometimes we limit ourselves because of our lack of imagination or courage.”
“We’ve been listening and preparing long enough,” she said. “It’s time to get up and not be afraid, to step out and risk, to set our faces, to go trusting the Father. There is still an incredible journey ahead.”