Deeper in Faith
Our Gift to You
by Deborah St. Lawrence
I Love Christmas! The décor—especially nativities—are reminders that Jesus is Emmanuel, the ever-present Savior. The lights. The smell of fresh-baked cookies, cakes, and breads. Oh, and the gifts. It’s been years since I thought about opening gifts myself. It’s all about the giving—watching my children and grandchildren open their gifts. What a treat! The surprises, the squeals of joy, and the occasional oops. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them all.
Recently, International Missions launched a new website. You might call it our gift to you. Many of you responded to last year’s survey about the previous website and your wish list became our to-do list. We worked hard, even delaying the unveiling of the new site until we were sure our gift would fit your needs.
So, go ahead, boot up your computer or tablet. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or spiced cider. Join me, and we will unwrap this gift together. I hope your eyes light up with joy and excitement.
The new home page is simpler, easier to navigate. Many of you told us the primary reasons you visit the site are to find up-to-date prayer requests and to make donations. PRAY and GIVE are prominent to make that easier. Beneath the slideshow, you will find the three most recent news items, with a link to take you to all the news. Missionary news updates are duplicated in the main feed and featured on the missionary’s home page as well. We added social media integration site-wide. You catch the first glimpse of this in the LIVE FEED from Facebook and Twitter at the bottom of the homepage. Want to see your Twitter posts on our homepage? Just add #fwbim.
A glance across the top of the page also reveals links to the FWBIM blog, WMO information, videos, missionary profiles, and the store. We will open these smaller packages in a few minutes. First, let’s unwrap and revel in the larger components of your gift.
Pray, Go, Give: three essential elements of the ministry of Free Will Baptist International Missions. Each of these sections has been redesigned, simplified, and beefed up.
PRAY. Click here, and the most recent Hotline prayer requests (posted each Wednesday) unfold. Global Prayer Initiatives promote prayer during specific times of the year for specific people groups.
Banners on the front page alert you to current opportunities for which prayer is needed. Missionary prayer requests take you to their specific prayer needs.
GO. You can explore opportunities to go based on time (from a two-week trip to career missions), interests (teaching English, counseling, church planting, etc.), or location (the country you wish to serve). Links to online applications and/or additional information are provided. A Student Missions link is on the main Go page so high school and college students can easily find information pertaining to them.
GIVE. You may notice the most changes here. Simplify was the key word we heard regarding the previous site. Now, donations can be made on one page. No more clicking through several pages to finally reach Make Donation. Those with a MyIM account on the old website automatically had all information imported into the new site. Login is quick and simple. Setting up the account could not be easier. Just make a donation and the account is set; login information will be emailed to you.
Making a donation in memory or in honor of someone is also effortless. Receipts acceptable to the IRS are emailed directly to your inbox. Donation accounts are divided into three sections: general (includes IMpact projects), student missions, and missionaries. Enter amounts in any or all of the categories, and the site will track a running total.
Links to information about the World Missions Offering, planned giving, special giving opportunities, and setting up an automatic checking account deduction are also available on this section of the site.
Most gifts these days include accessories to make the outfit shine or the electronic purchase function better. Think of the links across the top of the Home Page as finishing touches to your gift.
ABOUT includes the purpose statement and core values, history, news feed, staff and board photos and bios, annual report downloads, and a Contact Us link. Expect the history pages to be a gift that keeps on giving as we expand content to include PDF downloads of HeartBeat articles, former missionary information, and more.
Typically updated twice a week, the BLOG (pictured below) features brief articles ranging broadly from stories of life on the mission field to mission strategy to life lessons learned. General Director Clint Morgan, the most prolific IM blogger, shares the page with other staff members, board members, and an occasional missionary. One of the best new features is the ability to comment on postings. Blogs may be thought provoking, heartwarming, challenging, or encouraging. So, go ahead, spend an afternoon catching up and let us know what you think!
The annual WORLD MISSIONS OFFERING (WMO) has a featured spot on the site. Visit this section to sign up for 2014, to find others who are participating in your area, or to check upcoming dates for the offering. You will also find downloadable resources for promotion, children’s classes, informative bulletin inserts, and more. The Idea Bank allows you to share the progress your church is making and your ideas for supporting the WMO in your community. Add your story and photo to those already compiled here.
Visit the MEDIA page to watch or download videos. The current featured video was shown at the National Association in Tampa, Florida, and features highlights of Carlisle Hanna’s 60-plus years in India.
The MISSIONARIES page provides information on all current missionaries. Read their news and sign up to be notified as they post new items. Download newsletters. Send messages of encouragement or ask for more information through the Contact tab. Read and pray for recently listed requests or support a missionary financially from their individual pages.
The STORE has also been simplified, yet has more options. Creating an account allows you to review your order history and eliminates mundane data entry. Check to see if your order has been shipped. Review products you have purchased so others will have a better idea if it meets their needs.
FWBGO.com…It’s our gift to you, and I hope it becomes a well-used, oft-referenced friend as you seek to fulfill your role in the Great Commission. Merry Christmas from International Missions.
About the Writer: Deborah St. Lawrence is communications manager for International Missions. To make suggestions regarding the new site, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.