Interactive exhibits bring life at Blume
KANSAS CITY – An elaborate interactive area provided a unique and fun environment for “experiencing” missions around the world and discovering different ways to serve God during Blume, a national missions event sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) for teenage girls and collegiate young women, July 10-13, in Kansas City.
As part of the breakout sessions, the interactive area called ME featured opportunities for participants to learn more about various ministries, join in hands-on missions efforts, experience different cultures, and explore how they can use their gifts and passions to further the kingdom of God, according to Kym Mitchell, Blume program coordinator.
Exhibits like “A Day in the Life” offered girls an opportunity to experience what life is like for girls their age in countries across the world. Entering this marketplace exhibit in small groups, each girl was given a profile of their new identity along with “Blume bucks” which represented a typical sum of money she might have, ranging from 10 cents to $650. The girls had 10 minutes to make purchases in the market based on their allowance with choices for food, personal care items, clothes, transportation, entertainment and school supplies.
Those with limited means realized the hardships many face as they struggle to obtain basic necessities. As they exited the exhibit, a volunteer reviewed some of the purchases the girls made, talked about the realities of poverty with the group, and encouraged them to keep their identity card as a prayer reminder.
Girls visited with missionaries serving with the International Mission Board (IMB) and North American Mission Board (NAMB) along “Missionary Row” and many sent emails to international missionaries and wrote “encouragrams” to NAMB field personnel.
Another exhibit area offered the opportunity to write letters of support to US military personnel and time to pray for the recipient of each letter. Cierra McFadden and Lindsey Allsup, 10th-graders from Acton Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas, saw the importance of encouraging the troops during difficult times.
“Some may not like being there, and if they know how much we appreciate it and are thankful for what they do, it may encourage them to keep fighting,” McFadden explained. “I wrote that I appreciate what they are doing and I hope that they are safe and that God is watching over them.”
Allsup used her letter to share prayers with the soldiers. “I told them thank you for fighting for our country and freedom and that God loves them,” Allsup said.
Girls also learned about ways to use their passions on mission for God. For example, IMB field personnel Margie Drane and Sue Sprenkle demonstrated how they use their passion for videography and journalism, respectively, to share Christ and stories of how he is working around the world. Participants were able to participate in mock interviews and man the video camera. Additional activities included prayer and reflection, and every exhibit showed how God can use any talent and willing heart to further his kingdom.
Girls enjoyed other areas that were set up just for fun, like a karaoke stage, scrapbooking, Christian hula lessons, a coffee shop, staged photo opportunities, a giant inflatable obstacle course and a jousting competition.
Throughout the interactive area, participants were encouraged to learn about and support five different ministries—Blood:Water Mission in Africa, Beginning of Life Foundation in Moldova, The Ricks Institute in Liberia, a ministry* in Jordan that helps Arab women, and Locks of Love. With the exception of Locks of Love, WMU is partnered with each ministry through its International Initiatives and Pure Water, Pure Love ministries.
“It’s really great that Blume did the 5 Ways of Giving,” said 13-year-old Lottie Rich of Memphis, Tenn. “It made you feel like you are a part of something even though you’re not there [countries which these ministries impact].”
Jena Lee, the executive director of Blood:Water Mission, a ministry dedicated to providing clean water to Africans and founded by Christian rock band Jars of Clay, was on hand to tell the girls about their 1000 Wells Project.
“The Blood:Water Mission [booth] was neat,” said Kailee Williams, an eighth-grader from Adairville Baptist Church in Adairville, Utah. “I learned that one dollar will give a person [in Africa] clean water for a year.”
In the “Welcome to Moldova” exhibit, girls wound their way through a maze, their path based on tough life decisions presented at each doorway. The exhibit was designed to help the girls understand life for many in Moldova, how thousands of girls become enslaved by human trafficking, and how the Beginning of Life Foundation can help. This ministry seeks to help victims of human trafficking by providing them with safe housing, education and job skills training, and Christian counseling and discipleship. At the end of the maze, participants were encouraged to write a prayer for girls in Moldova and add it to the prayer chain made of paper links.
A classroom and petting zoo filled with goats and a pig were set up to invite girls to learn about the Ricks Institute in Liberia, a K-12 school for children of war-torn Liberia. It purchases livestock for children, who receive the immediate benefits of the animal, such as milk or meat from the offspring. In addition, they learn animal husbandry skills, enabling their families to earn a living.
In the classroom, the girls were able to learn about the culture and history of Liberia. “The country of Liberia is poor, third world,” commented Kaitlin Wilbanks, an 11th-grader from Locust Hill Baptist Church in Traveler’s Rest, S.C. “They don’t hear as much about the Gospel and it is important to reach people that need to hear about the story of Jesus when we hear it on a daily basis.”
A representative* from a Christian ministry of Arab women who minister to other Arab women through a radio program and the Internet gave samples of items from Jordan, such as Arabic coffee and candy. In the sound booth at their exhibit, girls were challenged to record a 60-second testimony about their faith without using the words Christ, Christian, or Scripture.
Finally, in theLocks of Love salon girls personally gave to the ministry by donating their hair to be made into hairpieces for children with long-term medical hair loss.
Breanna Maddox, a seventh-grader from Layton Hills Baptist Church, Layton, Utah, came prepared to give the gift of hair. “This girl in my school got cancer and I saw what it was like for her,” Maddox explained. “I wanted to give my hair so other girls could have hair.” Maddox had been growing her hair for more than two years in anticipation of this event. In all, 120 hair donations were received, with 93 haircuts done onsite.
With the exception of Locks of Love, the girls could donate money to the ministry of their choice at the Blume bank, also located in the interactive area. At the conclusion of Blume, more than $45,000 was donated to support these ministries.
*Ministry name and representative’s name not disclosed due to security reasons.