Young Baptists show love for missions
By Kayla Rinker
WAYNESVILLE–Missouri Youth and Acteens Specialist Diane Miinch has no doubt about the impact the 2008 Missouri Acteens Retreat made in the lives of hundreds of young ladies around the state.
“Our goal was for the girls to leave here with a real awareness of missions and of the possibilities for missions internationally and at home,” she said. “We also wanted the retreat to provide a way for the girls to step out of their comfort zones and to continue growing as mature young women while growing closer to God at the same time. Oh, and we wanted to have some fun, too.”
Combining the 230 Acteens (grades 7-12) with about 300 children (grades 1-6) and leaders who recently attended two Missions Exploration Day Camps in October adds up to more than 500 young people who heard about the importance of missions in the last two months.
In the Acteens Retreat at Pulaski Baptist Association Camp in Waynesville, the theme was Soar, taken from Isaiah 40:31. The Acteens heard out of the New International Version of the Bible that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Those words emerged as the weekend focus thanks to the planning of the Missouri Acteens Council, which consists of the top three Acteens in the state. General sessions and breakout times were tied to that theme.
Guest speakers for the Nov. 14-16 gathering were Scott Brawner and his wife, Jamie. Scott is a former staffer with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) who now serves with the International Mission Board (IMB). The ministry he and Jamie founded in 2005 at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS), Fusion, is now part of IMB and is partnering with MBTS for program accreditation and training.
Fusion is designed to inspire students to continue following Christ after high school and to pursue missions as a career and calling. It offers high school graduates, ages 18-24, opportunities to gain missions experience for college credit. The nine-month program is housed at Midwestern Seminary and operated through its undergraduate school.
“Scott spoke during the three general sessions,” Miinch said. “In one session he talked about charity and why it’s necessary to serve others and he also spoke on the importance of making good decisions and why purity is so important.”
The girls also heard from Karyn Reichert, a missionary in Uganda who led one of the breakout sessions where she dressed in African clothes and allowed the girls to taste African food.
Other breakout sessions included: making bandanas and birthday cards for the military; creative movement; studies on purity; a knitting class; a study about strong women in the Bible; training about how Acteens can help with Vacation Bible School; a Fusion obstacle course; and even a session on how to make balloon animals.
“We thought teaching balloon animal training would be good because balloon animals are an extremely effective tool to reach out to children, especially children in other countries,” Miinch said. “Young children love getting balloon animals and the Acteens seemed to enjoy making them.”
The retreat also offered a session for Acteens leadership training.
“They were able to get some training on basic Acteens as well as help planning mission trips and mission quest training,” Miinch said. “The group also got the chance to share with each other on what works for them in their Acteens group.”
Miinch said one of the highlights of the retreat was the Saturday afternoon ministry projects. Acteens were divided into groups and sent throughout the city of Waynesville where they helped in different ministry capacities.
“They went to nursing homes, food pantries, clothes closets and even an animal shelter,” she said “The girls really seemed to enjoy that.”
Miinch said plans are already being made for the next retreat which will take place Nov. 12-14, 2010.
“(The retreat) makes a difference in so many of the girls’ lives,” Miinch said. “It allows them to be around girls, to deal with girl issues and become stronger Christian women as a result. We love being able to show these girls how we as Christians should be set apart.”
Participants were from 28 churches.
“I just think it’s a delight,” said Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union President Lorraine Powers. “I love to see these young women who haven’t lost a desire and a passion for serving God.”
In the Missions Exploration Day Camps in Waynesville and at Grand Oaks Baptist Assembly in Chillicothe, boys and girls (grades 1-6) from the children’s mission organization Children in Action (CIA) participated.
“The theme this year centered on Africa and the missionaries there,” said Teri Broeker, Missouri WMU children’s specialist. “This year was only the second time we’ve ever had an Exploration. We are planning to do them every other year so our next day camps will be in 2010.”
Using the African theme, Broeker said the children heard and participated in native songs and worked on many different African hands-on activities.
“The children made ishakas, or African music shakers,” she said. “They also played African games and made beaded bracelets that tell the story of the Gospel.”
Broeker said one highlight was the African prayer walk.
“Based on the evaluation forms we received, the children loved prayer walking,” she said. “It was a really meaningful experience for them to pray for very specific African prayer requests. We wrote things down for them like, ‘Go to a source of water and pray for African families who need clear drinking water,’ and ‘Go to a tree and pray for African Christians who meet together under a tree.’ It’s really meaningful for them.”
She said the purpose of the day camps is to focus on missions and to reiterate and build on what the children are already learning in their CIA groups.
“We want the children to better understand missions and what their part is in supporting them with their offerings and their prayers,” she said. “We also teach them that learning about other cultures is helpful in order to better understand the specifics about people and how we can best pray for them.”
She said next year should be exciting.
“National Children’s Ministry Day is on Feb. 14, 2009,” Broeker said. “The theme is ‘Loving Hearts’ and the point of the day is to encourage children to get involved in some sort of ministry project in their community. Our hope is that every church would get involved all across the nation and encourage their kids to take part in the blessing of missions ministry.”
For more information on the Feb. 14 promotion, contact Broeker at email@example.com.