BRANSON — Words like “drama,” “exciting,” “humbling” and “life changing” were how Wanda Shellenbarger, women’s ministry consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), described a weekend retreat for girls here Aug. 2-4 at the Savannah House Hotel in conjunction with the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH).
The theme for the retreat was “Desperate … for Hope!” with the focal Scripture Ps. 42:5,“Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him my Savior and my God.”
Bible study and parenting classes were intertwined with personal encouragement and guidance offered by women who volunteered to serve the girls in the Children and Family Ministries Pregnancy Services Program on the Bridgeton campus. Shellenbarger said she and other women’s ministry leaders were grateful for the MBCH Children and Family Ministries Board of Trustees agreeing to the retreat.
“All of us were deeply touched by all that we experienced,” she said. “One of the most wonderful things the Lord did through our time together was that one of the girls shared that she gave her heart to the Lord during the camp! That made it well worth all the time and energy it took to provide it.”
The camp was filled with special events for the expectant mothers. After a session highlighting the importance of dressing appropriately and modestly, the girls were assigned a “personal shopper” from among the leaders and treated to a shopping trip to put into practice what they had learned.
Friday started with a parenting class and Bible study focused on the hope found in Jesus Christ. In the afternoon, the young women were treated to a “spa-like” atmosphere with manicures and pedicures. Other highlights were a meal served by Skyline Baptist Church and attending the Sight N Sound Theater production of Joseph. The Sight N Sound Theatre provided complimentary tickets for the girls and leaders.
Guest speaker Meri Stewart from Joplin shared her amazing testimony of God’s goodness and mercy through decades of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
Marilyn Rimmer, central region women’s ministry leader, said the retreat caused her to look at what it means to minister.
“My concept of ministry was sending money or supporting a mission group going to Haiti or Mexico and thinking that I had done my part,” Rimmer said. “I’m now confronted with am I going to keep doing church or will I look around and actually see a need, see someone who needs to hear about Jesus?”
Other leaders were Pam Melton, southwest region women’s ministry leader; Valerie Howe and Tammy Haney, south central region women’s ministry leaders; Carol Tatman and Martha Beaver, northeast region women’s ministry leaders; and Kari Thompson and Whitney Holland of Skyline Baptist Church. In addition, Lesley Melton, First Baptist in Webb City, helped with many aspects needed during the camp.
Meals were prepared and provided by Skyline Baptist Church, Branson; Friendly Baptist Church, Branson; Matt and Kristy Ogden, members of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Springfield; and Ozark Highlands Church, Ozark.
“It was a blessing to see the volunteer women give of themselves to these expectant mothers,” said Sommer Garrett, family foster care worker with the MBCH Children and Family Ministries. “The love of Jesus was not just shown in a Bible study lesson or a class, but also in spending one-on-one time with each person to learn about her individuality and help each one see themselves through the eyes of Christ.”
The Women’s Ministry Division of the MBC is looking forward to offering this type of camp again next year. If you or your women’s ministry group would like to help in offering this type of experience to the girls, contact Shellenbarger at (417) 529-0724 or at Wanda4WomensMinistry@gmail.com.