For Girls

Summer Mission Programs

By: Khristi Shores

Adventure, excitement, friendships, challenges, training, learning, blessings, stretching, and growing. These terms apply to two summer programs:  ETEAM (mission team) and Truth and Peace (leadership program).

ETEAM is a three-week program open to young people entering their sophomore year of high school through their senior year graduation. Before each team leaves for their two-weeks of service, the students and their leaders will have a full week of training. This includes spiritual, cultural (for their specific place of service), learning a mime to perform, and songs to sing in the language where they will serve. Team leaders are adults that have had a thorough background check and were screened by the International Missions Department.

Truth and Peace is for freshmen through their high school graduation. It is excellent for spiritual training, self-discipline, time management, teamwork, service, and leadership skills. At the end of the training, the students will prepare and serve in many capacities during the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the annual denominational convention. It is also a time of meeting new friends that will last a lifetime.

My friend, Kyla Kivette, said her experiences, as a high school student, with ETEAM and Truth and Peace allowed her to visit three different countries and meet friends from around the world. ETEAM provided her with memorable experiences, such as eating horse in Kazakhstan and attending a Japanese tea ceremony. More importantly, it revealed the urgency of spreading the gospel. ETEAM allowed her to meet unbelievers with whom she still communicates today.

ETEAM taught Kyla that while comfort zones are great, nothing ever grows there. She gained lifelong mentors and friends.  She also has a desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, whether in Saut-D’Eau, Haiti, or Nashville, Tennessee.

Truth and Peace strengthened Kyla’s relationship with Christ, and taught her the importance of responsibility, time management, and habits. Kyla said, “Because of Truth and Peace, I engage in better habits as simple as making my bed every day and in solitude and the power of prayer.

“My summers as a high school student were not spent riding roller coasters at Disney World but serving at a food bank in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and painting a school in Nashville, Tennessee. To many, this might sound unappealing. But it taught me that leading is serving and reminded me that only what is done for Christ will last.”

For Girls

Summer Opportunities Are A Family Event

By: Lainey Batts

I just returned from my first E-TEAM trip, where we traveled to Spain. It was an incredible time that has transformed my perspective on missions and the Great Commission. But I never would have made it to Spain without the support of my family and friends. They encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try something different. E-TEAM is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even if it means missing out on some things back home, it’s definitely worth it.

To parents and grandparents: “Uncle Neil” Gililand told us at E-TEAM training that he doesn’t struggle to find teens that want to go on summer mission trips. The struggle is finding parents and grandparents that will let their teens go. By sending your teen you are helping fulfill the Great Commission. You are helping open your teen’s eyes to the way God is working around the world. Three weeks may seem like a long time to send your teen somewhere else, but it is an important investment for the rest of their lives. Knowing that my parents and grandparents supported my decision to go gave me the freedom to completely commit to the E-TEAM experience.

To siblings and friends: For most teens, international travel is a completely new experience. That can make both students and friends nervous. Even if you are nervous, be encouraging. Be excited! God is doing great things through E-TEAM and other summer mission opportunities. Your friend or sibling is going to have unique experiences that will shape their life. Once they return home, ask good questions. Be ready to listen to their stories.

To everyone: Yes, you will miss your teen. But remember God is using this time to transform hearts and lives for His purpose. Pray for the students! Pray that their trips will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives. Pray that they will serve God and others well. Pray that they will grow in their faith. Let the students know you are praying for them. That’s a huge encouragement. It really makes a difference.

For Girls

What a Crazy Week

By: Hannah Gorrell

This has been the consensus of many or most of our weeks. Maybe even the last hundred weeks have felt ‘crazy’.

When feeling out of order or overwhelmed, it is easy to feel discouraged or passive towards the next day or week. Some of us may have even gone through something exceedingly difficult in the last week. Some may feel weary. Some may feel tired. While Proverbs 27:1 tells us not to boast about tomorrow, I pray that our tomorrows hold much hope and promise.

In a sense, our happiness makes us comfortable or excited for the next day. But it should not be our sole motivation. Christ’s love is still real, even when we are not ‘happy.’ We can still serve the Lord while feeling sad. Do not ignore what you are feeling. Please feel it fully. Just be reminded that you do not have to be happy to serve the Lord.

The psalmist reminds us that even though we walk through the valley, we will fear no evil. (Psalm 23) Recognize where you are in this season of life. Then stride towards the goal of serving Christ and others.

I get overwhelmed thinking about where I am in comparison to another person or based on how long I have been a Christian. Instead of comparing myself to others, I look inward to determine where I have plenty or what I lack.

We are all given different spiritual gifts. Some may have a handful of patience but lack bravery. Instead of being discouraged by comparison, be thoughtful and ask the Lord for help to be more like Him. This will allow us to use our gifts to serve Christ and others even in our crazy weeks.

For Girls

Doing the Right Thing

By: Lily Bryant

You never know when you will have to stick up for your faith; or more importantly, make a choice. About a year ago, when I was in seventh grade, I was forced to make a choice about how I was going to deal with a situation with my friends.

Every once in a while, I would hear one or two of my friends using the Lord’s name as a throw away phrase.  I would try to remind them not to, but of course it never lasted long. I tried to see it as an “oopsie,” because it’s awfully hard to not be influenced by others (especially when you hear some adults are also doing it, but that’s a story for another time). One day it felt like everybody around me was saying it all the time and I just didn’t know what to do. Later that night I decided to go to my mother for advice. She understood it was hard and encouraged me to stand up and do the right thing.

Doing the right thing can be hard, especially when it seems like everyone is doing the opposite. I knew God’s principles (especially His commandments) since I listen at church and read my Bible. I knew it wasn’t right to take the Lord’s name in vain in any way. I made sure I was being careful not to say those things or let those phrases get in my mind and come out of my mouth.

At the end of all this, I didn’t let myself be influenced by the others around me and I kept following the Word of God. Now, I am a stronger Christian and person because I didn’t give into the temptation to sin.  You can do it too – stick together God’s girls!  😊

This is Lily signing off!

For Girls

A Journey of Obedience

By: Hannah Goucher

The minute I returned from my ETEAM trip to Japan in 2017, I knew God was calling me to be a missionary. Before this trip, I had an interest in missions but no inclination to go as a missionary. Once I sat down on the flight back to the United States, I knew that mission work was something to which God was calling me. I surrendered. From then on, I was ready to go wherever God called me. Or so I thought.

I began to study missions at Welch College in the fall of 2017, and received copious amounts of instruction, wisdom, and guidance that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. I was fully prepared to use the things I learned and was so excited to head to the mission field as soon as possible. During my senior year, though, I let many events get in the way of being obedient to God’s calling. Some were big and some small, but either way I allowed myself to put my wants and supposed “needs” in the place of the perfect will of God. I wrestled for quite a bit of time, questioning if I was doing the right thing. In my heart I knew I was heading on a path of disobedience. Don’t get me wrong, the things I wanted to do instead of going straight to the mission field were not bad. I just began to say, “Maybe later?” when God was saying, “Now.”

I will never forget the day I decided to be obedient. I was a counselor at a teen summer camp. That night, after many nights of feeling confused in trying to go my own way, I felt the peace that comes from surrendering your will to the God Whose ways are always good.

Soon I will be returning to Japan as an intern missionary solely through the grace and goodness of God. One verse that has stuck with me throughout this journey is Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Though it seems easy for us to establish our own plans and ideas, may we all seek to surrender to the perfect will of God.

For Girls

Learning to Love Laundry

By: Rachel Violanti

Laundry. Dishes. Cleaning. Did you roll your eyes when you read at least one of those? I would have a few years ago, but then I met Dawn Elliott. One of our first interactions was her “momming” me, telling me to be careful not to fall off a ladder I was using. I thought that was odd because I obviously knew not to fall off the ladder. But what I would come to learn is that she has a heart for young people, and I had so much to learn from her.

I vividly remember complaining to her that I had double the laundry to do now that I am married. She reminded me that I have a husband I love, and we both have clothes to wear. She reminded me of Galatians 5:13, which says: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” That verse doesn’t say to serve one another and grumble about it or serve one another with resentment. Serve one another humbly in love. I don’t have to do laundry; I get to do laundry. Is this always my attitude? No. However, it warms my heart to think I have women in the faith who have been through the same stages of life that will keep me accountable.

This attitude of service works both ways in our marriage. Neither spouse is perfect, but we strive to serve each other humbly in love. If you think, “I’m not married; this isn’t for me.” Think again. When a friend asks for help cleaning her house when you just sat down to watch a movie, going to her house is to serve her humbly in love. This mindset can apply to all our relationships. The best example we have is Jesus – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) Jesus served us humbly in love when He died in our place. Now it is our turn to emulate the characteristics of Jesus to others.

For Girls

Apples of Gold

by: Destinee Payne

There are things we can do to guard ourselves against speaking with iniquity. Our tongue is compared to forest fire and deadly poison in James 3. We need to be in the habit of professing God’s word and having reverence in our speech to guard against speaking with iniquity. We need to profess our Jesus on our lips. We need to be in the habit of telling of the great things God has done and giving Him the glory.

Proverbs 25:11 states “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I love this verse! I can just imagine a setting of a beautiful apple orchard where all the trees are silver, the ground is silver, and the sky is silver. There on the trees are beautiful golden apples that stand out perfectly! How beautiful is it for a young woman to speak of her precious Creator.

Younger girls, as well as women, feel it is cheesy or corny to talk about God and praise Him with joy. It’s almost uncomfortable to express our faithfulness to God in daily conversation. This isn’t just with non-believers, it is even among fellow believers. I ask those of you who are older to encourage younger women by speaking about God with them. Ask them what they have seen God doing in their lives. Tell them what you have seen God doing in yours. Praise Him together.

I challenge you younger women to express praise to God verbally. If you’re having a great day, say it with your lips, “God is good!” We might often think that, but saying it is much more forward. Aren’t we scared of that? Read scripture out loud. Praise God by reading the Psalms of David. David was not ashamed, and he spoke often of praising his God. Psalms 9:1 says “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” This should be the song of our own lips. There are many other verses like this in Psalms. I challenge you to go to a quiet place and proclaim them out loud.

If we push ourselves to be in the habit of praising God with our lips and sharing our reverence for His holiness with others, we guard ourselves

against speaking out of place. We are not perfect and will not always be successful. However, I believe that if we have apples of gold constantly on our lips, it makes it very difficult for the worm to find its way in.

Ask yourself, “How often do I speak of my Jesus?” It’s easy to talk about the things we love like our friends, our hobbies, or other things. If we love Jesus so much, shouldn’t we be talking about Him? How often do you converse with others about your Creator? I challenge you as I challenge myself to use our tongues, not to start fires, but to praise our God.

For Girls

Time

By: Catie York

When you hear the phrase “good steward,” what do you think of? As believers, we may often focus strictly on how we use our money and physical resources for God. In scripture, the word steward originally referred to a person (often a servant) entrusted with great responsibility over his master’s belongings.

Christ is our Lord and Savior; He is our Master! If we truly viewed Him as our Master, we would come to realize that all things belong to Him. This means that as His good stewards we are entrusted with great responsibility to dedicate to Him not only our physical resources, but also our immaterial ones. Our immaterial resources include, but are not limited to, our focus, efforts, dedication, priorities, and time.

It can be more difficult to dedicate the immaterial things to God – especially our time. In your life as a young woman, there are so many things calling out for your attention. It may seem that you are busier now more than ever before. To be honest, as you become an adult it will continue to feel that way. Know that in each moment, God is with us! It is up to us to determine how we will spend our time and focus our attention. Take a moment to really self-reflect and ask yourself:

Am I being responsible with the time that I am being entrusted with?

How do my priorities show that I desire to be a good steward of my Master?

Do I have the dedication expected of a good steward?

What resources (physical and immaterial) am I offering to my Master?

If your answers are disappointing or seem less than that of a good steward – know that you are not alone. There is an abundance of grace poured over you! Take this time to lean into the Lord, allow Him to encourage and build you up. If your answers indicate, you do have the qualities of a good steward – I urge and challenge you to find new ways of offering your whole life to God as His humble servant. Being a good steward of our time means intentionally focusing and acting on each opportunity God entrusts with us. This means that we are more than just awake and in attendance at church on Sunday. It is more than just having fun and goofing off with friends at youth group meetings.

Being a good steward of our time means that we show our Master we are trustworthy, we responsibly care for the time He gives us, and we desire to dedicate our lives to Him as His servants. We do this by engaging with Him, growing a deep, personal, and intentional relationship with Him. We learn to grow with Him and bring honor and glory to Him in all things we do – not some, but all. I encourage you to choose now to dedicate each moment of your time to being His good steward. I pray you come to see His love, peace, provision, and blessing clothed over your life.

For Girls

Treasure Of Your Heart

Destinee Payne

The treasure of our hearts comes out in our words. As imperfect humans, we will not be able to say the right thing all the time. We will not glorify God in everything we say. To guard against speaking this way, we first need to make sure the treasures of our hearts are the right things. Jesus says in Matthew 12:34-35, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”

Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who were religiously proud and were deceptive. Jesus knew what the treasures of their hearts were, and it was not good.

This sounds pretty intense if we are trying to apply it to ourselves. I mean Jesus called them “Brood of vipers!” Those are poisonous snakes! You might think “Well, I don’t speak evil.” Or “I don’t have anything terrible like that in my heart.” You might not have the heart of a Pharisee, but there are still other things in our hearts that can cause us to stumble in our speech and in our witness for Christ.

I want you to think about this. What is the treasure of your heart? What is the most valuable and precious thing to you? We need to evaluate ourselves and see if there are things we concern ourselves with too much.

You also might be asking “How do those things affect the way I talk?” Well, too much of something and we can get caught up in all the things we really want. We might begin to put our dreams for ourselves ahead of others. When we have all this selfishness, it comes out in what we say. Maybe we brag about the things we have to our friends or complain about the things we don’t. Maybe we point out the flaws of others and become gossipers. Whatever it is, it might seem harmless, but words have a tremendous impact and could hurt others and our witness for Christ.

I say all of this from my own personal experience and my own personal desires. I’ve noticed at times I get so caught up in what I want, I fail to see what others need.

Jesus wants our full heart and our full attention and devotion. Jesus says in Matthew 22:37 “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” If we let these other things take priority, are we not disobeying the greatest commandment? Are we not opening ourselves up to speaking with iniquity? We need to first put our priorities in check. Ask about others. Put your wants aside for a moment. We need to make sure that the only thing consuming our hearts is Jesus!

For Girls

Thorn In The Flesh

By: Debbie Driscoll

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Many of us suffer from having a thorn in our flesh, just like the Apostle Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12. For some of us, this thorn could be a bad relationship that we are dealing with, for others it could be a physical weakness, yet for others it could be an issue of personal sin. Whatever the struggle, thorns are never fun to live with. They are annoying and, most of the time, quite painful.

Nobody likes to have thorns in their flesh. I remember getting one stuck in the palm of my hand not that long ago. Immediately, all I could think of or wanted to do was getting that thorn out of my skin. I did not care how, I just wanted it out! I started looking around for tweezers and needles, and, once I found them, I used them to poke at my skin, with the hopes of getting that little intruder out of my body. Of course, in my impatience and desire to get rid of the pain at all costs, I ended up causing more damage (and pain) to myself by using my non-disinfected instruments too hastily and without caution. Not only did I fail to take out the thorn, but I managed to create a deep wound in my hand that took several days to heal.

Don’t we do this in our walk with God, too? So often, when we get a “thorn in the flesh,” we start poking at it, trying to remove the source of pain with our own strength. However, just as Paul teaches, sometimes God allows thorns in our flesh in order to use them to mold our character. It is in those moments of discomfort that God reminds us of His sufficient grace in our lives. Thus, when a moment of weakness arises, may we refuse to rely on our own strength, and instead allow God’s strength to sustain us and His abounding grace to take care of us in our pain.