A capacity crowd gathered at the IBSA Building in November for the largest-ever AWSOM event for young women. The annual meeting (which stands for Amazing Women Serving Our Maker) includes training in evangelism and discipleship, focused Bible study, and a missions emphasis.
“Our theme was how to live selflessly in a selfie world,” said Carmen Halsey, who leads women’s ministry for IBSA. Betsy Bolick, founder of Small Enough Ministries, taught the girls through the book of 2 Timothy. Born with a condition that affects spinal development, the North Carolina women’s ministry leader now shares her story to encourage other women and invite people to experience Christ’s love.
AWSOM included more than 350 attenders representing more than 50 churches, including at least 15 who were participating for the first time, Halsey said. The gathering also included a training track for student leaders.
During the missions emphasis, guest speaker Jonathan Miller spoke to teens and their leaders about the need for the gospel among deaf communities around the world. Miller, whose parents are deaf, said there are 700 million deaf people around the world, representing 189 unique people groups and 200 sign languages.
The weekend retreat is designed to send students and leaders home with resources and ideas for future ministry in their local communities. Noting there is no deaf church in Illinois, Halsey said, “We have resources now ready to help churches to be able to incorporate a deaf community into what they’re already doing.”
Her team is developing an online AWSOM community to offer further training in missions, discipleship, and leadership. IBSA’s Mobilization Team will also offer a Next Gen Academy that will culminate in a mission trip. More information about those and other upcoming opportunities for students will be available at IBSA.org/students.
Since AWSOM has outgrown its Springfield location, Halsey said the conference will move to a new site next year. AWSOM 2020 is Nov. 6-7.
Photo: AWSOM participants learned some sign language during a missions emphasis on deaf people groups. Photo from Facebook