Jacksonville | Tie-dye, popcorn, friendship bracelets, pizza, karaoke, ice cream, sardines (the game, not the food), and of course, solid Bible teaching. Oh, and no sleep. In this year of social-distance, it was essential. And it was definitely AWSOM.
This was my first year as a chaperone for the teen girls’ conference IBSA hosts each November. (The acronym stands for Amazing Women Serving Our Maker.) I am so thankful for the chance to serve God here. That “here” was different for each church group, since we did not meet at the IBSA Building due to the pandemic. For us, our group of eight girls and eight ladies met in the fellowship hall of our church, Lincoln Avenue Baptist in Jacksonville (pictured above). Across Illinois, 321 students and leaders checked in to the event, representing 33 churches.
We gathered around a television screen Friday evening and Saturday morning to hear from Carmen Halsey and the AWSOM team of Bible teachers, including Missy Branch, Haley Ahn, Carrie Jones, Betsy Bolick, and Savanna Wood. We joined Jonathan and Emily Martin, The Word in Worship, as they led us in singing “Speak, Oh Lord” and “Yet not I, but through Christ in me.”
My favorite part of the evening session was when Bolick and Wood, ministry partners from Small Enough Ministries, held a panel discussion of our students’ essential questions. Our girls could anonymously text questions to a phone number, and those would either be answered during the sessions or later during Bolick and Wood’s Car Ride Conversations on the IBSA AWSOM YouTube channel. Their questions ranged from, “What word is essential to your daily vocabulary?” to “What is our purpose in life?”
I chuckled when Savanna said her hand movements are essential to her daily vocabulary. But I also felt it deeply when one of the ladies answered that our purpose is not about the next “thing” in life. Oof. Talk about speaking truth. God shows me this truth time and again. Praise God that he uses every opportunity to reach our hearts for his will.
Our essential purpose is to glorify God in our current circumstance—to make much of God in our lives. We didn’t have to hear the word “essential” to understand that. It was made clear through each speaker, song, and activity, because each part pointed back to the essential, inerrant, word of God. Bottom line, these girls (and leaders) learned how essential the Bible is to our daily lives. May our prayer continue to be “Speak, oh Lord, and fulfill in us all your purposes for your glory…”
Leah Honnen is administrative assistant for IBSA’s Communications Team.