St Louis Bright Lights Conferences Report

img_0308 This past June we held a “Strong in the Lord” and “Radiant Purity” conference in the St Louis area. It was a week of extra challenges and extra sweet moments! There was definite spiritual warfare, but thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14).

One of the challenges was getting the word out about the conference. It was the first time we’d run conferences in this area, so there wasn’t as much familiarity with our ministry. We PRAISE GOD for all He brought–many from longer distances, and many at the last minute.

img_0335 Interacting with the sweet girls who soak in the teaching makes every conference a great privilege. 🙂 Soon, these girls will be the mothers raising the next generation in America!

img_0319 My mom, sharing with the mothers while the girls are in small group.

img_0332 Not only does my mom talk with and encourage ladies, she is always there for us providing encouragement, compassion, and help with so many needs.

13558638_1581960705430967_6062653904360890325_o Cassidy’s small group!

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13558624_1581959735431064_7124101392929408982_o Name tag table

img_0333 Sisters!

img_0383 Sharing time after the conference. One story in particular was especially heart-warming: one of the leaders mentioned that she was really hoping a friend of hers would come. This friend was struggling spiritually, and it seemed unlikely. It was during our free day at the St Louis zoo that this situation was mentioned. Emily said, “Let’s pray now,” and about 12 leaders formed a circle and had a prayer meeting for this girl. The next day, when the girl walked into the Radiant Purity conference, hearts were overjoyed! Not only did she come, but she and her mom stuck around afterward for a long conversation, leading to tears of joy and much praise to God from the leaders.

13558618_1581961375430900_912442822876091343_o Praise God for once again, bringing together a wonderful team of leaders who love the Lord and point others to Jesus.

img_0295 The fellowship we enjoy with the leaders is a highlight. Here was a Bible study with my dad on Colossians 1 after our set up day. We spent a while discussing the phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” ! (Colossians 1:27)

13558814_1581959635431074_6707375456340778191_o We can’t say enough about Allison and her mom (and entire family) and the wonderful job they did in hosting the conference. The Whisler family has been such an encouragement to us!

13497746_1581958762097828_5600175382810266818_o Time to relax and invade the Whislers house for a great dinner!

13497550_1581958718764499_2385022513379067946_o Which included funny moments…

img_0357 …and learning an Arabic praise song!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for this conference. The Lord did beautiful things, and we are so grateful.

“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)

Photo credit to Cassidy Schoolz for a few of the pictures, thanks Cassidy!

Strong in the Lord Conference, Dallas, Texas

It feels like we just got off a roller coaster. 🙂 Our summer of conferences just came to an end and most of our summer staff is now gone. It’s been sad to part with them, but our hearts are filled with gratefulness to God for His work this summer. He does more than we ask or imagine! I’ll try to catch up on blog reports by posting in segments, starting with our “Strong in the Lord Conference” in Dallas, August 4-5th.

IMG_6856 When we arrived at the church in Texas that would be hosting the conferences, we were greeted warmly by the church staff. We learned that they had been waiting for us since 7:30 am. Aaron (in black) told us he had been in our state, Iowa, before … playing football against the Hawkeyes. We laughed as we realized that since Stephen is a photojournalist for our local paper (covering Hawkeyes every year) he has pictures of Aaron stored in his old archives. 🙂

IMG_6870 Soon local Bright Lights leaders and friends began joining our leadership team. Yet again, the Lord provided a team of leaders who were united, loved Christ, and were passionate to make Him known. Only the Lord can pull together such a group.

IMG_6910 A couple hours before the conference began, we had an exciting arrival! 🙂 (We did a “quick print” of these Will Our Generation Speak? study guides to have a box for conferences.) They will be available on our online store soon.

IMG_6918 When all the girls are there, it really hits what a responsibility and privilege it is to be speaking into their lives. We’re also vividly aware of the need for much PRAYER, as only the Lord can touch these hearts.

IMG_6925 While the girls are in small groups, my mom leads a prayer time with the moms, praying for the conference and their daughters.

IMG_6922Abby and Ana, perplexed that the coffee peculator was making so much noise in the back of the moms prayer time. I’m always pleased when I can be around to document these special behind-the-scenes moments, haha. Ana Skrnich (15) was actually in charge of food for the entire conference week–which meant cooking for 40 of us leaders, two meals a day, as well as doing snacks for the conference. She did a phenomenal job! In fact, I think this is the only time I saw Ana with this perplexed expression. 🙂

IMG_6940 We are THRILLED when dads come with their daughters. Nia (left) shared with me that her dad is a pastor and has been speaking a lot about evangelism recently. She is really excited about witnessing and would like to start a witnessing team. It was sweet to see the sparkle in Nia’s eyes as she spoke of her desire to reach the lost the gospel!

IMG_6960 Making colored “gospel bracelets”

IMG_6976 The girl on my right in this picture has been faithfully spending time in the Word since the Lord convicted her about that two years ago at the last Bright Lights conference in Dallas – praise the Lord! Her mom explained about this to me. How encouraging to see her faithfully following Him!

IMG_6983 During our sharing time afterward, Emily Selander reported that one 9-year-old on her team, Taylor, trusted Christ for salvation. I had the privilege of meeting Taylor afterward as well. She was very excited about her decision to follow Jesus! Taylor’s mom told us that they’d had many discussions about what it means to be saved, but apparently it hadn’t clicked with her until that night. Emily shared that Taylor was crying during the chalk talk, obviously very emotional about the decision she had just made. But then Taylor wiped her tears away, sat up, and said, “okay, now I’m just excited!” It was very sweet.

I remembered a text I had received from Mirren Martin earlier that day. She said that her dad prayed for the Bright Lights conference during their family devotions, and that he had prayed for the salvation of unsaved girls. Mirren and Taryn attended that night and it was a joy to send them home with the news that their dad’s prayer had been answered. Praise the Lord!

IMG_6990 Our leadership team

Strong in the Lord Conference, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Here are a few pictures from the “Strong in the Lord Conference” that was held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

20140709_102432_27689 The clear conscience sisters encouraging Bekah to confess her sin to her mom and ask for her forgiveness.

20140709_102559_27690 The guilty conscience sisters encouraging Bekah to cover her sin.

20140709_135358_27691 Singing “I’ve Been Changed”

20140708_091013_27509 Our small group leaders’ time of sharing from the Word with each other before the conference started. In these sharing times, often we find that the Lord has been giving us similar thoughts in preparation for the conference. A theme that came through was focusing on the character of God. Our desire is not to present to the girls a “formula” of how to be “good Christian girls” but to encourage them to pursue Jesus Christ and know Him! It’s all about a Person. A formula will always eventually fail, but a relationship with Christ is what will enable us to persevere to the end.

20140709_172802_27647 We’ve had an increasing emphasis on witnessing at Bright Lights conferences, and this time we had a whole session on it. The small group leaders often tell us that witnessing is one of the topics their girls ask about the most. It’s evident the Lord is raising up little bright lights unto the harvest! [smile] On Wednesday as the conference was ending, we had each of the girls take 3 “animal cards” home with them to pass out to gas station employees, etc. on the way home. It was fun to see the girls’ enthusiasm in picking up their cards. It’s also exciting to see girls and families eagerly buy boxes of them.

20140709_154719_27623 Karen’s team

20140709_175151_27662 The Lord has brought together a wonderful team of small group leaders who love Him. (About forty of them!)

Yesterday we saw the Lord do some very neat things as we went out witnessing.

The Radiant Purity conference starts tonight and the girls just finished “teacher’s training.” Please pray for perseverance and emotional energy for the small group leaders as many are tired. Please also pray that the Lord works in the hearts of all who come to this conference. We are all just instruments, and apart from Him working, nothing good happens.

We also just had another special time sharing from the Word this morning. Those times are always a highlight! As we all shared with each other what we’ve been gleaning from the Word, there were again many common threads… especially on joy, perseverance, and keeping Jesus the focus of our hearts (which is good, since that’s the main message of the “Radiant Purity Conference.” [smile])

Strong in the Lord Conference, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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Please pray for the girls and parents who are here at the Strong in the Lord Conference today! Please pray that the Lord would work in their hearts, drawing them closer to Himself!! Please pray that all of our words would be Christ-focused as we teach them!

Our desire is that they’d be faithful young ladies who would not only learn, but go on to “teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

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Debriefing last night with the small group leaders. We have about forty leaders helping with this conference! This makes it possible to have smaller small groups, which is wonderful.

St Cloud, Minnesota, Bright Lights Conferences

20131015_160034_23373 There were some neat answer-to-prayer stories about “getting the word out,” and we were grateful to the Lord for those He brought.

20131015_160443_23375 Singing “I am Your Shield”

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20131015_160520_23377 The Counselor skit

20131015_160604_23379 Picking up nametags

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20131008_092615_23149 Staff devotions. John 15 was our theme chapter for the week.

bro-sis st cloud copyThe “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” session.

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20131009_092533_23181Stephen does about a hundred things back there… I couldn’t name them all if I tried.

20131009_101948_23423 The guilty consciences, trying to convince Bekah that she doesn’t need to confess her sin.

20131009_114249_23209 Here are our two kitchen heroes from the week. Kelly served 3 meals a day to all 40 of our staff, and Mrs. Kramer did the conference snacks… and not just any conference snacks! She made homemade applesauce (9 gallons in all) and other homemade items. Her daughter Abby is getting married this weekend, so we are especially grateful that she still took the time to help with the conference!

20131010_134607_23258 Some very encouraging things happened on our free day, including an hour of witnessing at the mall and many good conversations.

20131010_141158_23265 My dad spent the whole time talking with a friendly Muslim man. Sounded like a very interesting conversation.

In conclusion, it was a great week. We praise the Lord for the beautiful things He did and taught us. Thank you to anyone who was praying.

“Cool” Ideas

20130819_180946_22744 We had a wonderful week running conferences in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

But it was not without complications. [smile]

What do you do when 500 people are coming to a conference, the air conditioning in the church auditorium is broken, the weather report says it will be 88 degrees, and the windows don’t open?

That’s what we wondered!

Well, first, you pray. Then … you get creative.

20130818_191604_22625 Dad and Stephen bought 100 feet of 8 inch flexible air duct.

20130820_113924_22704 They connected it to a nearby classroom vent and ran it through the hall …

20130820_113807_22702 … up the stairs …

20130820_120052_22713 … and off the edge of the balcony unto the crowd. I think it helped a little bit.

That wasn’t the only idea.

20130820_115921_22708 Mr. Houck constructed a large fan system to be blowing air across the room.

20130820_113747_22701 Here’s a better view of it.

As the conference was beginning, one lady told me, “Well, they got the air working in here–I can feel it!” I pointed out that it was actually the fans she was feeling. [smile]

20130819_124548_22652 In addition, we went to Kroger, bought 1,000 water bottles and asked the manager if he would freeze 500 of them overnight to be picked up the next day before the heat of the afternoon. We passed them out to the attendees as they entered the auditorium.

We also positioned fans to blow in cool early morning air before the conference started, changed the conference schedule (to have shorter main sessions and more of them), and moved the mom’s sessions to an upstairs room.

All in all, everyone survived the conference. No heat strokes. Once again, a problem turns into an opportunity to see the Lord’s hand of provision. Praise the Lord.

20130821_070504_22732 Here are our three innovative geniuses. [smile]

Strong in the Lord Conference, Pataskala, Ohio

20130814_192005_22510 We were very encouraged by the great group of girls and parents the Lord brought to the Strong in the Lord conference. It was the first time most of them had been to a Bright Lights conference and we were blessed by their receptive and enthusiastic attitudes. It was evident that the Lord had prepared their hearts.

20130814_192114_22507 The construction workers warning Folly of danger ahead.

20130814_192135_22508 Cowgirl Bekah and Brownie

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We have been encouraged to hear moms telling us how their daughters have started passing out tracts and witnessing. Some mentioned how their daughters were passing out tracts to people at the hotel breakfast, at the restaurant they were eating lunch, etc. Praise the Lord!

20130808_124911_22511 Grocery shopping for our staff. Each week a different leader becomes “cook” for the team. It is a big job to cook for all of us 3 times a day!

20130813_180831_22413 We had a relaxed extended time of sharing last night. Lots of pizza, stories, laughter… I guess everyone looks a little tired in this picture [smile].

20130813_203347_22470 Cleaning the church and packing…

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20130813_203735_22491 Stephen has had a lot of experience packing that trailer!

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Sheri Woolard (right) has hosted Bright Lights at her church four times now! We praise the Lord for her and all the she has done to make these conferences happen. Also, the pastor (left) came this morning and sent us off. We appreciated his support.

We are now setting up at the church in Michigan. It has been a good day. The Radiant Purity conference here starts tomorrow. Many registrations have been coming in and it looks like these conferences will be pretty full.

Bright Lights in Dallas

20130708_191158_22036 We had a great week of conferences in Dallas. It started out Monday night with a special time with the local Bright Lights group. Haley, Natalie and Megan have done a wonderful job leading this group for several years now.

20130710_153248_22069 Here is a small group from the “Strong in the Lord Conference” conference. It is fun to get to hear what the girls are thinking and learning. After Sarah’s session on being in the Word, a few of them expressed to me with seriousness in their eyes that they haven’t been doing very well reading their Bibles but now they want to make that decision to read it every day consistently.

This is probably the #1 response that the girls write on their “response forms” after the conference – that they are going to start reading their Bibles every day. We’d appreciate prayer for all of these young ladies right now, only a week after the conference….that the Lord would give them strength and reminders to follow through.

20130713_175352_22138 It’s also exciting to see the girls get excited about witnessing! Sometimes it doesn’t take much to spark their excitement. Many leaders tell me how their girls are anxious to talk about “sharing the gospel” in their small groups after it’s discussed in the main session. Here Priscilla is standing by our “Witnessing Starter Packages.” She was excited to get one. [smile]

20130716_125728_22175 We’re grateful for the testimonies that the Lord provides for the main sessions. They drive home the lessons in a personal, practical way. A message from a mind reaches a mind, but a message from a life reaches a life! Pictured above are Scarlet, Kate, and Abby sharing testimonies at the Radiant Purity conference.

20130713_084110_22121 Here’s a picture from the Purity Conference. We’d appreciate prayer for all the conference attendees from Arkansas, Houston, and Dallas … that they would be seeking Christ, abiding in the Word, seeking the Lord’s ways, honoring their parents.

20130717_143251_22182 The dads who are able to come to the Purity Conference always have a discussion on father’s roles in protecting their daughters and screening young men who express interest. My dad usually tells us afterward about some of the various comments and stories that are shared. He is usually very encouraged by how the men’s discussions go and he says they never have enough time.

20130711_101635_22093 During one of our devotional times, Stephen gave us a review of the book Radical by David Platt which he had been reading on the trip. Stephen was impressed with it, and read several sections to us.

In talking about missions and how we should all have a heart for the WORLD, David Platt writes, “As we have seen all over Scripture, God’s heart is for the world. So when we say we have a heart for the United States, we are admitting that we have a meager 5 percent of God’s heart, and we are proud of it. When we say we have a heart for the city we live in, we confess that we have less than 1 percent of God’s heart … regardless of where we live–here or overseas–our hearts should be consumed with making the glory of God known in all nations.”

20130709_111536_22044 During another devotional time, Taryn and Mirren Martin did a “Question & Answer” time with our group of leaders. They have been such an encouragement to us.

20130711_170747_22106 We enjoyed several hours on our free day at the Skrinch home.

20130717_130822_22180 Lauren and Haley. Haley (right) was one of the hostesses for this conference. Thank you Haley for all your hard work!

20130715_160005_22173 Guess where we had tire trouble? 45 minutes from home right in front of a Tires Plus shop that wasn’t busy! They fixed the 2 bad tires immediately (while we girls shopped in the air conditioned mall), gave us a good price, and my dad was able to witness to them. Praise God that He takes such good care of us.

Strong in the Lord Conference, Dallas

The “Strong in the Lord Conference” here in the Dallas area was another statement of God’s grace and faithfulness to provide in countless ways! We thought you would enjoy experiencing Session Three from the conference in 35 seconds.

“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.” Psalm 116:5

The Radiant Purity Conference started tonight and will end tomorrow at 6pm. Thank you for your prayers!!

Strong in the Lord Conference, Arkansas


20130625_173725_21559 Things are going well here in Arkansas! Yesterday we concluded the “Strong in the Lord” Conference, and tomorrow the “Radiant Purity” Conference begins. Please pray for us and for the attendees.

20130626_172502_21586 Olivia (left) with three conference attendees. Olivia is just starting a Bright Lights group here in Arkansas, and we’re so glad she joined us to help at these conferences.

20130626_124320_21572 Hannah (right) and her mom and sister. Hannah’s mom told me about how faithful Hannah is in passing out tracts. She told me her favorite is the “Good Person Comic” from Living Waters. It sounds like the Lord is really using her! [smile]

The topic of “learning to witness” is often the topic that the attendees say they are most interested in. Please pray that the Lord would give these girls boldness to act upon what they are learning and truly be bright lights!

20130624_195237_21546 The Lord has provided a fantastic team of leaders. They have really been an encouragement to me! It is a true gift to be able to have fellowship with other girls who have been walking with Jesus and have riches to share because of it.

I took this picture Monday night as we were studying 2 Corinthians 1 before bed. It was very refreshing [smile]. We chose 2 Corinthians as our book for this 3 week trip.

20130626_180908_21598 Nawon talking with Nickie. Nawon is from Korea and has led a purity conference for young ladies in Korea. She sees a lot of needs among the girls there and has a heart to provide more discipleship for them in the future. We are excited about how the Lord is going to continue to use her.

20130626_190410_21608 Last night Maiike shared with us the whole story of how she began a Bright Lights group in Congo. She gave a beautiful report of the Lord’s hand at work, even though it has not been an easy process. She has been back in Canada for the last 9 months, but the local girls in Congo have continued the work. And Maiike is thrilled to be returning to Congo in September. The Lord has given her great vision for discipleship for that country, and her enthusiasm is very encouraging. [smile]