Conversation at the Park

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A few days ago as I was walking through the park I saw a teenage guy and girl sitting on the merry-go-round.
“Hey, here’s a million dollars for you guys,” I said, handing them two million dollar bill tracts.“There’s a ‘million dollar question’ on the back,” I explained. “It’s ‘Will you go to Heaven when you die?’”
Flipping the bill over, they looked at the back and laughed a little – not quite sure how to respond. That didn’t surprise me; I knew that if I acted comfortable and confident, they would probably warm up and become more serious.
“So have you had a Christian background?” I asked.
They said they had.
“What do you think? Are you sure you’ll go to Heaven?”
They nodded hesitantly. They were still going in slow circles on the merry-go-round, which made it a little difficult to speak with them since I was just standing there. 🙂 So finally I just laughed and said, “Okay, I’ll just walk around in circles with you guys”. And at that point they stopped the merry-go-round and gave me their attention.
“So why do you think you’ll go to Heaven?” I asked.
They timidly threw out a few ideas. Samantha said she had been baptized and went to church sometimes, and John said he tried to be good.
“So basically you think you’re good enough to make it to Heaven?” I asked.
They grinned awkwardly, not knowing quite how to answer.
“You know, we never know when we are going to die,” I reminded them, “So it’s important that we’re sure we’ll go to Heaven. We don’t like to think about death because it’s sort of scary, but young people die frequently in car accidents and things like that. So let’s just say you got hit by a car tonight, and stood before God and He said, ‘John, (or ‘Samantha’) why should I let you into Heaven?’ What would your answer be?”
They hesitated.
“I know it’s a tough question,” I said.
“Because I try not to be selfish… ?” John replied.
“But how do you know when you’ve been good enough to make it to Heaven?” I asked. “Even though you may not feel that you’re very bad compared to other people,” I continued, “we need to remember that God sees from a different perspective and He has a very high standard – perfection. Even if we’ve only lied once, we’ve already broken His law.”
I had their full attention now.
“If you get a speeding ticket, you have to pay the penalty, right?”
They nodded “yes”.
“And even if you don’t do anything else wrong for the rest of your life, you would still be in trouble with the law, and you would still have to pay the speeding fine.”
They agreed.
“Well, God told us in the Bible that the punishment for sin is death in hell,” I explained, “and if we’ve broken God’s laws we’ll be guilty before Him.”
They were listening very intently now and I saw conviction on their faces.
“So if you died today, are you sure you’d go to heaven or is there a possibility you’d go to hell?”
They both acknowledged there was a possibility they would go to hell.
“So what do you have to do to go to Heaven?” I asked.
They didn’t know.
“Do you want to know?” I asked. “If you want to know I’ll tell you.”
“What do you have to do to go to Heaven?” John asked.
“Well, it’s really about understanding something God did. He came to earth and became a man, Jesus, (who was fully God) and died in our place. We deserved to die for our sin, but on the cross He took the penalty we should have had. It was totally “unfair”, so to speak, because He had done nothing wrong. He was the One who was perfect, and we were the ones who had done wrong (and we did it against Him!) yet He took our penalty. It’s sort of hard to comprehend! But He did it because He loved us. I don’t really know why (what’s so special about us?) but He chose to be merciful to us. So now what we have to do is trust Him and repent from our sin. Do you know what it means to repent?
“Not do it anymore,” John said.
“Right—like a car that does a u-turn.”
He nodded in agreement.
“So, John, you mentioned you had a Christian background. Are your parents Christians?”
“My dad was. He used to read his Bible a lot, but that was before he died.”
“He died? When?”
“Three years ago,” he said.
“I’m sure more than anything else he wanted you to walk with God too,” I mentioned.
He agreed.
“Do you both have Bibles at home?” I asked them.
“Yes,” they said.
“Do you read them?” I asked.
“No,” they replied.
“Do you have your dad’s Bible?” I asked John.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Does it have his writing in it?”
“Yes, I saw some,” he answered.
“That’s really special. I’d really encourage you to get it out and start reading it!” I told him, “And I’d recommend starting in the book of ‘John.’ That shouldn’t be too hard to remember since your name is John. It’s in the second half of the Bible. There’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then John,” I explained.
He indicated that he was going to go home and read it. John had really warmed up at this point and was very receptive to everything I was saying.
“There’s really nothing more important than knowing God. Why wouldn’t we want to know our Maker – the God who created the Universe? I mean, if the God who created the universe wants to be our Friend, shouldn’t we want to be His?” I asked.
“That’s true,” John agreed.
“It was really nice talking with you guys,” I told them.
“You too! Now I need to go home and ask for forgiveness,” John said, with a sincere smile.
“Yes—that’s great—do that!” I encouraged him.
I reminded them that Satan would try to distract them and keep them from praying or reading the Bible, and that following God is an uphill climb. “But the good news,” I said, “is that when God is on your side, you have the most powerful Person in the universe helping you.”

Please pray that John will ask for God’s forgiveness and salvation (like he said he would) and that the Lord would bring other Christians along his path to water the seed!

Bright Lights Conference at Creation Museum

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The Bright Lights conference at the Creation Museum was a climax to our recent Bright Lights conference trip.

IMG_5159_2 Our team of leaders, taking advantage of the beautiful picturesque grounds.

Below are a few examples of ways we saw God working and answering prayer at this conference.

-Just a week and a half previously, a man designed and donated a Bright Lights registration sign (as seen in the registration pictures on the slide show) and delivered it to us at our conferences in Virginia. It was a wonderful addition to our registration booth outside the museum. God provided at just the right time. My dad says you might call it a “sign from God.” 🙂

-A family from Wisconsin planned a week long family trip many months ago to Ohio, intending to spend several days of that week at the Creation Museum. The mother had also wanted to come to a Bright Lights Conference sometime but had not been able to work it out to come to any previous conferences. This mother told us that she began praying that a Bright Lights Conference would be planned somewhere within driving distance of the museum during that same week since they had that time available. A few days before they left, she checked our website and found that there would be a Bright Lights Conference right at the museum itself the first day they were there!

-The weather was beautiful, allowing us to do the small groups in the outside gardens and pavilions.

-Our whole team of leaders stayed at a guest house on the museum grounds. A few museum volunteers who were staying in the same location decided to get up at 5 AM to make a pancake breakfast for our entire staff. This was completely unexpected and very much appreciated!

-Although unexpected complications could have developed from running a conference at a location where there’s already so much going on, the whole day went smoothly. From registration, to the main sessions, to the small groups outside, everything stayed on schedule, and there was an enthusiastic spirit among everyone.

-One mother gave four extra planetarium tickets to Nickie, asking her to pass them on to anyone who could use them. Praying that God would direct her to the right family, Nickie approached a mom with two daughters in the main hall and offered them the free tickets. They joyfully thanked her, and as they were walking away the mom said to the smiling little girl, “See? God gave you the desire of your heart!”

-Many girls indicated on their response forms that they made commitments to spend time in God’s Word every day, to honor their parents, to keep a clear conscience, to minister to their brothers and sisters, to keep themselves pure from polluting influences, and to be strong for the Lord in their youth.

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” Psalm 145:3-4

Ohio Conferences!

116I1839 In Ohio we did the same schedule conference as Virginia. Strong in the Lord Conference, free day, Radiant Purity Conference. It was a great week! Everyone had their “tired moments” but the Lord’s grace is always sufficient and we were all excited to see how open and responsive the girls were to the lessons we were teaching.

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IMG_5041_3Attendees

301W0857Leaders

God brought together an incredible group of leaders who persevered though all the early mornings, new pressures and responsibilities, long hours on the road, and being with people day-in and day-out. They kept serving sacrificially and cheerfully, and were a great example to me of Christ’s character. Our times of sharing from the Word and praying together were a highlight for everyone. Even though many hadn’t known each other previously, there was a special fellowship and unity in the group. True fellowship takes place when you are serving the Lord, side-by-side, and encouraging each other even when the going gets rough.

IMG_4974My brother Stephen is a very alert person. Always aware of his surroundings, he notices details other people don’t notice. He stays on top of all the “behind the scenes” technical elements of running the conferences. Projectors, lapel mics, speakers, sound mixer, lights, video equipment, computers, printers, scanners, you name it… Stephen seems to instinctively know how everything works and goes the extra mile to pursue excellence.

8-23-01_2 copy Daniel and Stephen can fix just about anything, and they had lots of opportunities to put their mechanical skills into practice (i.e. we are good at breaking things).

And by the way, thank you to those of you who were praying for the video! We haven’t viewed it yet, but we think we were able to get some good footage.

IMG_4824 Singing with our staff on our free day

IMG_5020 We also had a great game of Ultimate Frisbee game on our free day

Radiant Purity Conference, Bristol, Virginia

IMG_4589 The Radiant Purity Conference in Bristol, VA. The girls were very responsive and soaked up the lessons like a sponge.

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What would a conference be without skits?
No hectic moments backstage, no missing ques and come-ins, no messy bins of skit props, and no bloopers to laugh about afterward…

va09_rp_18In our “modesty panel,” we share lots of tips on how to put together modest outfits.

va09_rp_17Here’s a true “behind the scenes” picture… Since Daniel recently edited the DVDs of the Radiant Purity Conference we did in Omaha last April, Sarah recommended we watch the skits as a “refresher” to help us with our acting. We are excited about our new DVDs… 🙂

IMG_4349_2We’re so grateful to Lindsay, Sarah and Loren who spent many hours in the church kitchen providing healthy meals for all of us (on top of all their other responsibilities and the hectic conference schedule). You may notice the large stack of Grandma cookies; we bought those for snacks for the conference attendees and…*smile*… we found we had a few too many. So let me just warn you, if you see any of our staff in the next few weeks, don’t offer them a “Grandma cookie”.

IMG_4491 One morning while we were in Virginia, we were able to meet up with a lady who has been in contact with us regarding translating Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends into Bulgarian. It was exciting to hear stories about what the Lord is doing in Bulgarian families! She showed us one of their most recent projects– a Bulgarian translation of The True Story of Noah’s Ark.

IMG_4638 After both conferences in Virginia were over, we, along with several of the families who helped to host the conferences, sat around eating pizza and listening to testimonies and stories from the week. It was a very special time for everyone with lots of laughter and tears.

IMG_4703After our time of sharing, the guys packed the trailer…

Untitled-1 copy…while the girls cleaned the church. Hannah (left) a former Bright Lights intern, is the one who hosted the conferences in Bristol. Thanks again, Hannah, for your initiative and all your hard work! 🙂

IMG_4712After all the work was done Saturday night, we gathered around the piano and sang. It takes a while to wind down from the excitement of a conference and singing praises to the Lord was a great way to conclude the week.

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever…He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” Psalm 107:1, 20-22

Upcoming Plans!

We’re HOME! Wow, it was a great trip. The Lord gave us an incredible team and we were all excited to watch Him work throughout these past 18 days. Since I got behind on posting through the second half of the trip, I thought I’d do some catch up now. But first, I need to announce some important upcoming events for those of you who may not have heard.

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August 31-October 30: Bright Lights Internship

This nine-week internship includes Biblical studies, practical ministry training, and a variety of service opportunities with Bright Lights. Please email for more information. For young ladies 18 and up. There is still space for 1-2 more young ladies. Note: Flexibility may be arranged regarding dates.

October 5-9th: Bright Lights Leader’s Training

This five-day conference taught by Sarah Mally will equip, train and encourage young ladies who are interested in starting a Bright Lights group. It will also be an encouragement for any young lady who is interested in learning more about discipling others. Bright Lights leaders who have already been through the Training on CD are also welcome to attend to enjoy the fellowship and be refreshed with new insights and ideas. For young ladies ages 16+. Mothers are also welcome. See our website for topics and further info. See schedule for logistical details.

Contact us for questions!

Pray for the Video!

I’m sorry I’m a little behind in posting! After our free day in the woods, we did a Radiant Purity Conference in the same church in Virginia, and then drove to the Columbus, OH area where we will be doing our next two conferences. The Strong in the Lord Conference is beginning in about a half hour.

IMG_4855Adjusting cameras

We’d appreciate prayer that we’d be able to capture the conference on video. Please pray that the Lord would bless the project and cause the everything to run smoothly.

IMG_4844Samuel, Nathan and Daniel unloading another box of cables

Stephen and Daniel have been working very hard the past two days laying down cables and setting up speakers and the sound systems, lighting, cameras, back drops, etc. We’re also very grateful to David, Nathan and Samuel for the sacrifices they made to be here to run the cameras.

IMG_4865Setting up the lights

We’ve already seen the Lord fit many details together and we’re so grateful for our team of skilled young men who are willing to help in this way. A good video of the conference would enable us to be able to reach so many more girls with the message of Bright Lights. But there are always many things that could go wrong, so we’d appreciate prayer that God would cause it to be a success. Thank you so much. The conference starts tonight and runs through tomorrow at 5pm.

Mountain Top Experience

116I9654 On Thursday, in between conferences, we had a great time hiking in Grayson Highlands State Park.

116I9648I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to be out there in the woods!

116I9662God blessed us with a beautiful breezy day and I sort of felt like I was walking inside a beautiful painting. One of the highlights of the day was just spending more time with the others in our group. We don’t always have much time to talk while running the conferences.

IMG_4395 It was so beautiful Lauren just couldn’t quit hiking –even after her shoes wore out!

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IMG_4416 It was fun to get acquainted with the friendly free-range ponies in the park. They were so cute.

IMG_4452 After we were all tired and hungry, we enjoyed a great lasagna dinner out on the Stam’s back deck. The Stams are the family who hosted both the Strong in the Lord Conference and the Radiant Purity Conference (which I’m going to post about next) in Bristol. They have a wonderful family and we so appreciate all the sacrifices they’ve made to bring these conferences here!

Strong in the Lord Conference in Bristol, Virginia

IMG_4292 Praying with our group of leaders before the conference starts.

IMG_4325 Girls and mothers arriving

IMG_4319 …picking up their name tags…

301W0386 …and gathering for the main session.

IMG_4341Throughout the conference we go back and forth between the main sessions and small group times. The groups have names such as “Stars”, “Fireflies”, “Flashlights”, etc.

116I9513 “What was your favorite part of the conference?” I often ask the girls. “The skits!” they often reply with a little grin and twinkle in their eye.

116I9580 We use the skits to reinforce what we’re teaching. This skit is called “The Conscience Skit” and teaches the importance of confessing your sin and keeping a clear conscience.

116I9607 The “CBN Broadcast Skit”

116I9623 We concluded the conference with candles and encouraging the girls to “…Let Your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and praise your father in Heaven…!” (Matthew 5:16)

One of the highlights after the a conference is talking with the girls and moms as they are leaving. Many moms and explain with emotion how much the Lord used the conference in their lives and their daughters’ lives. We are reminded that even though we can’t see all of the fruit right now, we must “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 1 Cor 4:18

The Beginning of a Great Trip!

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After about 17 hours on the road, our “Bright Lights Team” is still looking cheerful as we arrive in Bristol, Virginia. We were very encouraged about how God put this team together. We’ve already had a lot of good talks and good times together.

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The first two conferences will be held at this church here in Virginia.

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Today was spent unloading, setting up, practicing music, practicing skits, entering last minute registrations into our database, and organizing countless details… Everyone has a different area that they are in charge of. For example, Abigail and Tia put up signs all over the church indicating where each “small group” will be held. They did a terrific job. Here’s a little glimpse of their afternoon….
IMG_4261 “How should we arrange these signs so the girls can find their small group rooms easily?” “Should we put it there?”

IMG_4260 “Or should we put it here?”

IMG_4259 “Oh, this is so confusing!”