Willoughby Hills, Ohio

The Strong in the Lord Conference here in Willoughby Hills, Ohio ended Wednesday evening. Thank you to all who prayed for the video taping. There was a lot of joy among our group as we learned how well the taping went and as we heard about the little miracles that happened behind the scenes on the technical side of things. The conference itself went very well and we have been so encouraged by the feedback.

The Radiant Purity conference here starts in a few hours.

Please pray that the Lord works in hearts and lives– that His kindness (Rom 2:4) leads many to make the decision to surrender entirely to Jesus. We’d appreciate prayer for the small group discussions, main sessions, singing, skits, and all the other behind the scenes details…

And thank you for all of you who have been praying for our team. In our team devotional time this morning, Sarah was mentioning to us how it was such a huge blessing that there has been such joy and love in the group even though many are quite tired by this time. It’s so refreshing to be in a group where the atmosphere is one of joy and praise to God vs complaining — and we definitely attribute this to God’s grace!

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (1 Thess 3:12-13)

Please Pray

The first conference here in Willoughby Hills, Ohio (near Cleveland) starts tonight.

Stephen flew in three good friends who are very experienced with video (Andrew Baskerville from our town and Daniel and Samuel Roberts from Alabama) to tape the conference.

We would appreciate prayer about this. It is a major effort to gather the crew, set up all the equipment, practice the skits with the video crew, work through lots of misc. details, and finally shoot the conference. And all kinds of things can go wrong – from lighting to sound to equipment failures to missed lines or sickness or crying babies!

Please pray for us, and for the video crew. It would be so exciting to have this available to reach more young ladies. We can’t go to more than six cities a year for live Bright Lights conferences but with video each Bright Lights group would be able to host their own small conference.

“Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.” Psalm 68:28

More Conference Pics!

I thought I’d post a few more pictures from our last set of conferences in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Omaha, Nebraska.

Conference attendees!

Sarah sharing about guarding your heart

Hannah and Stephen

The kitchen always becomes the popular gathering place for our team of leaders. Here we are eating bran muffins and smoothies brought over by Mrs. Kolar, who hosted the conference.

We really appreciated Lindsay (left) and her very sweet and enthusiastic Bright Lights group. They brought our team some snacks one afternoon.

…and we REALLY enjoyed them. Right, Lilly? 🙂

We also really appreciated the families that hosted the conferences in Wisconsin! Here is our team with several girls from Serena Kamp’s Bright Lights group at a 4th of July cookout.

On the 4th of July our group of leaders (about 20 girls) went to a local small town parade and passed out our little tracts called “The Price of Liberty” about how just as our freedom was purchased through the blood of soldiers who gave their lives, our spiritual freedom with God was purchased through the blood of Jesus Christ. Hannah (red shirt) got into a very good conversation with these girls about the gospel and how one can know they have peace with God.

Here is the shower schedule for our team of leaders. It’s a little different living with 15-20 girls for two weeks! But we don’t know what we would do without the great team of girls that God has brought together to help us lead the conferences. We have a lot of good times together!

We also appreciated many girls who were local to the area who helped as assistants on small groups.

And THIS is the spider that gave me and Nickie a very…um…exciting wake-up one morning. It looked quite a bit bigger with it was alive and standing up just inches from Nickie’s pillow.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and we are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for our next trip to Pennslyvania and Ohio. We are leaving in three days now!

Answers to Prayer

Psalm 105:1 tells us to “make known His deeds among the people,” so I wanted to share a few of the ways we saw the Lord work at the recent Bright Lights Conferences in Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Small Group Combination
Rachel Wissmann (right) reported that while she got acquainted with one of the girls on her small group team in the sanctuary before the conference started, the girl shared how she had been through a traumatic accident, but how through it the Lord showed His goodness and faithfulness in her life. Later that evening, during the first small group time, a different girl in Rachel’s group explained how she had trouble trusting God’s goodness. So, Rachel asked the first girl she had met (who had the traumatic accident) to share her testimony with the whole group. This was just the perfect thing for the other girl to hear, and it was also a catalyst for some great conversation for the whole team. We were reminded how God answered prayer in putting the right girls on the right teams!

Changed Hearts
“When I first arrived I didn’t think I was going to fit in here, but I’m so glad I came!” one girl told Sarah. She continued, “And I’m the type of person who, when I like something, I bring all my friends too!”
We knew that some of the girls didn’t want to come, and Sarah had actually asked me to send an e-mail to our church’s e-mail loop back home to ask for prayer regarding those girls. We saw many answers to that prayer.

One girl, just by her body language, made it obvious she didn’t want to be there. One of our leaders, Abby, noticed this right away and began praying. Later we learned this girl had a big turnaround and by the end of the night she was enthusiastically interacting with the group.

Another girl at the Purity Conference was goofing off with her friends, but in her response form she wrote something about how she wanted to “talk to her parents about crushes and things and save her first kiss for her wedding.”

Lessons that “Stuck”
One of the most encouraging reports I heard about was from Kara, who had attended a Radiant Purity Conference in Omaha two years ago. She shared how the Lord worked in her life at that conference and gave her a new perspective and desire to live for Him.
Sarah told her it was really encouraging to see the lessons that were taught stick with girls.
“Oh it stuck,” she and her mom said in unison and laughed.
Praise God!

But that’s only part of the story. You see, two months after the conference two years ago, Kara had a brain aneurism and a very serious surgery. Kara shared a testimony at this conference (picture above) about how she can now see the Lord’s hand of preparation. She strongly testified with joy how the Lord is faithful.

Kara’s mom and Kara

Lost Contact Lens
Right before the final session at the WI Purity Conference, I lost one of my contacts while leading my small group discussion outside. I looked for a few minutes and found nothing. I wear the tiny hard kind so finding it in the grass would be very unlikely. “A needle in a haystack,” my dad said. But they are expensive and inconvenient to reorder. I had to go in for the next session but prayed that my Dad and John (another guy helping Stephen) would find it. They decided to take a 6 inch square of grass and thoroughly search, and amazingly they found it in about 10 seconds!

Small Group Distraction Fixed
One of the younger girls was very disruptive in her small group, so Sarah was going to remove her from the group for a little while by doing some one-on-one time with her. But she was resistant to both Sarah and her small group leader and would not come out of the room. So a handful of girls outside the door prayed and asked the Lord to calm this girl down so that the small group could continue without distraction. But before they had even finished praying, the girl stood up and walked right out of the room on her own initiative. They considered this a little miracle, and the small group leader (inside the room) was so surprised, not knowing about the prayer.

Smooth Equipment and Health
As we list answers to prayer, one thing that we are so grateful for is all the things that didn’t go wrong. Thankfully, the technical side of things ran pretty smooth the whole time–thanks to Stephen who does a great job keeping that all under control. We are also grateful that no one on our team got sick. When you are living with 15-20 other girls for two weeks sickness can travel quickly!

Healing Hurts
Danielle (above), one of our leaders, told us about an 18-yr-old girl in her group at the Radiant Purity conference who had been hurt and humiliated by people she trusted. Danielle was praying for a chance to talk one-on-one with her, and before the last main session it worked out for them to stay back and talk privately. Tears streamed down this girl’s cheeks as Danielle shared that she can be pure in Christ’s eyes, no matter what has happened to her, and that He will place a robe of righteousness on her which will make her so beautiful to God. She also wept as Danielle assured her that as she allows God to mold her inner character, some day a godly young man will love her and cherish and protect her, and won’t judge her as other people in her past have—or view her as damaged. Danielle shared the gospel with her and sent her away with the Scripture verses written on a paper and she repeatedly thanked Danielle.

Though the conferences in Oshkosh and Omaha are over, the Lord’s work is far from finished. And, as Lindsay (Bright Lights leader in Omaha) reminded us in an e-mail, Ecclesiastes 3:14 says “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”

Praise God that nothing can stop His work.

We would really appreciate it if you would join us in prayer for the upcoming conferences in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.

Oshkosh, Wisconsin Conferences

Here are a few pictures from the Strong in the Lord Conference and Radiant Purity Conference which took place this past week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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We are grateful for the hospitality of Wyldewood Baptist Church and for the wonderful group of people who hosted the conference. Thank you to any who were praying. It is definitely a highlight to see girls and parents respond with enthusiasm to the messages being taught.

You can go over to Emily’s blog if you’d like to see more pictures from the conferences.

We are now setting up at Emmanuel Fellowship Church in Omaha Nebraska and would appreciate prayer for the two upcoming conferences here. The Strong in the Lord conference starts tomorrow night and the Radiant Purity Conference starts Friday night.

Strong in the Lord Conference in Rogers, Arkansas

Registration begins

Attendees! 🙂

Haley, Natalie and Megan lead a Bright Lights group together in Foster, Texas and joined us to help lead this conference. They were a blessing!!

Small group time!

Kelly, from the Minneapolis area, joined our team for the week to cook for us. I’ll have to say, we ate very well. Kelly is also extremely cheerful, which is an encouragement to everyone.

After the Strong in the Lord conference was over, we had a sharing time during supper. These times are always encouraging as we hear stories from each other of how the Lord worked, share prayer requests, laugh about the skit “bloopers,” and things like that.

We appreciated all the Duggar girls did to help with the conferences from spreading the word to helping in small groups to hosting our whole group at their home Thursday night.

We enjoyed a very nice evening and fantastic meal at the Duggar home Thursday night.

We really appreciate the Duggars’ ministry mindset and it is exciting to see how the Lord is using them!

Duggars, our team, and other local friends and some conference attendees.

I will post about the adventures of the Radiant Purity conference in a couple days.

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’s name is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high…” Psalm 113:1-5

GigaPan of Strong in the Lord Conference in Rogers, AR

We are praising God for bringing such a special group of young ladies and parents to the Bright Lights conference in Rogers, AR these past two days. It has been a big encouragement to be with other families who are seeking the Lord and His ways.

Thank you to all who were praying – more reports to come.

Below are two GigaPan images we shot at the Strong in the Lord conference. Use the controls on the left side to zoom in, out, left and right. We suggest you use the links below and view them in full screen. If you attended the conference make sure you zoom in and see if you can find yourself.

To view full screen click here

To view full screen click here

Strong in the Lord Conference, Duluth, MN

Moms and daughters arriving and picking up their nametags!

We are definitely aware that prayer is the one main necessary component for a conference to be successful, and we rejoiced at many answers to prayer throughout the two weeks of conferences. One answer to prayer was the attendance the Lord brought. We prayed for a specific number for each conference and those numbers were exceeded each time. Thank you to all of you were joined us in praying for these conferences!

The sisters who could not get along…

After the first evening, we had some complaints about crying babies so around 11pm Stephen drove to Wisconsin (okay, actually it was only a 30 mintute drive), bought a speaker system, and set it up in the lobby. Things were SO much better the next day. Yea!

The “Good Conscience Sisters”

The “Guilty Conscience Sisters”

We had some problems with mics making loud and unusual noises the first night. They have never done this before, so we included this issue as a prayer e-mail we sent out. The next day we had little to no problems with the mics. Praise the Lord for how He answers prayer and helps us fix problems in all the dimensions of the conference.

An answer to prayer–Hannah, who joined our team for the first time at this conference, knew sign language and was able to fill a need perfectly by helping with the interpreting at the conference.

Enjoying small group times!

Moms and daughters, ready for the next session to begin…

The horse race is beginning in 5 minutes!!

“Let it shine till Jesus Comes. I’m gonna let it shine….”

More pictures coming soon! In the meantime, if you’d like to see a report from the conferences on Emily Schuurman’s blog, click here.

Or to see a fun collection of photos from Chelsy Bontrager’s camera, see her blog here.

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” Philippians 2:14-15

Strong in the Lord Conference, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Here’s Bryant putting together packages of the Bright Lights Songbook and CD for our booktable at the conferences. We had to resort to our old system of shrink wrapping using an iron since our shrink wrapper broke!

Tuesday moring, our team of leaders gathered for “teacher’s training”, sharing in the Word, and prayer. These are always encouraging times! It’s always refreshing to hear the special verses that have encouraged the other leaders as they have spent time with the Lord preparing for the conference.

Here is the “Folly / Wisdom Skit” in the first main session. This skit tells the story of Wisdom, a girl making good decisions based on an eternal perspective, compared to Folly who just does what feels good.

We gathered as a group of leaders for “cool down” after the first evening to share encouraging stories and prayer requests.

Bekah and Karissa were very dramatic in acting the skit of the two sisters who could not get along…they did a great job.

Enjoying “the pyramid activity!” in small group time as we talked about brothers and sisters learning to be teammates and work together.

The “Dead Conscience Sisters,” reviewing their skit lines backstage. We enjoyed having Laura (Nickie’s sister) on our team again this time! Since she has two kids now she can’t travel with us anymore but she was able to help since the conference was local.

We all love the relationships we are able to make with the girls in our small group teams.

One of the most encouraging things for us is to hear testimonies of lives the Lord touched through the conference. I thought I’d share a few comments we recieved:

“I am going to try to read the Bible for 15 min or a chapter every day. I am also going to try to honor my parents and be kinder to my sister.” -13-year-old girl

“My oldest daughter already has her Bible reading plan commitment in place! My 8 year-old told me last night that she is SO happy and that she feels like a new person inside, 🙂 , and maybe this is what it feels like to really BE a Christian. What joy! ” -Mom

“We were at the Bright Lights conference this past Tuesday and Wednesday. We so enjoyed ourselves… I was especially blessed when my 10 year old daughter approached me yesterday morning to tell me of some things that were weighing on her conscience.” -Mom

We are so grateful for those who have upheld this conference in prayer. The Radiant Purity Conference which followed also went wonderfully, and I will report about that soon. We are now in MN preparing for the next Strong in the Lord Conference which begins tomorrow evening. Please pray that hearts would be changed at these next two conferences.

2009: A Year in Review

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