Have you ever prayed that God would use you? That His hands and feet would be your hands and feet and that your words would be His words. Have you ever hoped that your feeble contribution would be seen as amazing in God's eyes and that He would take it and make it something incredible? Well that is what I witnessed this weekend at Shine Girls Conference 2014.
Organised by the amazing Urban Saints, I am sure you are bored of me talking about Shine by now, but this weekend really is transformational for many of the teenage girls that attend. They get a real opportunity to meet with God (sometimes for the first time) and to connect with their creator. They get a chance to deal with issues that affect girls in our society today and to see them in a biblical light. They are allowed to express their worship of God creatively through dance, drama, art, media and music. And most importantly of all they get to be girls - doing it all together and having fun!
So I wanted to share with you a few of the high points of the weekend for me personally - the moments when I could tell that God was using me and that I can now reflect and say "yep - that is why is was so important for me to be there!". Because I know for a lot of the leaders - core team and shine angels - that it wasn't an easy journey to get to Shine. It was costly in terms of finances, time, energy but also many of us know that in the weeks leading up to it we were spiritually attacked. For me it was the thought of having to leave my little boy who had started teething really badly and waking up shrieking and screaming in pain. Every inch on me wanted to stay and cuddle him, but I knew that my husband would be more than capable of doing that and that this was just a voice trying to convince me not to go - one that I shouldn't listen to.
|Pallet art symbolising the freedom that God's love brings|
- I got to run a stream on expressing our love for God and exploring God's unconditional love for us through creative arts. This was so much fun using wooden pallets, nails and wool to create some beautiful pieces of artwork and also creating love catchers. But for me a precious moment was watching the girls writing love letters from God to them, them to God and to others who don't know God's love. It was one of those activities that I thought might fall a bit flat, but God totally used it to speak words of love into these girls.
- I got to share a part of my testimony. I already wrote about preparing for this (read it here if you didn't catch it!) and it was flipping scary presenting it. But the encouragement for me personally was amazing - all the girls cheered and one girl shouted "you got this!". But the real heart moments for me were afterwards. That evening I got to pray with a girl who was going through similar things as me, and I spoke to a leader who was the mother of a girl who had been really touched by it. The next day when waiting in the lunch queue a 16 year old girl told me that what I said sounded like I was talking about her life and I was able to encourage her that if she stays strong it will get easier.
- I had the privilege of praying with a girl who had made her first commitment to God on the Saturday evening and who was scared because she had never committed to anything before. I prayed that God would cast away the fear and just bring peace in that decision.
- I got to speak to a girl who has 17 and going to uni in September. I was able to explain to her what she might expect there and how to get involved in the CU and church so that she can continue living out her faith in her new life there.
Finally, a moment that blew me away and shall stay with me was when a girl came to join the leaders in praying for her friend who was in tears and heartbroken - that young girl's prayers were so filled with faith and love for her friend and it was amazing to see her so on fire for God and wanting to stand with her friend in whatever situation she was going through. And that is why I do Shine.
P.S. Not to take away from the sentimentality of this post, but I clearly suit this look and shall amending my appearance accordingly.....