Powette 2015 "SOAR"
|Bonnie PaitPen Florida Girls Ministries Director|
Is. 40:31 "But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint" (NLT).
District events. Hours upon hours of hard work, phone call after phone call, traveling, planning, organizing, and most importantly hours of prayer and fasting! Sometimes we ask ourselves is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
District events bring the women and girls together, building community and relationships throughout the state. They encourage the women and girls by letting them know that others are involved in Girls Ministries just as they are each week. It encourages them in knowing they are not alone and what God is doing is way bigger than just in their local classrooms and churches.
Each year Pen-Florida hosts Powette, our state's "big event" in Girls Ministries. We have watched the Lord bring an increase in attendance each year for the past five years, and it is amazing watching God do His thing! Powette in Pen-Florida is a weekend of tent camping. A weekend to engage with God and connect with others in the great outdoors. This includes plenty of great activities, like paintball, airsoft, mud tug of war, an obstacle course, water slides, tubing in the river, BMX bikes, volleyball competition, and so much more. The girls have such a great time playing together and building deeper relationships around the campfires at night.
Each evening we have an incredible service with an amazing worship team and speaker. We allow the Spirit of God to have His way each night. Our services start at 6:30 p.m. and end when the last girl is prayed for. We allow the leaders to leave with their girls when they feel like they have been ministered to. Many nights we are there until 10:30 ministering around the altars as the girls linger in the presence of God.
This year our speaker was Natalie Barnoske, Pen-Florida's Youth Alive missionary. She was amazing and challenged the girls to dig deeper into the Word to soar higher in Christ. The altars were filled each night with hundreds of girls! Some coming to Christ for the first time, other being filled with the Holy Spirit, many were set free from fear and other things. There were testimonies of physical healings and so much more. God did way beyond what we ever could have imagined!
This year we tried something new on Saturday morning. Instead of our normal morning service, we had sectional devotions. When we assign campsites, we place churches that are in the same sections together. Again the goal is to build relationships within the sections, among the churches. So this year we made time for the sections to gather together for devotions. The Reps were in charge of the time and could do whatever they felt the Lord wanted. Let me tell you, the ladies/girls LOVED it! We had so much positive feedback from this that we will continue to do it.
Friday nights we have a special time with just our Teen Girls. We usually have some sort of food and games going on in the lodge and an interactive scavenger hunt going on outside. The girls love it! We had a little bit of a problem this year, but it was a good problem. We had over 350 teenage girls come, so we had to break them into groups and assign them different times to come. God has been bringing increase in our Teen Girls Ministry and it is so exciting!
People have asked us, How are you growing? What is the key? Honestly, only God knows. But I believe there are two things that we are implementing here. First, everything we do is bathed in prayer. We are not about just having another event for the event's sake. There is plenty of that. If we do something, we want the mind and heart of Christ in it. Our Pen-Florida Girls Ministry team spends many hours in prayer, seeking the Lord, listening for His voice and direction.
As a leader, I feel like Moses felt when he said in Exodus 33:15, "If You don't personally go with us, don't make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me-on me and your people-if you don't go with us? For Your Presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth" (NLT). We are all about the presence of God, because it is the presence and power of God that will change people's lives.
Second, we work hard to build relationships with the women involved with Girls Ministries across our state. We spend time making phone calls, texting, emailing, and just keeping communication open. The ladies in our state are not just Girls Ministry leaders, they are our friends. I travel two weekends a month visiting churches and having coffee with the women out there. I want to know their stories. I want them to know that as a district we are here to help and serve them. What they do matters and is making an eternal difference in so many lives. We just need to show them they are loved, valued and appreciated.
Are the endless hours of preparation, little sleep, and time away from home worth it? Absolutely! Lives being changed for all eternity is always worth the cost!