BLUME: Teen girls challenged to consider missions heritage

Baptist Press
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Posted: Aug 17, 2011 4:22 PM
BLUME: Teen girls challenged to consider missions heritage
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP) -- Blume, sponsored by WMU, has been held every four or five years since it was begun in 1972 as the National Acteens Convention. This year's gathering was July 13-16 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Blume followed the creation of Acteens, the Southern Baptist missions organization for girls in grades 7-12, in 1970.

While sponsored by Woman's Missionary Union, Blume is open to all teen girls and collegiate young women from across the country to respond to God's call to a greater understanding, awareness and support of the worldwide mission in the cause of Christ. The former Acteens convention (NAC) was re-envisioned as Blume in 2007.

Blume includes hands-on ministry projects; interaction with missionaries; worship, Bible studies and breakout sessions. This year, an interactive cultural activity in Epcot was customized for Blume through Disney's Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.) program.

The following seven stories, as drafted by WMU, appear after the index below:

-- Teen girls challenged to consider missions heritage

-- Raise awareness of human trafficking, Blume participants told

-- Girls explore cultures at Blume

-- How your decisions affect your future

-- Blume participants challenged to 'fan the flame'

-- Blume participants encouraged to share Christ

-- WRAP-UP: Teen girls challenged to missional living at Blume

Teen girls challenged to consider missions heritage

By Julie Walters

ORLANDO, Fla.--Nearly 2,350 girls in grades 7-12 and their leaders, along with some collegiate young women, gathered for the opening session of Blume where they were encouraged to appreciate their spiritual and missions heritage and consider ways they could begin living a legacy of faith ... even now in their high school and college years.

Blume, a missions event for teen girls sponsored by national WMU, opened July 13 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., with high-energy music led by Christian recording artist Cindy Johnson and her band from Winston-Salem, N.C.

A focus on "living a legacy" was introduced by the 2011 National Acteens Panelists as they talked about the beginnings of WMU and the legacy of missions they enjoy today thanks to missions advocates in WMU who came before them. They also each thanked a special woman who personally invested in her and taught her the importance of serving others and sharing Jesus.

For National Acteens Panelist Andrea Niles, that special woman is Suzette Gibson, her Acteens leader at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Key West, Fla.

"I know the Lord put her in my life to show me what a servant heart is," Niles shared. "Because of her, I have developed a relationship with God that has led me to make missions my lifestyle. She has supported and educated me to be a part of the bigger picture—God's picture. I'm thankful someone passed on her passion for missions to me."

Chandra Peele, nationally known speaker, author, and founder of GAB (Godly and Beautiful) Ministries, referenced 2 Timothy 1:3-14, the Scripture of focus for Blume. Taking a closer look at verses 3-5, Peele related how Timothy benefitted from the spiritual legacy passed on to him by his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice, as well as being mentored by Paul.

"Lois and Eunice were living out the Christian life, teaching young Timothy," Peele said, "never imagining that he would become one of the most famous missionaries of all time.

"You just never know what God has planned," she continued. "As we gather here today, years from now we will see how the teaching and legacy of others shaped your life, and prepared you for what God has called you to do."

Peele told the girls that Paul and Timothy traveled together in their missionary journey, and had such a strong relationship that Paul referred to Timothy as his son. Even when they were apart, it was their prayers that kept them close, the kindred spirit of two Christian brothers.

"Your spiritual heritage is so valuable and worth so much," Peele asserted. "Who do you need to say 'thank you' to? Who is your 'Paul?'"

Peele also challenged the girls to consider ways they are leaving a spiritual legacy today.

"People are always watching ... do they see the character of Jesus in you?" she challenged.

For the next several days, Blume attendees interacted with a host of international and North American missionaries; participated in hands-on ministry projects, dynamic worship, breakout sessions, and Bible studies; and experienced a unique and interactive cultural activity in Epcot customized just for Blume through Disney's Youth Education Series (YES) program.

Held every four to five years, Blume began in 1972 as the National Acteens Convention (NAC). Since then, thousands of young women have gathered together from all across the US and have felt God's call on their lives to a greater understanding, awareness, and support of the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ. NAC was re-envisioned as Blume in 2007.

Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for WMU.

Raise awareness of human trafficking, Blume participants told

By Julie Walters

ORLANDO, Fla.--"There have never been more slaves in the world as there are right now," stated Ginger Smith, executive director of the Mission Centers of Houston, during a breakout session at Blume.

During the missions conference for teen girls, participants learned about the reality of human trafficking through general sessions, missionary speakers, and an interactive exhibit called Trafficked! that is for sale through WMU on a DVD for churches to replicate.

"The number one age group that gets trafficked is 12-17-year-olds," Smith told the girls in her conference. "Your peers need to hear this. It's not just kids from Mexico or Chicago. It moves so fast."

Smith urged the girls to call the national hotline (1-888-3737-888) if they suspected a problem, but also gave other ways to help tackle sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

In addition to knowing the hotline number, Smith encouraged the girls to pray for direction and wisdom, educate themselves about the issue, be more aware of potential red flags in their community, and to be an advocate by speaking up and educating others.

"You will leave knowing more about human trafficking than most in your church and your community, so go back and tell them about it and educate them," Smith said. "Check on laws in your state and be an advocate."

Smith also underscored the importance of working with law enforcement. She related a time when a staff member of hers was giving away clothes when asked if he would like to buy a girl for $10.

"We reported it, but my immediate reaction was to be a vigilante," Smith confessed, "to go help her, but we must work with law enforcement. When I've told this story before, some have asked, 'Why didn't you pay the $10 and at least save that one girl?' But if I had done that, I would be guilty of criminal activity.

"Many faith-based groups with good intentions disrupt or hamper investigations," Smith continued, "but our job is to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement."

Smith added that while Houston is one of the front runners in addressing human trafficking, the city has 220 police officers assigned to narcotics and just four assigned to human trafficking.

Smith said additional ways to get involved include partnering with an existing local organization or coalition; developing resources for the faith-based community; and providing resources for law enforcement and rescue organizations such as clothes, furniture and food.

"They are often wearing what they had on when they were sold, so we provide police officers with clothes to give to them," Smith said. "We also collect crackers and snack items to give them. We may never see the person we are helping to free, and that's okay. As Christians, it's important that we never exploit victims or dramatize their stories for our benefit."

Girls explore cultures at Blume

By Julie Walters

ORLANDO, Fla.--WMU partnered with Disney's YES (Youth Education Series) program to provide an interactive cultural experience at Epcot customized for Blume participants.

As the girls "visited" three different countries, Epcot facilitators led the girls through interactive learning experiences that helped them to recognize that while there are differences among people around the world, there are also many commonalities that bring cultures and people together.

At each of the three featured countries, the girls also spent time with a Blume facilitator for a biblical component in which they explored the theme for Acteens this year -- G3: The Power of a Girl to Change the World. G3 encourages girls to focus on three girls: herself, a girl next door, and a girl on the other side of the world.

"We got to experience different countries, tell about foreign experiences, and meet new people," said Alex Ellzey, an Acteen at Tuckers Crossing Baptist Church, Laurel, Miss. "It was a lot of fun."

The activity that seemed to resonate strongly with many girls was an activity on stereotypes that focused on a girl next door, or the G2 component of the Acteens theme.

The girls were shown five different photos of teen girls that represented a stereotypical athlete, bookworm, punk rocker, cheerleader and hippie. In small groups, the girls then answered questions as if they were the girl in the photo ... questions like what makes her happy? What is she scared of? What are her dreams?

They were then shown photos of the same girls a few years older, each dressed in generic clothing that didn't infer anything about her personality or interests, helping to make the point that the participants' assumptions of each girl were only that—assumptions based on outward appearances.

Blume facilitators encouraged the girls to get to know people, to look beyond appearances and to look at the heart as God does. The girls were told that everyone deserves to shown love and respect.

"The stereotype activity was eye-opening," said Allie Thompson, a ninth grader from Sulphur Springs Baptist Church, Franklin, Ky. "We need to look deep down at people and not just what's on the surface."

An Acteens group from Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, also cited the stereotype activity as one of their favorites.

"Things aren't always as they appear," Kathy Hutton, a 10th grader from Hyde Park, noted. "It was interesting to see how what we perceive is often different from what is real."

Ruth Stephens, an 11th grader from Hyde Park, said she enjoyed the entire YES program. "I liked how our leaders guided us through the activities and explained why ... they made the activities apply to us today."

Blume, a missions event for teen girls sponsored by national WMU at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., brought nearly 2,350 girls and leaders together July 13-16.

How your decisions affect your future

By Julie Walters

ORLANDO, Fla.--Stacey Smith and her two brothers were raised in a good home with loving parents. In school, she was president of the student council, a cheerleader, and a member of many academic clubs. She had a bright future ... until a series of bad decisions led her to a place she never thought she would be.

At age 29, Smith was arrested while transporting drugs from Texas to Arkansas, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. But her bad decisions began at age 16 when her parents didn't approve of her boyfriend.

"So what did I want?" Smith asked the girls in her breakout session during Blume, a missions conference for teen girls. "That boy. I got pregnant, had an abortion, and began a path to a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol I didn't anticipate ... certainly against what my parents taught me."

Smith said since females are relational, bad decisions are often due to bad relationships. She said it's important to understand the role of emotions in decision-making -- emotions plus will overcomes the mind; emotions plus mind overcomes the will; but mind plus overcomes emotions.

"Emotions are often unstable," Smith stated, "and need to be given to the Lord. You will always have to fight against yourself and see what God wants for you. Every time I let Stacey run my life rather than the Lord, I ended up in places that really brought rejection and fear."

Smith identified fear and broken relationships as hindrances to making the right decisions. She offered Biblical truths that addressed fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy, fear of the unknown, and fear of loneliness -- common fears that lead to bad decisions and hold one back.

"If you make decisions based on how you feel and you fear being lonely, then that fear can cause you to attach in wrong ways," Smith asserted. "God has shown me that when I feel lonely, that His way of saying, 'Stacey, I miss you.'"

Broken relationships, including a lack of fellowship with God, damaged or strained relationships with parents, and an over-dependence on friends can lead to lack of discernment or poor life decisions.

"If you resist your parents' or guardian's leadership, you will resist God's leadership," Smith told the girls. "Wisdom is proclaimed through your parents, teachers, counselors and others God puts in your life. It's important to listen to them."

Smith then offered several solutions for making the right decisions.

"Dedicate your mind, will and emotions to God, maybe several times a day," Smith urged. "Restore basic relationships, and look for disciples verses friends so you can sharpen one another."

She also suggested the girls reflect on their personal fears and triggers of sinful behavior.

"Discover rhemas -- a verse of Scripture the Holy Spirit has personalized for you -- that speaks to each fear you have," Smith encouraged. "It's also important to anticipate cycles of life. There are certain cyclical things that will happen in life, some good and some not, but be aware of how you tick and what triggers sinful reactions in you."

Finally, Smith told the girls that what they plant today, will grow tomorrow.

"Plant the Word of God in your heart every day for the rest of your life," Smith encouraged, "water it by sharpening one another, rehearse the Word in your heart, and wait on it to bear fruit."

Today, Smith serves as an MSC-2 missionary with the North American Mission Board and serves as prison chaplain at McPherson Women's Prison in Newport, Ark.

In reflection, Smith said, "I wish I had listened to my mom and dad when I was your age. I never grew up thinking I want to go to prison. But it was one bad choice after another that got me there.

"I was saved in prison," Smith continued, "and I know God forgave my sins the moment I confessed them, but He didn't remove the circumstances. Though I got out early, I'm still on parole and can't leave my county without permission. But God is taking the consequences of my life and using them for good. He can take every part of our lives and use it for His glory."

Blume participants challenged to 'fan the flame'

By Julie Walters

ORLANDO, Fla.--Human trafficking, a $32 billion dollar industry, is the second largest criminal industry in the U.S. Ranking first is drug trafficking and third is the sale of illegal weapons. While drugs and weapons are sold or used once, a human can be sold 15 to 30 times a day.

Kay Bennett, NAMB missionary and director of the Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, related these and other staggering statistics and stories about human trafficking during the Thursday evening general session at Blume.

Bennett shared that as many as 2.8 million children and teens leave home and live on the streets. Within 48 hours of leaving home, one-third of them will be sold into prostitution.

In New Orleans where Bennett serves, a local study revealed that of 157 teens in a local shelter, 57 percent had been trafficked.

Ginger Smith, executive director of the Mission Centers of Houston, said they are also seeing many signs of human trafficking in her area.

"We are seeing things in Houston that we haven't seen before," Smith noted. "Things like billboards to end modern day slavery. We are hearing how you can get a girl for $2 at the corner cantina. But this is not just in the large cities ... it's in your town."

Bennett, Smith and others are focused on helping those who are victims of human trafficking or at risk along the I-10 corridor, an interstate that runs from Jacksonville, Fla. to Santa Monica, Calif. One of the ways they are reaching out is by placing flyers in truck stop restrooms with the national hotline number to call for help.

"We are making highways into lifeways," Bennett said, "reaching people one at a time. You can also get involved. You have the power to change your community, your state, the United States, the world. It's up to you."

Belinda Baker*, a missionary serving in East Asia, told the girls how she came to minister to victims of human trafficking across the globe.

"I was not a believer growing up. I was mean ... a real bully," Baker said, adding that her father was an alcoholic.

"My sister consistently shared the gospel with me for four years and I finally accepted Christ at 27," Baker shared. "I had never been joyful before that."

Baker said shortly after her conversion, she was talking on the phone to an old friend who had grown up in a Baptist church. Hearing the joy in Baker's voice, her childhood friend asked, "Belinda, have you been saved?"

Baker responded, "You know what that is? Why didn't you tell me?"

Her friend, who had been a member of Girls in Action and Acteens, replied, "I thought you were the only person who couldn't be saved."

After that, Baker said she prayed the Lord would send her to people that no one thought could be saved.

"So God sent me to East Asia," she continued. "He opened up my eyes to exploitation of women -- the enslaved, the trapped, and those in brothels. My heart and passion is the gospel and that every woman enslaved in sexual sin would hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. He loves them and wants them to have joy."

Working with national believers, Baker goes to brothels with gift bags filled with scones, a Bible, a DVD, and other items to give to the women.

"We go in pairs with a simple message," she said. "We tell them, 'We love God. God loves them, and He told us to come give you this.' Their response is usually, 'Really? God knows me?'"

Baker told of one brothel they visited in which all the girls got saved. They went back, and when the owner believed, the brothel closed.

"I don't know where they went, but they have the sword and power of the Holy Spirit within them," Baker said.

"Don't be like that girl I knew who came to things like this and didn't tell me ," Baker admonished. "Go back to where you came from and you tell them about Jesus Christ. Go tell that mean girl."

Citing 2 Timothy 1:6-8, keynote speaker Chandra Peele challenged the girls to fan the flame and not be afraid of sharing how Jesus had changed their life.

"What gift has God put in you that God is fanning the flame on right now?" Peele asked. "But when you think about fanning the flame, what comes next?

"Fear," she said. "Fear sets in and shuts you down. Satan loves to do that because fear can keep us from all kinds of things."

Peele said to keep fanning the flame as Paul did, one needs to have an appetite for God; she needs to believe in Him and desire to know Him.

Secondly, she needs to have an appetite for the truth, the Word of God.

"The word of God is always speaking," Peele proclaimed. "It's new and fresh from generation to generation. The more you read it, the more to crave it."

Thirdly, she must have an appetite for praising God, and joy will overflow.

"Do you delight in the Lord?" Peele asked. "Do you depend on Him? Do you pray? Get alone and be still. He will speak to you.

"Be confident," she continued. "Keep fanning the flame. You never know how God will use you. You have the power. Now it's up to you to fan the flame."

During the session, Kym Mitchell and Suzanne Reece of national WMU introduced the Power Project, an avenue for Acteens to address human trafficking. During January, which is human trafficking awareness month, Acteens will be encouraged to learn about the issue; look around their community for ways to educate or minister; and love their neighbor by planning a mission action project to do something about human trafficking.

Peele was also presented with her author's copy of Power(full): The Power of God in a Girl, a Bible study on 2 Timothy, which was the scripture focus of Blume.

Approximately 2,350 teen girls and their leaders attended Blume, a missions event sponsored by national WMU, July 13-16, at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

*Name changed

Blume participants encouraged to share Christ

By Julie Walters

ORLANDO, Fla.--Annie Taylor* serves as a missionary in an area with more than 75 different people groups. The region or country?

Louisville, Kentucky.

"The world has come to us," Taylor told the girls during the closing session of Blume, "and Louisville is just one of many cities across the United States like this. How in the world are we going to reach all these people groups just in my ZIP code alone?"

Referencing 2 Timothy 1:3-14, the Scripture focus for Blume, Taylor said, "Paul, one of the most famous missionaries and church planters, learned he could not do it alone. He had to duplicate himself, so he was teaching and training up Timothy to keep up the work.

"Who is the 'Timothy' in your life?" she challenged. "Whether it's one verse, one Bible story, one song . . . who are you sharing it with?"

Allison Henderson, a 2005 national Acteens panelist and Blume intern at national WMU this summer, reminded the girls that they each have their own story to tell and legacy of faith to share.

"Someone has poured this into you," Henderson said, "and it cannot stop with us. There are people God will place in your life that you are to share with.

"Fan the flame, the gift of God's power in you," she encouraged. "Stand up in your faith unashamed. The power of God within can be used to change your world for Christ, but you have to make the choice to do it first."

Chandra Peele, author and keynote speaker for Blume, encouraged the girls during her closing address to listen to the Holy Spirit, surrender to Christ, trust in God's timing, and to share Jesus with others.

"Trust in the Lord and listen," Peele said. "When we are disobedient, we are blocking blessings from our life, but obedience heaps blessings on you. Commit everything you do to the Lord."

Peele focused on 2 Timothy 1: 13-14, which reads, "What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you -- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us."

"Paul tells Timothy, 'Guard the teachings entrusted to you,'" Peele said. "'Share them. Teach them.' And we have all someone in our lives that we can share this (the gospel) with, too. Guard these teachings, and go forth."

Kym Mitchell, leader of the student resource team at national WMU, challenged Blume participants to consider the decisions or commitments they made during the event and remember those as they leave.

"This all has been so great but it doesn't mean a whole lot if it ends when you walk out the doors," Mitchell said. "It will have just been a fun time. Or it can be a memory that you never forget because you can say at that event is when I made the decision to not be ashamed of my faith and I would do something to impact the world for Jesus Christ. That's our prayer for you."

Giving Opportunities at Blume

Prior to their arrival, Acteens were encouraged to bring hygiene items, wash cloths, clothes, sneakers, and other items with them to Blume to sort and give to local ministries.

With more than 24,000 donated items, the girls were able to assemble in excess of 3,000 hygiene kits that were given to the Greater Orlando Baptist Association (GOBA). Additional clothing and household items the girls brought, along with nearly $1,500 in Walmart gift cards they donated, went to the Osceola Christian Ministry Center, a local center operated by First Baptist Church of Kissimmee that ministers to the homeless and underemployed through a variety of free services.

Participants were also given the opportunity to make difference in the life of another girl across the world by giving to the Beginning of Life Foundation in Moldova. This ministry seeks to help prevent children, teens and young adults from becoming victims of human trafficking. For those who have been trafficked, Beginning of Life ministers to them by helping them through recovery and equipping them to lead healthy, productive lives.

As of Saturday morning, Blume participants gave $20,758.19 to support the Beginning of Life Foundation, and that total will be matched by First Fruits, Inc.

WRAP-UP: Teen girls challenged to missional living at Blume

By Julie Walters

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--Approximately 2,350 girls in grades 7-12 and their leaders, along with some collegiate young women, gathered for Blume where they were encouraged to appreciate their spiritual and missions heritage and consider ways they could share Christ with others and live a legacy of faith ... even now in their junior high, high school and college years.

Blume, a missions event for teen girls sponsored by national WMU, took place July 13-16 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Each general session featured high-energy music led by Christian recording artist Cindy Johnson and her band from Winston-Salem, N.C., along with this year's six National Acteens Panelists; a message from author and keynote speaker Chandra Peele of Houston, Texas; messages from a host of international and North American missionaries; and theme interpretation through painting by artist Rianna Freeman of Lafayette, La.

A focus on "living a legacy" was introduced by the 2011 National Acteens Panelists as they talked about the beginnings of WMU and the legacy of missions they enjoy today thanks to missions advocates in WMU who came before them. They also each thanked a special woman who personally invested in her and taught her the importance of serving others and sharing Jesus.

For National Acteens Panelist Andrea Niles, that special woman is Suzette Gibson, her Acteens leader at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Key West, Fla.

"I know the Lord put her in my life to show me what a servant heart is," Niles shared. "Because of her, I have developed a relationship with God that has led me to make missions my lifestyle. She has supported and educated me to be a part of the bigger picture -- God's picture. I'm thankful someone passed on her passion for missions to me."

Fan the Flame

Citing 2 Timothy 1:3-19 -- the Scripture focus of Blume -- keynote speaker Chandra Peele challenged the girls to fan the flame and not be afraid of sharing how Jesus had changed their life.

"What gift has God put in you that God is fanning the flame on right now?" Peele asked. "But when you think about fanning the flame, what comes next?

"Fear," she said. "Fear sets in and shuts you down. Satan loves to do that because fear can keep us from all kinds of things."

Peele said to keep fanning the flame as Paul did, one needs to have an appetite for God; she needs to believe in Him and desire to know Him.

Secondly, she needs to have an appetite for the truth, the word of God.

"The word of God is always speaking," Peele proclaimed. "It's new and fresh from generation to generation. The more you read it, the more to crave it."

Thirdly, she must have an appetite for praising God, and joy will overflow.

"Do you delight in the Lord?" Peele asked. "Do you depend on Him? Do you pray? Get alone and be still. He will speak to you.

"Be confident," she continued. "Keep fanning the flame. You never know how God will use you. You have the power. Now it's up to you to fan the flame."

On Thursday evening, Peele was presented with her author's copy of Power(full): The Power of God in a Girl, a Bible study on 2 Timothy, which was released to coincide with the event.

Human Trafficking and the Power Project

Also on Thursday evening, Kym Mitchell and Suzanne Reece of national WMU introduced the Power Project, an avenue for Acteens to address human trafficking. In January -- human trafficking awareness month -- Acteens will be encouraged to learn about the issue; look around their community for ways to educate or minister; and love their neighbor by planning a mission action project to do something about human trafficking.

But during Blume, girls and their leaders got a head start as they learned about the reality of human trafficking through general sessions, an interactive experience called Trafficked!, and from missionary speakers who are addressing the issue now.

Kay Bennett, NAMB missionary and director of the Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, said that human trafficking, a $32 billion dollar industry, is the second largest criminal industry in the U.S.

"Ranking first is drug trafficking and third is the sale of illegal weapons," she continued. "While drugs and weapons are sold or used once, a human can be sold 15 to 30 times a day."

Bennett shared that as many as 2.8 million children and teens leave home and live on the streets. Within 48 hours of leaving home, one-third of them will be sold into prostitution.

Ginger Smith, executive director of the Mission Centers of Houston, said they are also seeing many signs of human trafficking in her area.

"We are seeing things in Houston that we haven't seen before," Smith noted. "Things like billboards to end modern day slavery. We are hearing how you can get a girl for $2 at the corner cantina. But this is not just in the large cities ... it's in your town."

During a breakout conference, Smith urged the girls to call the national hotline (1-888-3737-888) if they suspected a problem, but also gave other ways to help tackle sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

In addition to knowing the hotline number, Smith encouraged the girls to pray for direction and wisdom, educate themselves about the issue, be more aware of potential red flags in their community, know the laws in their area and be sure to work with law enforcement, and to be an advocate by speaking up and educating others.

"You will leave knowing more about human trafficking than most in your church and your community, so go back and tell them about it and educate them," Smith encouraged.

Smith said additional ways to get involved include partnering with an existing local organization or coalition; developing resources for the faith-based community; and providing resources for law enforcement and rescue organizations such as clothes, furniture and food.

Bennett, Smith and others are focused on helping those who are victims of human trafficking or at risk along the I-10 corridor, an interstate that runs from Jacksonville, Fla. to Santa Monica, Calif. One of the ways they are reaching out is by placing flyers in truck stop restrooms with the national hotline number to call for help.

"We are making highways into lifeways," Bennett said, "reaching people one at a time. You can also get involved. You have the power to change your community, your state, the United States, the world. It's up to you."

Why Didn't You Tell Me?

Belinda Baker*, a missionary serving in East Asia, told the girls how she came to minister to victims of human trafficking across the globe.

"I was not a believer growing up. I was mean ... a real bully," Baker said, adding that her father was an alcoholic.

"My sister consistently shared the gospel with me for four years and I finally accepted Christ at 27," Baker shared. "I had never been joyful before that."

Baker said shortly after her conversion, she was talking on the phone to an old friend who had grown up in a Baptist church. Hearing the joy in Baker's voice, her childhood friend asked, "Belinda, have you been saved?"

Baker responded, "You know what that is? Why didn't you tell me?"

Her friend, who had been a member of Girls in Action and Acteens, replied, "I thought you were the only person who couldn't be saved."

After that, Baker said she prayed the Lord would send her to people that no one thought could be saved.

"So God sent me to East Asia," she continued. "He opened up my eyes to exploitation of women -- the enslaved, the trapped, and those in brothels. My heart and passion is the gospel and that every woman enslaved in sexual sin would hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. He loves them and wants them to have joy."

Working with national believers, Baker goes to brothels with gift bags filled with scones, a Bible, a DVD, and other items to give to the women.

"Don't be like that girl I knew who came to things like this and didn't tell me ," Baker admonished. "Go back to where you came from and you tell them about Jesus Christ. Go tell that mean girl."

Exploring Cultures

WMU partnered with Disney's YES (Youth Education Series) program to provide an interactive cultural experience at Epcot customized for Blume participants.

As the girls "visited" three different countries, Epcot facilitators led the girls through interactive learning experiences that helped them to recognize that while there are differences among people around the world, there are also many commonalities that bring cultures and people together.

At each of the three featured countries, the girls also spent time with a Blume facilitator for a biblical component in which they explored the theme for Acteens this year -- G3: The Power of a Girl to Change the World. G3 encourages girls to focus on three girls: herself, a girl next door, and a girl on the other side of the world.

"We got to experience different countries, tell about foreign experiences, and meet new people," said Alex Ellzey, an Acteen at Tuckers Crossing Baptist Church, Laurel, Miss. "It was a lot of fun."

Ruth Stephens, an 11th grader from Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, said she enjoyed the entire YES program. "I liked how our leaders guided us through the activities and explained why ... they made the activities apply to us today."

Giving Opportunities at Blume

Prior to their arrival, Acteens were encouraged to bring hygiene items, wash cloths, clothes, sneakers, and other items with them to Blume to sort and give to local ministries.

With more than 24,000 donated items, the girls were able to assemble in excess of 3,000 hygiene kits that were given to the Greater Orlando Baptist Association (GOBA). Additional clothing and household items the girls brought, along with nearly $1,500 in Wal-Mart gift cards they donated, went to the Osceola Christian Ministry Center, a local center operated by First Baptist Church of Kissimmee that ministers to the homeless and underemployed through a variety of free services.

Participants were also given the opportunity to make difference in the life of another girl across the world by giving to the Beginning of Life Foundation in Moldova. This ministry seeks to help prevent children, teens and young adults from becoming victims of human trafficking. For those who have been trafficked, Beginning of Life ministers to them by helping them through recovery and equipping them to lead healthy, productive lives.

As of Saturday morning, Blume participants gave $20,758.19 to support the Beginning of Life Foundation, and that total will be matched by First Fruits, Inc.

In addition to general sessions, the interactive cultural activity in Epcot, and hands-on ministry projects, Blume also offered breakout conferences, Bible studies, an interactive exhibit area called Missions Mania, and a concert by Story, a new vocal group supported by the University of Mobile.

WMU launched Acteens, a missions organization for girls in grades 7-12 in 1970. Through Acteens, girls are inspired and challenged to serve others and fulfill their part in God's plan as they pray for and learn about other cultures and missionary work, both nationally and internationally.

Held every four to five years, Blume began in 1972 as the National Acteens Convention (NAC). Since then, thousands of young women have gathered together from all across the US and have felt God's call on their lives to a greater understanding, awareness, and support of the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ. NAC was re-envisioned as Blume in 2007. Girls do not have to be involved in Acteens to attend Blume.

*Name changed

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