I didn't intend to write about the Gems Girl’s Club in this week’s Pastors Corner. It was a chance encounter with head counselor Viola Dueck in the new wing of the church that made me believe I needed to do so. We pray earnestly for God’s Spirit to move in our church. What happened at the Gem’s retreat held this past weekend is clearly an instance of that—what some people call a “God-sighting.”
There are 26 Gem’s girls in the program: 13 from the church and 13 from the community. All 26 girls signed up to spend the weekend together—that, in itself, suggests something extraordinary is going on in the program. When circumstances prevented one of the girls who had signed-up from attending, the sister of another Gem pleaded to be allowed to come, thus making up the full complement.
Girls from the church and community enjoyed one another’s company, while worshiping and playing in an atmosphere of full acceptance of one another. Viola says her personal highlight occurred when all the girls broke into groups and took turns performing skits. There was such a sense of belonging at the retreat that one of the girls who does not currently profess faith in Christ, nonetheless played the part of Jesus! A frequent theme in the plays was the need to show kindness, love, and consideration to others. The girls are clearly taking the program’s message to heart!
I was deeply impressed by how Viola and the other counsellors deal so sensitively with girls from non-believing backgrounds. They share the Good News and enfold the girls with the love of Jesus. They respect where they are coming from—even when that involves religious scruples—inviting them to know Christ without coercing them. All the while, the counselors pray that all of these girls will come to know that Love that is like no other.
Viola said repeatedly that this year’s theme, “Here I am, send me” was perfect for the girls. To be sent by God means to bear the Good News that Jesus is all you need. The girls are realizing that they don’t need expensive cars, or the most “in” clothes, or boyfriends to make them valuable. All they need is Jesus.
Our thanks go out to Viola and fellow counselors Jen Vroon, Audrey Vriend, Alex Heinen, and
Erica Wolthuis. Keep up your great work Gems Team!
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