GEMS head counsellor Viola Dueck appeared in my office last Friday afternoon. “We have 24 girls in the GEMS program,” she announced. “Guess how many of them have signed up to go on this weekend’s retreat?” “All twenty four,” I ventured—only half seriously. To my great surprise she said, “You are exactly right.”
That was impressive news, but what she said next made her announcement even more extraordinary. “Of these 24 girls,” she explained, “the majority are from the local community, and not from a church background, at all—what’s more, two of them are Muslim.” Now, I was amazed. We pray often that God will use Bethel Church to reach out to people with the love and Good News of Jesus. Here, Viola was telling me that we were experiencing a clear answer to our prayers.
After the weekend was over, I was excited to talk to Viola about how the retreat had gone. Clearly it did not disappoint. The whole weekend was packed with activities and interaction between the counsellors and the girls. The girls were so excited that by 3:00 AM Saturday morning they were already awake and asking, “Can we get up now?”
The real highlight of the retreat came on Sunday when the girls had their closing worship service together. Viola challenged them to let their lights shine for Jesus by obeying and following Him. When the twenty four excited girls got off the school bus that afternoon, it was their “shine certificates” (proclaiming that they shine with the light of Jesus) that they proudly showed to their parents.
This Sunday, besides being Mother’s Day, is GEMS Sunday. The GEMS’s big day follows a really big week. The timing is perfect for us to celebrate with them the great things God is doing through this Bethel ministry. –Pastor Tom
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