NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–White posts and neatly grouped chairs mark each state’s territory across the sprawling floor of the Nashville Convention Center. At first glance it looks like a political convention. But no Democrats or Republicans dressed in stodgy dark power suits here. Only teenage girls, and lots of them, dressed in brightly colored T-shirts waving their hands above their heads and jumping up and down in time with the lively music.
Welcome to the opening of NAC — the National Acteens Convention, sponsored by the national Woman’s Missionary Union. Nearly 6,500 teen girls representing almost all 50 states and 19 countries gathered here to gain a broader perspective of God’s activity in the world. Along the way, many are certain to feel God drawing them into fulltime mission work or simply gain a realization that — wherever their lives lead — they are ambassadors for Christ.
“This opportunity helps them develop as leaders whether they go around the world or across the street,” said Julie Walters, WMU communications specialist. “NAC is designed to be a time of spiritual development for the girls. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we believe will positively influence them to be on mission with God on a daily basis as they seek God’s plan for their lives.”
“SyncroNations 2003,” the theme for the three-day convention which is held approximately every five years, is the eighth such gathering since WMU launched Acteens in 1970. Acteens is a missions organization for girls between grades seven and 12.
Activities for July 30-31 are focused on missions education and practical ministry opportunities. The entire contingent walked the morning of July 30 the five blocks from the convention center to the Tennessee State Capitol building for a prayer rally. On July 31, the group will divide and work in 68 elementary, middle and high schools in the Nashville area unpacking textbooks, painting, cleaning campus grounds and helping schools prepare for the first day of classes.
“In addition to NAC being an opportunity for spiritual development it gives the girls the experience of hands-on ministry,” said Wanda S. Lee, executive director/treasurer of WMU. “We believe the two combined teaches a missionary lifestyle that we pray continues for the rest of their lives.”
Missions education during SyncroNations 2003 sets aside lectures and canned presentations in favor of interactive walks through “Global Village” offering virtual encounters with multi-cultural mission fields. Cameras are strongly encouraged so that they can “see themselves on mission.” Cultures featured are from Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America. Missionaries from both the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board are present as tour guides through Global Village.
“Our desire for Global Village is that this will pique the girls’ interest in missions as they learn more about opportunities to share Christ’s love with others around the world,” Walters said. “We also want them to experience the flavor of the cultures of the world so that they will know better how to pray for the people who live there.”
Five general sessions are scheduled during which the teens will worship and learn together. The July 29 opening session featured missionaries and Acteens from Latin America. Local Nashville recording artist Celia Whitler performed and each state and country represented was introduced. The girls were also challenged.
“Unpack everything on your mind and put it away,” said Kym Mitchell, WMU staff member and design editor of the new Acteens curriculum, “The Mag.” “Allow God to speak to you. He brought you here for a purpose. Spend this time this week focused on Him.”
Daily NAC updates are posted at www.syncronations.com. More information regarding Acteens can be found at www.acteens.com. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: LIFTING THEIR VOICES.