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Interactive exhibit area brings missions to NAC participants

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–How do you teach 10,000 teenage girls about world missions without taking them around the world?
You bring the world to them.
That’s exactly what organizers of the National Acteens Convention did in Louisville July 1-4. They transformed a huge section of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center’s south wing into something called the “World Wide Web.”
This area wasn’t just about computers, but it was about gaining access for the gospel through the tangled web of relationships, politics and barriers that exist around the globe.
The 10,000-plus girls attending NAC in Louisville traversed two missionary mazes sponsored by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and North American Mission Board, in which they passed through a maze of curtains to find various teaching points along the way. At each station, missionaries told their stories and involved the girls in interactive learning experiences.
At the Russia station, former Kentucky pastor Ed Tarleton, who now serves as a missionary in Moscow, attempted to demonstrate what it was like to be a Baptist in Russia during the reign of communism.
“How many of you would like to go to college?” he asked. A majority of the girls raised their hands.
“How many of you think you might be able to go to college?” Again, a majority raised their hands.
Then Tarleton used them to demonstrate the realities of life in Russia’s recent history. He asked a series of questions, and anytime a girl answered yes to the question, she had to sit down, indicating she probably wouldn’t have been allowed to attend college in Russia.
“How many of you have fathers or grandfathers who are Baptist pastors?” he asked, and several girls sat down.
Then after a series of other questions, he delivered the final blow: “How many of you are members of Baptist churches?” And all the girls sat down, leaving no one with easy access to a college education if they had lived in Russia.
Elsewhere in the World Wide Web, NAC participants visited exhibits sponsored by a variety of Baptist agencies and Baptist schools. The Baptist college booths did a brisk business, providing an immediate reminder that the event was happening in Kentucky and not communist Russia.
Many of the exhibits were fun stations, including one where girls could get inside a steel cage shaped like a huge ball and become human bowling balls. Spotters pushed the padded cage down a padded lane to knock down 6-foot-high bowling pins representing different areas of the world.
Another popular stop was an Acteens time tunnel, which also introduces changes forthcoming in Acteens programming. The current StudiAct personal achievement plan is being eliminated and replaced by a new missions achievement plan called MissionsQuest. In the timeline were huge Acteens-related props where girls could stage group photos.
World Wide Web organizer Rose Zamora of WMU’s national staff worked more than two years to assemble the various aspects of the World Wide Web.
She said the sites were designed for Acteens to “be in an environment in which they will be able to hear and respond to God’s call, whether it be to salvation or missions or both.”

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