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NAC challenges teens to let God change them ‘Inside Out’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–What do you get when you bring together nearly 11,000 teenage girls? Maybe not what you expect, if it’s the 1998 National Acteens Convention, July 1-4 at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville.
NAC, which began in 1972, is sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union and held every four to five years for girls eligible to participate in Acteens, the missions organization for girls in grades seven through 12. Attendance at NAC totaled 10,628.
The young women who attended NAC98 — representing 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and seven countries — accomplished a lot during their hours together in Louisville. They, along with the leaders who accompanied them:
— donated more than 20,000 community service hours to 220 agencies and nonprofit organizations in Louisville.
— made more than 1,000 quilts for Southern Baptist community ministries facilities across the nation.
— donated and sorted more than 40,000 baby items for the Infant Resource Center, a Louisville-based ministry to parents in poverty with children age 3 and younger. The ministry is sponsored by the Long Run Baptist Association.
— gave more than $22,000 to support youth ministries in Bosnia sponsored by Southern Baptist personnel.
— met and heard about the work of 54 Southern Baptist missionaries.
— and had a lot of fun in the World Wide Web, an interactive exhibit area, and the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, a thrill park adjacent to the fairgrounds.
In commitment services on Thursday and Friday evening, hundreds of youth and leaders came forward. Nearly 100 decision cards were completed, recording 13 professions of faith and 50 calls to missions and ministry vocations.
“NAC was an incredible experience,” said Sarah Groves, youth consultant for WMU and one of the event’s organizers. “I believe the Acteens made a difference in Louisville through the off-site ministry projects. I heard raving reports about the work they did. Even officials at the thrill park said the Acteens were the best teenaged group they had ever had in the park.
“Of course,” Groves continued, “the true impact of NAC will be determined by the girls now that they have returned home. I pray that they will continue to live out what they learned and heard at NAC.”
What the teens learned and heard at NAC is that if they would allow God to work in their lives, he would change them from the “Inside Out,” the theme for the convention. Based on Romans 12:1-2, the sessions developed the theme and the ideas that whose you are matters, who you are matters and what you do matters. These concepts were developed through speakers, musicians and dramatists.
Though ministry and service were highlighted throughout the convention, the girls repeatedly were told that what they do for others is important, but not the most important thing in life.
“Culture says we can be good people without Christ,” Houston missionary Dorcas Byrd told the girls in one session. “As a Christian, I understand that the only way we can be good is if Jesus Christ is in us. It’s not the good things we do that matter, but that we allow God to get the glory,” she said.
Byrd told the teens they each have special value to God because they were created by him. “He has given you unique characteristics he wants you to use for his glory,” she said.
Service should not be motivated by personal gain but by a desire to please God, Byrd explained. “God says to forget about what we want for ourselves and live for him. … God in us can change us for the better.”
Alicia Williamson Garcia, a recording artist and worship leader from Mobile, Ala., led worship during each general session of the convention.
One of Garcia’s primary messages to Acteens was to give them a sense of individuality. “They don’t have to be what the world says they ought to be,” she said in an interview. “All we have to be is what God created us to be.”
That shouldn’t frighten people away from God’s service, Garcia added. “Everything God gives them to do, he equips them to do,” she said. “All they have to do is abandon themselves to him.”
*Name changed for security concerns.

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  • Tanya Dawson*