BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — God is at work changing young hearts as missions education begins its fourth year on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in Fort Totten, N.D.
In the relatively short time her Girls in Action® (GA®) group has been meeting, leader Sarah Young has seen eight girls begin to follow Jesus, five of whom have been baptized as members of the sponsoring church, Dakota Baptist. Each Tuesday night, she will spend about an hour picking up the 15 to 30 girls, an hour leading the GA session, and 45 minutes taking the girls home while her husband Paul, who serves as pastor of Dakota Baptist, takes care of their two-year-old daughter. Sarah leads GA on Tuesday nights so she can help with other activities at church on Wednesday nights.
It may be a time-consuming venture for the Young family, but the fruit of their sacrifice is evident in the lives of the GAs. Many of the girls have become missionaries in their homes and neighborhoods. One girl’s mother received Jesus as her Savior and was baptized, following her daughter’s example. Another girl’s behavior was transformed when she received Jesus, and now she wants to become a vocational missionary. Several other girls want to learn more each week about the Bible, prayer, and God’s plan for their lives.
As teenagers Paul and Sarah Young traveled to Dakota Baptist Church in Fort Totten, from their hometown of Orlando, Fla., on summer missions trips. The Youngs had no idea they would later marry, accept a pastoral call to Dakota Baptist, and live in the parsonage they helped build for the church.
However, the couple knew they were called to missions from the start. So when the pastor of Dakota Baptist retired, and the church called to ask Paul to become their pastor, the Youngs were excited to begin serving. Soon after they were settled in their new home, Sarah began leading a small group of GAs.
The group began in 2006 with about six or seven girls each week. Using a combination of GA materials produced by Woman’s Missionary Union® (WMU®) and child evangelism materials, Young taught the girls about faithful Christian witnesses including Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon, Amy Carmichael, Mary Slessor, Ann Judson, and Jim Elliot.
When the group outgrew their small classroom, they began meeting in the church’s sanctuary, and meetings took on a more definite format. The girls recited the GA pledge, prayed, played a game, participated in lessons and activities, and ate a snack. Now the group has grown, averaging about 17 girls from first through eighth grade.
In addition to last year’s format, this year Young plans to make crafts and cards to send to International Mission Board missionary, Sierra Ensley, a Native American from North Carolina, who works with native peoples in Argentina, South America. Young also plans to incorporate elements of the Fit 4 God’s Mission children’s curriculum, new from WMU this fall, into the group’s regimen. She will also share a Bible story during each session. If there’s time, the group will end each meeting with games or playtime on the church’s playground.
Young views GA as an opportunity to share the hope of Jesus with children who have a variety of difficult circumstances.
“We have fun learning together what the Bible says about following Christ and obedience to His will,” Young says.
During GA sessions, Young says she emphasizes that God answers prayer and has a plan for our lives. She teaches the girls “how important it is to obey God, even when it’s difficult, and about giving our all to share the good news of Jesus.”
“I have hope that this generation of girls will be lights for Jesus in this dark place, just as Annie, Lottie, Amy, Mary, Ann, and Jim were in the places where they served the Lord.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hall is a freelance writer in Birmingham, Ala.)