By Juliana Wilson
TN WMU Communications/Childhood Missions Specialist
GATLINBURG — Connection 2019, a missions event for girls in grades 7 through 12, took place April 5-7 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in conjunction with Get-Together.
The group of 294 girls and leaders focused on the event theme “Unshakable Pursuit” which was based on the key Scripture from 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Through worship, breakout sessions, missionary testimonies and hands-on experiences, the young women were challenged to pursue the God who pursues them and seek Christ in their life even when things do not go according to plan.
Connection worship was led by Tim and Becca Wildsmith and their band from First Baptist in Nashville. The girls were led in Bible study by Grace Thornton, former IMB Journeyman and author of the 30-day devotional book, “Unshakable Pursuit.”
In addition to a time of worship and Bible study, Connection offered attendees a wide range of breakout sessions on topics from exploring a call to missions, dealing with depression and anxiety to Bible journaling and creative movement.
This is the 14th year that the girls’ event has taken place in conjunction with Get-Together. In that time some of the young women attending Connection as students have become leaders and are now bringing girls to the event.
One of those young women is Mindy Winters from First Baptist Church, Camden, who attended Connection as a junior and senior in high school. “As a student, this was a place for me to just ‘get away’ and really get to know the Lord better. I always felt like I came back with more knowledge on how to serve the Lord among my friends,” Winters said.
“Connection had an impact on me in high school because it reminded me that I could live for Christ as I journeyed into the next chapter of my life after high school and take what I learned into the world around me,” she added.
After attending college and graduate school, Winters returned to her hometown and began investing in the lives of young women at her church.
“I got so much out of Connection as a high school student and learned so much, I wanted my girls to get the same experience I was privileged to have as a student. I wanted them to learn that they are not too young to share the gospel. I wanted them to make a connection to God in their lives so they could live it out among their peers and I wanted them to have a memorable experience to shape them into who God is creating them to be,” Winters said.
Connection is an annual missions event sponsored by Tennessee WMU designed to help teenage girls grow in their faith, learn how they can answer God’s call and discover missions opportunities while being encouraged in their walk with the Lord.
“I wanted girls to learn more about God’s pursuit of them and how they can pursue God,” said Beth Moore, Tennessee WMU student and literacy missions specialist. “It is so important for girls to have a time together, as young women, to talk about issues that are important to them and focus on growing toward Christ.”
“I want to offer conferences that address topics that are relevant to what girls are facing in an ever-changing world while sharing ways they can be involved in the mission of God,” added Moore.
This was Moore’s first year coordinating the event and she says she is already looking forward to next year’s Connection, which will take place in Gatlinburg on March 20-22, 2020.