Bright Lights Leaders Training in Milton, Illinois

Last Friday morning Nickie and I set out on a adventure. I guess you could say that “obeying God” is always an adventure, but this trip especially had some unknowns…

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We were on our way to southern Illinois to lead a Bright Lights Leader’s Training for a handful of girls and their mothers who were interested in starting some Bright Lights groups. Since this was the first Leaders Training without Sarah it was a little stretch, but the Lord helped us in so many ways.
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Singing “For the Beauty of the Earth” with coffee/hot cocoa drinks on a beautiful fall morning joyfully anticipating how the Lord was going to work throughout the rest of the day.

Everything went very well. One thing that characterized our time with this group was all the great group discussions we had. I had prayed for this, and when we noticed on Saturday afternoon that we were 2 whole sessions behind, I realized that God really answered my prayer in the area of fellowship! 🙂

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They told us many stories of how the Lord was working in their area. The Pastor of the church in town had put a lot of effort into forming good connections between all the local churches. Recently they experienced a wonderful outcome from a jr high/high school evangelism event.
There seems to be a lot of growing spiritual interest in the area, and the Lord is at work. Because of this, we are especially excited about the Bright Lights groups that will be beginning to provide ongoing discipleship.

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We enjoyed the small town culture of Milton! (Aren’t the bank and the post office cute? 🙂 ) It was one of those places where everyone knows everyone, the little grocery store is the place to visit with all your friends, you are considered a newcomer unless your parents and grandparents grew up there, and the newspaper includes exciting events like “Grandpa Buzz tried to rollerblade with his grandkids last week”.

As we were leaving town, Nickie and I decided we had to go into Dink’s Diner and order something…just to see what it was like in there. Our experience in Dink’s was just as I expected–a dozen farmers looked up from their breakfast and fell silent in surprise as they saw these 2 unusual visitors walk in. I guess we didn’t fit into the typical costumer stereotype.

Unfortunately, as we got back into the van, I realized that I was still holding the silverware spoon that the lady had handed me to stir my coffee. No wonder she was looking at me funny as I left. Sometimes I wonder why I always do things like that! I had to go back in there with everyone watching me again and give it back…
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Aubrey (left) is hoping to begin a Bright Lights group soon. We stayed at her family’s house and they were wonderful hostesses. Nickie (right) has been involved in our Bright Lights group for 10 years now and she comes over to our office and helps twice a week.

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On our the way home we decided to make a list of all the ways we saw the Lord working and taking care of us on the trip. For example, we had no equipment problems (very unusual 🙂 ), the schedule worked out well, God answered our prayers in guiding our words and decisions, the timing of the conference was good, etc. Plus, God gave us a very enjoyable trip. He is definately the giver of good gifts. I specifially enjoyed the beautiful drive, good talks with Nickie, meeting new great people, good discussions at meals, brainstorming about future ministry ideas to do in “small towns”, enjoying fun times with the family we stayed with, listening and playing along with the Irish folk songs their kids like to play, etc. ,
Overall, I learned again that being in God’s will is the best place on earth.

One more report: Before the conference started we had a little extra time. I wanted to witness to someone, but we ended up just going to the little vacant town park. To my surprise, a 14-year-old girl came up “out of the blue” and sat down next to me. I had a nice talk with her. Although she didn’t express a lot of spiritual interest, she did admit that she didn’t have a good relationship with her brothers and sisters. About an hour later when we were at the church, I saw her ride her bike into the church parking lot. I gave her a copy of Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends. and some people from the church who knew her said that they were going to follow up with her. I know that God has all kinds of different ways to draw people to His Son. Please pray that He will draw this girl to Jesus.

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