What happens when you put 200 girls between 4th and 12th grade in a room, along with 100 volunteers and 50 moms? The simple answer? Something powerful.
This is the third year that I have served on the One Girl Conference creative team and spent a weekend watching how God can move mountains and change the hearts of girls in just moments. One Girl, based on the book One Girl Can Change the World, is all about empowering girls to be confident and smart while knowing they are deeply loved and beautiful. Throughout the years, One Girl has evolved from something I did just because I got to write and perform some dramas to a part of who I am.
This weekend, I sat in the back of the room and watched as girls went from strangers to friends. I watched as small group leaders, some still teenagers themselves, wrapped their arms around hurting girls and told them they mattered. I watched my friends lead worship through singing, playing and tech work. I watched as the shy, quiet girls came out of their shells and as the talkative ones quieted themselves before their creator. I watched adults pouring themselves into the 24 hours of the conference by providing smiles, hugs, food and a place where these girls could feel safe. I watched breakout leaders shine as all their preparation paid off. I watched lives be changed.
I cannot help but wonder what will happen next for some of these girls. Will they go home to their families different? Will they be strong enough to let the rough parts of their life not take control? Will they remember they’re beautiful when people say they’re not? Will they love those that maybe they ignored before? Will they remember the stories they heard this weekend? Will they be challenged to be different because of what they experienced? Will they come back next year, ready to be filled up again?
This year, perhaps more than any other year, I saw what this conference means and what it can do in a messed up, crazy world. I remembered that there is a reason why we’re called to tell our stories and to help everyone know that they matter to us and to their Creator. I was reminded that, just for a moment, I can be the encouragement that a young girl needs to get up the next day and keep on living her life.
One Girl might be geared for younger girls, but every year I feel like it is also for me. I cannot wait to see what happens next – where the One Girl road will lead. I am blessed to be a part, however small, of something that is truly changing the world. From the first moments we started planning, I knew this year had the potential to be something powerful. And, all our hard work paid off. My hope and prayer is that those precious girls always remember how unique and beautiful they are; and that the world doesn’t drag them down too many dark roads.