Horse Branch Free Will Baptist Church recently celebrated wins at the Christian and Missionary Alliance National Youth Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
The National Youth Conference met in conjunction from July 17-20 with the National Association of Free Will Baptist at the Kansas City Convention Center.
Competition wins at state level quickly advanced the young church group members to the national level. Out of the 995 entries from across the country, there were 24 competitors in 32 categories, of which 18 either placed first, second or third in the competition. Competitions were held in the day and at night, services with music and preaching were held for each age level, ranging from pre-school to adults.
In September, the church will begin new competitive classes in drama, Bible passage memorization, music and creative art, which runs through to July of the following year.
The youth members will recite and perform all the way through to April when the state convention comes around. Competition for each individual begins at the state level, and state winners are sent to the nationals each year. On the local level, there is a different coach for each activity such as music art, bible and drama coaches.
Overall, the church's participating youth placed in 18 of its entries, with three first-place Bible winners; one second-place Bible winner; and two third-place Bible winners. There were two first-place music entires; three third-place music entires; one first-place drama-duo entry; one second-place drama entry; three third-place drama entries; one first-place keyboard solo; and one second-place creative art entry.
"I do this because I am giving back," said coordinator Kim Driggers. "I was a competitor when I was little. So many people put so much time into helping me learn God's word and to develop talents."
Driggers said they don't want the program to have a feel of a competition, although it is competitive.
"We want this to be a lifelong thing for our youngters, so no matter what they do, when they're with us, they're worshipping," she said. "We try to develop their talents that God gave them by showing them that they can be used in his service, no matter whether they go on to be a preacher or just a layperson in a church."
"God can use you no matter what, so we're helping them to develop what they already have inside," she added.
Driggers became a coach while attending college and now teaches individual and group bible memorization at her church. She enjoys all aspects of competition, and feels very blessed to be a part of helping our children to learn and grow in Christ.
"We may not ever remember these verses word-for-word, but the words remain in our hearts, and we're going to keep those truths," she said. "Throughout our lives, they will come to mind at times when we need them, and when we are able to share them."