Tears welled in 9-year-old Emily’s eyes. She buried her face in her hands in embarrassment, as 100 kids watched her silently cry on stage.
Emily Wilson grew up as a Village Missionary kid in Meadow Valley, CA, and like many VM kids, staff conference holds a dear place in her heart. In fact, her first memory is of staff conference.
As a four-year-old in the toddler class, Emily remembers proudly telling her teachers, “My dad is a pastor!”
The teachers laughed, and Emily wondered to herself, “What’s so funny?” Years later she realized every kid’s dad at conference was a pastor!
Conference is just a way of life for Village Missions kids.
Every year, they join their parents for a week of respite, praise and worship and teaching. Parents can share the struggles and joys of ministry and encourage each other, while kids are able to build friendships and grow in their faith together.
So, each summer, Emily would excitedly tell her friends, “I’m going to conference!” When she got older, her friends began to ask, “Which one?”
Emily, not realizing conferences existed outside of Village Missions, would answer matter-of-factly, as though it was the silliest question in the world.
But it was the conference where she cried that Emily remembers the most, because it changed her life forever.
Every Village Missions kid that year was asked to prepare something to share with the other kids at Staff Conference. It was the 50-year anniversary, so every Village Missions family was at the same conference center in Estes Park, Colorado. Emily had decided to do a mime of King Nebuchadnezzar, but as soon as she stepped onto stage, she froze.
“It was so terrifying that I actually got up and started crying,” said Emily.
But the students filling the auditorium didn’t realize Emily was shy and embarrassed. They thought it was all part of the pantomime!
“They were guessing ‘Jesus wept’ – guessing all these different Bible themes,” Emily remembers.
Then, something unexpected happened.
“I started laughing,” said Emily. “And I was actually able to do the pantomime.”
Equipping Missionary Kids for a Life of Ministry
So excited about her performance at conference, Emily enrolled with Child Evangelism Fellowship’s training program and spent 10 years training teenagers how to teach children about the Bible.
Emily is now teaching her own children about the Bible, and serving in women’s ministries as a pastor’s wife.
Looking back, Emily thanks conference for providing her with that first opportunity.
“I’m not sure I would have felt comfortable going to a training camp if I hadn’t had that memory of being in front of kids before. It ended up being so fun that I wanted to know how to do it better.”
The Legacy of Staff Conference
Growing up as a VM kid brings its own struggles and challenges, and no one quite understands them like a fellow Village Missions kid. We are passionate about fostering friendships between these children and youth and helping them grow in their own faith at staff conference. Staff conference is equipping missionary kids!
Many VM kids over the years have felt called into full-time ministry during staff conference. Some have gone on to serve God with Village Missions and other ministries in the United States and around the world.
This year, would you help other VM kids experience staff conference, just like Emily did 20 years ago? Your generous gift will help cover the cost of housing, food and activities, so these missionary kids can experience the joy of fellowship and encouragement that will impact their lives forever.