Impact of Shine Girls Conference continues to grow

Shine Girls Conference began in 2017 so young women in middle school thorugh high school would more deeply discern the call God gives them and how they can serve others. A group from First Baptist Church of Runge (pictured with missionary Joan Lira) participated in the first conference, and last summer they took part in the Shine Girls Conference held in New York. (Photo provided by Shine Girls Conference)

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SAN ANTONIO—Organizers of the inaugural Shine Girls Conference four years ago wanted to bring together Hispanic young women from around Texas, hoping to inspire them to give their lives in service to God. This year, Shine focused on how its mission has impacted the lives of girls in Texas and across the country.

Speakers highlighted God’s call to young women and testimonies provided examples of how girls are responding to that call.

“All you have to say is, ‘God, I want to serve, so put me to work,’ and God will put you to work,” said Joanna Lira, who moved from Texas to serve as a missionary in New York through Graffiti 2 Community Ministries.

After connecting with Lira and Graffiti 2 Community Ministries, La Unión Femenil Misionera de Texas offered a conference in New York modeled after Shine.

Girls from First Baptist Church in Runge who have attended the Shine Conference in Texas since its beginning— Delina Fay Morales, Stefanie Pina and Naomi Mendoza—traveled to the South Bronx to be part of it.

Lisa Morales has discipled the young women at First Baptist in Runge since they were in middle school.

“A door opened for us to lead, speak, lead worship, meet and greet these young girls who live in the South Bronx,” Morales said.

She noted how God had been preparing the girls at First Baptist in Runge for service since they first began attending Shine.

“It’s an empowering group of women and a great organization that strives to empower young girls to find their identity in Christ.”

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Expanding the reach of Shine

Shine organizers also have expanded the influence of the conference by taking it to additional locations in Texas.

Considering the immigration status of many Hispanic girls in South Texas, Shine Conference Director Brenda Rincones understood if they could not pass the immigration checkpoint, then Shine should go to them.

Last November, First Baptist Church of Weslaco hosted a Shine Girls Conference. Girls and teens from 17 cities attended the event, which Rincones looks forward to continuing each year. This year, the Rio Grande Valley Shine Girls Conference will be held in McAllen.

In June, Shine will go to Lubbock and Rincones hopes the conference also can visit El Paso in the near future.

Tackling tough topics

At the Shine Conference in San Antonio this year, speakers also emphasized the importance of self-care, explaining how one must set boundaries and find support in mentors and friends. The conference also addressed issues such as bullying, peer pressure, sexual abuse, depression, anxiety and suicide.

The Shine Girls Conference provides a space for girls and teenagers to address issues like abuse, depression and suicide. (Photo provided by Shine Girls Conference)

Topics that seem too difficult for some churches to address and often go unaddressed at home find an open space at Shine, said Brenda Rincones, conference director,

Hearing other women who experienced healing after suffering abuse at home or in school certainly gives hope to young girls at Shine, she said.

Shine also emphasizes education. Through the Bea Mesquias Scholarship—a scholarship of Unión Femenil Misionera of Texas named after its current executive director and treasurer—Shine supports young women in their pursuit of higher education.

Since 2017, two young women who were the first ones to attend college in their families have received the scholarship to help cover tuition costs at Baptist University of the Américas.

Rincones reflected on the growth of the conference and the lives it has touched.

“All we’ve done is ask God to help us and God has responded,” she said. “We want to see more girls and women saved, healed, set free, equipped, empowered and released for service.”

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