What does it mean to give your life to a cause? To sacrifice your time and talents for a vision that lasts well beyond your lifetime?
Jennie Wallace is a woman who is doing just that.
Author: Nikki Peck
Jennie been leading young girls as a Girls’ Brigade leader since 1996. However, her history with the ministry goes back much further than that.
“I’ve been involved in Girls’ Brigade all my life. It’s something that my family has been a part of ever since I was very small. In fact, my parents were involved before I was born,” Jennie shares.
“I started Girls’ Brigade as early as I could, went all the way through as a girl, and then became a leader. I think I have only had one year off Girls’ Brigade in my whole life since I was five years old.
“The thing that keeps drawing me back and made me want to go on and lead, is that as a young girl, Girls’ Brigade was a safe place to learn and where everybody got a go. It helped me grow as a young person, and I really wanted to offer that to other young women,” she says.
Girls’ Brigade is a ministry for girls from Prep though to Year 12 and is fundamentally about helping girls seek, serve and follow Christ. Every Tuesday night, 116 girls come to Riverlife to learn skills, play games, have fun, experience who God is and spend time building connections.
“We want girls to understand who God is, how He sees them, what is His take is on their identity and how that should inform their own personal identity as well,” Jennie says.
Girls’ Brigade was birthed in the UK in 1893 in a time when young women weren’t given opportunities for education, socialisation or skills development. It’s been running for 130 years and still its focus is timeless.
“It’s about making sure every one of those girls who come along is known, and making sure they have a place where they know they are valued; that they know they are going to meet with people who love them and care for them and want to show them who God is and how much He loves them,” Jennie says.
Riverlife Girls’ Brigade Company is the largest in Queensland and one of the largest in Australia. “We’ve been operating at Riverlife since 1975, so there’s quite a strong GB heritage inner church,” Jennie says. “We have seen massive growth in the company. Its grown 50 girls in the last five years since moving to the new church building.”
Riverlife Children’s Pastor, Petrea Taylor, has seen first-hand the difference Girls’ Bridge makes, having sent her two daughters every week.
“My girls could be doing anything on a Tuesday night. In fact, I think at some stages they wanted to play netball and other things and when they found out it was on a Tuesday, they wanted to go to Girls’ Brigade instead,” Pastor Petrea says.
“I think it’s the friendships they build that keep bringing them back, but a huge part of it is their leaders and mentors. The intentionality of that same leader every Tuesday night has grown their faith incredibly, and there has been opportunity for them to build connections with amazing female mentors, beyond their mum and aunties.”
The Girls’ Brigade program works right alongside Riverlife’s other Children’s Ministry outreaches. “It’s such a blessing to have a mid-week program that is partnering with what we’re doing on a Sunday,” Pastor Petrea says. “It means that for our families, it’s another touchpoint in the week where their kids are getting an opportunity to build their faith.”
The Girls’ Brigade program isn’t just about following a curriculum, but also about seeking God’s presence and plans for the nights.
“We seek the Holy Spirit’s leading when we put together the program,” Jennie says. “As a team of leaders, we pray consistently for more – for more of what God has for us and more of what God has for these girls.”
As a broader church, we too can support this amazing ministry with prayer.
“We would love the ongoing support of our church family in prayer. Pray for these girls who God brings along to our company every week and pray for the leadership team,” Jennie says.
If your heart has been moved while reading this, and you are looking for somewhere to serve young women, there’s space for you to get involved. “God keeps bringing new girls to our Girls’ Brigade company here at Riverlife, so I know that He’ll provide the women who are right to join our team,” Jennie says.
What an encouragement to read about this ministry of longevity, that is changing lives through God’s hand and the faithfulness of long-serving leaders. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch a video of the interview here.