“We believe in the potential of girls. We believe that all girls are valued by God. We believe that when a girl discovers who she was created to be that she can accomplish anything. We believe women mentoring young girls impacts the world. We believe in helping girls find answers to the challenges they face every day. We believe that girls of any age can act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”GEMS Girl’s Club
I first heard of GEMS Girl’s Clubs while attending Carol Kent’s Speak Up Conference. Cindy Bultema, now the Executive Director of GEMS Girl’s Clubs, delivered the daily devotional from the main stage. She was so passionate about discipleship and sharing God’s Word with girls of all ages. She was completely bought in and sold out for the cause of Christ- to see The Great Commission fulfilled in and through a generation of girls.
As a mother of two young girls, my heart swelled at the thought. As Christian women-and mothers, one of our greatest desires is to see our children love the Lord. An organization that values community and connection would be such a resource to Christian parents.
One of the biggest problems we face as active duty military families is being stuck in what I like to call “the military bubble.” We are familiar with the resources that we have access to at our Readiness and helping agencies, like AFRC and the FRG. We know who are Key Spouses or Ombudsmen are in the time of need. But, so many times, the general military community does not know about some of the amazing programs available in parachurch ministries.
GEMS Girl’s Clubs, along with many other amazing orgs, offer themselves up to stand in the gap for us. We have such specific needs, specifically around moving, making friends, and deployment survival- that we often find ourselves wanting.
Could you imagine having a group that wanted to serve the daughters of military members? Because I am currently in the throes of deployment and my 11-year-old daughter has really struggled through the transitions and challenges of missing her daddy, I feel the deep need for someone to stand in the gap.
GEMS has created a model that serves girls from first to eighth grade. Their tailored curriculum explains God’s love for each of them and empowers them to walk boldly in truth.
I called Cindy Bultema and had the pleasure of interviewing her, giving her a space to share her vision for GEMS Girl’s Club and how she hopes GEMS could impact the military community.
Meet Cindy Bultema, the Executive Director of GEMS Girl’s Club. “My story is a powerful reminder that no one is too far gone from God’s amazing grace. I always say “If you’re not dead, God’s not done.” No one had ever told me the truth about God. I had grown up in a home with no faith, no mentors, and no help. I believed the narrative that there was no purpose for me.
Finally, at the age of 26, I was a single mom and overdosed on cocaine. That wasn’t the end of my story. Rather, it was just the beginning. None of my past really matters. I am a living example that God can and does use anyone. Our beliefs shape our behavior-as in my case- I didn’t believe I had potential or purpose. But when you believe and know who God is, and then who you are in Him, we can live differently. God can use anyone to do His kingdom work.”
Cindy Bultema is the author of two Bible studies- “Red Hot Faith” and “Live Full Walk Free.” You can find her walking her two dogs- a beagle named Rocky and Ginger, her goldendoodle, in a corner reading a good book, or at her kiddo’s sporting events. You can connect with Cindy here.
Q. What is the vision of GEMS Girl’s Clubs?
Cindy: GEMS is an acronym for “Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior.” Our vision is to see girls around the world actively and enthusiastically expressing love for God and others- girls equipped, motivated, and passionately engaged in living out their faith. Our mission is to bring girls everywhere into living a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Q. How does GEMS accomplish this mission?
Cindy: To accomplish this mission, we inspire and train teams of women to mentor the next generation. GEMS was founded on the principles of Titus 2, and we want to grow women closer to God and closer to each other as we equip them to show how girls live God-honoring lives.
Q. What is the typical GEMS Girl’s Club experience?
Cindy: GEMS has been around for 61 years and began at a kitchen table with eight young girls. It started with a woman who wanted to reach girls in the local church. Our vision today is to reach every single girl-in the church and out- here, there, and everywhere. We still have clubs that meet on Wednesday night at the church, while Mom and Dad are in Bible study. But we also think outside of the box. We are missional. Some clubs are at churches and some are held at apartment complexes next to the church. The girls get breakfast and learn about Jesus.
It’s not just the typical Sunday school experience, but the club experience is a welcoming, safe, and fun place for girls. This year’s theme is “hanging out” and the rooms are decorated at diners, arcades, and other cool places to hang out. We host games, crafts, a Bible lesson, small groups, and even have a very diverse video teaching team. We sit with our girls- should to shoulder and knee to knee.
After speaking with Cindy, I was ecstatic to hear that GEMS wants to reach and serve military families. They are in the beginning stages of actively recruiting GEMS Girl’s Club leaders on and around military installations all over the country. In addition, one of the most excited pieces of this news is that GEMS Girl’s Clubs are committed to making their programming accessible. Clubs can be started with as little as $3 per girl per year!
The last thing that Cindy said as we wrapped up our time together was “We want girls to know the truth from A-Z. We teach them that they are accepted, beautiful, chosen, delivered. We go all the way through acceptance to zits.”
How to get involved:
Start a Club! GEMS Girl’s Clubs are easier than ever to jumpstart. Free online training is available and resources are readily accessible. They also have annual conference that will be held in July 2020 in Chicago, IL. Learn more about starting a club here.
Support a Club! If you would like to sponsor a girl or a whole club, giving to GEMS can help impact a generation. Learn more about giving here.
Megan Brown is a seasoned military spouse and military missionary. She is the Military Liaison for the Speak Up Conference Global Missions Military Scholarship and the 2019-Armed Forces Insurance Robins AFB Military Spouse of the Year. She is passionate about military mission work, teaching and preaching about Jesus in and out of the local church. She lives in middle Georgia with her husband, Keith, and their energetic kiddos. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, and freelance writer. To learn more or connect with Megan, visit www.meganbbrown.com.