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TFC_inline“I just want God to be the main focus,” says Gabrielle Gerber of Indianola, Iowa. She is a Talents For Christ contestant competing in the woodwinds category with her clarinet. Gabrielle is attending the 2015 GARBC Conference in Omaha with her mother, Mishelle, and accompanist Elizabeth McKey. She hopes to win a scholarship to Faith Baptist Bible College, where she plans to study music education.

Talents For Christ exists to challenge students who are actively involved in GARBC churches to develop their God-given talents for ministry within their local churches and to honor those who demonstrate exceptional preparation and skill. Each year the annual conference is blessed with young men and women who want to honor the Lord with their abilities. As a matter of excellence and opportunity, they compete in categories of music, singing, speaking, and art for Bible college and university scholarships, first at the state level and now nationally at the annual conference.

“Talents For Christ is a longstanding program that over the years has readied a lot of young people for service within the context of the local church,” says John Greening, national representative of the GARBC. “They use their talents to glorify the Lord, but in the process they mature, they exercise the disciplines of practice and performance, and ultimately they end up using their talents to be a great blessing to others, not simply on the day of the competition but throughout the extent of their lives and service to the Lord.”

While it’s normal for contestants to experience jitters leading up to their performances, they find the competition an immensely enjoyable and rewarding experience. “I really like the atmosphere of the conference. It’s just so uplifting!” says Hannah Frederick. Hannah hails from Niles, Ohio, where she attends First Baptist Church. She is competing in the female public speaking category this year, and plans to begin studying speech pathology at Cleveland State University this fall.

Other contestants mention the camaraderie as a high point of the experience. “It’s been fun to be here and see all the other kids who are competing,” says Garrett Johnson of Calvary Baptist Church, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Garrett will recite Stephen’s sermon from Acts 7 as he competes in the oral interpretation of Scripture category. “I just find it really cool to see all the different kids who enjoy all the same things I enjoy.”

Friday’s concluding services will feature a TFC performance and an awards ceremony.