LEAD Wisconsin 2021: One of the Best Weeks of the Year

LEAD Wisconsin was a dream carried in Julaine Appling’s heart for well over a decade. As she poured her heart and soul into defending God’s plan for marriage, family, life and religious freedom in Wisconsin through WFA and WFC, she knew it was her God-given responsibility to someday intentionally equip the next generation to do the same.

In 2019, with the hiring of SharaLee Nichols as the LEAD WI director, Julaine’s heart-cry to invest in the youth of Wisconsin came into focus. SharaLee not only had a background in event planning, but she also had previous experience working with a faith-based civics program for youth and most importantly a fervent desire to see the young men and women of Wisconsin become effective godly leaders who engage the culture from a biblical perspective.

Together, with the support of the WFA and WFC staff, Julaine and SharaLee researched, booked speakers, gathered registrations, developed policies, raised money and prayed. Finally all those years of persistent prayer and extraordinary effort culminated in LEAD Wisconsin this summer, August 1-6, on the campus of Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown.

For six days 80 youth experienced what camper Josiah Scott called, “one of the best weeks of my year,” where they learned principles of a Christian worldview, public speaking skills and how a bill becomes a law. They also played tons of volleyball, ate some great meals and visited the capitol — twice!

Throughout the rest of this post, we’re going to discuss a few of the speakers who joined us, recap our legislative journey and highlight a few extra-circular activities from the week. So, keep reading!!

Speakers

Of the many goals we had for LEAD Wisconsin, the one that out-ranked them all was for each camper to have a personal and active relationship with Jesus Christ. We realize (and take very seriously) that just because you grow up in a Christian home doesn’t mean you have a personal relationship with Christ. We are also critically aware that without this foundational and transformational relationship with the one true God anything good someone attempts will be empty and fall short of eternity.

With this in mind, we didn’t just invite good speakers, we invited speakers who were believers and whose messages would be seasoned with God’s truth.

Carl Kerby, founder of Reasons for Hope and deBUNKED, spent three days captivating the campers’ attention with humor and unapologetic apologetics videos hurled at breakneck speed. In his sessions campers learned that there is absolute truth, how media affects our culture and stand up for the hope that Christ has given us.

Having the founder of Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, join us was especially exciting. His presence was made possible by friends of our ministry who know Charlie. Charlie built on a short presentation on Biblical leadership given by Bob Vander Plaats, Julaine’s counterpart in Iowa. After his session he stayed for a meet-and-greet to take photos with the campers. (We think pretty much every camper had his/her pic taken with Charlie! Watch the time-lapse HERE.)

Toni McFadden, the founder of Relationships Matter, shared her personal experience with abortion and how she now advocates against abortion through sharing her story and talking about why relationships matter. Not only were Toni’s sessions heart-felt, powerful and full of truth, but she was also eager to interact with the campers. She lingered before and after her sessions, as well as during meals, so that campers could ask her questions or chat!

These speakers (and all the others such as former WI Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly and former WI Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch) were a powerful facet of LEAD Wisconsin and shared an incredible amount of truth and insight.

Legislative Journey

Campers began their legislative journey for the week shortly after dropping their luggage off in their rooms Sunday evening. With one hand on the Bible and the other raised, they were sworn in as representatives. They met in assigned groups called a caucus throughout the week to discuss and create arguments for and against assigned bills.

All 10 bills discussed were real bills from the Wisconsin State legislature, one of which is now law.

On Wednesday, in the Wisconsin State Capitol building our teen representatives held their own public hearings, complete with lobbyists who presented statements in support of or in opposition to the bills. The teen representatives then asked the lobbyists and their own committee members questions about the bills. These hearings were presided over by state legislators, and many were attended by professional lobbyists.

The final day of camp found us in the Capitol again only this time we were on the floor of the State Assembly — this time to present and vote on their bills! Each camper addressed the body with a prepared speech advocating for their bill. (Watch the live replay HERE!)

We believe the mock legislature campers navigated throughout LEAD Wisconsin was important for them to better understand how government really works and to see how constituents have a say in the laws that are passed. We look forward to the day a camper will attend a real public hearing and advocate for their desires and rights where proposed laws are concerned—or maybe one day we might have one of our LEAD WI alumni elected to the state legislature!

Extra-Curricular Activities: Feats of Strength + Prayer Night

We couldn’t have six days without some fun competitive games and intentional prayer, could we? Of course not!

On Tuesday we had what we called “Feats of Strength.” Feats of Strength included three stations: relay races, minute-to-win-it and Micah’s station. Campers were divided into teams and took on the challenges together, including competing for taking the coolest team photo!

Points were calculated and at the end of the week three teams were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals carefully and diligently created by the LEAD Wisconsin crew and put on the winners by Olympic Champion Ben Peterson who also spent the week with us!

On Thursday night, Dave Gerry, owner of the Princeton Clubs, shared his story of following God and being an ambassador for Christ in the business sector. After his session Dave challenged the campers by asking them if they were building their own kingdoms or Christ’s. Then he invited campers to surrender their lives to Christ. Many campers joined each other at the front of the room to pray with Dave, a staff member and each other.

And the highlight of the week? Three campers gave their lives to Jesus for the first time! That right there made all the work, all the time, all the expense worth it.

We had a blast playing games on Tuesday, but it was the privilege of a lifetime to witness the work God did in so many campers hearts Thursday night. Yes, we prayed for Him to move in powerful ways, but we know what happened that night was because of God’s goodness and for His glory. We are humbled and rejoice that God found fit to make Himself real to campers at LEAD Wisconsin!

LEAD Wisconsin and YOU

Prayer, perseverance, and investors — that’s what made LEAD Wisconsin 2021 and everything that happened in those six days possible. As we look back on what God has done so that we can look forward to LEAD Wisconsin 2022, we would like to invite you to join us in one of four ways:

  1. Prayer. Please pray that what the teens who attended LEAD Wisconsin in 2021 learned would impact the rest of their lives for God’s glory. Pray for the staff as we recover, that God would renew our energy, health, and vision to breathe life into LEAD Wisconsin 2022. Lastly please pray that the Lord would show us which speakers to invite for LEAD Wisconsin 2022 and prepare the hearts of each camper to receive what God has for them.
  2. Financially investing. There’s no way around this — hosting LEAD Wisconsin is expensive. The registration fee each camper pays covers only half of what it actually costs for them to experience this week. Additionally, many campers attend because we can offer financial assistance, including full scholarships. When you give to Wisconsin Family Council, you are making it possible for us to equip youth, through LEAD Wisconsin, to become effecting godly leaders who engage the culture from a Biblical worldview.
  3. Spread the word. By God’s grace WFC’s LEAD WI is creating positive change in the lives of the campers who attended, and we don’t want anyone who needs this program to miss it in 2022. If you know of a church, youth group or homeschool co-op that would be willing to have us share about LEAD Wisconsin, please email SharaLee at snichols@wifamilycouncil.org.
  4. Follow us on social media (Facebook, LEAD Wisconsin, and Instagram, @lead.wi). There you will find photos of campers, encouraging reminders and important updates!

Needless to say, we are grateful for the dream God put on Julaine’s heart and that she faithfully carried it for so many years until the timing was right. We are thankful for God uniquely equipping SharaLee to bring this vision to fruition. And we are humbled to have worked alongside a crew of volunteers who saw the value of equipping youth to be effective godly leaders who engage their culture from a biblical perspective and stewarded that mission with tenacity and intention!

In closing we would like to leave you with a few lines from our theme song from the week:

I have a destiny I know I shall fulfill

I have a destiny in that city on a hill

I have a destiny and it’s not an empty wish

For I know I was born for such a time as this

 

Long before the ages You predestined me

To walk in all the works You have prepared for me

You’ve given me a part to play history

To help prepare a bride for eternity

 

I did not choose You but You have chosen me

And appointed me for bearing fruit abundantly

I know You will complete the work begun in me

By the power of Your spirit working mightily

I have a destiny I know I shall fulfill

 

AT THE CAPITOL: 4 Bills Protecting God’s Plan for Families in Wisconsin

AT THE CAPITOL: 4 Bills Protecting God’s Plan for Families in Wisconsin

Yesterday, Wisconsin Family Action’s Legislative Team, Julaine Appling and Micah Pearce, spent the day attending 3 different hearings in the capitol. Julaine provided testimony on four different bills in those hearings.

AB 195/SB 323 and AB 196/SB 322These bills are the Protect Women’s Sports bills. The bills stop biological males from participating in girls’/women’s sports. AB 195/SB 323 prohibits this at the UW System schools and the technical training schools, both publicly funded institutions of higher learning. AB 196/SB322 does the same thing in Wisconsin’s public K-12 schools and private schools participating in a parental choice program.  AB 195 was heard in the Assembly Committee on Colleges & Universities, and AB 196 was heard in the Assembly Education Committee. The Senate bills were heard in the Senate Committee on Human Services, Children and Families.

SB 260: This bill would close loopholes in the law to make it clear that the UW Madison and the UW Medical School cannot have any kind of funding relationship with Planned Parenthood to train residents to do abortions or to provide UW doctors to Planned Parenthood to do abortions.

SB 261: This bill would add additional information that would need to be tracked and reported after an induced abortion is performed. The additional information includes reporting the sex of the baby if that can be visually determined and if there is any fetal anomaly. The bill would also require reporting the identity of the facility where the induced abortion takes place. The author of the bill, Senator Jacque, offered an amendment on Tuesday with a number of additional points of information that would need to be determined and reported.

The above two pro-life bills were heard in the Senate Committee on Human Resources, Children and Families.

You can view recordings of two of the three hearings HERE. Wiseye will require you to have an account to see these archived recordings, but the account is FREE. We would urge you to have a Wiseye account because this is the stat\ government’s official partner for the video transmission of press conferences, legislative floor periods, committee meetings, State Supreme Court hearings and administrative meetings, and more.

Recordings of the hearings yesterday are available for AB 196 and SB 260, SB 261, SB 322, and SB 323 (these 4 bills were all heard in the same hearing). No recording is available for AB 195.  Julaine speaks in the Assembly Education hearing on AB 195 at 2:14:40. She speaks in the Senate hearing on SB 260 at 3:07 and on SB 261, SB 322, and SB 323 at 3:59.

All of these bills are important to help protect our families here in Wisconsin. Watch for an email with information on contacting your elected officials on these bills! We’ll use our new action center for that communication.

Wisconsin’s Policy on the FDA-approved Abortion Pill

Wisconsin’s Policy on the FDA-approved Abortion Pill

Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the first chemical abortion pill can be prescribed via telehealth. This means that a pregnant woman can access an abortion-inducing drug without seeing a medical professional in-person and undergo this dangerous, life-taking procedure without a physician present.

In many states, including Wisconsin, chemical abortions must take place with a physician present because of the severe risk it presents to the mother. Thankfully, the FDA’s announcement does not override Wisconsin’s requirement for an in-person prescription and professional oversight of chemical abortions.

Abortion is wrong under any circumstance, but this policy significantly decreases the value of unborn life and the life of the mother by making a potent abortion-inducing medication so easy to attain. As believers, we should make it a point to intentionally celebrate life, encourage the next generation to consider children as a blessing from the Lord and delight in God’s ordination of the family unit.

Who Owns Your Children? Sign up for webinar today!

“The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
—US Supreme Court, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925

Recently Harvard Law School scheduled a conference in which it became clear that the purpose was to disparage parents and homeschooling. Fortunately, the conference was cancelled, but that didn’t stop some of the professors from expressing their influential opinion. See the truth in this article in The Federalist HERE

The webinar next Wednesday, May 13, 1-4 p.m. CST will help parents and other concerned citizens understand this issue in light of growing attacks against homeschooling. CLICK HERE to learn more about the webinar and to register today!

WFA president Appling “disappointed” in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation; praises Grothman

“Congressman Jeff Duncan, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Tim Scott, and Congressman Ralph Norman, along with 133 other Members of Congress, filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of states’ authority to choose Medicaid providers and defund Planned Parenthood.”

READ MORE HERE

Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Applings says, “Out of 133 members of the US Senate and the US House who signed on to this important brief regarding states and abortion, I have to say I’m disappointed and a bit surprised that only one of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation signed on—and we have 9 possibilities. That member is Representative Glenn Grothman, a Republican from the Fond du Lac/Oshkosh area.”