Recently the Iowa-Missouri Conference held their biannual Teen Leadership Training (TLT) retreat at Camp Heritage.

The three-day event had 21 TLT participants who did numerous activities including worship, games and classes.

The guest speaker was Taariq Patel, pastor for the Des Moines Church and Jordan Crossing Company. Following the theme “Be the Sermon,” Patel spoke on how different Bible characters showed the character of God.

“I really enjoyed being there with the young leaders and experiencing the weekend with them,” Patel said.

One of the activities was a mock trial, where TLT participants had to use scriptural evidence to defend their beliefs to “prosecutors.”

Many TLT leaders were impressed by the participants’ Biblical knowledge and ability to defend their faith.

“All the kids worked together to bring scripture up and defend different topics. We, as leaders, were very pleased,” said Dan Spilger, East Iowa Pathfinder Area Coordinator.

After the trial, TLT participants had a one-hour break in their schedule. However, some of them enjoyed the mock trial so much that they used their break to continue it.

Lance Erickson, member of the Ottumwa Church, was one of these TLT participants.

“The mock trial was a lot of fun,” Erickson said. “… [We decided to continue the trial] because I think we saw that eventually we will have to stand up for our faith and be a witness in real life.”

The mock trial allowed participants to practice sharing and defending their faith in a safe environment, which aligns with the program’s goals.

According to, “The TLT program is designed to challenge and empower the teen Pathfinder with new and increased responsibilities, while allowing them the security of doing so in a place they know and love.”

Erickson encourages Pathfinders nearing high school age to consider joining TLT.

“TLT has changed my life and impacted my walk with God in a positive way, and I believe it would do the same for them,” Erickson said.

TLT director Nathanial Brundidge believes TLT program is a great opportunity for young people    to develop leadership skills, cement their faith and form long lasting friendships.

“The one thing that I think is paramount, above all, is the fact that TLT participants able to socialize, and meet and make relationships with other students and other members of the church.” Brundidge said. “… And those relationships are long lasting.”