DES MOINES, Iowa—Six hundred guests attended the Iowa Talents For Christ competition on March 27. More than 100 junior high and high school teens competed at Grandview Park Baptist Church for the preliminary event that leads to the national Talents For Christ competition in June. Students competed in 15 different individual and group categories, including art, brass instrumental solo, preaching, and writing.

Alyssa Katsion, a 17-year-old junior from Calvary Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, says the event “pushed me to play difficult musical compositions I wouldn’t otherwise have chosen.” Having taken first place in the state piano category, she and her parents look forward to the national competition held in Schaumburg, Ill., June 23 and 24. Alyssa said she wants to trust the Lord no matter what the outcome of the next competition, “being content because I’ve done the best I can.”

Craig Johnson, pastor of Indianola Regular Baptist Church, Indianola, Iowa, believes Talents For Christ benefits not only the teens who participate, but also the local churches they attend. “It develops the young people for further ministry and service as they develop their skills and abilities,” Craig says. “In addition, having a TFC Night at our church has always been an encouragement to our church family. It is a boost for our church to see our young people participating.”

Pastor Johnson’s four children have all participated in Talents For Christ, including his son Curtis, who took first place in the Male Voice category this year.

Talents For Christ is intended to encourage young people to develop their abilities in the spirit of 1 Peter 4:10 and 11: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (ESV).

Greg Long is associate pastor at Grandview Park Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa.