Meet Madison Wiese, the teen founder of the Boyfriend Bears ministry. What? A teen running a ministry? And what kind of ministry name is “Boyfriend Bears” anyway? We were curious, so we had a chat with Madison, who turned out to be a regular girl doing something really creative for God’s Kingdom. Here’s our Q and A with her…
Okay, so what exactly IS Boyfriend Bears? And how did it start? Boyfriend Bears started when God
called me to go on a mission trip. I always felt that I was supposed to go to a mission trip and I found an ad in Susie Mag (now Sisterhood) for a trip called “Never the Same Missions”. Kids from all over the world came and did dramas during the day and speakers and live worship at night. Dannah Gresh, the author of The Bride Wore White, talked about purity and God’s design for sex. As I sat there, something
was happening to me, the Holy Spirit was moving me. I have heard the purity message before, but God set a fire in my heart that night for purity. As I arrived home with a new passion for purity, I didn’t know what to do to spread what I learned about purity and saving sex for marriage. I love stuffed animals, always have and still do, and I wanted something to have and to hold while I was waiting for my future husband. The Lord gave me the idea to have a special bear that I could to cuddle with and remind me of my commitment. It would also remind me to guard my heart and to pray for my future husband. With this idea, I told my friends and we went to the mall to buy bears. We then sat in the food court writing letters to our future husbands (things like our promises, likes/dislikes, etc.) and prayed over each other in our purity walks. From
that point, I thought that was it and I continued on with my life… Little did I know God had a much bigger plan for our bears. When my dad heard about what my friends and I did, he was so excited and the words “Boyfriend Bears” came out of his mouth. My dad and I stayed up for a long time that night talking about how we could bring this idea to girls at my local school and impact their lives with the message of purity. From that point on, God brought in the right people at the right time where we started making a presentation about “What is purity?”, “Why live a lifestyle of purity?” and “How can purity be a lifestyle?” We wanted to have a night about purity and to teach girls about purity where they would hear about God’s design for
sex and why purity is important. With much work, especially my mom and dad, we put together a 3-hour purity session for girls to come to. My mom and I presented this to some of my close friends, which later resulted in them wanting to join me in this mission. Then, we started a team of all freshman girls, and talked to youth. groups, girls at school, and other outlets in the community. Boyfriend Bears is all about encouraging girls to strive for God’s best in their lives, which includes living a life of purity. Not only do we encourage girls to pursue purity, but to ultimately pursue God and surrender their lives to him with willing hearts. Boyfriend Bears also creates a community that wherever the girls are, they know that they are not alone in this journey, but have support and encouragement along the way.
Boyfriend Bears is approaching its second birthday (just like Girlz 4 Christ)!
Personally, how has your life changed over these past two years?
Happy 2nd Birthday Girlz 4 Christ! I almost can’t believe our ministry has been going for almost 2 years, honestly I can’t remember my life without Boyfriend Bears. In 8th grade, before my mission trip, I remember thinking about what life was going to like in high school. I was torn between sports and musical theater, but for some reason God led me out of both. Many people questioned why I wasn’t doing basketball or participating in the plays at our school. I didn’t have an answer until God brought me Boyfriend Bears. The Lord has been so faithful, and my relationship with Him has grown so much since Boyfriend Bears. Every day I am amazed by something new God is doing for this ministry and it is such a blessing to be doing this. God has taught me the importance of walking by faith, regardless of what I can see, to keep walking in Him. He has also taught me to surrender 100%. Sometimes I don’t want to give Christ everything, like my future relationships, my friends, or my schoolwork. I like be in control of my life, but God has recently been teaching me to trust in Him and let go of the things of the world and focus in on Him, and Him alone because He is the only one that can truly satisfy me & make me whole. I have learned the importance of guarding my heart & relying on God completely for love instead of chasing after materials & especially boys. Every day, God is changing me & working on my heart & it’s my complete joy to let him use me for Boyfriend Bears.
Tell us the best compliment you ever received about your ministry.
We have received many compliments from mainly moms of young girls. I’ve had women come up to me after
hearing about Boyfriend Bears crying with joy! They are so excited that there are girls who are fighting culture and making a stand for purity. Most moms say that they wish they had something like this for when they were young and how they want Boyfriend Bears to help teach their daughters about purity. With responses like these, it makes me so excited to see how God has been using this ministry to touch the lives of
not only girls, but of moms! I never thought many different people of many ages would be excited about Boyfriend Bears. I remember talking to a single mom that was 35 who told me she was going to get a bear and have her kids write letters to their future daddy. It was absolutely beautiful! Girls talk with us after the sessions and are so thankful that we have taken the time to teach them about purity, they feel inspired and want this lifestyle for themselves.
So cool! But you probably get some criticism too, right?
One of the worst criticisms is that we were told how our bears are ludicrous because they are teaching girls to fall in love with a bear instead of a man! We have also had responses from the gay community so you can probably imagine some of the rude comments. It saddens my heart to see people taking our bears and making up their own pretend and completely wrong way of using it. With these people, it’s hard not
to get upset and respond back with anger! But with much prayer, we give the situations to God and let him take care of them.
[Bridgit, Daphnee, Holly. 3 of 7 girls on the Teen Board]
Tell us about Boyfriend Bears’ teen board and all the cool things they do.
I’ve been going to school with these girls since 2nd grade and they are the greatest, most God fearing women I’ve ever known. I don’t even know where to begin with them! They have such amazing hearts for God, and purity! We see each other daily and keep each other accountable for our actions which are extremely helpful in the purity walk. They write blogs on our website about what God has been teaching them, one started an instagram outreach project, and one has a pinterest that has boards about purity and modesty! Not only do they plan chapels and help out with events, but they are living the real deal for purity. We can always come to each other for encouragement, prayer, and in hard times. We all struggle, but the awesome thing about these girls is that they look to God for the answers. The Boyfriend Bears teen board is always praying for guidance in this ministry and dedicating their time to make a difference in other girl’s lives. We have all grown together so much and we are so blessed to have each other to walk along side. Without them, Boyfriend Bears wouldn’t be able to reach as many girls or even have sessions! Boyfriend Bears has expanded so much recently.
It started out as something you and your friends did and grew to a seminar that you do in Washington State. Now, you’re selling bears online and getting national media coverage! Tell us a bit about these experiences, and also what you’re looking forward to in the near/distant future.
Yes, it has! My mom and I are amazed at what God has done that’s for sure. The “original plan” was to share this with idea with my friends so that I could encourage them in their purity walk. I wanted my friends to have the same passion that I had; we could help hold each other accountable. The girls (now our Teen Board) loved the idea of Boyfriend Bears and wanted to come along side of me and help spread the word. We formed our Teen Board December of 2011 and started training January 2012. We started getting the
word out in our community and its spreading fast. We never imagined that national coverage would follow. We attribute this to my Never the Same Mission trip to Panama last summer and Dannah Gresh at Pure Freedom/Secret Keeper Girl. Dannah and I met for lunch in Panama and I shared how her talk the previous year in Ecuador had inspired me to live a life of purity and that God had given me the idea of Boyfriend
Bears. Dannah loved the idea and posted a picture of us holding a Boyfriend Bear on her Facebook page in
July. Dannah told us that “the comments poured in”, “that these bears hit a hot button in every mom who
wants her daughter to live a life of purity. Moms wanted to know how to get one.” Before I even got home from Panama Dannah’s agent had contacted my mom about the idea of Dannah taking our BFB’s on tour with Pure Freedom. This blew us away! We knew then that we needed to make our Boyfriend Bears available outside of our community and the easiest way would be via the internet. In August and September of 2012 my mom and I spent hours writing the content for our new website (which would replace a very simple one that my friend McKenzie and I had created earlier in 2012). The website was launched mid-October of 2012 and now our BFB’s are available to purchase. Our first ship date was Nov.5th. We created a little instructional tag that comes with our BFB’s so that the message we are sharing is not lost. Our
BFB’s are NOT just another stuffed animal. They are a reminder that purity is a choice. I was also blessed by the opportunity to join Dannah and her Pure Freedom Team on tour in GA, FL and SC Oct/Nov 2012. Jennah and Bridget, Teen Board members and their moms, joined my mom and me at one of the 8
events in Valdosta, Ga. All in all I was able to share a bit of my story with over 3,000 girls. God even used my testimony to bring several girls to Christ over those 8 days. I can share that my mom is now working on creating a Boyfriend Bears study and leaders guide to accompany our presentation. We want the purity
message to be heard by as many girls as possible and this will be the easiest way to spread the word! We have received many emails from moms, teachers and youth group leaders about our curriculum and how they would like to bring Boyfriend Bears to their home, schools and churches! God is making this a reality. I am personally looking forward to my third mission trip with Never the Same. This summer I will be going to Peru and am so excited to see how God uses this trip to impact my life and the lives of many other teens and the people of Peru. I love mission trips almost as much as I love Boyfriend Bears.
Your parents are on the Boyfriend Bears board of directors. Tell us about the family ministry side of things, and how Boyfriend Bears has affected family dynamics.
Without my parents, this ministry wouldn’t exist. Ever since day one, they have been on board, doing whatever was needed to help the ministry grow. My dad does all the business aspects of things and my mom coordinates all the sessions, provides all things needed for a session to happen, mentors all of us girls on the teen board, and SO MUCH MORE. My parents have felt the calling to this as well, which is incredible! My
mom especially has a very strong passion for purity and absolutely loves that God is using her to talk to girls
and impact their lives. The fact that they dove in head first into this ministry and have been so supportive has shown me what it’s like to be a parent of leadership and following God’s path. I think our family has grown since Boyfriend Bears. We are not only a family, but a team to further God’s kingdom and teach girls not only about purity but about Christ! My parents work so hard for this ministry, have given me complete support, and are the greatest blessing God could give.
Tell us a story (or two or three!) about how you have seen God work in this ministry.
I’ve seen God work so much in this ministry! During the Pure Freedom Tour, I met a girl who wanted a
Boyfriend Bear so much, she couldn’t wait. She lived with her single-mom and didn’t have any extra money to spend on a bear. After I talked with her about the bear, she went home, collected all the money from her piggy bank which wasn’t enough, so she went to her mom’s work, printed off a purity pledge from our website, and brought it around to people asking for donations so she could have a tool to help her in her purity walk! She collected enough money and got the bear that day. Oh, and she was 9! Amazing…when she sat there with her bear, telling me her story, I started crying! She was so happy and excited to live a life of purity, and she didn’t let go of that bear the entire night. A few months ago, the teen board and I were prepping for a session for sexually active college girls. We were terrified! We continually repeated 1 Timothy 4:12 which says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example to all believers in speech, in life, in love, and in purity.” As much as we knew God wanted us to talk to these older girls, we were extremely nervous. We prayed that God would use us to touch the lives of these
older girls, to not come across judgmental or condemning, but with love and truth. After the session, we got
in the car and felt okay about it. It was good, but not what we had expected. We thought God would change a life, or at least have one of the girls tell us that it helped them. Less than 24 hours, we got a message from a girl telling us that she has sex with her boyfriend, but knows that’s not God’s plan for her and needs prayer as she was going to tell her boyfriend that it needs to stop. Our jaws literally dropped. We were amazed. Never again will we have an excuse to not talk to older girls about purity, and never again will we doubt that God isn’t working in others’ lives because he most certainly is! My mom would tell you that God’s fingerprints are ALL over Boyfriend Bears. So amazing…He has opened door after door for us and we just sit back and say; “God we know this is of you and we will follow you wholeheartedly and be obedient to your call and purpose for our lives”. “We are honored to be His servants and hands and feet for Boyfriend Bears”. We give God ALL the glory.
What would a session participant expect in a
day with Boyfriend Bears?
First of all, lots of FUN! Time spent with girls who have a passion for sharing purity, planting seeds and transforming hearts! The 3 hour sessions are educational and encouraging. The girls will learn what God has to say about purity through a fun and interactive presentation, illustrations and lots of discussion led by me and 3 other members of the Boyfriend Bears Teen Board. The curriculum is biblically based and focuses on answering 3 main questions. 1) What is purity? 2) Why choose purity? 3) How can purity become alifestyle? It is my hope and prayer that by the end of the session the girls/participants will have a good understanding about what purity means and will be encouraged to strive towards God’s best for them in the areas of their lives, especially sexual purity.At the end of the session each participant will be given the opportunity to receive a Boyfriend Bear. They can choose to take the BFB pledge as a sign of their commitment to stay pure and write a letter to their future husband. Our Boyfriend Bears have a special hidden pocket at the base of their neck where the girls can put the pledge and letter and give it to their future husbands on their wedding day! Our Boyfriend Bears have been a great tool to open the conversation about living a life of purity.
Thanks so much for sharing your story,
Madison! Of course, any G4C readers
can find out more at boyfriendbears.org!
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