Christian Leaders of the Future 2015

By on February 26, 2015
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Mississippi Christian Living, in partnership with Belhaven University, is pleased to present the 2015 Christian Leaders of the Future. Over 125 high school seniors from more than 40 different schools submitted essay applications, answering questions about their faith and leadership experiences. The applications, without names, schools, or churches, were reviewed and scored by a diverse panel of four judges working independently. Scores were tabulated and the top 24 are presented here.

We will be presenting their awards during a special event day for our finalists and their friends and families on March 5 at Belhaven University.

Meet our finalists and enjoy excerpts from their essays. These offer but a glimpse into the lives of these young men and women. I wish you could read every word each of them has written. You would be encouraged and inspired. I must add that the judges had an incredibly difficult task because the 100+ applicants that were not selected as finalists were all outstanding as well. We are greatly indebted to our sponsors: Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, Capstone Treatment Center, First Commercial Bank, Stegall Imagery, WHJT Star 93.5, MMI Dining Systems, and Patty Peck Honda for making this scholarship program possible.


Mary-Linley-Albert-WebMary Linley Albert
Park Place Christian Academy
Park Place Baptist Church

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

The most important way that I plan to be intentional about my faith is to be very careful about the words I say and the things I do. I want to speak life into people, and I want others to see Christ in me. To me, this means steeping myself in the Word daily and listening to 1 Peter as it says, “Arm yourselves with the attitude of Christ.” I know the author was intentional in choosing the word “arm,” because the attitude of Christ is our greatest weapon against the problems of this world.

Future Career

I believe that I have been called into the field of international politics because I have been blessed to make more than ten international mission trips, and I feel that God has placed foreign affairs on my heart. Also, I love to help people and fix problems. I feel that if I could become an influential person in international policy, I could make policies that have a Christian perspective, and I would have a greater opportunity to shine God’s light and leave His mark on this world.

Activities and Service

Soccer Team Spiritual Captain; Track and Field-Varsity Discus Third Place in District; Beta Club President; National Honor Society President; Youth Legislature; Senior Class President; Mission Trip to Operation Christmas Child Packing Facility Biannual Missions to Honduras; Annual Medical Missions to Ukraine; Bag Rice for Rankin County Care Center; RISE Youth Leadership Committee, Children’s Choir Drama Co-Director, Vacation Bible School Worker. 

Carson-Allen-WebCarson Allen
Brandon High School
First Baptist Church Brandon

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

I have been on two international mission trips and during both I was able to see cultures that were antagonistic towards Christians. The local Christians where I served displayed such strong faith in God and in the truth of scripture. They were dedicated to their faith despite the culture (and even family) opposition. This really challenged me. As the son of two ministers, going to the same church since my birth, and hanging out with the same Christian friends, I realized that I fall into the curse of being comfortable. Because of the mission trips, I was able to see how Christians in persecuted countries are challenged in their faith. If the future holds a more anti-Christian society, I pray that I will have the same faith and hope of these international Christians. I pray that not only will I stand firm in my life, but hope and pray I will tell about Jesus despite any threat or opposition. If God leads me to a country opposed to Christianity, I pray that nothing or no one will deter me from doing what He has called me to do.

Activities and Service to Others

Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Student Council; Football; Academic Team; First Priority; Exchange Club Youth Leaders; Upward Basketball Coach; Twin Lakes (LIT and Summer Counselor); Mayors Youth Council; FBC Brandon Youth Volunteer Intern; Small Group Bible Study Leader for Middle School; China Mission Team; England Mission Team; Family Mission Team; Youth leadership Team; and Student Bible Drills.

 

Ashley-Brooks-WebAshley Brooks
Heritage Academy
First Baptist Church Columbus

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

The beginning of this school year, I went on my senior retreat with the rest of my classmates. A new foreign exchange student from China would be joining our senior class. I got to meet her on the first day, and I was so excited to share with her my faith in God. I was also a little bit curious of the things she believed. As I got to know her better, I started sharing freely about my faith. The very next day on our retreat, I had the opportunity to ask her if she believed in God. She really opened up to me saying she did not quite fully understand what believing in God meant. She did tell me that she had a grandmother who was a firm believer in the Lord. I felt the Holy Spirit talk through me as I told her what believing in Christ is all about. I encouraged her to come to church with me. Several weeks passed, and she came up to me at school and told me she had dedicated her life to the Lord. We do so many things together, and I am so thankful to have her as my sister in Christ.

Favorite Scripture

My favorite Bible passage is in 1 Kings 3:1-14. I have been completely changed by reading it again. Solomon asked God to give him an understanding heart so that he may know the difference between right and wrong, and so that he could govern his people well. Knowing that he could ask for anything he wanted, Solomon chose to ask for wisdom and understanding. Solomon wanted to understand the plans God had for him. He wanted to have the kind of wisdom that transcends all other knowledge. I admire Solomon’s decision. Wisdom is irreplaceable. Without wisdom, the world would never be able to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.

Activities and Service to Others

National Honor Society; National Beta Club; MAIS Honor Society; Academy Honors; Mu Alpha Theta Competition; Academic Betterment Competition; Junior and Varsity Basketball Team; Quill and Scroll Member; Annual Staff; LAI Social Club; United Nations Competition-Jackson; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; VFW Essay Competition Third Place Scholarship, APEX Leadership Summit at University of Mississippi, 2nd Place; Lowndes Young Leaders; Locks of Love Hair Donation; Vacation Bible School Leader; Church Mission Trip to Alaska; Operation Christmas Child Distribution Center Volunteer in Atlanta.

 

Anna-Jordan-Butts-WebAnna Jordan Butts
Madison Central High School
Christ United Methodist Church, Jackson

 A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

As a senior and Co-Captain of the Madison Central “Mystix” dance team, I do my best to be an encouraging Christian leader for everyone on the team. Each week before we start our practices, a friend and I lead the team in a devotion and prayer to help everyone get in the right mindset, so we can focus on the fact that we are dancing for the Lord and not for our peers.

What Career Do You Believe the Lord Is Calling You to Pursue and Why?

I believe the Lord is calling me to pursue a career in physical therapy where I can help people recover from injuries and resume their daily activities. I also feel led to continue studying Spanish in order to do international mission work like I have done the past two summers in Pachacutec, Peru. I really enjoy Spanish, and I cannot wait to see where the Lord will lead me with it!

Activities and Service to Others

Senior Co-Captain Mystix Dance Team; National Honor Society Treasurer; Interact Service Club Co-Vice President; Student Government Association Representative; Beta Club; Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Team; American Cancer Society Relay for Life; Mississippi Food Network Canned Food Drive; Salvation Army Bell Ringer; Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital Volunteer; Christ United Methodist Church Youth Group and Discipleship Group; Confirmation Teen Leader; Vacation Bible School Volunteer, and Peru Mission Trip

 

Mollie-Comer-WebMollie Comer
Hatley High School
Amory Church of Christ

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

Living out my faith before my peers at school is a high priority of mine. Though I have attended Hatley School through elementary and middle school, since my sophomore year I have been taking classes at the Monroe County Advanced Learning Center on another campus. This limits my classroom time at Hatley; however, I do participate in sports and am well known by my classmates as a leader both on the basketball court and the softball field. I try to always give encouragement to junior varsity players. Whatever my accomplishments, either in sports or academically, I strive to always give the glory to God. Though leadership qualities are not always rewarded, I was very humbled to be voted Hatley High School’s 2014 Homecoming Queen by the entire student body. I give glory to God for this honor and will continue to try to live in a way that will bring the joy of Christ into the lives of my friends and fellow classmates.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

Living my faith intentionally in today’s world means, quite simply, trying my best to live like Jesus. I will keep studying my bible to become the Christian lady God is calling me to be. I will be able to live my faith because I have a Heavenly Father that walks with me daily. I will continue to pray for wisdom, courage, and strength daily. Any time there is a chance to say something for God or bring him up, I will. I will not be rude, overbearing, or judgmental to any other person’s opinions.

Activities and Service to Others

Softball and Basketball; Beta Club; Mu Alpha Theta; English Honor Society; Amory Youth Group which hosts summer work camps to help rebuild, restore, and paint an elderly individual’s home. During my spare time, I strive to write encouraging letters to those who are lonely or ill.

 

Meg-Crocker-WebMeg Crocker
Germantown High School
Broadmoor Baptist Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

As a high school student, it has been a goal to live out my faith and bring others toward God. I am involved in the Core FCA leadership group at my school. A specific time would have to be when an atheist guy in one of my classes said God is not real and nothing in the bible is true. I knew that I had to say something, so I shared with him what God had done for me and how there were certain things in my life that made me know that God was real. Different occasions would occur when he would say those things again, but the first time really stuck out to me, because it made me realize how broken the world really is. He was lost and had nothing to reach out too. He finally accepted God into his life and got baptized.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

My favorite bible passage is Philippians 4. This passage teaches me not to worry. This passage says “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” This a reassuring verse that gives me peace about my worries when I give them to God. This passage also says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It fills me with joy to know God is always for me lifting me up and helping me through this broken world.

Activities and Service to Others

Student Body President; Beta Club; Yearbook Staff; FCA Core Leader; Cross-Country Team, Elementary Student mentor; Diamond Girl, Madison the City Junior Ambassador; Small Group Leader for Middle School Girls at Pinelake Church; Mission Trips with Broadmoor Baptist Church, and ideas leading to the planning of Fields of Faith.

 

Samantha-Dean-WebSamantha Dean
West Jones High School
Grace Covenant Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

For the past four years, I have served as president of our FCA. In those four years, our active attendance has nearly quadrupled and we have expanded our leadership team to involve almost every sport on campus. Many people have asked how such a drastic change could occur over such a short amount of time. The true—and the only—answer I have is it has all been orchestrated by the hand of God. I cannot boast in any of this success because none of it was from me. I fully recognize that God has simply used me as a vessel for his work. All it took was the simple act of obedience.

Future Plans

I am unsure about the specific career that God is calling me to pursue. I will work for the glory of God in any career. I recognize that I want to be involved in mission work. I was blessed with the opportunity to go on two overseas mission trips this summer. My heart changed in the acceptance that the Great Commission is not to be taken lightly.

Activities and Service to Others

Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Beta Club; Key Club; Serteens; Future Business Leaders of America; West Jones Varsity Swim Team; Junior Auxiliary Crown Club; Teens Getting Involved in the Future; Generation FREE Youth Advisory Board for the State of Mississippi; Grace International World Missions; and Atmosphere, our youth’s worship band, where I play the keyboard.

 

Austin-Dillon-WebAustin Dillon
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
I have always chosen to spend a lot of my extra time on the baseball field behind home plate as a catcher. During my freshman year, I had the honor of practicing and playing with our varsity team. Little did I know, the honor would become one of the most trying times of my Christian walk and would challenge me to live out my faith on and off the field. I felt as though the team was playing against me instead of with me. The realization was that only a few of the players were actually critical, unsupportive, and contradicting, but it was continuous. I continued to work hard, pray daily about the situation, and support my teammates as best as I could through the negative remarks they made. I am grateful for my Godly coaches and their Christlike character that helped me stay spiritually focused and look beyond our daily trials.

A Bible verse I referred to often that year was I Peter 2:15 that says, “For it is God’s will that your doing good should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” By the end of my freshman year, our team motto had become “Band of Brothers”. We won the MAIS State Championship, which was a highlight of my year. However, I will always treasure the remarks from two seniors who told me that I had been a Christian influence for them throughout the year.

A Christian Mentor/Influence

My grandfather is one of the most influential Christian leaders who has directly impacted my life. His wisdom and love for the Lord is shown daily in his service and dedication to his church and its members. He has taught me to pray daily and that my walk with the Lord should be strong and intentional. He also has shown me that Sundays should be dedicated to going to church and worship, but the rest of the week is just as important to serve our Lord.

Tim Tebow is one of my favorite Christian leaders. Sports play a huge part in his life. I see him as a role model because he has been ridiculed, mocked, and laughed at because of his faith. No matter how much this happens, he still stays strong in his beliefs. To me that is a true leader. He leads by example. I can relate to him since sports and my faith have been important to me in high school. Because I have recently committed to play baseball in college, sports will continue to be part of my life. I plan to remember what Tim Tebow and my grandfather believe in as I move on to the next phase of my life.

Activities and Service to Others

Honor Society Vice-President; Mu Alpha Theta; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Bible Club, , and Christian Student Leadership Institute. I am grateful to have been awarded leadership, courtesy, and service awards by our faculty. As a catcher for MRA’s Baseball team and a team captain, I do my best to set an example on and off the baseball field. I enjoy spending time with our elementary baseball buddies through our mentoring program. I am also part of the East Coast Baseball team that is a Christ-centered organization that travels around the Southeast U.S. playing baseball and ministering to other teams. In my community, I am a Junior Ambassador for Madison the City Chamber of Commerce, and a volunteer for In His steps Ministry and Mustard Seed. At Broadmoor Baptist Church, I am a Bible School leader, involved in our youth group, DNOW, and Friday Night Friends.

 

Sarah-Kennedy-Duncan-WebSarah Kennedy Duncan
Jackson Preparatory School
First Presbyterian Church Jackson

 A Christian Mentor/Influence

Two years ago, I picked up a book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and quite honestly the Christian life has never made more sense to me. I pride myself on being logical and intelligent and to be honest there is much in the Christian life that can’t be reasoned out. I struggled with that for a while and reading Bonhoeffer’s story was a relief. Here was a man who grew up in an intelligent family and who could have been successful in any number of fields. But to him the Bible and Christianity made perfect sense. His explanations of certain parts of theology were clearer for me than explanations I had heard before. In addition, he was not willing to give an inch on his beliefs even when popular opinion was against him. He did not compromise on the things that were important, but he knew when to listen. I want to have good enough judgment to know when to fight and when to listen.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

I want to be informed and firm in my belief, quick to listen patiently to others, and careful to present them the truth in love. “A good defense is the best offense” is a definite guideline for me. I want to help change people’s minds without attacking them or turning them away because of my aggressiveness. I am a firm believer in knowing your opponent’s argument as well, or better, than your opponent. I have an open mind and I am capable of hearing opposing beliefs without getting offended. I think because I am willing to openly debate ideas instead of just telling people that they are wrong that I can have an influence on groups of people. I hope that with my career I will be in a position to talk with those deciding the issues of our age.

Future Plans

I have a love of politics and of breaking things apart, but I also do not like to speak publicly. My leadership style has always been a background one. I would rather ensure that a project gets done efficiently than get the credit for it. I have never been someone who wants to be in the spotlight; I would much rather fix things for others. As a policy analyst, I would be working on issues that could promote human flourishing, help our nation, state, and community, and even the church. This work would afford me the opportunity to “promote the general welfare” of all people, while at the same time being a Christian witness. I want to be salt and light, as Jesus called his disciples to be.

 

Emily-Hankins-WebEmily Hankins
Oxford High School
First Baptist Church Oxford

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

I was asked to write a research paper for AP English. I knew there were some atheists in my class, and I had spent the entire year thinking of ways to share my faith with them in the most positive way possible. These are very intelligent kids who are not easily persuaded. They are convinced that there are no good reasons to believe, but I know that it takes just as much faith to believe in no God as it does to believe in my God. The real issue is that they just don’t want Jesus to be in charge of their lives. I decided to do my research paper on Jesus’ resurrection, providing clear evidence of his rising from the dead.

After presenting my thesis, my English teacher told me that I should choose something different because only topics accompanied by factual resources would be allowed for discussion in her class. After briefly explaining the legitimacy of the Bible as a resource, I was granted permission to write the paper. In addition to evidence from the Bible, I also provided support from atheist scholars showing the reliability of the Bible itself. This made my research more intriguing to the class. While there was not a mass revival after my presentation, I know the gospel was clearly given to my classmates and teacher.

Activities and Service to Others

First Baptist Oxford Youth Choir and Student Leadership Board; Vacation Bible School; Drama Team. Volunteer at WinShape Camp, which reaches kids from all over the community with the gospel; Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Team; Sophomore Class President, Junior Class Vice-President, and Student Body President; National Honor Society; Oxford-Lafayette Junior Leadership Team; Oxford Mayor’s Youth Council; Oxford High Cross Country (team captain and six years with five individual All-State performances); Varsity Track; Baseball Diamond Girl; Concert Choir; Theatre—I was chosen to travel with a small troupe to Scotland this summer to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest theatre festival in the world. I’m heavily involved in a mentoring program where we get to build relationships with intellectually challenged students by eating lunch and doing different projects with them to teach them how to interact properly with others and to show them that they are deeply loved.

 

Lauren-Herring-WebLauren Herring
Jackson Preparatory School
Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

I believe that a person’s worldview is shown through their actions. I will continue to have a Christlike attitude and actions in hope to attract nonbelievers to Christianity. Although some people will be antagonistic toward me because of my faith in Christ, I believe that God uses situations like this to both grow my faith in Him and at the same time be a witness to help those people see a need for Christ in their own life.

Favorite Scripture

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. It is very comforting to know that God does everything for a reason because He has a plan for everyone. This verse is also very encouraging to me because I am dyslexic; I tend to have to work harder in some areas than others would, but because of this verse I know that God has a reason for me to have dyslexia. When I was younger I never understood why God made me dyslexic, but I have learned that because I know how it feels to be different or struggle with certain things, I can relate to others who struggle.

Activities and Service to Others

Community Service Club; National Honor Society; Mu Alpha Theta; Spanish Club; Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica; Varsity Volleyball; Diamond Girl; Sunnybrook Children’s Home Volunteer; Bethany Christian Services Volunteer; Operation Christmas Child; Pear Orchard Presbyterian Youth Group, and Young Life.

 

Lauren-Johnson-WebLauren Johnson
Hillcrest Christian School
Wynndale Baptist Church

Activities and Service to Others

I was recently selected by a panel of teachers and administrators to serve on the Leadership Team. As a member, I am responsible for preparing and delivering devotionals at Chapel and also leading morning devotions and prayer that are broadcast to the entire school. I currently serve as Student Body President. I love to stay active and fit and have played softball for the past three years and been a Cheerleader for the past six years. At Cheer camp, I was selected as an All-American Cheerleader for three years, Pay-It-Forward Recipient, and invited to try out for the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) staff. I attended Youth Legislature of Mississippi for four years, where I was exposed to conflicting viewpoints and opinions contrary to my beliefs. I was challenged to interject and incorporate my Christian faith, beliefs, and morals into the discussions, debates, and decisions.
I am a member of the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Book Club at my school. Last year I was honored to participate in the Distinguished Young Women of Hinds County program. This program provided me so many opportunities to develop new and lasting friendships, sharpen my interview skills, and just learn so much about myself. I was selected as first runner-up and won the Fitness award; however, the experience and self-confidence I gained from this program far outweighs any amount of scholarship money I could have been awarded. I have been involved with the Mustard Seed’s Challenger’s League for three years. I am an active member of the Wynndale Baptist Church Youth Group. I have been involved in small-group Bible studies, D-NOW, etc. I have had the privilege to mentor and share with young girls my testimony and lead them in Bible studies. I have been on several mission trips to Beautiful Feet and Mission Arlington.

Future Plans

I truly believe God is leading me into the medical field, specifically to be a pediatrician. A couple of years ago, I went on a mission trip to Arlington, Texas, where our group ministered to children at intercity apartment complexes. God spoke to my heart on this trip and told me that I may be the only person that could reach these kids and share Christ’s love with them. Children hold a very special place in my heart, and I genuinely want to invest my time and talents into ministering to them through my chosen profession.

 

Caroline-Jones-WebCaroline Jones
Jackson Preparatory School
Trinity Presbyterian Church Jackson

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

I recently read The Reason for God by Dr. Tim Keller. At the same time I was reading it, we were having faith-related discussions in my English class. These discussions soon turned to debates about religion, and from there, into confessions. I was shocked and angered. I wanted to defend Jesus, but I believe God stopped me. The next Sunday, my Sunday school class watched a discussion between Tim Keller and six atheists. The way that Dr. Keller addressed their concerns with Christianity was humbling—he never attacked them, and he never made them feel dumb or unimportant. Though their arguments were circular and shallow, Dr. Keller chose not to point out their flaws; rather he led them carefully through their supposed beliefs to reach an unavoidable conclusion about the Gospel. He guided the discussions by posing starting questions, then, he patiently listened and let them talk. Dr. Keller’s approach to non-believers, even those who are hostile towards the message of the Gospel, is what I strive for. I want to live intentionally for Christ in a world that is forever in opposition to all who proclaim the truth by seeking after Christ and living in love.

Activities and Service to Others

For the past 16 years I have danced with the Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet. Each year, we take the Nutcracker to a local elementary school and share our love of dancing with boys and girls that otherwise might never get to see it. At Jackson Preparatory School, I am an officer of the Pacers dance team, a member of the Student Council since 7th grade, National Honor Society Treasurer, Spanish Club President, and President of the Senior Class Service Project. I am a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church where I have taught ballet at our Arts and Sports Camp, and lead worship regularly on Sunday nights. My sophomore year I became involved with Young Life, and started to attend a weekly Bible study my junior year. I have volunteered at the Mustard Seed, and loved every second of it. Spending time at the Mustard Seed led me to attend Capernaum camp for special needs.

 

Noah-Joyner-WebNoah Joyner
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Pinelake Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

I have tried to live out my faith by example at school. Specifically, I have tried to be a Christian role model to the younger guys on my football team. I try to be kind and encouraging to them at practice and games. I really try to make sure that my behavior backs up what I say about being a follower of Christ.

Activities and Service to Others

I am involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bible Club, Young Life, Mu Alpha Theta and the National Honor Society. I play varsity football, soccer, and run track. I also played basketball through my junior year. This year I was selected for the Student Leadership Institute (SLI). This is the first year our school has offered this program and I was honored to be selected to participate. We are learning to be leaders based on Jesus’ model and to be disciples to all nations. I have volunteered the past 2 summers at my church’s Sports Camp. I have worked with elementary children reading devotions and using sports as an opportunity to help them know Christ. I also attend DNOW at Broadmoor and do various service projects that weekend. I volunteer with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Heart Association, Horses for Handicapped, and Christmas on Ice. I also served as a Senate Page for Lt. Governor Reeves and am currently a Youth Ambassador for the MS Children’s Museum.

 

Allie-King-WebAllie King
Jackson Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

I strongly believe that my school is my mission field, and I have challenged myself not to graduate without making somewhat of a difference for Christ. Through this challenge and dream, I became one of the founders and creators of Jackson Academy’s “The Retreat.” The Retreat is a student-organized and led Christian weekend revival for students in grades 7-12. Our goal for this weekend was to give students of all ages and backgrounds a chance to grow in their relationship with Christ while surrounded by their closest school friends.

I was blessed to teach and lead a class called “Purpose in Relationships and Dating” to all of the girls who attended The Retreat. The response from leading this class was so rewarding, and I learned so much from all of the girls and their stories. I have continued to mentor many of these girls throughout their walk with Christ and within their relationships. The Retreat was a weekend that transformed our school campus and student body by challenging us to chase after Christ and His purpose for our lives.

Future Plans

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, a desire to be a leader for the Lord, and a love for mentoring young women. I feel called to study business and be a Social Entrepreneur, which is an individual with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. I believe God is calling me to create a modest clothing line for young women and to partner with creative women from poverty-stricken foreign markets to help them provide for their families. It is a big dream, and I am praying for God’s hand and wisdom over me throughout the journey.

 

Raley-Malone-WebRaley Malone
Oak Grove High School
Venture Church

Favorite Scripture

My favorite passage of scripture is Philippians 2:1-5 because it exemplifies the attitude of a Christ-follower. The passage encourages Christians to act as one unit with a common goal—a message I have seen lived out in my own church body as our fellowship has grown and has striven to reach the lost. Although Paul was writing this passage to the believers in Philippi, I have seen the impact of being like-minded in Christ firsthand, which is one of the reasons this passage of scripture is so significant to me. Also, as someone who can easily become caught up in pride, I have made this verse my prayer as a reminder that my purpose on this earth is not to impress those around me but is to impress the Lord upon them through service and humility.

School Activities and Service

I am a member of National Honor Society and Student Council, and I am also a member of the Oak Grove Theatre Department and participate in theatre competitions. A majority of the community service I have been involved in has been through the Forrest General Hospital Spirit Girls Program, where I serve as Captain. Spirit Girls is a program for females in grades 7-12 that promotes well-being and community service in young women in the Hattiesburg area. Through Spirit Girls, I have become a regular volunteer at the Association for the Rights of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, assisting with their after school program for children and young adults. I also participate each year on our 7th grade retreat as a “Big Sister” (leader) and attend both the annual youth mission trip and fall retreat. Each Sunday, I teach a K-6th grade Sunday school class at Venture Church’s newly opened satellite campus. One of the latest community outreach projects is a weekly Bible Club at a local low-income apartment complex that my friends and I were given the chance to lead. Each week, with the children, we sing songs, play games, and share a Bible story. I lead a small group for junior high girls each Wednesday night at church after the youth service. This group has become involved with The Fieldhouse for the Homeless, a local day shelter for homeless men, women, and families. Several times a year, we meet at the Fieldhouse to lead a Bible study, provide worship, and serve breakfast to its residents. Through my church and extracurricular activities, I have been blessed with many opportunities to share the love of Christ through service within the Hattiesburg community.

 

Abby-Miskelly-WebAbby Miskelly
Madison Central High School
Broadmoor Baptist Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

On Friday, August 22, 2014, one of my dear friends from my elementary years, Walker Wilbanks, was in major pain during his football game. He was rushed to the emergency room right away. It was an upsetting weekend thinking about one of my friends about to pass away. Monday morning I felt called to lead a prayer circle in front of my school and I tried my best to encourage everyone to gather with me to pray for Walker and read scripture. It turned out to be a great outcome, and it was amazing to see our community come together as one in a time of desperation like this. Students who did not even know Walker still showed up to comfort those in need.

Favorite Scripture

My favorite Bible passage is Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a better hope and future.” This verse has always stuck out to me and been one of my life verses. In March of ninth grade, I didn’t make the Jackson Academy cheerleading squad and I was devastated. My mom just kept telling me over and over that God had a bigger and better plan for me. When summer rolled around, I decided to go on the Broadmoor mission trip to St. Louis, and also to Camp Broadmoor. I became good friends with lots of Madison Central girls. The day before school started, God showed me that plan, and it was for me to switch schools and go to Madison Central and be a light in their school and share the gospel there. It was a scary change, but I knew God really wanted me there.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

As people in our world become more and more antagonistic towards Christianity, I think that it will encourage me to go out and tell others about God more often than I do now. It is my goal to lead as many people to Christ as I can because I know that is what we are called to do. It says in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We were called to go to ALL nations so that NO ONE will be left not hearing the name of the Lord. We should all strive each day to tell as many people as we can about our great God.

 

Meagan-Moffatt-WebMeagan Moffatt
Park Place Christian Academy
Flowood Baptist Church

School Activities and Service

During my ninth grade year, I received an award for the most service hours. I had volunteered to work at PPCA afterschool care. I enjoyed working with the children and getting to know their parents. Another one of my favorite community service activities is teaching Vacation Bible School at my church. Every year I sign up to help teach the K5 class. In summer 2014, I was accepted by Lifeway Ministries to work as a Student Leadership Apprentice (SLA) with the FUGE camps at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. The SLA program is offered to only 100 teens in the United States. This program allows teens to learn about what it really means to be a leader for Christ and provides guidance on how to promote your faith with other teens through a summer camp program. In Nashville, I toured the corporate offices of Lifeway Ministries and shadowed leading staffers on campus.

Favorite Scripture

1 Thessalonians 4:10-13 (NIV) reads, “Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” I feel like these verses show a blueprint of how we should live our lives. These verses shine light on how we should walk daily in our life doing whatever it is that God has appointed us to do.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

The world is losing the basic biblical principles and it begins in the home. So many children grow up in broken families with parents that are not churched and raising their children to not attend church. I plan to live my faith intentionally by spreading love and compassion to everyone, especially children. The world is looking for hope and love and acceptance. They will only find those things in the Lord. I plan to live my faith intentionally by speaking out against issues that are against the Christian lifestyle, pray for those people who discourage me, and show love to those people who are lost and indifferent to Christians. The Bible says to be bold in your faith and bring the lost world to know Christ.

 

Annie-Peaster-WebAnnie Peaster
Manchester Academy
Second Presbyterian Church

Christian Leaders Who Have Most Impacted My Life

One of the greatest Christian leaders that has impacted my life is my dad, James Peaster. He has continually changed my life in the way I think and act as a Christian. From the time I was a little girl, he pointed me to the Bible, teaching me to be Christ-centered rather than peer-driven, to be obedient in every area of life because everything matters to God, and to submit to His will in all circumstances because God is sovereign. There is a significant difference, however, in being taught something and being shown something by example. My mother was diagnosed with cancer this past year, and she is the jewel of my dad’s life. My dad showed me what it meant to truly humble oneself under the hard providences of God, trusting that He will work all things for His glory and the good of His children. The Puritans have also had a great impact on my life because they have shaped the doctrines of our Church’s constitution, in which I wholeheartedly believe.

School Activities and Service

I am a member of the Quiz Bowl team, BETA Club Honor Society, MAPTA, SADD, FCA, and Math and Science Team. I also enjoy participating in the school’s Drama Club and have the honor to serve as Senior Class Vice President. I love athletics and enjoy being a member of the tennis, track, cheer, and soccer teams, and I was able to participate in the MAIS All Star Soccer game. I tutor elementary students and volunteer for Kindergarten Reading Day and peer tutoring. I often play the violin for my church’s youth group, and accompany a pianist at a local nursing home. In the community, I have run a 5k run to raise funds for an injured child; I have been involved in Project Christmas Child for Blair E. Batson, Kairos Prison Ministry, and visiting various nursing homes with my classmates.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith

I will strive to give all glory to God in everything that I set my hands to do. I will strive for excellence because my God is a God of perfection, not mediocrity. I pray that I will be compassionate and understanding to those who disagree with me, yet firm in my beliefs and standards. I hope to never become tolerant of or complacent about the sins of today that are called “normal.”

 

Lily-Pittman-WebLily Pittman
Mooreville High School
The Church at Trace Crossing

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

I love my High School soccer team, and I cherish every girl on the team. However, there are a few girls on my team that do not know about the wonderful story of Jesus Christ. One day as we were working out, my friend began to ask me what the differences were between different churches. As I began to explain, I realized that this was a perfect opportunity for me to present the gospel to her. After I was through explaining about the churches I said, “Well you do know why Jesus died on the cross, right?” She responded with a simple, “No.” My heart stopped and I was overwhelmed with the opportunity the Lord had just placed before me. I explained the gospel, and I told her that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all the sins that we have committed, the sins we’re committing now, and all the sins we will commit in the future. Jesus took the punishment so that we can have a relationship with Christ.

School Activities and Service

I am actively involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. We have devotions every Wednesday, and we encourage everyone in the school to attend. I am a part of the FCA Council, which means I give devotions on Wednesdays and help plan and organize any events that we put together. I am a member of Anchor Club and Beta Club. I am currently serving as the Junior Civitan President and Chaplain. I have been a part of Student Council for seven years, and I am currently the president. I am also a part of the varsity soccer team, and I am a team captain. I volunteer with the Angel Tree organization and the Ronald McDonald House annually. I am an active member of my church’s youth group, and I attend life group on Sunday night.

Future Plans

I have always had a heart for taking care of people especially hurt or sick people. I love the feeling of being able to provide for someone’s needs. I know that by becoming a nurse, I will have the opportunity not only to provide for my patients’ physical needs, but also for their spiritual needs. Being a nurse would open up so many doors for me to be able to share the love of Christ with others.

 

Holly-Prather-WebHolly Prather
Regents School of Oxford
College Hill Presbyterian Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

Years ago, there was a girl at my school who had several disabilities, and most everybody I knew made fun of her. I know that in their minds they were just having a good laugh but, still, it hurt her every time they teased and poked fun at her. On many occasions she would come to me in tears wondering what she had done to deserve the hatred of others. I hurt every time I saw her like this because she deserved none of the teasing that others gave her, when all she ever wanted was a friend. Every human is made in the image of God and so I know God had made her exactly like he designed her to be. So, I tried to be the friend that I knew God wanted me to be with her. It was not easy and it certainly did not gain me any popularity points, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Now, I am glad I took the time to get to know her because it opened up my eyes to a world I had never even realized before, a world where people are ostracized and forgotten.

Future Plans

For years now, I have felt a pull on my heart by God to become a missionary, to help the poor and broken of the world. Because of my many Latino friends, I have developed a love for the culture and people of South America. My desire is to help as many people as God will let me. I want my life to be poured out so that the lost can come to know Jesus as their Savior.

School Activities and Service

Through my church, I have gone on several mission trips the past couple of years. The first was a trip to Bogota, Colombia. It really opened my eyes to the poverty and hunger in the world and, for the first time, I began to realize I wanted to spend my life helping people. More recently, I went on a three-week mission trip to Nashville, Tennessee. While there, I worked with a Latino church called El Faro doing kids ministry and getting to know the culture and the people. I have also attended youth group at my church since I was in the sixth grade and have gone on numerous service events and summer trips. Every summer, I also participate in a joint Vacation Bible School with my church and our local International Guest House Ministries. Through my school, I played basketball and tennis. I also participate in our school’s student government. Our seventh through twelfth grades are divided into two houses, named Columbia and Ignatius, that compete against each other all year long in various athletic and academic competitions. For three years now, I have been elected House Captain of Ignatius. Being House Captain has taught me a lot about leadership and responsibility.

 

Tolar-Purvis-WebTolar Purvis
Jackson Preparatory School
First Baptist Church Jackson

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

As a senior guy in high school, I felt the need for a Bible study that pertained to all the decisions and life struggles that I am facing as we finish high school and move on to the next chapter in life. I decided to start this Bible study this year, and now have around fifteen guys who have committed to come on Monday nights. We also have five outstanding local Christian men who have also committed to being there and speaking to us on topics that affect us. Through their own personal experiences they have shared with us, we are able to see how they handled situations and what they learned, whether good or bad. One of our leaders has started challenging us to share our faith outside of our group, whether by unnoticed action or just telling someone you are praying for them.

School Activities and Service

At school, I am on the tennis team, and participate in youth legislature, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Spanish Club, and global leadership. I also coach upward basketball, lead a small group, and run the cameras at my church. Outside of school, I have been working with an orphanage in Guatemala called Eagle’s Nest that I visited and felt a calling to serve. I started a ministry out of First Baptist Jackson to help fund projects that Eagle’s needed help with. I led a group of fifteen guys to Guatemala last summer, and will be taking a group of 45 this summer. Over the last two years, we have raised almost $35,000 for the orphanage and hope to continue to grow our ministry. The best part about my ministry is actually getting to go to the orphanage and seeing the kids every year.

Future Plans

The path that I feel led to go down for my career is medicine. Having several physicians in my family and each one being such a strong Christian, I have seen how my faith can play such an important role in other people’s lives. I have also witnessed my aunt and grandmother’s fights with cancer and how much we needed the Lord during these most difficult times. I want to be a strong Christian doctor, who is not only there medically for my patients, but also pastorally.

 

Kat-Whitman-WebKat Whitman
Northwest Rankin High School
Word of Life Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

We have a faith-based club at my school run by students called Youth Alive. I am co-president of this club and it has taken a good deal of perseverance, faith, and courage to keep the club going. During fall of my junior year, the club leaders and I stood at the front of the school handing out New Testament Bibles and hot chocolate. This act of kindness and courage boosted our attendance at Youth Alive meetings tremendously. To stand in front of the school in the morning and hand out Bibles is one of the most intimidating things that I have ever done. Although many students looked at us with disdain, or even laughed at us, many students came to the Youth Alive meeting the next day and one of my friends even got saved. This experience really showed me that although living out your faith for Christ can sometimes seem like a daunting and intimidating task, the reward for being bold for Christ is always great!

Favorite Scripture

Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Although I have always known and liked this verse, this scripture has become very close to my heart recently. Due to the fact that I am a senior in high school, I am currently seeking the Lord about what I want to do with the rest of my life. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and fearful of the future, but this scripture reminds me to always look to the Lord as my source. No matter what happens I know that God is on my side and he will provide for me. When I meditate on this passage I remind myself that I will not look to loans, scholarships, or even my parents as my source of strength or happiness. In this time of uncertainty, I will put my faith and trust in God.

Future Plans

I believe that the Lord is calling me to be an elementary school teacher, specifically first grade. My love for children actually began when I was 12 while working in the church nursery. I believe that the education and hearts of young children is so incredibly important. I believe that the Lord has called me to be a positive influence in the lives of elementary school children, and show them the love of Christ by being a loving and compassionate teacher.

 

Emily-Young-WebEmily Young
Raleigh High School
First Baptist Church Raleigh

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

While studying chromosomes and genetics in Biology II my sophomore year, the subject of Down’s syndrome was discussed. This condition sparked quite a debate between the students in the class. Because of the wide variety of opinions, our instructor arranged a debate for the following day on this question: If you/your wife were pregnant and had tests indicating the offspring had Down’s syndrome, would you terminate the pregnancy or carry the baby to term? I was selected to represent those who felt that termination should not be exercised. During this debate, I cited the Bible to strengthen my argument that God doesn’t make mistakes. Jeremiah 1:5 states, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” Psalm 139 explains that God “knit me together in my mother’s womb.” There are no accidents created by God; only man. In my closing arguments, I was able to share a very personal story. During my mother’s first pregnancy, she was informed by her physician that tests indicated a higher than normal risk of delivering a baby with Down’s syndrome. She endured the remainder of that pregnancy unsure if her baby would be born with a genetic disorder. Due to my mother’s beliefs in what the Bible states about abortions, termination was not an option. On October 23, 1996, she delivered a healthy baby girl—me!

School Activities and Service

My peers elected me to serve as treasurer of the Beta Club and Envirothon. As a four-year member of the Varsity Cheer Squad, I have been an active participant in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Earlier this year, I was selected as President of the Teen Council on Drug Prevention, a platform that provides me with an opportunity to express my beliefs to Elementary students and to serve as an example of a happy teenager who abstains from alcohol and drugs. I am active in the Youth Group and have recently joined the Congregational Choir at church. I enjoy performing musical selections using sign language, as well. For several years, I have volunteered my time with HealthTrust, a benevolent organization affiliated with Magee General Hospital, whose mission is to provide better healthcare to the underserved patients in the surrounding area. Whether in school, in my community, or church, I strive to conduct myself in a way in which others will see Christ in me.

Favorite Scripture

Proverbs 31:25 states, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” The Bible provides clear guidance about qualities of a Godly woman. Many believe that women of the Bible are portrayed as weak and shy; however, Proverbs describes a woman of strong character, great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character and her beauty is a reflection of her reverence to God.