2016 Christian Leaders of the Future

By on March 4, 2016
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Mississippi Christian Living, in partnership with Belhaven University, is pleased to present the 2016 Christian Leaders of the Future. 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 by a diverse panel of local community leaders working independently. Scores were tabulated, and the top 23 are presented here.

We will honor them and their friends and families on March 24 during a special event day for our finalists.

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 who have made this program possible: Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, Miskelly Furniture, Capstone Treatment Center, First Commercial Bank, Stegall Imagery, WHJT Star 93.5, MMI Dining Systems and Patty Peck Honda.

 

Blocker---Anna-Christine-Blocker


Anna Christine Blocker
Madison Central High School
Ridgecrest Baptist Church

Activities and Service to Others
     I am very involved with soccer both at school and through my community on a select team. I am involved with a number of other activities as well including Beta Club, National Honor Society, Young Legislature/Government Club, Mentoring, Soccer Camps, and Interact at Madison Central High School (MCHS). I was honored to represent MCHS at Millsaps at the Young Women’s Leadership Conference. I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the Cooking Club at school last year; it was lots of fun. I am also involved in my community with a number of activities and events including Relay for Life, Mississippi Canned Food Drive, Hope Hollow (activities for children with special needs), Stewpot, and MadCAAP (Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty). I am very active in my church and with many activities there including helping with Vacation Bible School, choir, Faith InDeed (a group that raises money for missions), and helping with Special Teens and Adults at Ridgecrest (STARs). During the past year, I have been called to pair my love for soccer with my love for missions. I traveled with Thirst Ministries to Belize for a week and led soccer clinics for the children there and also helped with backyard Bible schools. I also traveled to Brazil with the Charlotte Eagles Sports Ministry sponsored by Missionary Athletes International. I was in Brazil for 14 days and visited many schools ministering to children of all ages who shared my love for soccer. I have participated in missions work within the United States including traveling to Kansas lead backyard Bible schools as others on my team helped with construction projects. My church also has a sister church in the Jackson Metro area that we partner with, and I have had the opportunity to help with Bible schools, Angel Tree Ministries, clean up days, and similar activities there at Word of Christ Ministries. 

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     As Romans 8:31 says, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us.” I believe that growing up in the ‘deep south’ in the Bible Belt makes it easier to be bold in our faith as opposed to other believers around the world. But even in the south, the effects of a growing antagonistic view of Christians are evident. I believe that Christians will have to be even bolder because of this noticeable change. I think that Christians like me will have to shine a brighter light to show Jesus as our lights will be dimmed by the accusations of nonbelievers. Many times Christians are shown in a bad light because we tend to not defend our actions in a world becoming more tolerant of the human sinful nature under the disguise of being nonjudgmental. God does not call us to judge others but to live our lives according to his word and know that He is always with us. The path may be rocky, but God has great plans in store for those who live their lives for Him.

 

Brinson---Makenzie-Brinson

 

Makenzie Brinson
Tri-County Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

Activities and Service to Others
     Currently, I am a member of The National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. I play tennis and cheer for the school also. I also take basketball stats and am a diamond girl for the baseball team. Church is a big part of my life as well. I have attended Broadmoor Baptist Church since 4th grade where I am heavily involved in the youth group. I have been on mission trips to New Orleans, Louisiana, Denver, Colorado, Mobile, Alabama, Los Angles, California, and Port-a-Prince, Haiti. I enjoy attending Disciple Now at both Broadmoor and Flora Baptist Church, Broadmoor’s summer church camp, Super Summer at Mississippi College, and being a lead counselor at Kid’s Camp.

Favorite Scripture
     My favorite Bible passage comes from Hebrews 11. Some may know of it as the faith chapter but it is a passage that speaks measures to me. I have a hard time depending on anyone or anything other than myself. I like to think I can do it all on my own even when I know I cannot. This scripture goes through a multitude of people from the Bible who at the time were just ordinary people who put their faith and truth in God. They let Him take full control of their lives, they took a “leap of faith”, and as always God provided. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1.

 

Butler - Anna-Belle-Butler-Web


Anna Belle Butler
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Highlands Presbyterian Church

Activities and Service to Others
     At school, I am involved in several different areas. Athletically, I play on the varsity tennis, dance, soccer, and swim teams, and I am a Diamond Girl. Weekly, I attend Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Leadership Institute (explained later), and work up to twelve hours at my part time job at Palm Beach Tan. I also attend club meetings that meet once a month such as National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Hunting and Fishing Club, Bible Club, Rotary Club, and Students Against Destructive Decisions. I have been on four mission trips with Highlands Presbyterian Church and help annually with the Vacation Bible School. Also, I volunteer on various occasions at MadCAAP, We Will Go Ministry, Top Soccer, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Mustard Seed. Several organizations that I am involved with that help provide some of these opportunities are Madison County Junior Auxiliary (Crown Club) and Jackson Symphony League, of which I was a school representative for both.

Christian Leaders Who Have Impacted My Life
     Although I am fortunate to be surrounded by Christian leaders, a few that have made a huge impact on my life would be my Young Life leaders. The MRA branch of this organization is led by Jan Moncrief, Libbo Crosswhite, Nathan Stamper, as well as a few others. Each of these individuals has helped me participate in various activities involving my faith. Coach Stamper, who was also my bible teacher, organizes weekly chapel for my school and is taking a group of seniors to the Passion conference in Houston, Texas. Libbo, who is also my dance sponsor, lives her life for Christ daily and helps run the Student Leadership Institute that meets weekly. SLI is an organization that teaches students how to be leaders in faith as well as give them the knowledge to defend their faith. Last but not least is Jan Moncrief. She is my Young Life small group leader, who also comes to many school sporting events, activities, and fundraisers to support us. She has taught me to embrace those around me and to love no matter what the situation may be.

 

Caples---Mary-Chosen-Caples
Mary Chosen Caples
Jackson Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

Favorite Scripture
     My favorite Bible verse in Romans 12:1-2 it says, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” This verse has always stuck out to me because we live in a world that constantly goes against what the Bible teaches us, but in this verse God challenges us to not conform to these things. This verse challenges us to constantly keep our minds and thoughts in the Bible so that we can make the right decisions. The end of this verse is very comforting to me. It constantly reminds me that no matter what challenges I face in life God does have a perfect plan for me and by constantly being in his word I can choose the wise decision. This verse is not the easiest to follow. The easy way in this world is to just go along with the flow, but by turning from the world and following God’s path for my life the outcome will be so much greater.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     Loving others is one of the most important things a Christian can do in today’s society. In the world that we live in Christians are always being made out to be hypocritical and close-minded. This is the exact opposite of how God calls us to live; we should love and be compassionate to all. Though the world we live in is consistently telling us to think a certain way and believe certain things; I believe as Christians we should not be afraid to stand up for what we believe in. Standing up for what you believe and not wavering on your belief can speak louder than going with the flow and agreeing with them. These two things being loving and standing up for what you believe at this point in our society are very difficult to coexist, but if we as Christians set our sights on God and through everything we do and everyone we meet show the love and compassion he did towards all people, we can do anything!

 

Carroll---Chrishtian-Carroll

 

Chrishtian Carroll
Yazoo County High School
Ebenezer Baptist Church

How I Came to Know Christ
     My mother and father were divorced six months before my birth. That caused me to grow up without a father in my life. My mother’s father was the only father figure I had. I spent every waking moment with my PapPaw for 12 years. Although we did not have a youth group, he would take me to church every Sunday morning. He preached to me about Christ and encouraged me through everything. I enjoyed church with my grandfather and although I did not understand everything the preacher said, my grandfather would put it in simple words for me. When my grandfather died, I stopped going to church. When we moved to Yazoo County in 2011 I became close friends with a girl named Kameron Edwards. I looked up to her and she was a godly girl. One day she asked me to attend Parkview Baptist Church with her that Wednesday night…I became very involved with the youth group. We went that year to an event called, Disciple NOW. Different youth groups from around Yazoo City came together and did different projects around the county. We got busy the first day of our projects and all worked together. That night at one of our youth leader’s house, I felt God speak to me in my heart. I wanted him in my heart and in my life. An older youth member I knew was just sitting in the living room when I asked her how to be saved. She jumped up with joy and we went into a quiet room. She told me if I accept Jesus as my savior and ask him to come into my heart, he would. She began to pray…I knew that weekend that Jesus was my savior.

Future Plans
     I have been through many options of careers. I knew the Lord wanted me to pursue something in the medical field because of my love for people. So I prayed that he would show me what it is he wants me to do. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer so I went to visit him one day in the hospital. The respiratory therapist came in to give him his breathing treatments. He told me that he was working two jobs for respiratory therapy because there are so few of them. Right then and there I knew God had answered my prayers. It is the perfect career for me. I love to help people when they are in need of assistance so I would be great at being a respiratory therapist. God has my life planned out for me and it is my job to follow his path and to live my life out for him no matter what the world thinks.

 

Cox---Bruen-Elizabeth-Cox

 

Bruen Elizabeth Cox
Homeschool
Fellowship Christian Assembly

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     As a homeschooled student, I do not have the same type classroom or school activity situations as some students. However, in my life and in my work, I still have opportunities to live out my faith and to implement lessons learned in our classroom, including those which encourage us to do our best work for God’s glory. During the summer of 2014, I got a job as a part-time nanny for two children. Part of my responsibilities included spending time daily with each child to help them complete summer school packets. I immediately began to encounter big problems with such things as focus on schoolwork and sibling rivalry, to the point that I was ready to quit. But since the family was dependent on my commitment for the summer, I persevered, in dependence on God for help, committed to doing my very best job; and, to God’s glory, the summer was a success. By the end, the kids were cooperative, and the little girl was telling everyone about her new best friend, Bruen Elizabeth, and consistently wanting me to spend the night at her house. The parents gave me a necklace with a charm that says “Honor” and another charm that says “Patience.” That summer, I was challenged to persevere in living out my faith; but I was able to do so, with the help of the Lord, and the trials of the summer brought James 1:2-4 to life for me. (Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything).

Activities and Service to Others
     I am actively involved in field trips, community service, involvement at the capitol, and extra-curricular activities with my homeschool group, Christian Home Educators Connection (CHEC). I am a member of Mu Eta Sigma, the National Math Honor Society for the Homeschool Community, and Eta Sigma Alpha, the National Homeschool Honor Society. I have had the opportunity to be involved in extra-curricular activities which reflect my patriotism and high regard for the liberty that we enjoy in the United States, born out of our country’s Christian heritage. I have served as secretary and currently serve as president of the Jackson Metro Area Generation Joshua Club, a local chapter of a national organization focused on training students to influence our culture for Christ and to strengthen the principles of government upon which the United States was founded, in an effort to preserve liberty for the next generation. I have also participated in the TeenPact Leadership School a couple of years. TeenPact’s mission is to train youth to understand the political process, value their liberty, defend the Christian faith, and engage in the culture, in an effort to produce involved citizens ready to impact the world around them. I have been actively involved in the political process, in activities such as assisting high school students and adults in registering to vote, volunteering on political campaigns, and writing to and meeting with legislators regarding specific bills and issues.

I have a special place in my heart for both the elderly and children, and I am privileged to have the opportunity to serve both through my community service and both of my jobs. I volunteer my time on a regular basis at The Waterford Senior Living Community, playing cards with residents, participating with other teens in worship with the residents, and doing what I can to brighten the days of the residents. I volunteer each year at Horses for the Handicapped, where I assist handicapped children in riding horses, riding in covered wagons, and playing games at the event. I provide child care services at Reunion Golf and Country Club’s Kid’s Korner, and I work for A Focused Brain, an Occupational Therapy Clinic, where I do various chores and assist in pediatric therapy. I enjoy the opportunity to show love to the children and to pray for them. I serve at church wherever I am needed. I have recently had the opportunity to assist with photographing members and collecting member information for the church directory, and I have assisted with other administrative tasks in the past, such as updating collection and attendance records, as needed. In addition, I serve church members regularly through my letter-writing ministry, sending letters to those who are shut-in, to brighten their days, remind them that they are not forgotten, and comfort them in their loneliness; sending notes to those who are sick, to remind them that they are missed and are in our prayers; and sending messages of encouragement that include Scripture that has had meaning in my life. It brought me joy when I visited one of the elderly ladies to whom I had written, while she was in the nursing home, to see my cards and letters pinned to her bulletin board as the only decoration in her room. I have also enjoyed sewing sock dolls, sock monkeys, and stuffed animals to give to people, just to make them smile.

 

Dixon---Mary-Reid-Dixon

 

Mary Reid Dixon
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Madison United Methodist Church

Activities and Service to Others
     I have been involved with student council since the 6th grade. My Junior year I was the Student Body Vice-President. This year I am Madison-Ridgeland Academy’s Student Body President and also serve as the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Student Council Vice-President. I have been on the Headmaster’s list every year of High School and was the Blackwell Scholarship Recipient. I have been a member of the Junior Classical League, National Honor Society, Latin Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. I am involved in the Bible Club, Fellow of Christian Athletes (FCA), Hunting and Fishing Club, and Latin Club. I have been on the dance team since the 8th grade, currently serve as a captain and have been to UDA dance camp three years. I have also participated in the MAIS Dance Team Competition for 5 years. I was the Design Editor of the yearbook staff in the 10th grade. I am a member of Young Life and an MRA Diamond Girl. I participated in the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership program, Madison County Business League Youth Leadership Program, and Mayor’s Youth Leadership CORE Training Program. I was a Madison City Chamber Junior Ambassador and secretary of the Mayor’s Youth Council. I am also a member of MRA’s Student Leadership Institute. I have volunteered for numerous organizations including Adopt A School Power APAC Art Exhibit Reception, Adopt A School Power APAC Book Buddies, American Heart Association, Broadmoor Baptist Church God’s Haven Garage Sale, Down Range Ministries, Horses for Handicap, In His Steps Ministries, Jackson Symphony League Sub-Deb, Make A Wish Foundation, Mississippi Animal Rescue League, Mississippi Blood Services, Mississippi Food Network, Mustard Seed, and Stewpot Community Services.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     Living my Faith intentionally is a choice I make every day in everything I do. The immediate verse that pops in to my head after reading this question is Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” In everything I do I have to look past the worldly purpose and realize that living my life for Christ is my highest goal. As I continue my journey and live outside the city of Madison, I know that I will face a world where it is not so easy to be a Christian and is much more antagonistic toward Christianity, but I feel well equipped to take on this challenge due to my family, Church, and Biblical curriculum from K-4 through 12th grade.

Favorite Scripture
     My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.” First, I find myself always worrying about what is ahead of me, and this verse reminds me not to be anxious about anything. Secondly, it reminds me to always talk to God in prayer and give him thanks for all of my blessings. And Lastly, it makes it clear that God’s peace will protect me and guide me in all that I do. This is a verse that I see every night and every morning, because I keep it on my bedside table. This one verse holds me to a lot and helps me to live more like Christ.

 

Evans---Torrye-Evans-II

 

Torrye R. Evans II
Ridgeland High School
New Hope Baptist Church

How I Came to Know Christ
     I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know about Jesus. I was reared by God-fearing parents who always preached and taught me about Christ ever since I was old enough to understand. My parents taught me to praise God in happy moments, seek God in difficult moments, and every moment to thank God. From elementary to middle school, every night before I went to bed, my parents would get on their knees and on either side of me and we would recite the Lord’s Prayer in unison. My parents kept me so involved in church activities that exceptional Christian role models constantly surrounded me. I attended church regularly and went to Christian schools were I learned about God’s love and mercy every day. From watching how my mentors and parents modeled their lives after Jesus, I learned invaluable lessons on how to abide by the Word of God in all aspects of my life. It was from these many lessons that I came to know Christ and develop a relationship with him that is both real and personal.

Activities and Service to Others
     At Ridgeland High School, I have been a member of Future Business Leaders of America for four years, and I am honored to currently serve as vice-president of the 32- member organization. I have maintained all A’s honor roll 9th-12th grade. I have been a member of the football team for four years where I was nominated BankPlus Blitz 16 Metro-Player of the week and received the Wendy’s High School Heisman award. I was a member of the track team for two years until there became too many scheduling conflicts. I am currently a student leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, member of National Honor Society, Key Club, Volunteer Club, National Science Honor Society, RHS ambassador, and Mu Alpha Theta. For our community, I have volunteered as a standard-bearer with Sanderson’s Farm PGA golf tournament for four years. I have volunteered in many community events as a Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce Junior Diplomat and as a MS Children’s Museum Youth Ambassador. I have also volunteered with Ridgeland Mayor’s Fun Walk, MS Food Network, Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival, Toys for Tots, and The Mississippi Heart Walk. At church, I am part of the youth leadership team and the Young Men Greeters’ ministry. I have participated in Awana and even won 1st place in the Awana bible quiz in St. Louis, Missouri. I look forward to participating in Operation Christmas Child and volunteering at StewPot in downtown Jackson. I thoroughly enjoyed serving as a 2nd grade youth leader at Broadmoor “Wow” summer camp. At Christmas, I look forward to helping deliver gifts to the Angel Tree children in the Forest Avenue apartments.

 

Fehrenbacher---Natalie-Fehrenbacher

 

Natalie Fehrenbacher
Home School
Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     One night at work, I met a little girl from a tragic family situation. As we talked, I was stunned to hear her speak of things I couldn’t have imagined at her age. She was only eight, but her childhood had been taken away. I couldn’t fall asleep that night because my heart was broken for this precious girl. The neglect and darkness in her life were such a horrible contrast to the safe, happy childhood I knew. I kept thinking, “Lord, I want to help her, but what can I possibly do?” Gently, He reminded me that it isn’t about what I can and can’t do, but what Christ is able and willing to do through me. He has shown me that He can use the smallest things to bless a little girl, like playing basketball with her, or Barbie dolls, or listening to her talk about her day. Daily before His throne I plead for this girl and her family, that she will find the security of knowing she is loved by her heavenly Daddy, and that she will live to share with others how God brought beauty out of her broken childhood. It has been a challenge to my faith, knowing that I might not see direct results of my prayers and friendship in her life, but He is helping me to trust that He is working. What a privilege, that I might be one of the instruments He uses to claim this girl for His own!

Activities and Service to Others
     For the past 13 years, I have taken ballet at Cross-Tied Ministries School of Dance. At the end of each semester, we travel to nursing homes around the area to share our dancing with the elderly and disabled. We have danced at St.Catherine’s Village, Baptist Adult Daycare, Peachtree Village, and Heritage House of Castlewoods. We participate in First Baptist Church of Brandon’s Christmas and Easter programs each year. In 2010, my group was awarded third place at the annual Rankin’s Got Talent competition. We have danced at many churches and events around the metro area, including the Mississippi Crafts Fair and Relay for Life. I have played the piano since the age of four. I regularly play piano at Peachtree Village in Brandon. I have served as the pianist for the orchestra at my church. I have also enjoyed singing with the Ladies’ Choir at my church. I have had the privilege of singing while accompanying myself and others on the piano at many different venues, including Son Valley Home for Special Needs Adults, and other venues. I am delighted to be working this year as the ballet teacher for Impact Homeschool Group. I conduct weekly classes, choreograph dances, and coordinate performances for girls ages 3-8. For the past six years, I have served at my church’s Vacation Bible School. Each year, my church sends a team of volunteers to help conduct Vacation Bible School at Mission First, a community ministry center which ministers to children in inner city Jackson. I helped to lead music at this VBS for 2 years. I have served at various other one-time service projects, including: Sonbeams’ Night Out for Special Needs Families, We Will Go Ministries, RideABILITY Therapeutic Riding Center, and Operation Christmas Child Collection Center. I also have a wonderful job as a childcare worker at First Baptist Church of Brandon.

Future Plans
     My dream is to one day open my own ballet studio. Dance in its purest form is a beautiful way to worship our God, and I would love to share that with others. A ballet teacher also has a tremendous opportunity to be a Christlike friend, inspiration, and spiritual leader to her students.

 

Graham---Lauren-Graham

 

Lauren Graham
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Ridgecrest Baptist Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     The spring break of my 11th grade year, the Student Leadership Institute at my school went on a mission trip to Los Angeles, California. One of our jobs while there was to minister to people outside of buildings like grocery stores. I encountered countless people who told me how naive I was to believe that Christianity was true. One man in particular challenged me harshly, claiming religion is what was wrong with the world. The examples he gave seemed logical, and I was almost tempted to simply nod my head and get away as fast as possible. Instead, I chose to challenge what he said by counteracting his beliefs with my own. After doing my best to soften his attitude, I gave him information on the church we were partnering with, and we parted ways. I do not know if that man ever bothered to give Christianity a second thought, but I pray that my short conversation with him was the small seed that will eventually lead him to Christ.

Favorite Scripture
     Psalm 139:13-14 states “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” This verse basically carried me through middle school. I struggled greatly with comparing myself to others. I was short, awkward, and by no means had a perfect body. Some of my classmates would comment on what I thought to be unfortunate traits, and it really tore me down. The leader of the Bible study I was in had the entire group memorize a large portion of Psalm 139. These two verses stuck out to me immediately and soon became my stronghold as I realized these things about myself that I hated, were really me hating God’s perfect creation. The thought of Him putting me together by hand in my mother’s womb is the only image I need to know that God made me unique, with a special purpose in life. This verse has been taped to my dresser and bathroom mirror for six years and reminds me every time I look at myself to be proud of what He created.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     It becomes more real to me each day that I will soon leave my little Christian bubble and go out into a world where political correctness overrides truth, faith, and justice. Ever since preschool, I have attended relatively small, Biblically-based schools. This year, everyone is stressing the importance of learning to stand for their beliefs when we come across someone who wants to question them. I am fortunate enough to have leaders in my life I know I can talk to even after I leave high school. Every day, it seems Christianity is portrayed more and more as a judgmental and clueless group of people. The key to overcoming this stereotype for me has always been to love. All I can do is rely on God’s Word to keep me strong in my faith and remember that just because my beliefs don’t match someone else’s, I am still commanded to treat them equally, honestly, and love them with every fiber of my being.

 

Hall---Madi-Hall

 

Madi Hall
Germantown High School
Broadmoor Baptist Church

Activities and Service to Others
     At church I am an active member of Messengers, Upward, the sports ministry, the youth ministry, Jackson Street Ministry, MadCAAP, and In His Steps Ministry. On a weekly basis, I participate in a drama/puppetry group called “Messengers.” As a senior leader in this group, I use puppetry and drama to share the Gospel with the children and youth of Mississippi. I am also involved in a Christian sports organization called “Upward.” Within my involvement in the sports ministry, I am a part of the summer camp staff. As a leader, I assist in the implementation of camp activities and oversight of participants. I have been given multiple opportunities to participate in Jackson Street Ministry where I go throughout the streets of Jackson and feed, encourage, and love on the homeless of Jackson, Mississippi. I have also participated in collection efforts of food and hygiene products for MadCAAP, and have led activities for children at In His Steps Ministry. I am a member of the Germantown Beta Club, Spanish Club, and Yearbook Staff. As a member of the Beta Club, I have helped with Special Olympics, food drives, bake sales, and Operation Christmas Child. I am also a Maverick Mentor at Madison Crossing Elementary. I get the privilege to tutor and pour into the lives of two fourth grade girls.

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     I am able to recall a time when I lived out my faith while writing a paper in Composition I. My teacher had given us a list of books, and we were to choose one of the books to read for our assignment. After reading the book, we had to summarize each chapter. I remember reading one chapter of the book and being disgusted by the content of it. I was having a hard time continuing the chapter, but I kept telling myself that I had to finish it so I could complete my assignment. Afterwards, I regretted finishing the chapter, so when it came time for me to write my essay, I could not bring myself to reiterate the content. Instead, I wrote about why I could not summarize it. Using scripture references, I explained that my faith was too important to me, and how I wanted to honor God in my schoolwork. When I got my grade back, I saw that I had made a 100 on the assignment. That situation proved to me that God is be faithful to us and will bless us as we are faithful to Him.

 

Hudnall---Harper-Hudnall

 

Harper Hudnall
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

Christian Leaders Who Have Impacted My Life
     One of the biggest Christian influences in my life has been my FCA leader/ Bible teacher, Coach Nathan Stamper. He has always been more than just a mentor to me. He’s a close friend of mine who I can go to when in need of help or insight on an issue. He has helped me through the years to not only see the Gospel more clearly, but also understand the entire Word of God and relate it to my own life in daily circumstances. Coach Stamper is also one of my biggest accountability partners. He has helped me through many trials and temptations that I’ve encountered in my life. The love he expresses towards me and to others around him, and especially that for the Lord, is contagious. When I think of being more intentional and relational with people around me, I always look to Coach Stamper as an example. Over the years I have felt my relationship with Christ become stronger because of Coach Stamper continually pouring into my life. I will always be able to take with me the scriptures and lessons he has taught me, and for that I will always be thankful.

Future Plans
     As of today I feel that the Lord is calling me to coach and teach at the high school level. Through coaching and teaching I would be easily connected with young high school students. Through this connection I could become more invested in a student’s life and in doing so, I could better portray a picture of the Gospel to those who may have not heard of it before. Kids who play sports have a strong emotional connection to them. If I were to coach I could connect the two, athletics and the Gospel, and hopefully spread the good news to those around my area.

 

Lauderdale---Ben-Moss-Lauderdale

 

Ben Moss Lauderdale
Central Hinds Academy
First Baptist Church of Raymond

How I Came to Know Christ
     I was in the third grade attending First Presbyterian Day School, when the teacher was explaining the plan of salvation, and it was then that I asked the Lord into my heart. I vividly remember calling my mom from school and explaining to her the events that had taken place while sitting in that classroom. We both cried and laughed and she came to pick me up early and we shared an ice cream cone. It was not this one particular day that made my decision. It was the loving environment and Christian guidance my parents provided for me as well as the strong faith they exhibited in our home. I guess you could say the timing was perfect that day while sitting in third grade. Since then, we moved several times and never found a church that was a right fit for us to join. Six years later after accepting Christ, we moved back to Mississippi and joined First Baptist Church of Raymond where I was baptized. It wasn’t until I got older and saw Christ working in my own life and in the people around me that I came to know and truly love and trust Him. I can recall numerous accounts in which The Lord has touched me or given me guidance in a tough spot in my life. As I continue to grow in The Word and watch God touch other people’s lives, including mine, my relationship with Him grows stronger and stronger. Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World that is Hostile to My Faith I plan to live out my faith in today’s world by staying grounded in God’s word. It is through His word that I will receive the guidance needed. I will rely heavily on prayer and faith. Prayer is mentioned over 250 times in the Bible and this gives me the opportunity to share all aspects of my life with God. It is also an act of worship and obedience. Faithfulness is equally important as the Bible puts a high premium on it. Galatians 5:22 states: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” Without faithfulness to God there is no way to lead a true Christian life. In order to help me stay grounded in my prayer life and remain faithful, my plan is to surround myself with other Christians and get involved with several Christian organizations on campus such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Campus Crusade for Christ. As Proverbs 13:20 states: “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” I will pray to God for wisdom when choosing new friends as I enter into the new world of college.

Future Plans
     The need for serving others is emphasized throughout God’s words. For this reason I plan to attend Dental School and I would like to go into practice with my uncle who practices in Edwards, Mississippi. He chose this area due to the lack of dental access in the community. It is a low-income area, and my uncle’s practice provides affordable dentistry to people who would otherwise do without. I have worked many hours in this clinic and I feel the Lord has put it on my heart to continue their care after my uncle retires.

 

Lovitt---Kayla-Grace-Lovitt

 

Kayla Grace Lovitt
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Highland Colony Baptist Church

Activities and Service to Others
     I am a member of the Varsity Basketball team, team captain of the girls’ Cross Country team, and I am on the track team. I am a co-captain for the Patriot Pride Varsity Dance team. I am a member of the FCA Leadership Team. I also serve with the Student Leadership Institution, which is a student organization at MRA to develop Christian leaders for today’s culture. I also am a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and the 30-Plus Club for ACT Excellence. I am also a Mississippi Economic Council STAR Student. I have been on the Mayor’s Youth Council for two years. I sing in the church choir, and have been on multiple mission trips through my church. I also work three mornings a week before school for a family getting their children ready for school and transporting them there. I have recently been notified that I am a U.S. Presidential Scholar candidate and a member of the MAIS All-Star Basketball Team.

Favorite Scripture
     My favorite Bible passage is Matthew 28:19-20, which is a part of The Great Commission. I love these verses because they remind me what our real purpose here on Earth is. Verse 19 states the mission-to go and make disciples of ALL nations. He commands us to go to the ends of the Earth spreading His good news, which seems like a daunting task. But in verse 20, He also reminds us that He is with us through every step-to the very end of age-which gives me comfort in knowing that no matter how unsafe or uncomfortable I may feel, God is with me always. These verses have had a significant impact on my life in that I have been called to do missions. I’ve been on three overseas mission trips in the past two years; Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. I plan on investing myself greatly in missions once I am out of nursing school so that I can hopefully take part in medical missions. When I’m doubtful or uncertain of my future, these verses remind me of my true purpose here on Earth, and nothing is more important than that.

 

Lyons---Andrew-Lyons

 

Andrew Lyons
Hartfield Academy
First Baptist Church of Brandon

Activities and Service to Others
     At church, I am involved in the leadership team within my youth group and the worship team for the youth services. At school, I am active within National Honor Society and Beta Club. I am the student body president, and I also helped found the chapel band that helps lead worship at Hartfield. The chapel band has also had the privilege, apart from the school, to lead worship at different local churches. Within the community, I have had the privilege to be a coach for a summer swim league (Crossgates Tidal Waves), and this past year I had the even greater privilege to be a head coach for the same league. I also helped coach a competitive year-round swim team (PEAQ) and I have been able to give multiple swimming lessons.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     Matthew 5:16 is one of many verses that explicitly tell us how to truly live our lives for Christ. It says, to truly glorify God and let your good deeds shine before others. One should reside in God’s greatness and knowledge every single day, and the study of His Word should be a daily practice also. The only true way I know to live my faith out intentionally is to grow closer to Christ, and the immediate effect of doing so would be an overflow of Christ to others in my daily walk.

Future Plans
     I feel called by God to chase a profession that allows me to be connected within my circle to unbelievers, while also preaching the name of God within a body of believers, more commonly known as bivocational ministry. I desire to be an electrical engineer while also ministering within a body of believers – all of this being done through God and to glorify God.

 

Mitchell---Sydney-Mitchell

 

Sydney Mitchell
Hillcrest Christian School
Morrison Heights Baptist Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     After competing in the Regional Envirothon Competition for my school in Chicago, my teammates and I waited in the airport for our 5:00 flight back to Jackson. Suddenly, an announcement rang out, delaying our flight until 8:00. I picked up my favorite book, Redeeming Love, and began to read. A couple of pages into the book, a middle-aged Chinese woman sat down in the seat beside me. She leaned over, introduced herself, in clipped English, and asked me what my book was about. I explained how it was the story of Hosea and told her that it resembles the kind of love Christ has for us. Confusion flashed across her face, so I asked her if she had ever heard of Jesus Christ. She told me she had, but the whole idea of it confused her. Instantly, I shared my testimony and explained how God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins. We exchanged numbers, and before I knew it, we were boarding the plane. I invited her to join me for church Sunday morning before she headed back to China, and she agreed. Not only did the Lord speak to her that day but also me as well. To this day we still keep in touch, encouraging one another with daily Bible verses.

Activities and Service to Others
     I am a member of the Christian Leadership Team, Government Club, Honor Society, and Student Body Government. I believe Christ has given me the power of leadership, so I am determined to use this gift to spread the glory of His name. I play soccer, tennis, and volleyball. I also run track, and I am the captain of my cheerleading squad at my school. I am a regular volunteer at Willow Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. I have had some of the most invigorating discussions with the residents of the nursing home, challenging my Christianity and strengthening it as well. Being able to put a smile on their faces warms my heart and lifts my spirits. I have been involved with many mission trips in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi.

 

Moore---Luci-Moore

 

Luci Moore
Jackson Preparatory School
First Presbyterian Church Jackson

Activities and Service to Others
     I am an active member of First Presbyterian Church and Young Life. I attend church and youth group on Sundays and Young Life Club on Monday nights. On Tuesdays, I go to Young Life Bible study. Then, on Wednesdays, I attend a small group with girls my age led by my church youth group leader. I am also a babysitter in the community. I babysit families from my church and families from other communities. I typically babysit 2-3 times a week, including weekends. I think the reason I love to babysit is because when I was younger I always looked up to the teenage girls who would babysit my brothers and me. I hope that I impact the kids I babysit the way that my babysitters impacted me.

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     Last year two senior girls started a spiritual awareness week called the Pursuit. At the Pursuit, older girls would lead a group of junior high girls in devotions and walking deeper in their walk with God. I got to be one of those leaders for the junior high girls. I got to share my testimony and share the Word of God with girls who go to my school. I got to share my faith with them by digging deeper into the Word and share what God has done in my life. In our small group, we would talk about the things that have challenged us to trust God more and what has brought us close to him. To me, being able to lead my group of eight girls brought me closer to the Lord because, through teaching his word, I was able to learn more about Him and what I can do to get closer to him.

Christian Leaders Who Have Impacted My Life
     I am very blessed in that I have been raised by my parents and both of their parents. I know that it is rare for people my age to have both of their parent’s parents to be alive and healthy. Both of my grandmothers have impacted my life significantly. They both are encouraging me in every step of my walk with Christ. They both pray for me daily to be more like Christ. My grandmothers have each set a wonderful example of how to live a life like Christ lived. I look up to them and I pray that one day, I will impact my grandchildren just as much as my grandmothers and grandfathers have impacted me.

Future Plans
     I feel as if the Lord is calling me to minister to younger people by being a teacher.

 

Phillips---Christopher-Walker-Phillips

 

Christopher Walker Phillips
East Rankin Academy
New Liberty Baptist Church

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I believe that the only way to live an intentional faith in today’s time is making an impact in the individual, everyday lives of family, coworkers, and friends. Being that change in a friend’s life could change the world. I love the illustration of a dark room with one single candle lit and how much light that it can put off. That candle then lights another candle and so on until the room is fully lit. Being the Christian example and encourager to the people who know you the most can help them trust God more which in turn helps their circle of people and then so on. “Throwing the Bible” at people who are already agnostic towards Christianity would most likely result in their not heeding your words unless there is a personal level of trust. I believe that investing in individual lives will result in the community that the new Church had in Acts: they trusted, prayed, encouraged, and took care of each other and as a result, many lives came to know Christ. By living out my faith instead of it just being words and being the example in the community is how I will intentionally live my faith out in this unbelieving world.

Activities and Service to Others
     In my school I am involved in various sports, Christian, and academic groups. I have been a football equipment manager for five years, have played tennis for two, ran track for four, and I am considered the “media coordinator” for our student section (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, flyers, promotions, etc.) Academically, I am the Treasurer for my school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta member, and on the honor roll and the ACT Academic team. I am a part of the Student Leadership Team of the FCA at school. At my church, I have been nominated to be a youth group representative, occasionally lead Bible studies, and have been a counselor for our children’s camps. Community service and volunteer work include: Samaritan’s Purse- Operation Christmas Child- Atlanta distribution center and the Tupelo relay center, the annual Easter egg hunt at the MS Agricultural Museum, Jackson Street Ministry (homeless), Front Porch Ministries (community outreach group), and Hands and Feet Mission Week (local mission projects). I have also been a part of Fuge Camp’s Student Leader Apprenticeship in which I spent two weeks in Nashville, TN, serving the city and participating in a summer camp.

 

Reed---Samuel-Reed

 

Samuel Reed
Warren Central High School
United M.B. Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
During my junior year in English class, the students had to choose a topic that was a true concern to them and write an essay. My topic was on Teen pregnancy. Initially I was somewhat embarrassed and fearful to present my paper because it would be known that I was a Virgin. I knew that if I lived as God desired, I would be blessed. After I read my essay, a female student stated that it is hard to fight temptation; I informed her that you should not allow yourself to be put in a situation where you might be tempted. I shared some dating tips. 1. Always go on a date with other couples, never alone. 2. If you have company over to your house, be sure that an adult is always there. God wants us to remain pure until he brings that special someone to us for marriage. My faith in God and his promises was shared that day and I believe that someone made a choice to remain abstinent.

Activities and Service to Others
     My activities at school are Band, Football and Choir. The community activities I am involved in are Vacation Bible School for the Salvation Army and summer Music camp for children. I also ring the bell for the Salvation Army during the holidays. I assist the Youth department at Triumph Church (Vicksburg, Ms.) with teaching youth Sunday school and lead church Youth Sports group. I assisted with cleanup activities and accepted any leadership roles that may have been assigned to at my Church (United M.B. church).

Future Plans
     I believe the Lord is calling me to pursue a career in Biochemical Engineering. I have always been intrigued by science and medicine, how things come about, what causes certain things to happen and how to prevent or solve the problem. I have always felt that I had to protect people, or to be somewhat a guardian. In this field of study I can contribute much.

 

Stephens---Kory-Stephens

 

Kory Stephens
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

Activities and Service to Others
     I am involved in several organizations throughout the school and community. I am not only a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, but I am a leader also. We have FCA every Friday morning before school, which allows the students to come together as one and to learn more about our Savior. FCA also gives any student the opportunity to speak on those Friday mornings about what’s on their heart or mind. As leaders, we meet once or twice a month to discuss speakers, content, and songs for the next couple of Friday mornings. I am also part of the Student Leadership Institute at Madison-Ridgeland Academy. We come together to learn about Christ, but we also have projects that we do all year long. Last year we worked with “In His Steps” ministry located in Canton, Mississippi. We also took a mission trip for a week to help a church in Los Angeles, California. This past summer I went on a mission trip to New Orleans, Louisiana to put together a football camp in the Ninth Ward. I was a small group leader and was so thankful when one of the kids in my group accepted Christ on the last day. This year we are working with “We Will Go” which is an organization located in Jackson, Mississippi. We collect items for the organization, and we also help clean up around their buildings and streets. We will be taking another mission trip over Spring Break to Boston, Massachusetts

Favorite Scripture
     My favorite passage in the Bible is James Chapter One. It talks about trials throughout the passage, which is a subject I can relate to in my life. My father’s brain tumor affected his life and our family’s lives in many ways. As a young boy, I had to grow up fast. I had to learn how to lean on God for help in many of the situations I faced. My mom and my grandfather were the two people I would go to for anything and they made sure that I looked to God for guidance during the tough times. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 is a verse that constantly was given to me by my grandfather. James Chapter One is my favorite passage because it is one of the passages that I can relate to the best and has a lot to teach me about life.

Future Plans
     I believe God is calling me to become a coach. As a coach, I can impact kids’ lives and teach them the Word of God. I love sports because I grew up playing four different sports, so I have the love of athletics inside of me. Football is my favorite sport, so I am hopeful that I can pursue coaching in that sport. As a coach, I can use my athletic skills to teach on the field, and I can also plant the Word of God in the lives of the young men or women with whom I have the honor of coaching.

 

Walker---Ashlynn-Walker

 

Ashlynn Walker
Magee High School
Corinth Baptist Church

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     In a world that is steadily growing darker, I find it vital to shine my light brighter. To live out faith, you do not have to go to drastic measures; you can simply imitate Christ in all you do. When I go to college, I plan to start a Bible study for the girls in my dorm. I want them to know that God is a God who saves and forgives no matter the sin. I plan to love unconditionally. God commands us to love one another, so obviously love is a massive way to reflect Him. I believe if others look at me and notice this loving presence that it will open doors for me to share the love of Christ. A crucial way I plan to live out my faith is by refusing to compromise my beliefs to better fit the world. Standing firm to what God teaches us will never leave us empty and longing for anything this world has to offer. Living out faith can be a challenge, but the battle has already been won. Now, it is up to God’s children to recruit more soldiers while we are on this battleground. 

Future Plans
     I believe the Lord is calling me into Physical Therapy. In this field I will be able to build relationships with a variety of recovering patients. In turn, I will be pouring God’s love into them. I can depict God’s healing power as they regain their physical strength, and hopefully gain even more spiritual strength. Physical Therapy opens the door to serve others and nurse them back to health just as Christ did for us.

 

Welch---Anna-Gail-Welch-F


EDITOR’S NOTE: Anna Gail’s biography was incorrect in our print edition. We sincerely regret this error and her correct information is below.

Anna Gail Welch
Germantown High School
Galloway UMC, Pinelake Church and St. Philips Episcopal Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     For the past three years, my choral director, Mrs. Carrie Owens, has selected myself and one other girl to represent Maverick Singers as a Representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Organization. During October of 2015, my small group leader, Coach Katie Holden, asked if I would be comfortable leading our small group of girls about any topic of my choice. I knew exactly what subject I wanted to talk about with my small group. During that same month, a BuzzFeed video popped up on my Facebook timeline by the title of “I Am A Christian, But I Am Not…” In this video, a number of Christian described that yes; they are Christian, but they are not ______. This video captivated my time of prayer and reflection for several days. A lot of the things these Christians said brought me into awareness of other Christians’ struggles. For example, “I am a Christian, but I am not perfect, closed minded, un-excepting, etc.” After listening to this video and verbally hearing someone else also struggle with the same things I’m battling, I realized I was not alone. I was able to share this video with my small group, ask them questions, and hear their opinion on who they are as a Christian and where they fall short of God, and how we can all support each other through our journey to be the best Christian we can be.

How I Came to Know Christ
     I have grown up in a Christian home my entire life. Bouncing back and forth between two church homes, attending multiple Vacation Bible Schools every summer, and sitting in the pews every Sunday, the teaching of Jesus contains my first memories. Though I had known all about God and could recite hundreds of Bible verses and stories, I never truly felt His glory and witnessed life change through Him until the summer of my freshman year. The summer of my freshman year I attended four church retreats/camps that grounded me firmly into my faith. The Chi Alpha Tour with Pinelake Church to Nashville, Tennessee prevailed a new light on Jesus I had never experienced or witnessed before. After a week of worship and ministry in the streets of a broken town, I found myself to be completely broken as well. I was putting on a mask that I had it all together; when in reality – I didn’t. I looked to God as an image, not someone who was and could be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually there for me as someone struggling to find The Light in Him. After that summer, I took off my façade as someone who believed they had it all there, and let my hope in Jesus lead me to places unimaginable. If it hadn’t have been for that summer and the summers after, I wouldn’t be the strong believer in Jesus that I am today.

Activities and Service to Others
     Germantown High School: Maverick Singers contemporary acapella Choir, Legacy, Maverick Singers Leadership Team, Diamond Girl Captain, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Representative, Future Business Leaders of America Club, Spanish Club, Mavericks Against Destructive Decisions Organization, The Maverick Mentor Program

Galloway United Methodist Church: Leadership Team, MissionFest, Vacation Bible School.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church: Lector, Senior Server Acolyte, Vacation Bible School.

Community: Mississippi Methodist Happening #71, #75, #76 Staff, Episcopal Happening #83 Staff, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s Sub Debs, Madison County Junior Auxiliary Crown Club, Madison County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Camp Bratton-Green counselor, Division of Youth Council member.

Favorite Scripture
     One of my favorite chapters in The Bible is Romans 8. I have found that in the New International Version Bible, the heading “More than Conquerors,” Verses 28-39, is a needed reminder we often forget its sincerity. In a time of tragedy, confusion, and heartbreak in the darkness of today’s time, this reading is wholesome and reassuring. In this passage, we are reminded that “If our God is for us, who could be against us?” and that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of our God. Though it seems that we are surrounded by violence, danger, and the unknown of tomorrow, Romans 8 promises God’s design of Jesus and what Jesus’s death did for us as Christians. This is a chapter I lean fully on and strongly believe that God knows what He’s doing, even if we don’t.

Christian Leaders Who Have Impacted My Life
     Guy Bowering, Jr. has been a part of my life before I was even born. Guy became a part of my life at Happening #70 where he served on staff as I went through the weekend as a Happener. Since then, Guy has served by my side at other Happenings and at Camp Bratton-Green. Guy has become my accountability partner, faith friend, and mentor over the past 2 years. He is the most devout Christian I know, and I look up to him as a person and as a learning Christian. Guy Bowering, Jr. is a teacher in Long Beach, MS and an organist at his church. When I first met Emily Sanford, she was the Youth Pastor as I was going through Confirmation as a sixth grader at Galloway United Methodist Church. Emily was the first person who helped guide me to understanding myself as a Christian and my place in church. Since then, Emily is now the Associate Pastor at Galloway United Methodist Church. I met Charlie Deaton at Special Session II at Camp Bratton-Green the summer of 2014. Charlie has taught me to love beyond your boundaries and look for Christ in all things. He has a spirit of compassion and understanding that I yearn for, and he helped me discover a passion for special needs. Charlie Deaton is a preacher in the Episcopal Church, but is out of practice due to health concerns.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     Though most people believe that Christianity is losing its power in today’s “antagonism,” I strongly disagree. Because God has such profound members of His church, I know His disciples are prevailing through all walks of life around the world. There are many ways to live out your faith even without mentioning your religion. I most often share my faith through outlets of social media, and I see this from other Christians too. Almost everyone has social media, and sadly, it is becoming a negative outlet. Most Christians I know also do this same thing, and they always get positive feedback. Some comment, “I needed this today” or “Thank you for reminding me of The Truth,” and lots of people, Christians and non-Christians, are reading The Gospel through their phone or laptop screens.

Another way I love to share my faith is simply through acts of service. Whether it be holding the door open for someone with a smile, or giving a few dollars to a neighbor on the streets, actions speak louder than words. It is so important to not only “talk the talk,” but also “walk the walk” as a Christian.

Future Plans
     My plan is to major in Special Education and minor in Deaf Education at The University of Southern Mississippi. After staffing a special needs session for two weeks at Camp Bratton-Green, I found a passion for working with children, teenagers, and adults with a variety of special needs. While caring for, living with, and spending every waking hour with my campers, I was completely enveloped into a new love I had never witnessed before. I felt called to work with people with special needs after this experience.

 

Wootton---Hannah-Wootton

 

Hannah Wootton
Jackson Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

Activities and Service to Others
     I am a member of the varsity volleyball team and the Accent dance team. I am the Co- President of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Jackson Academy. I am a member of the Spanish Club, Pre-Med Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and the National Honor Society. I received the Julie Dyer Collins Leadership Award and the Biblical Worldview Award my junior year. I have the opportunity of leading an eighth grade and a fifth grade bible study at my school. I helped organize the Jackson Academy Retreat, which is a student led retreat that over 285 students attended this year. I coached an upward basketball team for third grade girls. I’m involved with the Messenger’s ministry at Broadmoor which serves and ministers to the preschool. I have worked with the Jackson Street Homeless Ministry through my church. I have been on mission trips to Mobile, New Orleans, Denver, and Haiti.

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith
     What legacy are you going to leave when you graduate? Challenged with this question as I entered high school, I prayed God would give me a specific ministry. God blessed me with the opportunity of planning the JA Retreat, a student organized and led Christ centered weekend filled with worship, awesome sermons, fun REC games, and small group sessions. I became passionate about this retreat because I saw it as an avenue to share Christ with my classmates. During the retreat, I had the opportunity to lead a group of seventh grade girls all weekend. I had the time to get to know, love, and disciple each of them. As the weekend came to a close, I realized that spending time with those girls would not stop then. Like I strive for myself, I wanted them to be accountable to the Lord and to each other every day. This led to our group starting a weekly bible study. Through this I have been able to share the hard experiences I had through middle school and let them know how important it is to seek God and know His love for them. I love attending their different school activities they are involved in and being able to support them. Spending time, encouraging, praying, and sharing God’s love daily with younger girls as they navigate through life is now my heart and one place I feel God is using me. Mentoring is the ministry that I know God has called for me.

Living a Distinctly Christian Life in a World Hostile to My Faith
     I will love. What a simple answer, but it actually carries a lot of weight. Jesus explained how people would know we belonged to Him in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Our society sees love as romantic between two people or even brotherly between friends, but the love Jesus is talking about here is different. He said these words after becoming a servant to His disciples by getting down on His hands and knees to wash their feet. The kind of love Jesus is talking about is an unselfish love that expects nothing in return. By dying on the cross, He showed us how much He loved us, and because of His love for us we are to love everyone. If we constantly show love, people will notice. I want to be known as a disciple of Christ. To fulfill this task, I must love because He first loved me.

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