2017 Christian Leaders of the Future

By on March 1, 2017
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Mississippi Christian Living, in partnership with Belhaven University, is pleased to introduce the 2017 Christian Leaders of the Future. High school seniors from across the state submitted essay applications, answering questions about their faith, service, and leadership experiences. The applications—without the students’ names, schools, or churches—were reviewed and scored by a diverse panel of local community leaders, each working independently. Scores were tabulated and the top 20 are featured here.

We will honor them along with friends and families on March 6 during a special event day for our finalists.

Enjoy these excerpts from their essays. These offer but a glimpse into the lives of these young men and women. You can read their words in their entirety at www.MsChristianLiving.com.

We are greatly indebted to our sponsors who have made this program possible. Sponsors were Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, Miskelly Furniture, Capstone Treatment Center, First Commercial Bank, Stegall Imagery, WHJT 93.5, MMI Dining Systems, and Patty Peck Honda.

 

 

 

Atul Aggarwi
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Christ Life Church of the Highlands

 

Favorite Scripture

My favorite Bible passage is Romans 8 because I believe it is a beautiful summation of the Gospel and the hope we can have as believers because of Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul acknowledges the difficulties Christ told his disciples being a Christian would have. He encourages believers to press on because of the power of the Holy Spirit and the hope we as believers have that we will one day be in heaven with Jesus where there will be no more pain or suffering, but instead freedom and glory. Lastly, Paul reminds believers of the great hope Christ’s death and resurrection give us. He encourages us as believers to take heart in suffering because we are more than conquerors in Christ, and reminds us that no trial or tribulation can separate us from the love of Jesus.

Activities and Service to Others

At school, I am on the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) leadership team, take part in the Bible Club and Spanish Club, constantly help out our IT department with any issues they might have, and answer academic questions on the Quiz Bowl team and Mu Alpha Theta, all while working at our after-school day care for children in grades 1-12. I love finding ways to pray and to care for our student body, and my goal is to invest as much love as I can into my fellow students, faculty, and administrators.

In my community, I often volunteer at the Ridgeland and Madison libraries, where I get to meet and interact with a very diverse group of people. I’ve also volunteered at We Will Go Ministries, and I hope to find other ways to serve because it allows me to build relationships and give back to others that make our community what it is.

At church, I work the camera that live-streams our Sunday service along with my Youth Pastor, help lead our Youth Group, speak at Sunday school when possible, and volunteer at Vacation Bible School during the summer. I love volunteering at my church because I learn a lot from my Youth Pastors and leaders, and many people pour into my life and encourage my spiritually. I hope to make an impact on other people’s lives through Christ in me the same way people have touched me through Christ in them.

 

 

John Nix Arledge
Jackson Preparatory School
Christ United Methodist Church

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

At Jackson Prep, I am a member of the football, soccer, and track teams. Through my six years of playing sports, I have tried my best to be a Christian leader to all of my teammates and exemplify a Christian lifestyle. I feel that lifestyle is one of the most important ways a Christian can witness to others. I have prayed a lot during these various sport seasons that the Lord would show me that what I am doing is actually impacting others because, as you know, it is a difficult thing to do and I, like most, struggle to lead a life exemplifying Christ’s grace and love. This year, during my senior football season, I tore seven ligaments in my ankle, which took me out of several games of the season. As He often does, God used this time away from the field to assure me of my actions. My dad received a text from a friend of his who is a Sunday School teacher at Lakeside that read: “A couple of weeks ago Evan Young, who is a sophomore on the football team, asked for a prayer for John Nix after he hurt his ankle. This morning when I asked for prayer requests he said he had a praise. He said that John Nix’s ankle had gotten better and that he was going to play again. He also told me how your son is a player who he looks up to and sees Christ in.” This meant more to me than I can put into words.

 

Activities and Service to Others

At Jackson Prep, I am a part of the football, soccer, and track teams. In the classroom, I am a member of the Student Council, National Honor Society, Service Club, Patriot League, FCA, and I am currently working with a fellow student to head, “The Pursuit,” which is a one-week Christian revival time that we started at our school that is basically a gift from the high school students to the junior high students.

In my church and community, I am a co-leader of a high school Sunday school class and have worked summers helping with VBS as well as the “Kids with Character” camp at my church. Every summer, I work in between football two-a-day practices at The Little Lighthouse, a day care for disabled children ages 2 to 6. That is what I love the most. Each summer I log around 40 hours there. Those kids have a special place in my heart.

 

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

I intend to live my faith through example. As I have mentioned, largely what people argue against Christians is how they choose to live their lives and how some are seemingly hypocritical. What I have noticed is that all people need is someone to look up to—someone who shows even the slightest resemblance of Christ in his or her life. I feel this way due to how much people leading by example have changed my life and how I was shown that Christ was showing himself to others and using me to do it. I cannot give specific examples of how I intend to do this. Failure and sin plague my life just as much as anyone else and I am certainly no more ‘holy’ than the next guy. The beauty of it is that I have the Lord on my side and that the battle has been won. The Lord can accomplish this goal through me no matter how much of a sinner I may be. I have learned that as long as the Lord and you have the same ultimate goal, nothing can stop you. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

 

Anna Claire Bowdon
Madison Ridgeland Academy
Bellwether Church

 

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

I was given a wonderful opportunity to live out my faith through the Student Leadership Institute at MRA. To be a part of this organization, I had to undergo an application and interview process; when I was accepted, we began a one-year in-depth study of the gospel and how to defend it. Through this program, I was given the opportunity to travel to Boston, Massachusetts. In Boston, our leaders told us to find a complete stranger and ask what their beliefs were and what they knew about the gospel. It was a bit intimidating trying to strike up a conversation about religion with a complete stranger, but I’m very thankful for one certain experience. To our surprise, after several people wanted nothing to do with our message, we found a young man with a sparked interest toward Christianity who had several questions. His name was Patrick and he was from the United States, but had recently lived in Thailand for his job in journalism. A group of other students and I sat down with him and began to tell him the story of the gospel and why we needed Jesus. We answered most of his questions to the best of our ability. Patrick wasn’t ready to accept Christ, but he said we had given him a lot to think about. The group prayed for him and I never saw him again. I still pray for Patrick and that the Lord cultivated the seed we planted in his heart. Going outside of the Bible Belt and talking with people who don’t believe what I believe was a great way I lived out my faith to make new disciples.

 

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

I believe one of the most effective ways I can be intentional about my faith is through consistency. Going into college, I will be tempted more than ever before and I will have to make decisions I have never had to make before all on my own. To set a Christian example, I believe being consistent in my beliefs and consistently resisting temptation is a good way to start. Being consistent in the people I choose to be friends with and surround myself with shows others my consistency in what I believe. Does this mean I completely isolate myself from those who do not believe what I believe? Of course not! This means I love them anyway, despite our differences, and show them the love of Christ. I will continue to strive to be the type of person filled with so much joy that it makes people ask where I get that joy from, for that is when I can say Jesus Christ and plant a seed in their heart for the Lord to grow. I can’t control the world around me and I can’t control the world’s increasing doubt of Christ, but I can control myself and shine God’s light for others to see in me.

 

 

Annabeth Haney Breeden
St. Aloysius High School
First Presbyterian Church of Vicksburg

 

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

Christ is the reason for my school, the unseen teacher, model, and inspiration for the teachers and students. Therefore, at St. Aloysius, I have the unique opportunity to live out my faith in my leadership roles, activities, sports, and in the classroom, by consciously seeking to help others in need and put love into action. After transferring from public school in seventh grade, I set a goal to start something that helped St. Aloysius impact my community. I was elected as Key Club president and knew this was my chance to help meet needs in my town. The St. Aloysius Key Club assists Vicksburg Kiwanis in serving children in the local community. As the Key Club president, I also set up a partnership with the Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg to help Good Shepherd Community Center, the Christian-based preschool program assisting families in need in our town. I orchestrate and lead school-wide initiatives collecting school supplies, basic cleaning items, and household necessities and deliver them to the children served at Good Shepherd. Along with leaders of Junior Auxiliary and Key Club members, we visit the preschool program monthly and help with these amazing children. I truly understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:13-16 to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

 

Activities and Service to Others

As a senior at St. Aloysius, I can develop ideals of Christian commitment and service to the community, along with academic and leadership skills. I am a President’s List Scholar, President of Key Club, Secretary of Mu Alpha Theta, National and Junior National Honor Society President, four-year Student Council Secretary, Presidential Gold Award recipient for 250+ yearly community service hours, and four-year member and senior leader of Mentor, Retreat, Liturgical Teams. I am Captain for the current 2-year State Champion Flashettes Dance Team (four-year member). I attended All Star games 2016 as All-State Varsity Dancer, Mississippi Association of Independent Schools and am a four-year Varsity Universal Dance Association All-American dancer.

Outside of school, I am past Vice President and current President of the Cotillion Social Service Club and pledge trainer for Sub-Deb Social Club and Rebellete Service Club of Vicksburg. I am an active member of First Presbyterian Church Youth and monthly Nursery Teen volunteer. I serve and dance with the Vicksburg Performing Arts Company and River Pointe Dance Academy as a Lead Dancer. I serve yearly as a lead counselor for Camp Silver Cloud for disabled children with the Junior Auxiliary. As an active leader in the Miss Mississippi Organization, I serve as a six-year dancer/entertainer and Petit Princess Program assistant for the Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen Pageant and choreographer/dancer for the Princess Program of the Miss Mississippi Pageant.

I also volunteer for three of the major fundraising events each year for The Little Light House of Central Mississippi in Jackson, MS: Garden Party, Tees for Tots Golf Tournament, and Laps for Little Ones. I am the current Mississippi State President of the Mississippi State Society and actively involved at all levels of the Children of the American Revolution (CAR): Vicksburg, Sarah Randolph Boone Society, Mississippi State, Regional, and National Societies Children of the American Revolution. I did serve as the MS Representative in Washington, DC, National Society Children of the American Revolution Convention and was installed as Mississippi State Society President. This year, I also serve as a National Society Children of the American Revolution-National Board Member and a South Central Regional Board Member. I have served in all local offices and as state chairmen and offices. Providing yearly program presentations and Constitution Week Declarations, I serve as a volunteer for the Ashmead Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution and was chosen as a Mississippi State Debutant 2016-Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

 

Future Plans

I have always felt I was here to help others. The Lord continues to pull me toward medical careers. With my beginnings as a preemie, He continues to lead me toward Nursing or Occupational Therapy. I love children and people in need. I also have a strong love of science. I want to make a difference in others’ lives, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me!

 

 

Caroline Cobb
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Highland Colony Baptist Church

 

Activities and Service to Others

I am Student Body president and have served on the Student Council since the 6th grade. I am a member of our school’s Student Leadership Institute, FCA Leadership Team, and Young Life Program. I am involved in twelve clubs and organizations. I am a member of the Swim and Archery teams; serve as manager of the Cross Country team and Boys Soccer team and a leader of “The Pat Gang,” MRA’s Student Section. In the community, I am a member of Madison’s Mayor’s Youth Council where I have served as vice president and president, a Madison FCA representative, and serve in places such as We Will Go, Top Soccer, Mission First, MadCAAP, and the Ronald McDonald house. In my church, I volunteer in the nursery on Sunday mornings, as a worship and group leader at Vacation Bible School, and at Broadmoor’s Wow Week.

 

Favorite Scripture

My favorite passage of the Bible is 1 John 4:7-21. In this passage, John spells out what loving others should look like. He tells us in verse 16 that all who love live in God, and God in them. He tells us in verse 19 that we love others because God first loved us. This passage has been my favorite since my sophomore year and serves as a daily reminder of the call to love God and His people. I believe Paul also sums up the importance of loving others in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”

 

Christian Leaders Who Have Impacted Your Life

I have been blessed by many people that have invested in me that are far wiser and more mature in their faith than I am. One of these is my oldest brother, Nicholas. He is three years older than I am, attends Mississippi State University, and is my very best friend, encourager, and role model. Growing up, we weren’t like normal siblings. We never fought, hardly disagreed, and loved spending time together. Being the younger sibling, I naturally looked up to him. But once I began to grow in my faith, I started to not only look up to him, but I wanted to be like him one day, and still do. He lives a life that bears fruit, lives in a way that is unashamed of the Gospel, and seeks after what is good in all aspects of life. He knows me better than I know myself and this allows him to not only encourage me, but to also challenge me in areas I am lacking in. He has impacted my life and my walk with Christ and I would not be half the woman I am today without him.

 

 

Madison Marie Curtis
Central Hinds Academy
First Baptist Church of Raymond

 

Favorite Scripture

My favorite Bible verse is Colossians 3:17, which states, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” No matter what happens in life, I know God has a plan for me and I am to give thanks to Him no matter the outcome. Sometimes I get so focused on the worldly things that I forget that He is the reason I have all these blessings. I strive to praise Him for my victories and look for what He has to teach me in my defeats, but a lot of the times I only pray to Him after I have been defeated or when things don’t go my way. When things are good, it’s hard for me to find a quiet place to pray and be grateful for all He has done for me. This verse reminds me that I need to praise Him in the highs and the lows of my life.

 

Christian Leaders Who Have Impacted My Life

The one person that has impacted me as a Christian leader is my FCA director, Dani Craft. She saw something in me and chose me to be on the FCA Leadership Team. She saw my struggles and helped me overcome them. Every time we have a leadership meeting, she does devotion and it really speaks to me in what I am facing as a teenager. She points out problems in my life that I had never noticed before and makes me a better person. When I look at Dani, I see light in a dark world. Christ is shining through her and I want everyone to see me the same way. One struggle I’ve always had is public speaking, but Dani’s example and continuous encouragement has motivated me and given me the confidence to improve this weakness. From speaking scripture at Fields of Faith, starting off every FCA meeting with an activity and school news, to teaching a Bible study, Dani has created an open and encouraging environment for everyone to support each other and grow as Christian leaders—and I hope to expand this type of Godly impact to others for the rest of my life.

 

Future Plans

I believe God is calling me to help people by becoming a nurse. I want to show patients the love of God by taking care of their physical and emotional needs. I see myself as someone who is friendly to everyone and will go out of my way to be kind to the one feeling lonely or stand up for the weak who cannot stand up for themselves. I have a true passion for helping others.

 

 

Joy Gordon
Murrah High School
New Horizon Church International

 

How I Came to Know Christ

When I was younger, I was a part of both the Spencer Perkins Center summer and after school programs. Mrs. Vera Mae “Grandma” Perkins would always come to us to have “Good News Club,” a children’s Bible study class. She would use her props and songs to teach us about the Word of God. Her catchy songs and picture books helped me understand Jesus at a very young age. She helped light a fire within me that made me want to know more. I was baptized on March 7, 2007, at the age of eight. I later learned once you’ve invited Jesus into your heart and asked Him to save you, you then need to develop a relationship with Him. I started to learn how to pray about more than just food. I learned how to pray for others too. My parents were great spiritual examples. We would always pray as a family before we left for our work and school days. My dad always had a daily devotion and seeing him do this and reading his Bible made me also want to do it.

 

Favorite Scripture

My favorite Bible verse can be considered an answer to many of the questions I ask God concerning His work in my life. It is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (The Message). I read this scripture daily before leaving home for school. It reminds me that God has everything planned to happen in His perfect order for me and for my future. As I go throughout my day, when I’m faced with negative energy, I’m able to reflect on that scripture. God’s word helps me maintain the joyous spirit I’ve been blessed with. I do not take it for granted. I’m able to minister not only to myself, but also to my friends when they begin to worry about their future. I remind them that God has a purpose and plan for all of His children. He only wants the best for us—His best. We can’t even imagine all the wonderful things God has planned for us. It gives me hope to think on these things when I’m going through a tough time.

 

Activities and Service to Others

I attend William B. Murrah High School where I am a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Mustangs for Christ, Young Life, Power APAC’s Theatre Department, and captain of the outstanding Murrah High School cheer team. I attend New Horizon Church International where I am a soprano leader of the Lion of Judah Youth Choir, a member of the Messengers of Christ Mime Ministry (MOC), and Senior Rites of Passage class.

 

 

Brittney Harrison
Southeast Lauderdale High
First Baptist Church of Meridian

 

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

Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” As I type this, I smile to myself because if the Lord is for me who can be against me? I should not aim to please this world, but I should aim to please God. When I meditate on this Bible verse, I realize that as long as the Lord is my number one focus and love in life, I do not have to be afraid of anyone or anything. I can rest in the fact that He is my cornerstone. If my life and my hope are built on God then fear should be a foreign concept. As James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” If we submit ourselves to the Lord, we do not have to be afraid because the devil will flee from us. We do not have to fear what men may do to us because God is always by our side as long as He lives in our hearts. These two verses will help me be strong in my faith and help me not be afraid, as the world grows increasingly antagonistic towards Christianity.

 

Activities and Service to Others

At school, I am the secretary for the Student Council and for the senior class. I am the treasurer of Spanish Club, a member of Beta Club, a member of Students against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club, and a member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). I am also a co-anchor for the weekly school news.

In the community, I am the chaplain of the Debs Social Service Club and give devotions and prayers at our weekly meetings. Because of the Debs, I have over forty hours of community service in many different activities, such as working at Meridian’s local Boys and Girls Club.

At church, I am an active participant in our youth department. This year, my church hosted the annual “Saw You at the Pole” event where many local churches gather at one church for Wednesday night worship, and I led the church in prayer. The past three summers I have had the incredible opportunity to travel with my church choir to San Antonio, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Boston, Massachusetts. On these tours, we go into local nursing homes and sing to the residents. Additionally, I volunteer to help with/teach Vacation Bible School each summer. In July of 2015, I went on a mission trip with my church to New Orleans. We did VBS at Gentilly Baptist Church for four days. This church was in a dangerous part of New Orleans, so it was really amazing to see God working in the lives of the staff, children, and parents there.

 

  

Bailey Holcomb
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Flora United Methodist Church

 

Activities and Service to Others

At my school, I am in the Bible Club, the Secretary for Habitat for Humanity, in National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and actively involved in Young Life. I have been on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) leadership team for two years. I also sing weekly at FCA and am a part of the praise band where we sing in chapel. I am on the Varsity Cheerleading squad and do Pom Pom Patriots at our kindergarten where we teach K4 and K5 girls to cheer. I have been a part of the Student Leadership Institute at MRA for two years. Pretty much my whole life I have been the town babysitter in Flora and love being able to help out so many families. I am actively involved in Central Mississippi Chrysalis and Walk to Emmaus. I volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, The Mustard Seed, as a Salvation Army Christmas bell ringer, and go and sing at the Madison County Nursing Home. I have been going to my church all my life and love it so much. I sing in the choir and always help out with the Vacation Bible Schools that we put on. I am a part of a small Bible study that a few juniors and seniors do outside of school.

 

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

I am so glad that I was always taught to never be afraid or ashamed to let your faith show. And because of that, I feel that I will always be prepared to confidently stand up when people are being hostile toward Christians and Christianity. I want to make sure that everyone that I meet and everyone that I come in contact with knows that I love Jesus and that I am a Christian. I want it to be shown on my face and to be heard in what I say and how I say it. I have to make sure I know that I will be the different one and I will be the one who sticks out like a sore thumb. I will continue to pray for others and to make sure I don’t miss out on a chance to share about the love that Jesus has for us. I will miss out on certain events even if it is the “cool” thing to do. I plan on living a life that is not afraid to intentionally live out my faith and not ashamed of the gospel and Jesus Christ.

 

Future Plans

I believe that God is calling me into the medical field and then later to do medical missions. Mission trips are such a huge part of my life and my story so I know that He is calling me to use the talents he has gifted me with to help others who cannot be helped. God has also put a huge love of children in my heart so I pray that I will be working in a children’s hospital that is willing to give me time to travel to other parts of the world.

 

 

Connor Jones
Madison Central High School
Broadmoor Baptist Church

 

Activities and Service to Others

I have been fortunate to participate in many activities that have helped me to grow as a person and serve others. At Madison Central High School, I am the Student Body Vice President, and also serve as the service coordinator for the Student Body Association. Through this role I work to encourage service in the student body, such as a canned food drive that collected over 139,000 cans in seven days! I have also worked to develop leadership skills by serving as a Mississippi Youth Legislature Senator and Representative. At school, music is also an important part of my life. I have been a part of the award-winning Reveille Show Choir, Madrigals ensemble, and Concert Choir, as well as play piano and guitar. I have participated in the annual school drama and musicals. In athletics, I am a 4-year member of the varsity bowling and archery teams. I also participate in numerous clubs including Interact Service Club, Beta Club, Government Club, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where I serve as worship leader.

Service in my community is also an important part of my life. I have been fortunate to volunteer with the Mississippi Food Bank, as a Salvation Army Christmas bell ringer, the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, MADCAPP Thanksgiving food distribution, RyanMan Triathlon, Operation Christmas Child, and number of other local volunteer and mission projects through my church and school. One special opportunity was to help as a volunteer for “Night to Shine,” a Prom for special needs teens.

I am very active at Broadmoor Baptist church, and I am very thankful it is a mission-minded church that offers many opportunities to grow in service. Through my years in youth ministry, I have participated in mission trips to New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile, Los Angeles, and look forward to an international mission trip to Haiti this spring break. I serve on the Broadmoor Media Team where I assist with camera, graphics, and other audio-visual needs. I also am a member of the Broadmoor Worship Leadership team where I lead worship at youth ministry events and Sunday worship services.

 

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

Although we in the “Bible Belt” may not receive open persecution for our faith, it is becoming harder nationally and internationally to live out a lifestyle as a Christian. In order to be leaders in our faith, believers must always be ready to respond to anyone who is attacking or questioning our faith. Like 1 Peter 3:15 says, believers need to be ready to give a gentle answer to anyone curious about the hope we have. This is probably one of the most important parts of our faith. As time goes on, more and more people will be questioning what good Christianity has done. In a world where being conservative in values and strict to obeying the Bible is increasingly looked down upon, we must all be unashamed, even delighted, in the lifesaving faith we have in Christ. In addition to being ready to answer questions about the faith, I will continue to commit myself to leading worship and doing missions not for my own glory or gain, but for the sanctification and elevation of Christ.

 

 

Chatham Kennedy
Jackson Preparatory School
Fondren Church

 

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

For the past two years, I have been the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Jackson Prep. FCA was far from having a high attendance rate. Most kids thought you had to participate in sports to attend while the remainder did not even know what the initials meant. After careful planning, my friend and I went to our advisor and asked if we could create leadership positions to help get FCA off of its feet. We crafted student positions such as testimony and game coordinators, worship leaders, prayer chaplains, and publicity chairs. We went from having four regular attendees to nearly fifteen. Unfortunately, I continued to base the success of FCA on the number of students involved rather than in the life change that was taking place. God taught me that being a leader is far from having a semi-fancy title in front of my name. Leadership is doing the behind the scenes work. It is avidly praying for miracles among your classmates. It is bringing in speakers and allowing God to teach you through them. It is having patience with your fellow leaders and never backing down from where God has placed you. Oftentimes, FCA requires that I step out of my comfort zone and invite a staff member or students that do not usually attend. FCA has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my high school career. I anxiously look forward to each meeting with anticipation that God will do great things.

 

Favorite Scripture

As Romans 10:15 shares, “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” In middle school, it really hit home with me that I was supposed to do something more than just read a daily devotional and say a prayer at night. When God tugged at the strings of my heart and asked me to speak to one of my classmates in the sixth grade, I did not realize that meant I would be in constant communication with Him, listening for His next words. Little did I know that if I actively listened to God, He would place opportunities across my path to speak for Him. I found myself praying for cashier workers at a gas station or giving Bible verses to strangers. God would often ask me to have hard conversations with a friend. At times, it felt impossible. What would my friends think? What if I messed up? What if I didn’t please God? Yet over and over again, God was with me. I couldn’t mess up with Him by my side. He calls me to be His “beautiful feet,” and I am forever thankful.

 

 

Gracie McCraney
Jackson Preparatory School
St. James Episcopal Church

 

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

Last year, I was selected to be one of three officers for my school’s drill team. This leadership role was mostly based on character. I had not had much previous leadership experience and was hesitant for the upcoming year. I prayed continuously for comfort and for God to show me the best ways to go about being in charge of thirty-five other girls, and He did. Throughout the year, I led by example. I hold myself to very high standards and wanted to be a good role model to the younger girls on the team. I believe in positive reinforcement, and building up rather than breaking down. This approach reminds me of Proverbs 31 which focuses on wisdom with kindness. This past year as a leader has been nothing but successful. Because of the way that I, and the other two officers, advocated kindness over perfection, we established trust and respect from the group at the beginning of the season. The team responded well to this approach, which made it easy to have a year with no conflict among the group. We continually supported each other and held each other accountable. Now as my final year on the team has come to an end, I look back on it with pride and gratitude because of how much I grew as a leader and follower of Christ. From this experience, I have thirty-five new sisters in Christ.

 

Favorite Scripture

My favorite Bible passage is 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all you do be done in love.” Short and to the point, it is a constant reminder to let love motivate you in all things. It is easy to get caught up in the everyday struggles and forget that love is what holds us together. My mom always told my siblings and me to, when in doubt, “kill them with kindness” and that I may be the only person in someone’s day that was kind to them. I have found this to be true the older I have become because you never know what a person has going on. The simplest act of kindness goes much further than the damage hate causes. I try to remind myself before speaking or acting to ask myself, “Is what I’m about to say going to help or hurt this person?” This verse is a great way to hold myself accountable and to remember how much of a difference that love can make.

 

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

Living your faith intentionally today is becoming increasingly difficult and frustrating. In a world focused on taking rather than giving, I have chosen community service as my focus throughout high school. My generation is often referred to as the “entitled generation.” Serving others, like Christ did, is one way that I will live out my faith. I plan on continuing to volunteer and serve throughout college and my adult life because it helps me stay grounded and remember that others are less fortunate. God gave me many gifts for a reason: to share with others. Surrounding myself with people that have the same morals as me is a way to be held accountable and steer clear of the ever-changing morals of the upcoming generations. Growing up in a large Christian family, my parents have a strong Christian marriage for me to model when I am older. My family has provided me with the tools to pass on my beliefs to my future children.

 

 

Ansley Myers
Hillcrest Christian School
Raymond Road Baptist Church

 

Activities and Service to Others

At school, I am the captain of the Varsity Boy’s Soccer team, Vice President of the Hillcrest chapter of National Honor Society, a member of Mu Alpha Theta, and the editor of the yearbook. At church, I am a part of the leadership team for the youth group that plans services and activities, and I lead worship for the youth on Wednesday nights through singing.

Favorite Scripture

My favorite passage in the Bible is James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, 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.”

Like the aforementioned, I ran into a huge trial in my life, and I came in contact with that passage and it gave me the answers I was searching for. It showed me that God didn’t go to get a drink of water and come back to see my world falling apart, but that he is standing right there watching over me with an incredible plan that will always be better than anything I can come up with. This passage also provided me with a little saying that I choose to live by: “Choose Joy.” I take this to heart and use it to encourage myself to find joy in all situations no matter how tough and challenging they may be. I love the way this passage provides a hope for anyone struggling because it promises that everything we encounter has been placed in our paths to grow and mold us in the image of Christ.

 

Future Plans

I’m not entirely certain of the exact career, but I do feel that I am being called to a job in the medical field involving special needs children. I have always had a heart for them. I want to be a light that reminds them of the love Christ has through helping them medically.

 

 

Courtney Ragsdale
Madison Central High School
Broadmoor Baptist Church

 

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

Ever since the eighth grade, I have been on the yearbook staff at my school. I have always enjoyed writing, designing, and photography. I was aware that each year an upcoming senior was chosen to be the editor of the staff. For years, I hoped to have that title, and worked very hard to earn it. I knew the position was meant for me, as my spiritual gift is leadership. I was sure that God had put me in the class to be a leader. However, at the end of my junior year they announced who the next editors would be, and I was not one of them. I remember a moment when one of the other staff members came to me and asked me if I was mad about the decision because she knew how much I wanted to be editor. Rather than reply with gossip about the other girls, I was able to share with her how I trusted that God had another plan for me. Because I chose to approach the situation with a positive attitude, I was able to represent Christ’s love for us. While I was disappointed at the time, God used this situation to bring me back to Him and allowed me to experience His plan for my senior year. He allowed me to have joy in this situation, and He provided many other opportunities for me. I can truly say that His plan is way better than mine would have been.

 

Activities and Service to Others

I find joy in being able to serve and help others. At my church, I have had the opportunity to do this with several organizations and ministries. Each week, I enjoy serving with Jackson Street Ministry, a local homeless ministry through which I have been able to develop friendships and share the love of Christ with many men and women that live on the streets of South Jackson. I also have been given a heart to serve people with special needs. I have been involved with Friday Night Friends, TopSoccer, and Hope Hollow for a number of years. I also volunteer to help the Children’s Ministry with events such as Wow Week, an Easter Egg Hunt, and Fall Festival. Since the ninth grade, I have enjoyed participating in Messengers, a group where we use art, puppets, and drama to tell the story of the gospel to children and teenagers around the South. I have also loved each of my opportunities to go on mission trips to places like New Orleans, LA; Los Angeles, CA; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and most recently, Mukachevo, Ukraine. I have enjoyed playing the piano for the past ten years and today I am able to use this gift by playing in the youth band at my church and by playing at a retirement home in my community.

At my school, I have served on the yearbook staff for the past five years. I am actively involved in several service organizations such as Beta Club, National Honor Society, Interact Club, and Crown Club. I enjoy most Shine Bible Study and the opportunity to help lead this club. God has given me so much more than I deserve, and I want to take advantage of every opportunity to use it for His glory.

 

Future Plans

I always thrive in positions of both leadership and encouragement. I look forward to using these gifts while pursuing a career in Human Resource Management. I believe God has called me to be a business leader that stands out for having such a passion for Christ.

 

 

Gunar Robinson
Central Hinds Academy
First Baptist Church of Raymond/Wynndale Baptist Church

 

Activities and Service to Others

At Central Hinds Academy, I am the student body president, the president of our Fellowship of Christian Athletes, ambassador for the school, National Honor Society member, Science National Honor Society member, secretary for Mu Alpha Theta, captain of quiz bowl team, senior football player, senior tennis player, senior soccer player. I volunteer at Woodlands Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, with Horses for Handicapped, and at summer football camps at CHA.

 

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

I believe as Christians, we must stand firm in what we believe in and never back down from that even if it means standing alone. My belief is this can be done only by being grounded in the Word and through vigilant prayer. I also believe that we should show God’s love to those who do not know. God has shown me abundant amounts of love and I want everyone to know of this. I personally want to show God through my leadership in the church and other organizations. I want people to see that there is something different about me and know that it is only because of Christ that dwells in me. I want to go on mission trips to spread the gospel not only to other countries, but also to local communities in the Jackson area. I believe that local missions are just as important as foreign ones. I want to share the gospel in every way possible through love and respect for everyone.

 

Future Plans

I believe the Lord is calling me to the career of law to help people. I want to advocate for children, help bring people to justice, and maybe one day, lead a nation as a political leader. One verse I am always brought back to is Proverbs 31:8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” This defines what I want to do while spreading God’s love.

 

 

Kaziah Robinson
Terry High School
Jackson Revival Center

 

Favorite Scripture

“God is within her, she will not fail” (Psalms 46:5). In reading these few words, I feel extremely empowered. This verse is actually meant to refer to “she” as a place, but I like to relate it to myself, which tells me that with God by my side all things are possible. No matter the situation, I know that there is a brighter side to look forward to because this verse encourages me that I will complete the mission that God has destined for me.

 

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

Day by day, I feel like humanity is going backwards and in a downward spiral. The only source of hope that I have is to look to God .Yes, I pray every day and read verses, but when the load of life gets extremely heavy—I pray twice as much. In order to live in a society as such, I plan to surround myself with people on the same mission as me. These are people with my same mindset. Prayer is the only way that I feel one can truly get over the troubles of the world. In doing so, we are hoping and praying for God to have mercy on them and help them to realize before it is too late.

 

Future Plans

Talents and gifts differ because a gift is what God blesses you with especially and like second nature. You excel in that field because it’s destined. Photography is my gift. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been less fortunate and down on my luck and somehow miraculously someone wants me to shoot an event—every time. My camera always makes a way. I’ve always had a thing for photography and I taught myself most of it. I think its destiny that I found my church and they were looking for media team staff. I get excited every Sunday to broadcast to the world about our Sunday services. Your gift is what God gives you. What you do with it is what you give back to him!

 

 

Rachel Russell
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Madison United Methodist Church

 

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

In 11th grade, I attended a mission trip over spring break to Boston with the MRA Student Leadership Institute (SLi.) SLi is an organization at MRA that prepares Christian leaders of the school for today’s culture. When our group reached Boston, we were given tasks including maintenance for the church and hosting a vacation Bible school for the children and teens. Later in the week, our leaders wanted us to experience Christianity outside of our “Madison Bubble.” We were given an assignment to survey the locals of Boston about their beliefs and views of Christianity. Out of the 23 people I surveyed, two were Christians. My mind was blown, but also amazed at the wonders of God. In the later part of the evening, I began to survey a janitor of the mall where we were eating dinner. I proceeded to ask him questions like, “What are your views on Christianity?” and “Do you believe in any God at all?” The man told me that he had once been a believer, but later in life had fallen out of touch with God. He then asked me to pray for him and to pray for his relationship with God, and in this moment he recommitted his life to God. That day, I knew that I might not ever see this man again, but I will see him again in Heaven.

 

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

In today’s society, faith is the only thing that keeps believers united to Christ. No one alive has ever seen God visibly, but we see His works every single day. As a senior, I constantly prepare myself for the next years when I leave to face the real world where it is not popular to believe in God. I instantly turn to 2 Corinthians 4:18 which reads, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” As I begin the next chapter of my life, I think the most important way to spread the good news is through my actions and by giving nonbelievers an example to see how mighty and powerful my God is. As a Christian, I must not focus on earthly matters, but stop and focus on the one thing that is eternal, which is life with Christ. I may not be able to turn every nonbeliever into a Christian by just sharing the Gospel with them, but I may be able to show each person a true example of love and acceptance the same way God loves us.

 

Future Plans

I believe that God is calling me into the business field and in particular International Business. Every person is given different talents and different gifts, and I believe that God has given me a talent in leadership. With a business degree, I hope to be able to lead a company or a business. I will also double major with a degree in Spanish, which will allow me to reach individuals from other cultural backgrounds.

 

 

Joseph “Joe” Leon Smith II
Canton Academy
Parkway Church

 

Activities and Service to Others

At school, I serve as Chaplain for the Student Body as part of the Student Government. I also serve as Captain for the Academic Quiz Bowl team and in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I am a member of the National Honor Society. I have been on the Headmaster’s List every year and have been blessed to receive numerous academic, athletic, and character-based awards. I am the starting center and defensive end for the Varsity football team. For the Varsity baseball team, I am a pitcher, infielder, and outfielder. I have participated with my class in volunteer initiatives at SON Valley and Our Daily Bread Ministries, where we created memories and made a difference in our community.

I am an Eagle Scout and served my Scout Troop as Chaplain. I also help younger scouts in formal roles in the troop and as a mentor. I have a special place in my heart for children and the elderly, especially widows and orphans. My volunteer activities include service at numerous local charitable organizations including Sunnybrook Children’s Home, University of Mississippi Medical Center, and St. Dominic’s Hospital, as well as local food banks. I participated in the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Program, Madison County Business League Youth Leadership Program, and Madison Mayor’s Youth Council where I serve as Vice President. I was fortunate to be able to represent my school at the American Legion Boys State in 2016. For part-time employment, I am blessed to work at Chick-Fil-A, a company that holds Christian values.

I have also been able to lead worship in the Youth Service at a national conference of church planters. To be able to give back to those who sacrifice for the cause of the Gospel felt so good. I have been a member of the Parkway Choirs (Youth and Adult) since 2012. I am thankful that I can also use my God-given talent statewide as part of the Mississippi All-State Youth Choir. I help with VBS and I coach the Parkway Bible Quiz team, supporting young believers to hide God’s Word in their heart.

 

Favorite Scripture

My favorite Bible passage is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This scripture was a letter of Jeremiah to the captives in Babylon. I can only imagine how encouraged they were to hear this promise of God even while their situation looked so bleak. I love this scripture because it reminds me that no matter what life throws at me, God has plans for me and His plans are always good. This reminds me of another favorite scripture, Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

 

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

It has been said the darker the night, the brighter the light and I believe it to be true. I plan to live out my faith intentionally in a world that is becoming increasingly antagonistic toward Christianity, first and foremost by living daily in such a way that brings glory to God. I want to live my life with passion so that others can see the difference that Christ makes in my life. Staying connected with my fellow believers and accountability partners, I will strive to be a man of integrity and prayer. I do not want to do anything that discredits the gospel. Like Jesus, I will serve others. I will treat others with respect and kindness as I stay true to my core beliefs and values. Even in an increasingly antagonistic world, they will know we are Christians by our love.

I will continue to share my testimony of God’s work in my life, which already includes several undeniable miracles. No one can take my testimony from me and it is my calling to share my testimony with others.

 

 

 

Margaret Taylor
Kirk Academy
First Baptist Church of Grenada

 

A Situation Where I Lived Out My Faith

Very recently, my senior class decided to participate in a service project. We volunteered to help an organization called We Will Go Ministries, located in the Farish Street District of Jackson, Mississippi. Our efforts included: picking up trash on the streets while praying for the community, folding and sorting donated clothes, cooking meals for the missionaries, cleaning trashed and abandoned houses, moving heavy furniture, and loving on the underprivileged children. I learned to live out my faith while volunteering by being kind and encouraging to these children who attend the afterschool program. Some of my friends and I had the opportunity to play soccer with a few of the girls. We encouraged the girls to do their best and have fun; I loved giving them a high-five after they would score or make a good play. I feel like I helped show them God’s love, and that I also helped the young ladies realize that with God, anything is possible. I discovered that in this hectic world in which we live, it is extremely easy to take small things for granted such as the opportunity to attend college or even graduate high school. I am very grateful for the life-changing experience I received by a simple high-school service project.

 

Favorite Scripture

I have more than one favorite Bible passage, but since I can only choose one, I choose Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose.” Over the years, this verse has been hard for me to understand; every day, there are countless numbers of tragedies that happen to Christians. I think of the terrible tragedy of 9/11 and ISIS publically beheading Christians. How can any good come from these events? As mere mortals, we may not be able to understand why God allows bad things to happen. That is where faith comes in; Christians must have faith in God to take care of His people. Although we may not be able to completely see the good that comes out of the world’s many tragedies, we can see how some bad situations in our daily lives turned for the better. For me, my parents divorced when I was in second grade. How could anything good come out of that? Today, I see that my parents’ divorce is one aspect that drives me to do my best. The divorce also motivates me to ask God for His wisdom and for His direction in my decision-making about relationships and life in general.

 

Activities and Service to Others

I am a National Honor Society member, Student Council secretary, on the FCA Leadership Team, Academic Bowl Team, Basketball team MVP 2014-2016, a Cheerleader, VBS Assistant, Math tutor for underclassmen, I have also participated in providing handmade blankets for local hospitals, Operation Christmas Child, and helped with the Angel Tree Project.

 

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

I am a Christian; I want to be able to make a positive impact for Christ. I cannot believe what I see and hear on television. If the people in my generation do not act to save our country for Christ, I am afraid of the consequences. I am just one person, but George Washington was one person. Hitler was just one person. They both made an impact on the world. I want to use my God-given abilities to live my faith intentionally. God will lead me. He will provide me with opportunities to witness and show His love. I believe that a career in medicine or teaching would provide many opportunities to influence others for Christ. I happen to have outstanding Christian teachers and doctors who are impacting my life. I sincerely believe that if God wants me to go into one of these professions or another one, He will lead me. He guides my life; when he closes one door, He opens another one. In my college as my professional careers, I will be active in as many authentic Christian organizations as possible. I will have early morning devotionals with my coworkers as my uncle does at his medical practice. He has been an important example for me, teaching me how other people can be influenced by our attitudes. A simple smile can brighten someone’s day. I will strive to have a friendly, positive attitude so that others will be drawn to me and see Christ’s love through me.

 

 

 

Caitlyn Watts
Madison-Ridgeland Academy
Broadmoor Baptist Church

 

Favorite Scripture

My favorite passage in the Bible is James 1:2-4 which says, “Consider it all joy, my Brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” I love this verse because it talks about how you should always be joyful—WHEN you encounter trails. God told us that it would not always be rainbows and butterflies. We are supposed to have trials and be tested. It will show that our faith can endure and will last forever. When life gets hard, look towards God and be joyful. Not only will you be perfected through the trial, but when you keep your eyes on God it keeps things in perspective. When you come out on the other side, you will be stronger and better than before.

 

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

Love People. Loving people requires a relationship with people whether they are living in Christ or not. When you have a personal relationship with others, you are showing them the love of Christ. The Christian stereotype is that we are judgmental and hate everyone not living like us; that’s not true. If you have a personal relationship you can show them the truth, that Christians are called to love everyone. You might not be able to change everyone’s views. If you can bring five people to Christ through love, you are doing what Christians have been called to do. As my pastor says, “Love God, love others, and change the world.

 

Future Plans

I believe the Lord has called me to psychology. I want to be a music therapist and work with Veterans. I believe God has given me a heart for music and a heart for helping those who have served our country.

 

 

UPDATES FROM PAST CHRISTIAN LEADERS 

  

Courtney Cox
Class of 2012

 

Courtney, a 2012 scholarship winner who graduated from Jackson Academy completed her elementary education degree at Texas A&M this past May.

With a love for children and a heart for missions, she is taking an 11-month mission trip to 11 countries as a participant in a project called World Race. As a part of a larger ministry, Adventures in Missions, World Race takes college graduates to severely impoverished communities where they pour their hearts, souls, and physical efforts into serving its people.

At print time, she was in Kenya where Wi-Fi is spotty, but she has been faithful to do a blog through her Facebook page, and I would urge you to find it. Courtney will return to the U.S. in September and plans to begin studies at Dallas Theological Seminary for a degree in Biblical Counseling.

 

 

 

Sarah Kennedy Duncan
Class of 2015

Like many college students, I have changed majors a number of times. I started out in International Studies with an emphasis on the Middle East with the view to work in policy. I then added a general business major to expand areas of policy I could work in. However, I quickly discovered that business drained me. I really did not enjoy learning it and it felt like a chore. I had the privilege to take an honors class that had a service emphasis last spring. We discussed poverty and how policy and education can affect it.

 

Outside of class we were IRS certified in tax preparation and worked at tax sites all across the state preparing taxes for low-income families at no cost to them. I was struck by how drastically education can change a bad situation and through interactions in class and with taxpayers felt very convicted that I wanted something to do with education. I prayed about it and at every turn there was one more reason I should go into education. I made the decision last semester to switch into Secondary Education and every class I take feels like confirmation that this is where I should be. I still would like to be involved in the policy world at some point. I think education is something we can all agree is important and that has the most potential for people to work together across the aisle and I love that. I’m very excited to see where this takes me and to see the impact that I can make.

 

I’ve had incredible opportunities opened to me and at the same time a lot of pressure put on me. Especially this last semester, it was really a learning process to balance all these things that I felt called to and also to be involved in the church and with my fellow Christians in RUF. I definitely dropped the ball a few times but I think I needed to trip up a few times to figure out that when I prioritize my spiritual growth everything else falls into place much better. It can be easy in college to put your campus ministry or church last on a list of things. But when you leave church out it becomes that much harder to remember why you do what you do. It feels isolating away from the church. I have learned to put everything on Jesus, not just the “spiritual things.”

 

My advice to the new leaders on a purely secular level: Don’t take 8 a.m. classes. Seriously, you will regret it. And on the spiritual side of things remember that life is all about balance. And I think this is incredibly important in regard to friends. You don’t want to surround yourself completely with non-believers. It is really hard to grow when you don’t have Christian friends encouraging you and helping you. Campus ministries are not your once-a-week, one-stop shop of spiritual rejuvenation! The Christian life is just that—life. It doesn’t go away when you leave church. Take time to talk with your fellow believers all throughout the week and really have someone who will be a great friend and hold you accountable. On the other hand, if you are only around other Christians you lose valuable perspective and opportunities to reach out to others. It can be really easy to dismiss someone not in your ministry but when you only hear one point of view you don’t learn how to defend what you believe.

  

 

Torrye Evans
Class of 2016

Currently I’m studying at Mississippi State University and have made it to the second semester of my freshman year. At MSU, I’m studying Biology with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine. I plan to apply for summer internships at hospitals or universities in the South. My professors have encouraged and emailed several opportunities for internships in my major.

 

Since I have been at MSU, it has been important for me to continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord. I knew the Lord wanted to be involved in every facet of my life; therefore, it was important to surround myself with other Christians in college. My Christian friends have helped me grow in my relationship with the Lord. They hold me accountable and encourage me daily.

 

As I began the second semester at MSU, I became more “intentional” with my prayers. Praying before each test and even on my way to class became a habit. The Lord blessed me in a BIG way with an A in a strenuous Chemistry class and finishing the semester with a 4.0. Prayer was a way I could thank God for all he was doing in my life. I know the Lord wants to walk beside me daily and lead me throughout the day. I have grown in my relationship with the Lord because of these experiences and my belief that nothing is impossible with God.

 

My advice to Christian Leaders graduating from high school this spring is to take time each day to spend time with the Lord. I know they have probably heard that advice a million times, but I am a firm believer in that now. Also, become a part of a local college ministry on campus or in-town.

 

Challenge yourself daily to read the Bible and pray to God as often as you can. The Lord wants to hear your thoughts, desires, and needs.

 

 

Austin Fortenberry
Class of 2013

I will graduate with a double major in English and Religion from Mississippi State in May. After graduation, I will be a part of the Mississippi Teacher Corps at the University of Mississippi and will begin teaching English at a school in Mississippi in the fall.

 

College has been a time of tremendous growth for me. I’ve learned more about trusting God with my daily needs and believing that He is in control of all aspects of my life, big and small. Beyond that, I’ve had a great community comprising friends and people from my church in Starkville who have, by word and example, pushed me to know and love God more.

 

Trust God step-by-step. You will grow and change so much over your four years of college, and the dreams and plans that you have today may only be distant memories by the time you graduate. Don’t hold your plans too closely, but walk with God day-by-day. You likely really want God to give you your entire life plan right now, but that is rarely how He chooses to guide us. Live in the moment, put forth your best effort in whatever the Lord places before you, and trust Him daily. If you are obedient to Him each day, then, ten years down the road, you’ll be right where He wants you to be.

 

Perhaps it’s cliché, but remember this: a car’s headlights only show the road a few feet in front of you, but you can make a 1,000 mile journey with the light they provide. God is similar: He may only show you the very next step, but if you continue taking steps as He reveals them, you’ll find yourself walking in His will even when you don’t see how the bigger picture is coming together.

 

 

Clint Pride
Class of 2010                                        

Since 2010, I graduated from Mississippi State in Clinical Exercise Physiology with a Pre-Medicine emphasis. I now am finishing up my third year at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Medical School planning on specializing in Emergency Medicine.

 

God has really put on my heart that too often I love and look to God’s blessings instead of loving and seeking the Giver Himself. He is showing me that He is the overflowing Fountain that I need desperately need to drink from, and in Him, alone, is all joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Everyday, He shows me more of His beauty, power, and supreme worth and Glory, and my prayer is that He will draw me nearer day by day.

 

My advice for these brothers and sisters in Christ is that they would learn to rest in the arms of the King of Kings, depending on Him alone for their strength, from the biggest of tasks to the most menial. In this next period of life, my prayer is that God would make the words of David in Psalm 16:5 resound in their hearts that, “Lord, you are my portion and my cup of Blessing; You hold my future.”

 

 

Tolar Purvis
Class of 2015

I am a sophomore studying Finance at Mississippi State University, and also the treasurer of Sigma Chi Fraternity. Both of these things have kept me extremely busy during my first two years, but have also been very fulfilling. I hope after graduating to attend law school and practice in the Jackson metro area.

 

Every morning, I wake up an hour before my first class and spend time in the Word. Some mornings are harder than others, but I find it to be one of the most important things I do in my day-to-day life. Having that alone time each morning helps prepare me for my day, and helps me find peace and patience. 1 Samuel 12:16 says, “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!”

 

My main advice would be to do what you love, not just what everyone else is doing, and get out of your comfort zone. Joining a fraternity has been one of the greatest experiences I could have possibly had in college. It has given me lifelong friends, put me in contact with great Christian alumni men to mentor me, and has helped prepare me for my future endeavors.