By Nancy Flowers
Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray Talks About Her Faith in Jesus Christ.
Growing up in a single-parent home, Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray learned what strong faith looks like. Her mother, Lisa Murray, struggled to raise five children, and worked several jobs to make ends meet. Though there were challenges at every turn, Jasmine knew that they made it because her mother trusted Jesus for everything.
“She stressed faith, not just going to church,” says Jasmine. “She taught us that Jesus is the most important relationship in life. That we made it through shows how amazing God is.”
Jasmine, a Columbus native, is a President’s List scholar at Mississippi State University pursuing a degree in broadcasting. She has volunteered for several organizations in her community including the American Red Cross, Windsor Nursing Home, Boys and Girls Club, and the Mayor’s Youth Council. But her passion is singing. She has performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Regis and Kelly, as well as live performances for events across the country. She is perhaps best known to a national audience as a Top 13 Finalist on American Idol. And she is known in the Starkville community as a worship leader at Pinelake Church.
“God has given me the gift of singing, and I’m so excited to use it to help people worship God,” Jasmine says. “Leading worship in church isn’t the same as putting on a performance. It’s about helping people to see God and talk with Him through the words they sing.”
When she was just 13 years old, Jasmine was inspired to become involved with the Miss America Competition as she watched her older sister compete for the title of Miss Mississippi. At a time in her life when she was bullied for not giving in to the pressures of young adolescence, Jasmine saw in the competition an emphasis on scholarship, service, and success in life, which echoed the values she had learned from her mother. She was selected as Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen 2007, and reached the Top 10 at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
In the Miss Mississippi 2014 pageant competition, Jasmine, competing as Miss Riverland, was a Preliminary Talent Winner and Overall Swimsuit Winner, and, ultimately, crowned Miss Mississippi at the July competition. Her days leading up to the Miss America pageant September 14 are filled with mock interviews, visits to the gym, dress shopping, public appearances, and packing. But her busy schedule does not interfere with her private time with the Lord.
“First thing, when I wake up, I start out with prayer,” she says. “Turning to God before you say anything to anyone else sets the tone for the whole day.” She spends her many hours of drive time praying and listening to worship music. “God has a purpose for each of our lives, and His plans and our plans are very different,” she says. “Many people quote Jeremiah 29:11, where the Lord says, ‘I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not disaster,’ but the part I really love is in verse 13, ‘and you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’ When we’re concentrating on Him, we really get to know Him.”
When she was a young teen, her best friend became pregnant, and Jasmine saw her friend’s youth end, as she had to prepare for raising a child. Jasmine was inspired to create “13 Going On 30” motivational camps to teach young girls to embrace their youth and to understand that there is time later for making adult decisions. By holding “13 Going On 30”camps across the country, Jasmine hopes to impress upon “her girls” to find something they love to do, whether sports or music, or something else, and do it.
“These girls have the potential to do anything they want,” Jasmine says. “I encourage them to pick a craft and perfect it. I tell them, ‘You never know how good you can be until you try.’”
Jasmine knows the Lord has placed her in a position to share her faith with people wherever she goes—whether it is with the 5,000 girls at the motivational camps or kids at the Boys and Girls Clubs or her friends at MSU. “It’s a privilege to share my faith,” she says. “My relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life.”
Though she ultimately hopes to be in the Christian music industry, for now Jasmine is focused on finishing school, mentoring kids, and competing for the title of Miss America. Trusting in her biggest supporters and best friends—her mother and sisters—and in the providence of God, Jasmine is confident of the road ahead.
“I’m grateful for the way God continues to bless me and steer me,” she says. “He has already decided what will happen, and that’s what I want.”