"There have been two very profound life changing moments in my life: one in 2001 and one last month. Many people do not have things like these happen in their lives, but sometimes, that is God’s plan. In 2001, two days after Christmas, I lost my apartment complex to a house fire leaving my family and me homeless for two weeks. It was unfortunate because I had to celebrate my 8th birthday in a hotel, with family relatives I have never met, and not be able to fully enjoy the holiday season. Although I was down and young, my parents told me to keep praying and we will be alright. Surely enough, my school community, Holy Family of Nazareth in Irving, and other family friends heard about this and were quick to help giving us clothes, food, and other donations to help us get back on our feet. Before the break was over, we were able to try to get some of the remaining pieces and memorabilia from our house and move into a new apartment! I was so happy to be in a home. Even though we lost a home, we were able to find another one all before school started up again. Looking back, we could have given up and been moving from hotel to hotel not knowing where we would live. I am thankful God gave my parents the guidance to find us a dwelling place for some time because being homeless was way too scary and unpredictable.
Last month (June), my father, Don James Udofia Sr., passed away after having many stomach problems stemming back to 20 years ago. To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement. I can’t and still not can process the fact that my dad, a giving, God-fearing, loving, hardworking man lost his battle. This summer has been close to hell. I cannot exaggerate. I hate the feeling of something missing or missing my dad. Another twist to this though was my dad and I were trying to figure out who would be able to cosign a loan for me so I would be able to go back to school for my sophomore year at Arkansas. We tried and tried but we were unable to get one before he passed. Losing my father and possibly my education in a matter of weeks..? It was hard to find happiness at all in anything because I felt like everything was going wrong and most things people told me were just empty promises. I was deeply depressed; I was lost. No matter what anybody said, I would still feel sad, emotionally weak, drowsy, and flat out down. Fortunately, we received help from our Nigerian foundation in the DFW area, Nto Annang, as well as the Jesuit College Prep community in Dallas led by Susie and John Leinbaugh, and we were not only to find a cosigner for a loan for me to go back to school but we were able to pay off most of the funeral dues and some of the outstanding bills. This really relieved some stress off of me because dealing with my dad’s passing, my education, working, and trying to support my mom and helping my brothers all at once seemed almost unbearable. About a month later, one night when I just couldn’t take all of the stress, I broke down. I prayed after talking to my mom and my friend Xan. I prayed that I could get through this trying time. The next day, I was able to find a cosigner and some of my friends were able to come into work to visit me. It was really the little things and the thought of my friends that helped me feel better. I thanked God that night for putting such wonderful, caring friends. Yes, I received many texts consoling me about everything that happened, but I think actions speak louder than words and if you are not going to put your words to actions then you’re a hypocrite. I’m not going to tell you that I’ve completely changed my ways of living because I haven’t and I can’t say that I am a church freak as well but my faith has definitely grown much stronger than it was before everything started. I have grown in my responsibilities as a child of God to pray to him during the good and during the bad because he is always there, even when you think he is not. I can’t tell you either that I don’t think about my dad anymore, that I don’t wish he was here to be my father and friend, that I am able to sleep easy anymore, that I don’t think about all of the “what if’s”, but I know that God will help me get through this time. He has blessed me with great friends and a family I wouldn’t trade for any amount of good things in this world. I have a deeper appreciation for life and for both of my Fathers upstairs. My family, my friends, and my God are the foundation of my being and I am grateful that God put these things in my life so I can appreciate them and be able to give back. One last thing I would like to say is I am not trying to boost myself or get you to feel sorry for me, but life and time are so precious; do NOT give up and appreciate life. Life is temporary. Mike’s reverend, Reverend King, texts me daily Bible verses and one that that really stood out to me is, “’He who follows righteousness and mercy Finds life, righteousness, and honor’ (Pro. 21:21). Today know that in following him, if you fall down, he is so close he will pick you up”. Most of the time, there are alternatives, they may be setbacks but once you reach your goal, you will look back at those hard times and say that you will never have to be in that position again because you worked at it and made it reality. There’s no need to stress about the little things in life because you ARE LIVING. You have the ability to change it and make your own decisions! Take control of life, keep your family and friends close, and live because some do not get to have the same privilege of good health as you do!"
Age: 19 years old
Attends: University of Arkansas
From: Plano, Texas
"Growing up in Arkansas has really been a blessing. I've always had so much to be thankful for. My family is wonderful and I couldn't ask for better parents. So many things have been given to me but most of my life I've taken those things for granted. Being raised in a good Christian home, I have gone to church most of my life. But just because I went to church doesn't mean I went for the right reasons. In my eyes, being a Christian was just going to church because your parents made you and singing some songs hear and there. As I started getting older I began to make new friends. Being at a new school, people would always tell me that I had the "perfect" life. I did well in school, played sports, my family was all together, and I really didn't have much to worry about. I saw so many people going through stuff that didn't ever happen in my life. I had everything I could ever want but just because it looked like everything was perfect on the outside doesn't mean I had it all together on the inside. One thing I struggled with when I became a teenager was feeling like I wasn't good enough for my parents, friends, and just people who supported me. I always kept that balled up on the inside. I can tell you that keeping things like that to yourself only makes it worse. I remember some nights I would just break down and be so upset. I'd always question if I was good enough for others and for those people that loved me. You couldn't tell from the outside but when I was alone I had my insecurities. I wanted people to like me and I was living for their acceptance. Sports were my life and that is what I focused on, God. I was blessed with talent to play most sports and I loved every minute of it. Making sports my number one priority made it hard for me to make God a priority. I never "had time" to talk to God and build a relationship with Him. Of course, thats what I thought. My Freshman year of high school went well but as time passed to the beginning of my Sophomore year, I started to change. I didn't drink or smoke. That was one thing that was different about me. Almost everyone I knew did those things. Sometimes I felt left out though. I didn't want any part of that but what was I going to do? I was the "good" kid. Feeling confused about who I was as a person, I started using people. I became disrespectful to most of the people around me, especially girls. Cussing became a hobby. I used people and treated them like they were worthless. Looking back now, I think of how big of a jerk I was and how sorry I am to all the people I did wrong. Going into my Junior year, I just became worse as a person. I started drinking a lot over the summer which was the first time I ever had in my life. I wasn't treating people the right way and it started to rub off on my relationship with my family. I partied every weekend for 2 or 3 months. It was ridiculous. Continually lying to my parents didn't do me any good. They had always been so great to me and supportive in every way. It upsets me to think how bad I treated people who loved me so much. On New Years of 2011, I told myself I was drinking for the last time. Beginning in 2012 I started to attend church every Sunday. I read my Bible often and really wanted to build my relationship with God. It was for the next 3 months that I stayed on the right track with God. It was awesome and things really started to fall into place. Basketball was going great, I many friends, and a great girl in my life. Spring break came around and everything changed. I became a whole different person on that vacation. I started drinking again and made decisions that I knew weren’t right. I was ashamed of myself more than I had ever been. Not only had I let down some amazing people in my life, but I had let down God. I had not done the right thing as a Christian. I was a fake. It was in the these next few months that my life changed forever. I ended up hurting my back lifting weights for football. What I thought was only minor became major. At this time it was towards the end of my Junior year and Summer was about to begin. I was an emotional wreck. I had lost all faith in myself. I was embarrassed of who I had become as a person. After weeks of being depressed and crying, I got the worst news. The injury to my back was a big deal. I needed surgery. This just absolutely crushed me. My relationship with God wasn't good and I could possibly lose the most important part of my life, sports. At this point in my life, I was fortunate enough to be a candidate for the Naval Academy. I planned to play football for Navy and then chase my dream of becoming a Navy Seal. That had been my goal in life since I was 13, it was MY plan. But in the blink of an eye, all this was taken away from me. It was around the middle of summer and I felt like I had lost everything. I was broken. I asked God, Why? Why have you done this to me? No football. No basketball. No Navy. God had crushed my plans and I felt like I had nothing left. This is when it really hit me and I came to a realization of everything that had happened in this past year. One night in my bedroom I just got on my knees and cried out to God. I told Him that I accept Jesus as my Lord and personal Savior. This will always be the greatest moment of my life. I decided to trust God’s plan for me, and not my plan for myself. God heard my prayer and now I'm doing my best to live for Him everyday. I had so many blessings in my life but I had ALWAYS taken them for granted. I thought my life was about me. I was the one controlling it, I had always felt invincible. Honestly, I was wrong. God is the one in control of my life. He is writing my story and I must allow him to do that. For over a year these little things that were happening to me were just God trying to get my attention. For so long I thought I had it all figured out. I had been rejecting God and the relationship that He so badly wanted with me. This back surgery has been my turning point. From then on I have really changed my ways. Jesus has become the center of my life and I plan to keep it that way, it’s not about me. I'm not perfect and I make mistakes. Thats why I need a savior like Jesus. To be a Christian may not always be the popular thing but God has become so real to me that I have realized it is well worth it. His Love is Unconditional and His Grace overflows my life and your life everyday. This whole situation has definitely changed my perspective on life and the way I treat people. Today, my relationship with Jesus is the most important thing to me. I believe that God has a plan for everything that He has put me through. I am currently leading a Tuesday morning Bible study with other seniors at my High School and a school wide Bible study once a week during lunch. I want to be the best role model for the people around me. God has blessed me with a platform to draw people closer to Jesus. That’s what I intend to do. Soon after my surgery, one of my friends told me to read Jeremiah 29:11. “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you hope a future.” Every day I remind myself of this. I may not know what the future holds or even where I’m going to college, but I know that God holds my future. I would never want to change what has happened in my life. I would rather have had all these things happen then go back to who I was. All this experience has helped shape me to be a better person and strengthen my faith. Getting to know God has helped me get to know myself more than I ever have. Learning more about Him is a daily thing but I love it. For so long I tried so hard to be satisfied through things that were only temporary, but then I realized that my relationship with Jesus is forever. This is not my story, this is God’s story."
Age: 18 years old
Attends: Coastal Carolina University
From: Little Rock, Arkansas
"At the beginning of my life, it was hard for me due to my size because people would say that tiny people couldn't do as well as taller people. But, God gave me a gift and that gift was the game of basketball. I started out at my own age, but then moved to older ages after coaches saw how I played. "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is The Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6. That is how I felt on the journey to show the world who I am and what I can do. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13. I did this through my emotions and my game. The Lord has set a path for me to play basketball and it is up to me whether I want to take it or not."
Age: 11 years old
Attends: Episcopal Collegiate School
From: Little Rock, Arkansas
"I started running track in 7th grade because my sister was pretty good and I needed a sport to play in the spring. That first year I realized that I had lots of potential because at every meet until conference I would always get 2nd place right after my teammate Allie Freeman. Once I got in 8th grade I started to really love track and got more serious about it. I turned out to be 1st in my conference for all my races (100m, 200m, 400m). Then I decided to continue track through out the summer. Once my new coach saw me run he would always tell me that God put me and him together and ever since then I pray before every race and God has blessed me to end up 1st in the state of Arkansas for all my races then be able to make it to nationals to run the 200m and 400m and are currently 32nd in thee nation for the 200m. It wasn't until I started recognizing that God had blessed me throughout my races. That's why I started to excel and I thank God for that. "
Age: 14 years old
Attends: Episcopal Collegiate School
From: Little Rock, Arkansas
Messages From Beezy
"Inspiring others to believe!"