"On August 20, 2012, my mother was diagnosed with stage four Brain Cancer. When I heard the news, all I could do was cry. It was scary and different and this was just the beginning. I had to take up more responsibility around the house. I was beginning to drive by myself, which was also a little scary. I also was going into my junior year of High School, which is known to be the hardest. Life was changing. I was not sure I was going to be okay with it all.
After finding out my mother was going to have brain surgery, everyone that loved our family came to our side and was right there with us the whole time. My friends, family, and even people I had not seen in a long time came with love and support. It felt everyone was there, except one person, God. I felt lost. I was angry and upset. I tried to stay positive, but with everything that was happening, it was difficult. I started spending more time with my boyfriend and not spending much time with my family. I was rarely home on the weekends and to them it felt like I was always gone.
Being at home began to stress me out, so I tried to avoid it. It was not fair that my mom had cancer, and it was not fair that things had to change. I felt that my life was spinning out of control.
After the surgery, all I can remember is how I had to feed my mother ice chips as she was lying in the hospital bed with bandages around her head. Seeing the condition my mother was in made me more upset with God. I felt that God did not have to do what he did to my mom. Our family didn’t deserve that! I was just so frustrated.
To take all my stress out, I started staying out later than curfew, not listening to my parents and tried to stay away from home as much as possible. My mom even put my sister and I into therapy. The therapy sessions did help, but I was still frustrated at the situation.
Months went by, and my home life was falling apart. I wasn’t talking with my family. I was trying to avoid them as much as possible. Then, the breakdown happened. We all had a family meeting, and things got serious, we talked about my mom’s life’s span, and how much longer we might have with her. This was probably the hardest part. This I when I realized that it was not that God was not beside me; it was that I was pushing him away. I could have lost my mom, but God gave us a second chance at becoming a family.
My home life soared. My mom and I grew closer. My sister and I grew closer, and yes we still fight all the time, but I love her to death. God can do incredible things; he turned my family upside down so we could grow closer.
God is going to change our lives, and even though we may not agree to these changes, we would not be who we are without the experiences we have gone through.
To this day, my mom is a healthy, beautiful, fifty-four year old woman. She is the inspiration that our family needed. If God had not stepped in, my parents would probably have divorced and I would have to choose whom to spend Christmas with. I thank God for what he did.
God not only made our family relationship stronger, He brought me closer to Him, and His love. God surprises us with life challenges that are going to be difficult, but He is doing it for a reason, we can’t forget that as Christians. God doesn’t give up on our lives, He steps in. We have to live everyday with love in our hearts, and we cannot go to bed mad. In times of trouble, go to God, He has the answers, and His word is the key. Friends are going to come and go, but family is forever. Don’t wish the day away; make the absolute most of it. Give thanks to God for blessing you with another day of life. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring so don’t let a day pass by without telling your family you love them."
I would like to end with a very simple bible verse. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Age: 17 years old
Attends: Episcopal Collegiate School
"Hello my name is Elijah Roberts and I'm a pastors child and who is 19, a graduate of North Little Rock High,a junior in college my major is Sports medicine. Im the Guy that everyone always asks why im smiling and laughing so much, but im just that guy just shows that im thankful always due to God steady being there for me,and I'm a man that tries to spread love and kindness to anyone i meet to make their day better when i see them down and out! I am here to share my story with the world I never really talk to people about what has happened in my life cause I feel that I really don't want people to just sit up and feel sorry for me. But I really have been through a struggle my whole life, starting from birth I was born deaf , but God delivered me. From being mental and physically abused ,put down,and bullied for years with out even telling my parents,because I felt I could handle it on my own. But I soon got on my knees and prayed to God one day to show me a way to Grow more to him and give me a way to express myself and be a example to others. I started playing football when I was 9 and I still play now at the age of 19 because it's so much I have to prove and show the world that I can make it regardless of what people said about me . But my main testimony is that when I was high school I was a star player on my football team and I was so focused on tryna show out in football,and thinking that i got everything my self and I soon got hurt a few weeks before my senior year,tearing my calf muscle and Achilles in two,loosing my looks from Ark,Mizzou,UCA nd others and also my scholarship to Tulsa,! But as I sat for weeks watching my team play without me,regardless if it was a win or lose,i would sit and think "Why me" , but soon came to a point where I realized that God was the reason I was so successful and not me myself. And I realize that I have to keep my mind on God to get where I wanted in life. When I was released to play football I said to myself that I need to really get on my grind and get back to the right place in my life,following after Gods heart letting him lead me,and just because I was hurt didn't mean my Job was done,and once I graduated high school I went to a junior college for my freshman year, and soon came to UofA for school and I walked on the football team and I received a spot. I just want to share my story to let people know you can achieve anything you put your mind to,including putting God first in all that you do. "When you devil is steady attacking you , you better know God has a great blessing for you!"
Age: 19 years old
Attends: University of Arkansas
"I grew up in Phillips County. Living in Phillips County can make any child grow up too fast. Throughout my eighteen years, I have heard stories of classmates who have lost their fathers to drug violence, peers whose mothers have abandoned them for a life on the streets, and several others who have struggled as the head of their household trying to make ends meet. Sometimes, we have this façade where we think we are invincible. However, our resilience comes from our ability to rely on each other, enabling us to conquer obstacles that many thought were impossible. Each of us have a story, and mine began in the fall of 2001.
One evening, when I was in the first grade, my mother approached with the news: “Your dad and I are getting a divorce.” “What is a divorce?” I thought. Until then, I had lived with my grandmother, mother, father, and sister in a small house in the country side of Lexa, Arkansas. I was not blind to the fact that there were problems going on in my home. But what was this big, fancy word I heard my mother speak of…divorce??? My mother explained to my sister and I that our father would be going away and that they would no longer be together. I went to school the next day, ironically, with a smile on my face. People knew me as the “quiet” girl, who would occasionally get in front of the class and belt out the latest Whitney’s Houston’s song. No one really knew, however, how much this quiet girl secretly relished in waking up and going to school every morning to escape her troubles. It was there that I was able to blossom and learned to express myself creatively.
Because my home life was sometimes difficult, school was like a candy store to me. I stepped into high school determined to break the mold of the shy, awkward skinny girl who was deemed the “crybaby” of the class of 2012. It was in high school, I began to embrace my quirkiness and fell in love with education. I saw education as my outlet to leave Phillips County, excel in college, and to one day come back and give my city hope in a time where we definitely need it. When I finally confirmed that I was going to the University of Arkansas, I saw my dream turning into a reality."
Age: 19 years old
Attends: University of Arkansas
West Helena, Arkansas
"Hey ya’ll, my name is Trei Dudley and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Arkansas majoring in Business. I am originally from Lawrence, Kansas and definitely had a journey to get to where I am today. I believe that everyone has their battles, trials and tribulations and all around issues that they have to deal with throughout their lives and growing up, I had a ton. From abuse in the house, to my parents splitting up, living in shelters, not knowing where our next meal was coming from, people shooting at our house, police tearing down our doors… it all happened for a reason. Now, I don’t share my story for people to feel sorry for me, I tell it for them to see how amazing The Lord works and what he can do. BUT, the story does not end there. At that point in my life two things happened. One, I was introduced to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lawrence, where I met mentors who to this day are still a HUGE part of my life and I thank God every day for placing them with me. Secondly, I decided that there were two paths in life I could take; I could take pity on myself and mope around thinking about all that I had been through, or I could use my experiences to help mold and make me into a better person, with the help and guidance of the Lord, which is the path that I chose. From that point on, school seemed like more than just a place to go to get an education, but it would become a foundation for the start of my future. I always had a dream of going to college, but in 8th grade I decided that I wanted to go out of state. Now, I knew this was going to be stretch because unless I had a TON of scholarship money, there would be no way I could afford it. But, I was then introduced to the Youth of the Year program through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. This was another turning point in my life where God truly used me. This scholarship program had the potential for any one student to receive $61,000 in scholarship money from Tupperware Brands. The first time I participated I did not even make it past the local level. My freshman year, I was blessed enough to make it to Regionals however I did not advance past that level. The director of my local Boys & Girls Club sat me down and told me that she was going to make me take the next two years off and I could try again my senior year of high school. I did not see it at the time, but that was a HUGE blessing. I was able to go back and try it again my senior year, where I became the National Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, making me the national spokesperson for the 4.1 million teens that attend Boys & Girls Clubs each day! Along with this, I received over $80,000 in scholarships, a new car and for the past year I have been able to travel the United States meeting different people such as President Barack Obama, Denzel Washington, Shaquille O’Neal, Ashanti, Michael Phelps, Run DMC, and so many others. Along with that, the Lord placed four other strong, motivated teens into my life that I am still close to today. The Youth of the Year experience changed my life, immensely. This journey wasn’t always easy, there were many times where I wanted to be out with my friends instead of at home writing the eight scholarship essays it required to participate in Youth of the Year, but I always kept this verse in my thoughts, 2 Corinthians 5:7 “walk by faith, not by sight”. I knew that the Lord was putting this opportunity in my life for the third time for a reason and had I not obeyed him and fell into the “trap” of hanging out with my friends, I would not have been able to fulfill my dream to go to college out of state! The Lord is too good!! I know that was a lot, but if there is one thing that ya’ll take out of this testimony, it is to always trust in the Lord, through the good and the bad. You may not always understand why he is taking you through the journey that you are on, but you’re not supposed to. He has a plan, you have to trust in it and always remember that he will never leave your side! Keep faith, keep praying, and keep your beautiful head up! Everything happens for a reason! God Bless!"
Age: 19 years old
Attends: University of Arkansas
"Hi, my name is Halley Hill. I'm going to be a junior at North Little Rock High School and I just want to share with you about my walk with Christ.
I've always grown up in a Christian household. My mom and dad love The Lord more than any people I know and I'm definitely blessed to have them. They support me in everything I do and I know that no matter what, they're going to push me to be the best I can be. Especially spiritually. Ever since I was young, they've read the bible to me and always shared Jesus with me. We pray together as a family all the time and there's nothing stronger than a family based on Christ.
When I was 6-7 years old, I went to my parents and asked if they would help me ask Jesus into my heart. They said of course and that's when I started believing in God. It wasn't until I was 11, that I was baptized. I wanted to make sure I knew what it meant, and how to live out a Godly life. That was still a young age and God wasn't quite my #1 focus.
In 2011, I had the opportunity to go to Africa on a mission trip with my church. Let me tell you something, if you ever feel like you don't have anything...take a look at the kids over there. They have no clothes, no families, and no access to schools. Our church is a part of an orphanage called Kenya relief and it has about 115 kids in it. Churches all around donate to this one orphanage providing these kids with food, school supplies, clothes, and also money. While I was there, being a Christian really hit another level for me. I realized how blessed I was and how I never thanked The Lord for having a bed to sleep in, a house to live in, or even parents that love me and do so much for me. That trip has changed my life forever. God definitely did work while I was there and I could not be more thankful I got to experience what I did.
If any of you know me, I'm an athlete. I play basketball at NLR and I also play AAU for an organization called Team AR Elite. I used to play every sport possible, but I realized basketball was the one for me. I don't just play basketball because I love it. I don't just play to stay in shape. I don't just play to have fun. I play to glorify Christ and spread His word. I use basketball as a platform to tell others about Jesus and what He did for us. I've made so many friendships and spread the gospel so much more once I started playing for Him. There's not a game that goes by that I don't pray before. It doesn't give me an edge over any other players or even make me better, it gives me peace knowing that He doesn't care how well I play as long as I give Him my best effort and glorify him through the goods and the bads. I always pray that God will be strong where I am weak. I'm not the quickest kid, but I pray that God will be strong in me through that. I also pray that God will steal my show. I don't want any glory to me. I want it all to go to Him because he's the one who gave me the talent. Once you start playing for God, and glorify Him through your sport, you have a complete different mentality than you did before. You just want to honor Him.
I have this saying that I say a lot. G3. It means Give God Glory. I'm not sure who made it up, but I do know my friend Jack Thomas from CAC introduced me to it. I have it everywhere. It's on my license plate, it's on my basketball shoes, it's on my folders at school. I also use this saying as a platform to tell others about Jesus. People ask me all the time what it means, and that just a gateway for me to start talking to them about what Jesus did for us. To glorify God means to bring Him honor through what we say, how we act, and how we think. To glorify God means to acknowledge His glory and to value it above all things. To glorify God means we make it known to others. To glorify God means we have a heart felt gratitude. We glorify God through our Faith. We glorify God through our love. We glorify God through our desire to obey Him. We glorify God with our desire to know Him. Whether I'm on the court, the classroom, with friends, or by myself, I just want to glorify God in everything I do.
I'm not a kid who's grown up with a hard life. I'm not a kid who's parents are divorced. To say the least, I'm so blessed. My parents give all they have for me to succeed in sports and in the classroom. They take me from workouts to practices all the time, and are always there to help me with school work or study for tests. Here recently, two weeks ago, my dad had a surgery called gastric sleeve. It's where they take out a significant amount of your stomach for weight loss. My dads surgery went well. He came home the next day and started feeling terrible pain. A staple had ripped in his stomach and so it caused a hole. This meant acid, fluids, medicine, everything was flowing all through my dads body because there was a hole. He had to go in for emergency surgery. The likelihood of me loosing my dad last Saturday, was very high. My mom, my dad, and I sat in his room before surgery and he started trying to say his goodbyes to me. If that's not hard, knowing you could possibly lose your dad within the next hour, then I don't know what is. We all grabbed each other and started praying. God protected my dad in surgery that day, but more was left to come. The next day, my dad ripped another hole in his stomach....but luckily, after many tests, he did not have to go into surgery again. The body is healing itself. As of August 13, he's still in the hospital and most likely gets out today. So God showed a miracle through that these past 12 days and I really learned that I had to rely on Him and not others.
For my future. I want to play college basketball. I do not care where. I don't care if it's D1, D2, D3 or even NAIA. I just want to go where I can make the biggest impact on the court, and the biggest impact spiritually.
There's things about being a Christian that makes life so much harder, but it is so worth it. God is someone who never leaves you; He's there when no one else is. He loves us so much that He sent His one and only son to come and die the worst death possible for us. For me and you. Just so we could have the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. I promise, once you choose to follow Jesus and really start living it out, your life will be changed forever. G3"
Age: 16 years old
Attends: North Little Rock, Arkansas
North Little Rock, Arkansas
"If I were to have died before I turned 17, I probably wouldn't have entered into the pearly white gates of Heaven. Yes, I had “Christian” labeled across my forehead my entire life, but I was never connected spiritually with Christ until my parents divorced when I was in 10th grade. Up until then, I had always followed the rules and gone to church, but had never had to rely on God for anything. But once the divorce took place, I was immediately thrown into the darkest time of my life, and didn't know what to do. I became extremely depressed and it seemed like no one reached out to help me. This period lasted about four months, until I attended Winter Chill, a high school church retreat at Fellowship Bible Church. There, one of the youth pastors pulled me aside and asked me how I was doing (I guess he had heard about my situation). We sat down and talked for no longer than fifteen minutes, but it was enough to set my life back on course. He was the first person in four months to see if I was alright.
However, I still wasn't very close to God, but I was feeling less depressed and lonely over the next year now that I knew somebody actually cared to know how I was feeling. In the summer leading up to my senior year, I attended a mission trip to Guatemala with my church. After exploring the intense poverty of the nation, I had a revelation: my life is nowhere near as bad as the majority of the Guatemalans, who have to live on a concrete slab and eat tiny pieces of spoiled meat just to survive. When I arrived back to the states afterwards, I cracked open my Bible for the first time ever. And I just started reading, and slowly, after several months, began to have an intimate relationship with Christ.
My faith grew even stronger my freshman year in college. I had attended Ouachita Baptist my first semester, and was not enjoying it due to the fact that I wasn't making any close friends and I felt like I was missing out on so much. This slipped me into a slight depression (although nothing compared to a few years earlier) and forced me to read my Bible religiously. I ended up transferring to the University of Arkansas, which I am much happier with, but still struggled making any close friends. I continued my Biblical habit to remain close to God. The school year ended, and now I am now less than a week away from heading back up to Fayetteville, and I pray that God allows me to have a better year but still to be just as connected with him as I was freshman year."
Age: 19 years old
Attends: University of Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
"My name is Devonte Hopkins and I am a young, 19 year old, African-American college student from Shreveport, Louisiana, who is going into his last year of Pulaski Tech will be moving on to a 4 year college that is still undecided. Studying in Criminal Justice I can truthfully say that I'm a blessed young man the wreck I got in changed my life. The doctor's told me they don't know how I made it out the wreck alive "I said by the grace of God I did" I survived a crash that many died in my parents rushed to the hospital crying thinking I was gone I was in a wheelchair neck brace in a hospital bed for a few days the very next days I'm back at home I can honestly say by the grace of god I'm blessed to still be here and not taking anything for granted my man Michael Harrison been with me through the whole process I can say I'm blessed to have him we have been good friends since middle school I thank The Lord I'm still here and will continue to praise him through out my life."
Age: 19 years old
Graduated: Parkview High School
Shreveport, Louisiana (Lived in Arkansas for 7 years)
"My name is Blake Holmes and I will be a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas in the fall of 2013. I’ve always looked at myself as being blessed throughout my life. God really has blessed me way more than I have realized. He put me in a great church growing up and gave me a wonderful and great family. I may not have a normal family but they are my family and I love them and thank God that He put me here. He gave me one of the best gifts in the world and that is the ability to play sports. Sports are my life. I’ve played baseball since I was four and basketball since I was seven. I don’t know where I would be without them. That’s where I met my good friend Mike Hairston and we played on the Phillies together. I thank God that He gave me the ability to play because they taught me a lot. Not just the sport itself but I always had great coaches that knew exactly what they are doing. They taught me a whole lot about life. God really uses people throughout your life to point you where you need to go. Some people listen some don’t but I am glad I listened."
Age: 18 years old
Attends: University of Central Arkansas
"God has helped me get through a lot. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be the basketball player I am today! He continues to bless me everyday! He's always there when I need him! Each day I wake up I thank him for making the person I am today and giving me strength to go make myself better at what I love to do!! Every pair of my shoes have G3 on them because every game and practice I have to Give God Glory for all he has done! Each day I also thank God for my family and blessing me to have food on the table and clothes on my back everyday!!"
Age: 17 years old
Attends: North Little Rock High School
North Little Rock, Arkansas
"Ok well I grew up in church, a Christian school and a Christian home! So I had always heard about salvation and wanted to be saved and one night I was laying in bed and I could just feel God pulling at my heart and so I ran and woke my parents up and we talked and I asked Jesus into my heart. Well years passed and I was younger so ya know I had heard to live for Christ but didn't really understand and then like 2 years ago this speaker was in to talk to the youth for a retreat called front liners and since I had been in youth I never went to anything and no one really knew me cause I always had cheer or dance so I started dreading going to church and then that day the speaker was there he talked about living for God and just pursuing Him and after that message I could just feel God like pushing me and I was like "no I'm fine I'm fine" and that night we went to the service and he spoke again and I couldn't hold it in any longer so I rededicated my life and after that the youth pastor asked me if I wanted to do front liners and he'd let me do it even though I missed a few days and I didn't cause I didn't know very many people but I told him I might show up the next day and when I got home someone had posted Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose", and it encouraged me to go. And that was one of the best experiences. And I got to tell others about Christ and I made all sorts of friends from different states. And I mean since I still struggle there have been times it's like everything happens at once and I've struggled with my faith alot. I still do because ill get distracted and not spend time with in His word or just talkin to Him and it comes Sunday and its like oh wow i havent been the best servant of God now have I but He always pulls me right back and just shows me His grace and understanding. And it just amazes me because I'm so undeserving of Him but He still loves me and takes care of me. And the trials He puts us through we might not understand at the time but they only make us stronger. This last school year was the worst year of my life. Tons of drama and losing good friends and sickness and struggling. Like I struggled with bad anxiety last year and had tons of breakdowns and stressed until I made myself sick but then I found the verse Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." And it was like wow. What am I doing. God is right there willing to help me and take all of this from me. And it really helped me to grow closer to Him."
Age: 16 years old
Attends: Arkansas Baptist High School
Messages From Beezy
"Inspiring others to believe!"