"My name is Sarah Butler. I'm 17 years old, and currently a junior at Central Arkansas Christian. To say the least, I'm blessed beyond belief.
I've attended CAC my entire life, and by going there I've partaken in some truly humbling events. I've seen others with a tougher lifestyle while doing mission work at school, and after cheering on disabled kids at their track meet, it's hard to not realize this: As tough as life may be, someone is experiencing much worse.
We all have had tragic events in our lifestyle. My father passed away in a car wreck when I was almost two, and I lost all of my grandparents before I was even ten years old. Some days it's really tough to cope those losses. When I get done playing basketball some nights, I lay down exhausted but one thought continually goes through my head, “Why can't my dad be here? I want him to be able to cheer me on.” The truth is, I'm never going to know why. But what I've realized is that it's not about me, I'm a part of something so much bigger than myself. I'm a part of God's master plan. This life isn't supposed to be about me. This life is about Him. It's about spreading His love and realizing my blessings far outweigh my struggles. My needs are always taken care of and if I'm honest with myself I don't deserve even that. God has given me an incredible stepdad and he's the only dad I've ever really known. God always provides. I'm unworthy of a perfect God while I'm an imperfect sinner. Luckily God's grace is enough.
Peer pressure is going to come around constantly, and I have failed many times. I have had alcohol before and I have struggled with that. I don't party and get hammered but I have had sips, gulps and almost a drink here and there. I'm ashamed of it but my God forgives. I don't even try alcohol anymore and I don't plan on it ever again, because I know how damaging it can be to a person. God healing me in this area has been a huge blessing.
My motto has always been to stay positive and pray about everything. Prayer works, and prayer heals. Circumstances are not always in our favor, but God is always in our favor and God's strength has never been and never will be matched. I was baptized when I was seven, which is a very young age. I go through a couple of months when I spiritually deprive myself by not reading my Bible. No one ever said being a Christian was easy, but it's the peace deep down in my heart that shows me I could never make it without Him.
I used to not hang out with the best people. When I read and really understood 1 Corinthians 15:33, I knew I had to make a change. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” I made the change to hang out with more positive friends, who lead me closer and closer to God daily. They have been such a blessing and I'm more than happy with the life I live.
My life is better than I could have ever thought to ask for and I live daily by my favorite verse, Philippians 3:14. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I'm trying my hardest to show God's love, work hard at school, and give God glory in basketball and in my words, thoughts and actions. Be thankful you can pray to your best friend, Father, and the Healer of all wounds every day of your life and be thankful that He sent his Son to save everyone who believes in Him and give us a perfect Man to model our lives after every single day of our lives. God bless."
Age: 17 years old
Attends: Central Arkansas Christian
Little Rock, Arkansas
"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)
"Ever since my concussion, things haven't been the same. Its truly a blessing that I've gained my memory back though. Days after my concussion I could barely write, didnt know any ones name or the months of the year, couldn't tie my shoes, & I couldnt play sports for a while. Life was pretty much black & white. I didn't know anyone so really I couldn't open up to anyone. The things I wanted to talk about were held in because I didnt trust anyone just yet. Instagram & Twitter & other social networks were pointless to me at the time. People day after day constantly told me to pray & pray all the time. I prayed every morning, before I woke up & before I went to bed. After a while my memory became more clear. I know more people in public, began to remember myself & the things I was known for, my appetite was back to normal & by the day things became the same . God has helped me so much & I cant thank him enough for guiding me through those scary moments of my concussion. I was like a young naive boy lost in the universe with no one to talk to but myself. Now I am back to normal, playing sports, back in school, & enjoying life on the daily basis." Some of you may know but for others that do not know, Kelvin Robinson suffered a serious concussion one day during school and literally forgot everything but he has been one of God's little angel's and healed him."
Age: 14 years old
Attends: Episcopal Collegiate School
From: Little Rock, Arkansas
"Growing up I always attended church. God has been part of my life since day one. I remember going to church 3 or 4 times a week as a young kid. And at that time I never really understood what all the praising and worshiping was all about. It wasn't until I got older when I started to realize all of the things that God had brought me through. How I would watch tv and everyday a kid my age was killed or a kid my age died in a car accident. The older I got the more I realized how much God meant to me. I began to really develop a relationship with him. I began to find ways to praise him and give him thanks in my own way. Everyone isn't the same. We are all made differently and unique in our on way. You don't have to praise and worship God the same way someone you know does. Find your own way to give thanks to him and I promise you'll make a difference in someone else's life without even knowing it."
Age: 22 years old
Attends: Southeast Missouri State University
From: Little Rock, Arkansas
"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
Messages From Beezy
"Inspiring others to believe!"