By Julie Walters
National WMU has selected three outstanding young women to this year’s National Acteens Panel: Hope Howard of Retama Park Baptist Church in Kingsville, Texas; Kayla Moore of Durham Baptist Church in Lewistown, Missouri; and Rana Seddik of Freeman Heights Baptist Church in Garland, Texas.
“We are thrilled to have these young women represent Acteens this year as National Acteens Panelists,” said Heather Keller, children’s and student ministry consultant, national WMU. “The call to make disciples across their generation is so great, and Hope, Kayla and Rana have a strong history of already making disciples in their communities and in places around the world. We are excited to see them influence other young women this year as they represent Acteens.”
Howard, a home-schooled junior, has been involved in Acteens for five years. In that time, she said she’s realized missions is not only for missionaries, but for every person who makes a commitment to Christ.
“My heart hurts when I think about billions of people in the world who do not have the joy and hope that I have in my life, and not knowing that they will one day have everlasting life with their Savior,” Howard shared. “Worse than that even, is the fact that they will spend eternity in never-ending punishment. As I have made many, many friends who are lost, the reality really hits on a completely different level when it is your best friend that is going to be permanently separated from Jesus. I feel compelled to do all I am physically able to reach people for Christ.”
Howard said one of the most meaningful things she has done in Acteens was learning to sew face masks last spring when COVID-19 restrictions began in the U.S.
“We knew of a missionary couple in Detroit who were still feeding the homeless, even though the wife suffered from severe respiratory problems,” she said. “This inspired my mom, who is also my Acteens leader, to sew masks.”
Howard said they held countless Zoom meetings with other girls in their Acteens group related to the project, which resulted in more than 100 masks sewn by Acteens, their mothers and older women in the church who wanted to be a part of the effort.
The pandemic “has shown me just how capable God is of working, no matter the circumstances,” Howard reflected. “I’ve learned that I can’t let fear control me, whether it is fear of the coronavirus, or simply worrying about what kind of career path to choose, and what college to attend. Doing this particular project with the masks also reminded me to reflect on the command to serve others. I was so touched to see the amount of loving hearts who volunteered their time to help those in need.”
As a member of Acteens for the past six years, Moore, a high school senior, has helped lead her Acteens group, Vacation Bible School, Girls in Action retreats, coed events, her youth group and during mission trips.
In summer of 2019, Moore went on a mission trip to Uganda with her Acteens leader and others. While there, they organized and conducted two Bible clubs, visited mothers of newborns, and arranged gifts to distribute among mothers at a hospital for premature babies. They also attended a local Sunday morning worship service and visited a nearby village where they had the opportunity to share testimonies and invite people to church.
Moore describes missions as a lifestyle and a decision that needs to be made every day.
“As Christians, we are called to dedicate our lives to please and live for Jesus,” Moore asserted. “Every day we have opportunities to share the love of Jesus with whomever we meet. Missions is not just for missionaries, it is for me. I am a servant of God, doing His work and His mission. This is what Christians are supposed to do. We’re called to be His light.”
Moore encourages this daily reminder, “Serve the Lord with all you do, and go out of your way to bring Jesus into someone’s life every day.”
Moore’s pastor, the Rev. Ted Middleton, has seen her live out her missions focus.
“Kayla encourages those around her to follow Jesus,” Middleton noted. “One of her friends recently came to know the Lord as their personal Savior as a direct result of Kayla sharing the love of Jesus with them. Not only is she a good example before them, but she helps to show them how to live for Jesus. She has learned to lead others well.”
Seddik, a high school senior in her seventh year as an Acteen, said, “The main reason missions is important to me is because my faith is a product of missions. Through missions I was introduced to Christ. I was able to understand enough to accept Him in my heart, and continue growing in my faith.”
Seddik shared Audrey Gibbs, a Mission Service Corps missionary with the North American Mission Board, and Mary Lou Sinclair, her GA and Acteens leader, are two influential women who poured into her life. Through Gibbs’ apartment ministry, she helped Seddik with homework and projects while also sharing life lessons and the love of Jesus. As their relationship grew, Gibbs invited Seddik to church where she met Sinclair and attended her first GA camp as a third grader and accepted Christ.
“These two women not only taught me about the Bible, they lived it,” Seddik reflected. “They were generous, joyful, and most of all, loving. They were so willing to go out of their way to help me understand. They were patient and caring and all the things one is supposed to be. Missions has changed the way I see the world around me and therefore I strive to live my life for Jesus.”
Seddik said the most impactful things she has done in Acteens was leave her comfort zone in Texas and travel to New England on a mission trip. While on the trip, they assisted a Brazilian congregation affiliated with the Baptist Convention of New England whose members spoke Portuguese and very little English.
“Even with this language barrier, I was able to make friendships with the others around me,” she noted. “We were able to connect over food or worship music, even when we couldn’t always understand each other. This showed me you don’t need to speak the same language in order to make connections. They showed so much hospitality . . . I realized so much about how we need to live out our faith.”
Seddik said her trip to New England wasn’t meaningful because she traveled across the United States to do missions, but because it taught her how to live on mission better while at home.
“Living a missions lifestyle means consciously trying to find ways to connect with people everywhere you go,” she stated. “It means that wherever I am and whatever I do or say reflects Christ. It is a commitment to investing in the lives of others, just as Christ calls us to do.”
Seddik’s faith and missions focus is also evident in her public school where she helps lead a weekly girls’ Bible study by preparing and leading the lesson and planning games and activities.
Lauren Peterson, a teacher and coach at Garland High School, said, “Rana’s love for the Lord shows through everything she does. Every action on the court, every interaction with her teammates, and every interaction with her coaches is completely faith-based. Before games I would pray with Rana, and just hearing her passion for the game stemming from her relationship with the Lord was so inspiring to me, and helped me grow further in my faith.”
These three national Acteens panelists will be featured program guests during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Nashville on June 13, 2021. They will serve through 2021, and each will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the WMU Foundation. They may also have speaking opportunities in their respective states and will write blogs for Acteens at wmu.com/students.