The Many Faces
From California to the World
by Sarah Fletcher with Dottie Wright
Free Will Baptists offer teens unique and exciting outreach opportunities. This summer, 80 high schoolers will minister around the world through E-TEAM. Over 100 teens will participate in the Truth and Peace Leadership Conference. Others will go on mission trips organized by their local churches. The potential for personal growth and blessings is great, but so is the cost—$1,500 for Truth and Peace, between $3,200-$3,700 for E-TEAM (depending on the destination). And a church mission trip tab can range anywhere from the mid-hundreds to the low thousands. For many teens, especially those in small congregations or from large families, these goals seem unattainable, even with family and church family support. The edifying opportunity remains an unfulfilled dream.
California Women Active for Christ recognize this dilemma and are seeking to change this through a Youth in Ministry Scholarship program. Assistant Executive Coordinator Dottie Wright explains, “As the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends of our youth, we, the California Free Will Baptist Women, wanted to help our young people become more involved in the ministry opportunities available through our denomination and our local churches. Many of our young people need financial help in order to be involved in these activities. We also felt this would be a good learning experience for the youth, as they are required to raise a good portion of their funds.”
Women started the scholarship fund in 2005 with $500—monies raised as part of that year’s WAC state project. They continued to add to this until gifts totaled $2,000. They awarded the first scholarships in 2007, and since that time, women have contributed $2,500 to youth in their state through this ongoing project.
Exclusively for high school students, Youth in Ministry scholarships cover both spring break and summer mission/ministry related opportunities. Students must meet certain requirements and complete an application that includes writing a short essay, detailing their local church involvement, and submitting a letter of recommendation from pastor or church leader. The Executive Board (comprised of current CWAC officers) reads and evaluates each application and makes awards based on the responses and the amount of funds needed for the applicant to participate in a particular ministry. Awarded amounts to date have ranged between $75-$200. Dottie Wright adds, “The amount to each applicant (who qualifies) may be small, but every little bit helps.”
Two-time recipient Crystal Hodges writes, “[CWAC] helped me in 2008 when I went on E-TEAM Japan and again in 2009 when I went on E-TEAM Spain. Those two mission trips were life changing for me. Going abroad to help with missions work expanded my love for culture and for those who are missing out on a relationship with God. He used these trips to break my heart with what breaks His.”
Scholarships impact not only participants, but families and churches as well. Pastor’s wife Kimberly Lindgren shares. “The scholarship awarded to our daughter Madison for her participation in E-Team was a wonderful blessing to our family on so many levels. Financially, it helped her achieve the monetary goals she had to reach. And spiritually it matured her faith and her love for her Savior as she learned how important it was to share God’s calling on her life with others—so they could support her not only financially but through prayer as well.”
Ewa Kear, whose sons Michael and Gabriel both received scholarships, agrees. “These scholarships impacted us by lessening our financial load. The cost is enormous when you are sending two who are involved in both E-TEAM and Truth and Peace. But it’s not just sending a kid on a trip. It’s molding them, allowing them to see needs, strengthening their faith and giving them a love for missions.”
Time in Truth and Peace at a National Youth Conference helped one of her sons solidify his faith. Ewa believes “an experience such as E-TEAM, broadens our children’s perspectives. It draws them out of themselves and helps them see the world.” (No matter how poor a family is here, it’s nothing compared to the needs abroad.) For her sons, “It gave them both a sense of urgency to share the gospel.”
Ongoing gifts and designated CWAC monies keep the fund solvent. “I appreciate the fact that California Women Active for Christ see this need and are heeding God’s call, ” Ewa praises.
Crystal Hodges echoes these sentiments. “CWAC ministry has been a blessing not only to me, but to others globally. They financially supported the ministry God had called me to, while helping the gospel go around the world.”
God continues to use these opportunities to shape her future. “Since these mission trips, I have felt a deeper calling to missions. I’m not sure if God wants me to go overseas for a lifetime commitment, or if He wants me to spread the fire and passion for missions here in California, occasionally going on a two-week trip. However, what I do know is I’m willing to listen, learn, and follow God…and I thank Him every day for ministry partners such as CWAC.”
From California to the world, that’s the goal of CWAC. “California women are hoping to generate more interest and more involvement from our local youth and continue to award more scholarships in the future,” says Dottie Wright, who also hopes presenting this information will stimulate others to offer a similar program for youth in their states. Read more about the California Youth in Ministry Scholarship at www.wnac.org.
About the Writer: Sarah Fletcher is publications editor for Women Nationally Active for Christ. Dottie Wright lives in Fresno, California, and serves as Assistant Executive Coordinator for California Women Active for Christ.
Out of High School, On to College
Scholarship opportunities don’t end with High School. WNAC annually offers the Mary R. Wisehart Scholarship to a promising female student at each Free Will Baptist college. In addition, these Women Active for Christ groups offer or fund college scholarships for students in their states:
Missouri—MWAC Scholarship for young women attending a Free Will Baptist college.
Contact: Lee Ann Wilfong email@example.com
Alabama—Jimmie/Janie Aldridge Scholarship. $1,000 for a freshman (male or female) entering Welch College. Contact: Paulette Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org
North Carolina—Women contribute to the Leah Waddell Memorial Scholarship.
Contact: Welch College email@example.com
Arkansas—Velda Tucker Trust Fund. Scholarships for missionary children in Bible college.
Contact: Lisa Bowden firstname.lastname@example.org
Oklahoma—OWAC Scholarship. Awarded annually to a young woman attending a Free Will Baptist affiliated college. ($1,000—$250 per semester for 4 semesters). Contact: Tracy Payne email@example.com
Virginia—(No award in 2012-2013.) Past scholarships have been part of yearly VWAC state projects with award amounts dependent upon monies received and divided equally among Virginia students.