Each year, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) selects six outstanding Acteens to serve as National Acteens Panelists based on their commitment to missions and participation and leadership in their Acteens group, church, school and community.
This year, three of the six are from North Carolina: Jessica Francis and Lacey Wheeler, both of Abbotts Creek Missionary Baptist Church in High Point; and Sarah Harris of University Hills Baptist Church in Charlotte. All three have also served as state Acteens panelists with WMU of North Carolina for the past two years.
Francis, Wheeler and Harris serve with three other teens – Sarah Behling and Amy Washburn, both from University Hills, and Madison Johnson of Jackson Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis – on the North Carolina panel.
Six teenagers from North Carolina are serving on the state Acteens panel. From left, top row: Madison Johnson and Sarah Behling; center row: Lacey Wheeler and Amy Washburn; bottom row: Jessica Francis and Sarah Harris. Francis, Harris and Wheeler are also serving on the national panel and will be helping with the annual meeting in June and submitting items for The Mag, the Acteens’ magazine.
Acteens is WMU’s missions organization for girls in grades 7–12. Through Acteens, girls grow in their relationship with God and each other as they learn about and participate in missions, develop leadership skills, and live a missional lifestyle.
Francis, a member of Acteens for five years, cited learning about human exploitation as one of the most meaningful things she has done in Acteens. The topic made such an impression, she chose to write her sophomore research paper about the effects of human trafficking.
“I learned even more about the tragic stories of trafficking both in America and across the world,” Francis said. “Many of my friends have also taken a great interest in human trafficking and have helped me share with others my newfound passion for this epidemic. It is spreading like wildfire, and we have the power to do something about it.”
Wheeler has also been involved in Acteens for five years and actively participates in missions trips, and community projects. “Missions is much more than humanitarian works and good deeds,” Wheeler said. “The purpose of missions is to bring others to Jesus Christ by showing His love in all we do.”
Mark Hollar, senior pastor of Abbotts Creek, recommended both Francis and Wheeler for the national Acteens panel.
“I have known Jessica all her life,” Hollar said. “She is a leader as well as a great servant. Her missions veins run both deep and wide.”
Hollar said he has known Wheeler for the past five years, and related she actually attended youth functions and missions events before her family followed her. Now her parents, brother and grandparents are all active members at Abbotts Creek.
“Lacey is fully committed to the missions and service work done in our church,” Hollar noted. “She helps with our food ministry each month, sings in the choir, and is a leader in our strong Acteens ministry. I am honored to recommend someone the caliber of Lacey to serve as a catalyst and mentor for other Acteens.”
Harris has been involved in Acteens at University Hills for six years. “Missions involvement has opened my eyes and helped me take the focus off of myself and to view the world through God’s eyes,” she said. “These experiences have helped me to personalize the Great Commission and feel that I can make a difference even though I may be just one person.”
Deborah Taylor, Harris’ Acteens leader, said, “Sarah demonstrates a Christ-like attitude on every trip I have served with her on, no matter the location or task. She is not just a ‘missions trip’ girl, but demonstrates this servant attitude with peers, school, community and family.”
The other national panelists are Sarah Gaby of Heritage Baptist Church, Grand Blanc, Mich.; Alyssa Hargrove of First Baptist Church, Spring Hill, Tenn.; and Mary Virginia Harper of First Baptist Church, Prattville, Ala. The Acteens Panelists, who serve from Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, each receive $1,000 from the Jessica Powell Loftis Scholarship for Acteens from the WMU Foundation.
These National Panelists will be featured during the WMU Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La., June 17–18. They will also write articles for The Mag, the Acteens missions magazine, and for the Acteens website, wmu.com/students.
To apply for the 2013 panel, visit the Acteens site or look for an application in the fall Acteens Leader. Applications are due to national WMU by Dec. 1.