Nicknames also have spiritual meaning

By Mya Hudgins, Assistant News Editor

My grandpa tells this same story over and over again. It’s one of those stories that they use to introduce you to someone you don’t even know. Sometimes he even tells this story at family gatherings even though we’ve all heard it a hundred times.

I used to get so red with embarrassment when the story was told, but since all of Texas knows it already, thanks to my grandpa, I thought why not publish it in my college school paper. Right?

When I was younger, I was always so jealous of kids with long names. I know it’s a funny thing to say, but it’s true.

Every kid who had a name that was at least five letters long had a nickname. From Abigail to Abby, Olivia to Liv, Melanie to Mel or even Jacob to Jake. However, if you’re me, then your name is only three letters long. You only have a couple of options. It’s either “my” or “a.”

If I didn’t like those choices, the computer always suggest I change my name to “May.” Needless to say, I never had a nickname. Well… that was until my Grandpa started calling me his “pumpkin’.”

I know what you’re thinking, “aww how sweet.” Yes, I know, I loved it too. I didn’t get to see my grandparents a whole lot since we lived in a different state than them at the time.

When I would get to see them, I made sure I spent as much time as possible with them. One day my grandpa had to go to the store to get some groceries.

Of course, I was attached to him like glue. I wanted to go too. He agreed and let me climb into his truck. After getting all the groceries, we got in the check-out line.

As our turn came, I would stand on my tippy toes trying to see how the women was scanning all the food. With an amazement look on my face, the lady looked at my grandpa and said, “well isn’t she a cutie pie.”

He smiled and said, “Thank you,” as she continued to scan our items. On the other hand, I was not happy. I looked at her and was trying to get her attention, by saying, “ma’am, ma’am.”

She didn’t hear me. I had to tell her something very important. Like any five-year old girl, I screamed, “Ma’am!” Finally, she looked down at me and asked what was wrong.

I stared into her eyes and told her, “My name is NOT cutie pie…it’s pumpkin’.”

As both my grandpa and the cashier laughed, I didn’t understand what was so funny. I knew what my nickname was, and I wanted her to know that she got it wrong.

As I look back at this story he always tells, it brings a smile to my face. I used to get embarrassed when he told this story, but now I enjoy reminding myself of it.

I think there is a deeper meaning. My grandpa’s stories always having a spiritual meaning behind them, it’s just a matter of how long it takes me to find the real story. When we become a Christian, we become one of God’s children.

Our name is “child of God.” Though this world and society might use other names to describe or define us, it doesn’t change the new name the Lord has given us. As a child, having a nickname given to me by my grandpa was the something that I worshiped.

It was beyond important to me. When someone used my wrong name, I wanted to correct them because I wanted them to know my correct name.

This reflects over to our spiritual walk. We should never forget who we are in Christ. It’s a blessing to be considered one of His. On several occasions, God changed the names of people. It wasn’t just to do it but instead there was a reason, and a lesson behind it.

God wants to see us claim the name that He has given us. With a new name comes a new identity. This new name and identity in Christ should change your life completely. We should no longer chase our own desires but seek out what the Lord is calling us to do.

We don’t have to fear the future, as he will protect and guide us. We don’t have to compare ourselves to others, because we know we were made in his image with our own gifts and talents. And finally, we have a God whose love is never failing, even when we fail him over and over again.

Nicknames can have very special meanings, definitely if the person who gave it to you plays an important role in your life. But the greatest nickname you can receive is being called a child of God.

Gambo Moves from Nigeria to Bison Hill

By Mya Hudgins, Assistant Arts Editor

Oklahoma Baptist University welcomes a new professor to the College of Theology and Ministry.

Dr. David Gambo will be a new professor in the Hobbs College. He was also installed as the second recipient of the Reverend A.E. and Dora Hughes Chair of Christian Ministry.

“I was born in the mission field in Nigeria, where my parents were serving as missionaries with the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust (a Wycliffe Bible Translators organization),” said Gambo. “I professed faith in Christ when I was eight years old. Walking by faith and loving Jesus has always been my Christian conviction. God called me to the ministry when I was in my freshman year in college. After college, I served with a church for three years before enrolling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for theological training.”

Many students have seen his passion and love for Christ in the classroom, but he might offer a different perspective on ministry because his ministry started across the world.

“I love having Dr. Gambo as my professor,” student Bayleigh Platter said. “He is so passionate and in love with Christ and it really shows in and out of the classroom. I believe he can add a special point of view considering he is from a different part of the world. “On the first day of class he reflected on what it was like to be back in Nigeria, and how things differentiated from things here in America within the churches and his ministry. He made it clear that although things were slightly different there, the message he is spreading never changes.”

Gambo has been in the ministry for 16 years now, starting back in 2002. As his ministry has changed from a church to a classroom setting, he is excited about being a part of the journey that the students are endeavoring.

“I’m excited to work with great men and women at OBU,” said Gambo.“The opportunity to influence and prepare students to fulfill their calling and vocation. It would be a great joy and delight for me to prepare the next Billy Graham or Lottie Moon.”

Dr. Heath Thomas, Dean of the College of Theology and Ministry, has high standards for professors in the Hobbs College.

“A professor in Hobbs College must be ready to engage students and mentor them day-in-and-day-out,” said Dean Thomas. “A unique aspect of teaching in Hobbs College, in comparison to seminaries and Bible Colleges, is our opportunity to prepare ministers in a well-rounded and fully-orbed liberal arts curriculum. As a result, our professors are drawing connections between theological realities and the real world.”

As these standards are set high, Gambo has reached them. Dean Thomas is more than excited to have him in Hobbs College on Bison Hill.

“When our colleagues met Gambo, they were struck by his warmth and winsome demeanor,” Dean Thomas said. “Dr. Gambo’s passion for the Lord and unique academic and ministry gifting makes him a fit for our faculty at Hobbs College. His passion for Jesus, his scholarship, his deep spirituality, and real-life ministry skills in diverse contexts will add great value to our students.

“I believe he will influence our students to embrace a vision for ministry that blends world-class scholarship, spiritual passion, and practical skills.”

With the big transition to Shawnee, Gambo has already created some favorite memories alongside his wife, Sarah, and four-month-old son, Elijah, on Bison Hill.

“Welcome week is my favorite thing so far, I enjoyed seeing the rich traditions that OBU has, said Gambo. “In the Hobbs College, I have [also] enjoyed the camaraderie among the family.”

Cross-Country team serves in Ecuador

By Mya Hudgins, Assistant Faith Editor

This past summer some of our Bison athletes had the opportunity to share the love of Christ 2,712.55 miles away from home.
The OBU male and female cross-country team left for their seven day trip to Mindo, Ecuador this past June. This mission team consisted of Kaylee Crowsen, Sydney Lawrence, Michaela Phipps, Berkley Price and Nathan Crowsen, along with their coach, Matt Kennedy.
“We had an opportunity to witness to children in the form of sports camps,” head cross-country coach Matt Kennedy said. “We offered a soccer camp to the locals. During the camps, we would have a time of learning the sport and a time of devotional each day.”
“A couple of evenings, we even went to some houses and visited people that were either needing prayer, or needing to hear about Jesus,” senior cross-country runner Sydney Lawrence said.
Before the members of the team could board the plane to Mindo, Ecuador they had to come up with fundraising ideas to get there.
“We had a pancake breakfast at The Gathering Place, a coffee shop downtown, we did a couple of bake sales at our track meets, and we sold t-shirts made by Berkley’s dad, Jim,” Lawrence said.
“Individually we asked for donations from friends and family and made things to sell or had yard sales.”
Once arriving, it did not take long for the people of Ecuador to focus their attention and love to the American cross-country team.
“We were out in the village telling people about the soccer camp we were having,” Lawrence said. “One of the little girls noticed that we had walked up and ran to me and hugged me. I felt so loved in that moment by a complete stranger. I can not explain how much joy I felt. It was like God had reminded me right then how easy it is to love others. I do not have to spend a lot of money or do a big project; I just need to see who is in front of me and bring love and joy to them.”

With Lawrence as a senior and a leader on the cross-country team, she learned many lessons on this trip which she believes will help her as she leads out to exemplify Christ.

“This trip has helped me understand that loving people is the first thing I should do as a leader,” Lawrence said. “Seeking God’s help for that will help reveal to me the ways that I need to be there for others, lift them up, and point them in the right direction.”

Freshman cross-country runner Michaela Phipps, plans on pursuing missions in the future as it has always been her passion. On this trip, the Lord showed her the beauty of ministry.

“God taught me the beauty in cross-culture worship and ministry,” Phipps said. “We had the privilege of going to a church that people of multiple cultures attended, and it offered me Word of God in multiple languages throughout the service. Throughout serving with the people of Mindo, we were able to witness how God could break down language barriers through the expression of love in actions.”

As this trip taught the team members about winning people to Christ on the mission field, coach Kennedy hopes it will also remind the girls what winning is all about during the cross-country season this fall.

“[This trip] showed a way for those girls to act out what we want our team to be about,” Kennedy said. “We talk a lot about winning; wanting to do everything possible to help our team win and we work hard to win at a high level. If we are only doing all that for the purpose of winning, then it is pretty shallow because really running will be over. Some might remember this team for a couple of years, but eventually it will be gone. What gives winning depth is the opportunity it gives for people to notice us, and then for us to witness to them.”

Berkley Price, a freshman cross-country runner, was encouraged by the joy she saw in the kids she ministered to this summer.

“Something that stuck out to me was how much joy the kids had,” Price said. “They did not have much, but they did have joy. That really inspired me to find the joy in my life.”

Coach Kennedy compares some of his proudest moments in past cross-country seasons to the respected moment he felt on the mission field with the members, who gave up a week in their summer to serve the Lord.

“I have had many proud moments with the two seniors that went and I will have proud moments with the two freshmen, as I will be with them for four years,” Kennedy said.

“With the seniors, there has been a lot of heartwarming moments for me,” Kennedy said.

“I remember the first time both of them broke eighteen minutes, when Kaylee won the NCCAA National Championship out here, and when Sydney had a big personal record at Azusa, California. But none of those moments compare to the amount of pride I felt for them when I looked across a soccer pitch and saw them in a huddle praying with little Ecuadorian children. I got the opportunity to be proud of them in a different and greater way.”

Patience, faith needed to hear God’s calling

By Mya Hudgins, Contributing Writer  (Courtesy photo/Mya Hudgins)

Growing up, children often daydream about what they want to do when they “grow up.” Some kids wanted to be doctors, teachers or even the President of United States.

My dream seemed to always be a bit different from the others around me. My first goal was an astronaut and then a veterinarian. In third grade, we had to do this craft where we made this paper person and dressed them up in clothes that represented what we wanted to be in the future.

At this point in life, my dream was to be a garbage woman. I saw the position as highly respected and everyone seemed to like them. Perhaps the main reason I wanted this job so badly was so I could ride on the back of the truck. I wouldn’t have to buckle up or worry about getting in and out of the car. I kept that dream alive for a long time; unfortunately, I never realized that particular goal. As you grow older you start to learn about other occupations, and this new information changes how you see the world and your place in it.

At the age of 11, I found my true calling half way across the world during my first mission trip. We went to Peru for a week, and I worked in the orphanages with a local pastor. This mission trip changed my life in ways I didn’t quite understand at the time.

As an eleven-year-old, it was really hard to wrap my brain around all these people who had nothing and lived in shacks with dirt floors and one bed. These orphans had no one to love on them, and I just couldn’t understand why no one cared about them. Leaving the country and its people broke my heart; I wanted to stay and help, but I had to return to my own life and responsibilities. Once I got back home, I decided that I wanted to go on another mission trip that summer.

I signed up with an organization called Awestar, and I went to Panama for fourteen days. We stayed in the city for some of the time and traveled to more rural places occasionally. At one point, we took a canoe ride out to the jungle for a couple of days, and it was there, I heard something I have never heard so clearly before in my life.

I heard the Lord tell me that I would devote the rest of my life to mission work. This was such a huge commitment and calling that the magnitude of it frightened me; I didn’t know what pursuing mission work would involve or how it would manifest in my life in other areas.

From that point on my passion was serving and helping others, and I knew that would have a profound impact on me—and require my dedication and perseverance.

Fast forward eight years, and the Lord has continued to show His blessings as he has called me all over the place. That passion for helping others brought me to my major in college.

I am working on completing a degree in news and information, or journalism. Before being accepted to OBU, I wasn’t sure how I would apply my calling to my education. I just knew I wanted to tell stories and I wanted to serve. Those two goals work together rather well, and I am learning to make documentaries. My goal is to travel abroad, telling stories of different tribal groups, cultures or people groups and use media as a platform to share the Gospel. These documentaries or short videos would record the needs of different cultures, both physically and spiritually—this information would then be used by different churches in America so they could see where a need is and how their aid is applied.

So far, just taking photos or video has opened doors for me. One of the best ways to get into a closed country or a certain tribe is to bring a camera along—taking those photos show these people they are important, their stories are worth being heard and they are loved by people who may have never met them. The camera symbolizes the connection we all have to one another, and my commitment to them in particular.

Often times I would bring out the camera to take one picture and all of a sudden, I would be taking photos of everyone in the area. Seeing that always brings joy to my heart, and I know it’s the calling the Lord has placed on my heart.

I know I am lucky to have heard God’s voice so clearly, to know my calling early on and have my commitment confirmed over and over again. I know many pray for discernment and wisdom, and they try many paths listening for that clear Voice.

Maybe you’ve changed your major a couple of times, are still seeking a focus or maybe even you’ve decided on a major but don’t really know how you are going to use it. Don’t let that journey discourage you. Don’t be overcome with the worry and uncertainty. The Lord has a plan for your life; you may not know what it is yet, but when you remain faithful to His timing, He will reveal it.

We live in a world that offers instant communication, immediate news and worldwide access. We want things quickly, and we want resolution instantly. However, we have to learn to be patient and trust that Christ will take care of our needs and wants in His timing.

We have to learn to let go of our need for complete control. Craig Groescel, founder and senior pastor of Life Church, once said something that really resonated with me.

“Stop trying so hard and just trust more,” he said.

I think this is a statement everyone should live by, or at least try to. When you trust Christ, He won’t lead you astray—if your intent and heart is rooted in Him, the details will work themselves out.

Matthew 6:25-27 also advises us to trust in His vision and not waste time worrying.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life; what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life worth more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Verses 33 and 34 then tell us where we can place our focus instead of worrying.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Obviously, we all need to make plans and prepare for the future as much as we can, but we should not feel panicked if we don’t see the entire picture just yet. He sees it, and He knows it will be revealed to you when it needs to be.

City, campus works to help the homeless

By Mya Hudgins, Contributing Writer  (Courtesy photo/The Bison)

In 2015, writer Scott Keys wrote an article entitled “Welcome To Shawnee, Oklahoma: The Worst City In America To Be Homeless” for the website ThinkProgress.

In it, he criticized the city for not developing additional shelters for the impoverished. He argued that without an overnight shelter available for the homeless, Shawnee didn’t prioritize that demographic.

However, that assertion may not be entirely accurate.

Pottawatomie County has around 236 non-profit organizations, and roughly less than half of those organizations help the poor, needy and the homeless.

In fact, according to Data USA, “22.9 percent of the population in Shawnee live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 14.7 percent. The largest demographic living in poverty [in Shawnee, Okla.] is females between the age of 18-24.” That number has gained the attention of city leaders and its residents.

For many years now, the Shawnee community has been trying to help the plight of the homeless, and that effort extends to Bison Hill as well.

OBU has taken a stand to help those in need with the “On the Ground Ministry.” Such a ministry allows the campus to find ways to serve the community in which it stands—and there is a need.

“There is a substantial amount of homeless in Shawnee,” said Ashley Ellis, co-chair of On the Ground Ministry for Mission Shawnee.

“It is a problem that is noticed by many but helped by few. We often tell others that we are trying to help break the cycle of poverty that many of the people who are homeless are born into. Most of the homeless aren’t taken seriously and looked down upon even though most of them who we see on Sundays once had jobs that were well looked upon, but due to unfortunate events they either got laid off, sick or fell into substance abuse.”

Continued homelessness and an increased number of those living below the poverty line has gained the attention of this organization which endeavors to address the issue. Their most immediate issue at hand is basic food.

“At On the Ground Ministry, we feed meals to the homeless every Sunday,” Ellis said. “Local churches host each meal which can vary from home-cooked meals to the once a month pizza Sunday we have. Also, volunteers that are there are able to serve and help the homeless both physically and spiritually.”

Helping the impoverished in the community is their number one priority, she said. But their outstretched hand offers more than just food and other basic physical needs.

“This organization helps give people who are written off by society a sense of community and fellowship,” Ellis said.

“People come and go week by week, but there is an abundant amount of people who come every single week and have become friends with the volunteers and other people who attend. Every Sunday they know that there will be a roof over their head, a smiling face caring about them and a hot meal. That is something that money handed to them on the side of the street can’t always give them.”

Ellis said her heart goes out for those who are in need of food, shelter and love. She said many people have a hard time opening themselves to “those kinds of people.” People make excuses like “they should just get a job” or “is it not their own fault?” instead of just putting their self aside and helping.

“The homeless should be helped because we are all created in God’s image and someone’s social status, past mistakes and current struggles should not dictate whether they are worthy of the same help we would want to be given to us,” Ellis said.

“People who are in homeless situations often do not have the connections or the resources to get out of the situation like many of us think. Many people think they should just go get a job, but it’s hard to get a job when you don’t have a vehicle or a place to shower or any clean clothes to wear.”

Though this issue may not be discussed often among college students, there is a need for that very demographic to volunteer and show love toward those who need it.

“College students can volunteer their time to simply visit with the homeless,” she said. “Also, any sort of clothes and food donations are always appreciated.”

For On the Ground ministry, these college volunteers can try to meet the needs of these people. Ellis gave some examples of the biggest needs for the homeless.

“Skills training, clothing and just relationships to help with accountability. Many of the people simply need to know that someone cares about them and a source of motivation to get out of the situation that they are in.”

As On the Ground Ministry has been active for around four years; there is hope for more involvement in the future, and students can meet other volunteers each Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Montgomery Hall.

“I would like to see more community involvement in actively helping the homeless get jobs and also have more respect for the homeless,” Ellis said. “I don’t want people who are homeless to be looked down upon simply because of the circumstance[s] they are in.”

As OBU student volunteers are putting a foot forward in helping, so has the 151-year-old organization, The Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army is a church, the denomination of Christianity, [and] what we do is offer people soup, soap and salvation…we spread the gospel and help with utility bills, clothing and food vouchers and a place to say,” said Vergil Savage, social service director at The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is always trying to help those in need, no questions asked.

“There are no criteria; anyone who needs help, needs help no matter the situation they’re in,” Savage said. “You never know what happened to someone—if they need help they come in and apply to get some help.”

This organization also understands that sharing the gospel with the homeless and people in need helps them spiritually. Many of them respond better to the Gospel after their physical needs have been addressed.

“They don’t want to hear about Jesus when they’re hungry and stinky or don’t have a roof over their heads or even meet their basic needs,” Savage said. “After I’ve done that, then I want to tell them about Jesus.”

Just like On the Ground Ministry, The Salvation Army runs on volunteers every single day.

“We have a total of about twenty-five volunteers, so daily we need about ten to fifteen volunteers,” Savage said. “If you come in and fill out an application, we will put you to work wherever you have a passion for.”

Both organizations focus on providing many different kinds of aid, but Ellis said volunteers must remember to treat their charges with respect.

“I think it’s important for everyone to put themselves in each other’s’ shoes,” Ellis said.

“While we all can agree that being homeless would definitely be an undesirable and scary experience, not many of us think about the fact that the homeless are most often viewed as lazy people who deserve where they are because they made the wrong choices, that most homeless are druggies and that you need to be careful and stay away from someone who is homeless,” she said.

“I don’t think that many of us could imagine a life where our fellow human beings looked at us as though we were less than them simply because we have less than them. If people walking down the streets diverted their attention and their path to simply not come into contact with us or make eye contact with us. Being homeless carries shame in itself, but having others cast more shame on you instead of helping you hurts as well.”

Mya Hudgin’s amazing recovery from life-changing surgery

Nick Dingus, Sports Editor   (Courtesy Photo/Mya Hudgins)

College athletes are a special brand of people. They balance not only their rigorous academic schedule, but an athletic schedule as well. Oftentimes their athletic schedule is far more rigorous than their academic schedule.

“I would spend four to five hours a day on athletics, and that doesn’t include any time I would have to spend in the training room,” Dean Vanvors, a sophomore football player said.

If you add that four or five hours on top of the three or four hours of homework students are expected to complete, student athletics comprise almost double the workload of a normal student.

In addition to the time that athletics takes up from students’ lives, there is also a physical toll on their bodies. For these athletes, the physical toll of their sport has been building for years. In some cases, the strain on their body catches up to them.

Mya Hudgins is a sophomore cross country runner at OBU who began running competitively in middle school.

“When I was in sixth grade, I played on a soccer team for my city,” she said.“It was a co-ed team, but I was the only girl. Every day before practice started, we all had to run a couple of laps around the field,” Hudgins said. “Not being a very good soccer player, this was my favorite part of practice because I would beat all the boys during these laps. I thought it was funny and I made it my mission to beat them every time. This is what sparked my passion for running,” Hudgins said.

This caused her to try out for her middle school track team, and continue on to run for her high school.

“In high school I ran cross country and track and field, setting the school record in the 5K, mile, and two mile race,” Hudgins said.

 

MyaMEDALS
(Courtesy Photo/Mya Hudgins) Mya poses with the many medals and awards she won as a high school runner.

 

Her success led her to OBU where she continued to run cross country. However, during her freshman season, she began to experience pain in her back.

“I had been having back pain since my senior year of high school, but it was never a constant pain,” she said.“One day it would hurt, the next I was fine. In my first semester of college, these back pains began to come more often,” Hudgins said. “I ran cross country season, but once it came to indoor track and field it changed. My pain was getting worse and I had another injury in my hip,” she said.

“After sitting out for about three weeks, I started practicing again. I was really excited to compete in outdoor as I already missed one season that year,” Hudgins said. “The first outdoor meet was being held at OBU. The day before the meet we all had some mileage to run. While I was running, I suddenly had pain shooting up my back and my leg and toes started to become completely numb,” Hudgins said.

The sudden increase in severity prompted Hudgins to seek medical attention.

“Eventually, the doctors realized that I had Degenerative Disc Disease, meaning one of my discs was almost completely gone, and another disc was herniated,” Hudgins said.

Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition in which natural, age-related wear-and-tear on a disc causes pain, instability and other symptoms. This condition causes chronic pain as well as intermittent episodes of severe pain. This discovery benched Hudgins for the remainder of the season, and it was decided that she would have surgery to correct the problem later that summer.

 

MyaXRAY
(Courtesy Photo/Mya Hudgins) An X-Ray of Mya’s back post surgery. Both rods
and screws are visible.

 

 

“On August 2nd, I had a 360 fusion on my L5/SI discs,” she said.“This is when they go through my stomach (below the belly button) and take out the disc, and put in a metal cadge.”

“Then take stem cells from my hip and put them in the cage to grow a new ‘disc’ in my back. Then they turned me over and went through my back; they put in two rods and a couple of screws,” Hudgins said. “A 360 fusion is a major surgery that is usually never performed under someone under the age of 30. Me being 19 at the time, I was the youngest my surgeon had ever performed this surgery on. Needless to say, I was very scared,” Hudgins said.

Hudgins’ recovery time was set for six to seven months, meaning this would be when she would be able to run again. Since Hudgins had to relearn how to walk, it meant that she would more than likely miss the entirety of her sophomore season. While her recovery was not easy it was much less time than estimated by doctors.

“I received a partial-release after three months and then my full-release after five months,” Hudgins said.

Astoundingly, Hudgins improvement continued at a break-neck speed.

“I competed in my first full race on January 20th,” she said. “Running 30 seconds faster than what my coach wanted me to hit. This was the first time I competed in about thirteen months,” Hudgins said. “I give Christ all the glory and I’m reminded every practice, race and hard day that my circumstance do not define me or my task at hand. I am so unexplainably excited to run and do what I love again,” Hudgins said.

 

MyaRUN
(Courtesy Photo/Mya Hudgins) Mya competes January 20th, just five months after
major back surgery.

 

Hudgins’ amazing return to competition has also touched the lives of her teammates according to junior runner Emily Sechrist.

“The distance girls are a close-knit group, and when one of us is missing, it makes a big difference!”

“Mya’s attitude about the whole situation is something we all look up to. While she is in pain a lot of times, or can’t do as much as she used to, she never complains,” Sechrist said. “Sometimes I even forget that she had surgery and that it still affects her, because of how positive she is about it, rarely mentioning it, unless someone asks. She always has a good outlook on the surgery and her recovery too, knowing God is in control and has a plan,” Sechrist said.

Sechrist said she also believes that Hudgins is a testimony to God’s work in her life.

“Seeing Mya back at practice is such a great testimony of hard work, patience, faith, and perseverance, and it’s amazing to have her running and even competing with us again,” Sechrist said.

 

MyaSIGNINGDAY
(Courtesy Photo/Mya Hudgins) Hudgins (Center) with her family and coaches on National Signing Day, as she gets ready to sign her letter of commitment to OBU.

 

Mya’s Weekly Insight: Why do we struggle?

Mya Hudgins, Faith Editor

Many Christians expect the life of following Jesus to be simple, easy and a connection with Christ that is unswayable. The truth is, it’s hard, full of faith, trust and struggles. Many people may wonder how can I suffer when I am a Christ follower. In the Bible, it never says life will be easy. Instead, many of the people who loved Jesus the most suffered a lot.

For example, take Acts 16:16-40. This chapter is about Paul and Silas being thrown in prison. Paul wrote about Jesus and many books of the Bible. He admired Christ and loved him. In these verses, a girl was following the two men around yelling “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” This went on for days. Paul was tired and annoyed so he turned around and cast the spirit out of her. For that reason right there, both Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. The good news is, Paul and Silas never lost sight of their faith and Christ set them free from prison. Now, this might not look like suffering to us nowadays, but it definitely was. Today many people suffer with money, friendships, parents, jobs, school, suicide, heartbreaks and many other things. Suffering can control us at times, we can let our circumstances change us and our beliefs.

Your question may still remain, why do we have to suffer if we know Christ loves us? In James 1:2-4, we can see a reason directly from Christ on why we suffer. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The first sentence of this verse may throw you off a little bit.

“Count it all a joy.”

What? A joy? That doesn’t make sense. Who wants to be joyful when they are going through something hard. God tells us when we go through hard times, it’s because God is testing our faith so it becomes stronger. It is so easy to lose all faith in God when something bad happens. As humans, we are the first ones to run to our friends and talk about what bad thing is happening in our life, when in reality we should be running towards Jesus for prayer.

What does “steadfast” mean? According to dictionary.com it means “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering. So, let’s rewind a little. Basically, God is telling us to have joy even when we are having a bad day or going through a time of suffering. When we suffer, God is testing our faith. But He doesn’t just want a low level of faith, he wants a faith that is unwavering or grounded. When we are SUFFERING God is making our faith UNWAVERING. This does bring Joy. Christ wants us so grounded that when anything comes our way, we know that our faith can withstand anything. The last part of the verse says we will be complete, lacking in nothing. A life time of struggles and pain will bring us perfectness and being complete because our faith is so strong not a single worry comes to mind.

This past year I had a testing of my faith. I was having really bad back pain, and it seemed like no one knew what was wrong. I run cross country and track here at OBU, so you can imagine, I was pulled from running. This was the first thing I began to struggle with. I desired to run, but it seemed like it was pulled away from me. As the months went on, the pain became more present in my day-to-day life, sitting, standing, bending down and more. As the school year came to an end, I was in so much pain and didn’t understand what I did wrong to deserve this. In late July, I was told I would be needing major back surgery in August. As an 18 year old I was terrified.

What teenager has to have major back surgery? I was worried and scared.

What if I couldn’t run again? What if it went wrong and I couldn’t even walk?

Those were just a few of the many worries I had. Now, three months post-surgery, I am doing better than expected. I was released to do low-level activities a month and a half earlier than expected. I’m not saying by no means this was easy. During this time, I had a big wake up moment from God.

First, I realized this talent I had was from God and He can take that away if He wants. I was reminded that even if I lose everything, at least I still have my faith. As I meditated on this, I put the things I was worrying with in the “blank…” even if I lose running, walking, school, health and many other things, I know my faith still remains in Him. None of those things are my identity, but instead my identity lays in the name of Christ.

Paul and Silas remanded in Christ and they were freed. God will always show himself in your darkest moments if you allow him too. Sometimes all it takes is a little growing of faith. This past summer my faith has grown even more, and I learned so much. If I had the opportunity to be healthy and never have gone through the surgery and the trials… I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. When you come out of the dark trial and see where you started, you can’t help but have a smile on your face because your steadfast faith is one step closer to being completed and perfect. It takes strong Christians to lead this world in love, wisdom, faith and trust. Next time you struggle with something in life, remember your one step closer to being the person that God is wanting you to be.