I came across Jayla Sparks‘ blog a little while ago and have since have not ceased to be impressed by the maturity and wisdom displayed by this young lady. The wisdom she writes with is evidence of the deep relationship she has with the One Who gives all wisdom.
…and she doesn’t want to keep it all for herself. Her goal is to address the “common struggles that young women of today often face [and] encourage as many people as [she] can to reach the heavenly goal.” You need to read what she has to say in this interview. It is so perfect. We can all learn something from this incredible young woman with a passion for serving Christ and a talent for writing.
Chantelle: Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
Jayla: I am 16 years old, and a sophomore in high school. I have been writing since I was 13 years old, and have loved it ever since. I am homeschooled, and have been since the 4th grade. I write for my own personal blog, along with sending articles to the website Tomorrow’s Church Today, I help publish some of the articles for Come Fill Your Cup, and have spoken at 2 girls days at the Hope Church of Christ in Hope, Arkansas.
My dad is the director of The Truth in Love television program, and every Tuesday I go and work the teleprompter while they record the episodes. I enjoy activities such as reading, writing (obviously), sarcasm, and playing piano. My goal in life is to spread God’s Word thoroughly, and to help as many people towards heaven as I can.
Chantelle: I love your blog! How did it get started and what was your purpose in starting it?
Jayla: I wrote my first article when I was 13 years old because I was tired of going out and seeing women, young and old and every age in-between with hardly any clothing on. I got frustrated every time I went to the store and couldn’t find anything that was too tight, too loose, too low, too high, too see-through, or too suggestive. I knew that a lot of other girls had this same problem, so I hoped that in having a blog, I would be able to encourage girls my age to see that they weren’t the only ones who thought this way. Since then it has evolved into a blog about common struggles that young women of today often face. My goal is to encourage as many people as I can to reach the heavenly goal.
Chantelle: What are some things that your parents (or others) have taught you that have helped you as you come to have your own faith?
Jayla: My parents always taught me perseverance. When I was at a congregation where I wasn’t necessarily popular, they told me that it was okay and that as long as I was worshiping God, it didn’t matter. When I was little and didn’t want to go to church, instead of yelling at me and telling me that I was going to go anyway, my mom lovingly sat me down on her lap and explained why we go to church, and why I love God so much. When I haven’t written an article in a little while, my parents remind me that I need to do so. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to become the person I am today, and for that I am grateful.
Chantelle: What tools have you found useful in developing your own faith?
Jayla: One word: friends. I know that doesn’t sound like a tool, but it’s true. Without the encouragement of my friends, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When I go to a lectureship or a devo or a Bible camp and see people who I love and cherish, it helps me to not only enjoy going that much more, but it is very encouraging. In the past congregations I’ve been to, no one from the youth group ever seemed to be interested in God. Lock-ins, parties, and other fun things were always full of people. But the day we had a gospel meeting, a Bible reading, or a devotional, hardly anyone in the congregation would go. When you have friends that love to serve the Lord like I have now, it is the most encouraging thing that you can have. Always surround yourself with people who love the Lord, because they will always be an encouragement to you and your goals to lead others to heaven.
Chantelle: What is the greatest challenge you face as a young woman in today’s society?
Jayla: The hardest thing I face is dress. Every time I go into the store, I see clothes that to me are unwearable, but to others are perfectly fine. Every day I see more of women than I would like to, and it becomes harder and harder to not buy clothes that show off every inch of my body when I go out shopping. And when I express this to others, I often hear the reaction “Well, boys shouldn’t be looking!” But when I go out in public, I don’t want to people to have to avert their eyes when I walk by, but that’s almost what it’s coming to for a lot of women. It can be very discouraging to see so little clothing, and so many people not caring about what they wear.
Chantelle: If you could sit down for coffee (or another drink, what do you drink?) with a young woman reading this and encourage them in one area, what would you say to them?
Jayla: I do quite enjoy a good cup of coffee. If I were to sit down with a young lady and tell her something, I would say that she was important. There are about 7 billion people on the planet, and it can seem daunting. It can seem like one person can’t do a whole lot. However, I know of so many people who have effectively spread God’s Word while being only one person. God made everyone with different struggles and strong points so that we can better connect with others, and help them with the same struggles and help improve their spiritual life. This includes any hard times they are going through. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged when it comes to spreading God’s word, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Even if you just help one or two people towards God, it’s still wonderful.
Chantelle: Sometimes young women can feel like they can’t be used in the Lord’s church. How could you encourage someone who felt this way to be more involved?
Jayla: 1 Timothy 2:12 says “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; rather she remain quiet.” This verse it very true, however it does not mean that we cannot be an encouragement, or have biblical conversations with guys. Just that we can’t be in authority. We also can teach Bible class, visit widows, which I could go on about for hours, we can bake for potlucks, invite people to worship services, host girls devotionals, welcome people who are visiting, etc. Preaching, leading in worship services, and being elders and deacons are 4 things that we cannot do, but God gave us much more than 4 things that Christians should do. So go do them!
Chantelle: How do you find the time to work on your own spiritual growth and development?
Jayla: As a highschool student, I am always busy. I have seemingly endless amounts of school work, I play an instrument, I’m learning how to drive, and I have quite an active social life. On top of this I also have my spiritual obligations. But on August 3, 2011 I decided that I would devote my life to God. I was baptized that night, and now my life isn’t school. My life isn’t about all the school work I do or all the friends I have. Instead of looking at it like squeezing my spiritual life around my social and school life, I try to do the opposite. Since Christ is now the center of my life, I know and understand that I should be fitting my school and social obligations around my spiritual obligations. I have designated times throughout the day where I study or pray, and if I don’t have time to do them, then I make time. If I’m traveling, I do my Bible reading on my phone. If I’m over night somewhere, I make sure and sneak off somewhere to do at least 15 minutes of study. It’s things like that that change the focus on my life from school and friends, to God.
Chantelle: What is your favorite scripture and why?
Jayla: My favorite scripture is Philippians 4:11, when Paul writes that in all things, he is content. Not only did he write this while in prison, but he had also gotten forty lashes less one from the Jews five times, beaten with rods three times, stones, adrift at sea a night and a day, in constant danger from rivers, robbers, even his own people, and many other things as we see in 2 Corinthians 11. And yet in all this, Paul was still content. It is very inspiring to see how much Paul went through, and how he was still optimistic, and is a perfect representation of Matthew 10:22 where it says that those who stay faithful through trials will be saved.
Chantelle: What is your dream for the next generation of the Church? What can we do to be part of positive change?”
Jayla: By the time I die, I hope to see people who are okay with being told that they’re wrong. Far too often people get offended when someone tells them that they’re wrong. But how can we grow as Christians without seeing where we need to improve? I hope that in the future, people will be more accepting of change in their own lives without attempting to change what the Bible says.
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