Lately I’ve been sharing the stories and thoughts of some young women here at Worthy Woman Wednesdays, to encourage us all about the future of the church and be more aware of the struggles young women face. I’m really interested in what keeps young people in the church and interested in the church.
Today I have a very special young woman that I am honoured to have visiting on the blog today. Miriam Sparks may be just 16 year’s old, but she is a young woman whose eyes are set on God, and as a result is wise beyond her years. She is already doing so much for the Lord, has great dreams for the future of the church, and is staying strong despite the daily pressures she faces as a young woman in today’s society.
Please read what she has to say and pass this along to another young woman who you know needs encouragement. Being a young woman in today’s society is tough, but by knowing we are going through the journey together and encouraging one another along the way, we can make it easier.
– – – – – – – – –
First tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
“My name is Miriam Sparks (as you well know) and I live in Huntsville Alabama. My dad preaches for the Mastin Lake Road Church of Christ where I have a wonderful and encouraging church family. I’m 16 and a junior in High School. I am homeschooled by my mom along with 2 of my siblings. My older brother was also homeschooled his whole life and is now a sophomore at Freed Hardeman University. I work in the spring and fall at a youth league ball park where I sell concessions. Probably my favorite part about my life is my summer. I get to spend it going to so many amazing Bible Camps! This year I went to 4 and I’m already planning on going to more next year. They are where I build my strong Christian friendships that I know I will never lose.”
You are a part of an awesome youth project called “Tomorrow’s Church, Today.” How did you get to be a part of that?
“Tomorrow’s Church Today started as an idea of a few young Christians who felt like there was a gap missing in the church for younger people. Teenagers are in their fundamental growth stages and need the fruit of the word more than anything. I can speak for this personally. So with some time and work and prayer, Tomorrow’s Church Today was built. I, being a friend of the founders was asked to write before the website started up. Although I’m not the most polished writer and I have a bit of a problem getting things in on time (as you may have noticed – this was a while coming!), it has been an overall joy working with this website and seeing it grow! I can see God’s hand in it! Writing for a christian website every month has helped me in ways I never expected. I am learning to see things in God’s light and I am blessed!”
What are some things your parents (or others) have taught you that have helped you as you come to have your own faith?
“My parents are two amazing individuals. They are both so dedicated to the word. I have had the chance to hear countless amazing preachers in my life — since my parents have given me the opportunity to attend christian camps, lectureships, and gospel meetings — however, my dad will always be one of my favorite speakers when it comes to God’s word. He searches the scriptures daily and presents them to us, showing us the truth in God’s word.
My mother is an example in her everyday choice to stay home with us and help us learn. It amazes me how she takes care of me and my siblings and anyone else who needs her help. She has taught me how to be truly happy and that is to serve others and trust in God. When I am a mom, I hope I can be like her.
They both display their faith everyday. Ever since I’m can remember we have had family devotionals where we sing, read and discuss God’s word, and pray as a family. Every single night I can walk into their bedroom and they will both, without fail, be reading and studying their Bibles. They encourage me on making my own decisions in order to be ready for the world, but they have always pointed me in the right direction. (and they always will for as long as they are able to.)”
What tools have you found useful in developing your own faith?
“When it comes to helping me to develop my faith, I look to my friends and family in Christ for support. Thanks to all the Bible camps and Lectureships I have gone to throughout my life, I have developed some very strong bonds with some very wonderful people. I have come in contact with some of the strongest Christians I know of because of Christian youth camps. I am only a kid, but it makes me happy when I see people my age strong in the faith. It shows me that I can grow and that I don’t have to face the next generation of the Church alone. I am human and I get discouraged and out of routine Bible study more than I ‘d like to admit, but I can always count on my family in Christ to encourage me and build me up to where I need to be.”
What is the greatest challenge you face as a young woman in today’s society?
“Pressure to conform to the world. Everywhere I turn I’m being told to look and act a certain way. If I want to be accepted I need to wear the skimpy clothing, talk with ungodly language, laugh at dirty jokes, and make sure I never mention God, lest someone think of me as a “Jesus freak.” It’s hard, I fall for it more than I’d care to admit. Everyday I am trying to be more transformed than conformed.”
If you could sit down for a coffee (or whatever it is you drink… What do you drink?!) with a young woman reading this and encourage them in one area, what would you say to them?
“I don’t have a ton of experience with the world, but if I could sit and drink some Iced Sweet Tea with a young lady, I think I’d talk to her about how we don’t need to feel like everything has to be a fairy tale and go the way we want in our fantasy world. I have never once heard a break up story where the girl said, “It was all my fault.” The blame always automatically goes to the guy in the relationship. I’ve heard enough Taylor Swift breakup songs where it is all “his” fault to know that there is probably a deeper problem than her just choosing a lot of jerkish boys to date. The more we divert blame to others, the lower light that puts us in.
I would want to encourage young ladies to: yes, think about yourself, but then don’t sit around and just let someone treat you wrongly. Evaluate yourself and how you are treating other people. When I go through hard times, I try to think about the other person. There may be reasons that they have made the choices they made. The first time this dawned on me I thought I had made a wonderful, new discovery. Turns out, God has been trying to tell us that all along! Matthew 7:12 says:
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
The general idea of what we call “The Golden Rule” is think about others. So I’d encourage ladies every where in everything you do, Think about the other person. Not everything goes the way you want, but Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us if we just trust in Him, He will guide our steps!“
Sometimes young women feel like they can’t be of use in the Lord’s church. How would you encourage someone who felt this way to be more involved?
“It is hard, isn’t it? Men always have the “important” jobs. I’m not here to tell you all the reasons God gives the job of teaching, eldership and so on, to the men. I don’t know the complete answer to that, but I know that it’s what God told us and so it is best for us. However, the women are not neglected! We are of major importance to the kingdom! The body of Christ cannot function without every member.
Young women have their part as well! I am 16, and I love children and older ladies. I can use both of these. I can teach the Children about our wonderful savior and help them start to build the beginnings of their foundation in their walk with Christ. Who doesn’t have a favorite Bible school teacher from when they were little children? All little preachers have to begin learning about Jesus somehow. We have a humongous influence that as young women, we sometimes discard as not important.
Another way to work in God’s kingdom is through encouragement. At my congregation there are several older women whom I love dearly. As people grow in the church, they want to see the next generation working hard. I can talk to them and show them how hard I am trying to honor God and keep His kingdom flourished. I can sit with them on Sunday, I can bring them Christmas presents, and help them clean their house. I can show people the love of Christ.
Women are essential to God’s kingdom and we are not left out. God gave us wonderful roles to help his people grow towards him. 1 Corinthians 12 talks about the body of Christ and that we all work together to make the kingdom a functioning body. We are all important.”
I’m sure you are busy and with study and other things. How do you find the time to work on your own spiritual growth and development?
“Honestly, it’s really hard. My goal is to at least read the Bible everyday. Even if it’s just one chapter. I don’t always make it. Sometimes I make other things more important than God’s word. However, I’m trying to do better. I am learning through everyday activities like school, being active, and friendship, that consistency matters. I can’t skip something and expect to be as good at it as others. So I keep telling myself that as long as I can keep God’s word in my life it really will make a difference. And so far, it’s true. The times I have a consistent study and prayers life I have felt closer to God and have noticed an overall feeling of confidence in life.”
What is your favourite scripture and why?
“Wow that is a toughy because I really cannot pick just one. However 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 stands out to me. When I am going through a hard time, this passage is wonderful because it tells me that I am not worthless no matter what state I am in. God can take the worst of situations and turn them into something wonderful. God can use us no matter how hard the world is pressing upon us. If we are truly serving God, His strength will be with us in our weakest points.
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It let’s me know that even when I make mistakes or if I feel worthless or like God is not with me, that God is stronger than anything I encounter on this earth. He can make the bad good, and even if it isn’t the way we wish He would do it (This particular passage is about Paul’s thorn in the flesh that he prayed for God to remove THREE different times), His glory always shows from our endurance. When we have troubles in life we don’t have to give up! We can glorify God in whatever state we are in! God can take the worst of situations and turn them into something wonderful. He can use us no matter how hard the world is pressing upon us. If we are truly serving God, His strength will be with us in our weakest points.”
What is your dream for the next generation of the church? What can we do to be a part of positive change?
“I want the next generation of the Church to have the solid faith of the generations before, and the ability to use their gifts to reach out. I attend at a congregation where the majority of Christians are senior citizens. I am constantly amazed at their love for God and how conscience they are about staying on His narrow path. If we can carry this on along with our ability, as the younger generation, to work for the kingdom in ways that the older folks can’t anymore, then I will be secure that we can have a wonderful relationship with God.”
– – – – – – – – – – –
See Miriam’s articles here.