[Next Generation] Lead>Defend helps build a firm foundation

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This article was written by Jessica Vaughn, a sophomore at Arkansas State University and is majoring in Mid-Level Education. She is heavily involved in the A-State BCM and attends Walnut Street Baptist Church in Jonesboro.


“I will build my life upon Your love

It is a firm foundation

I will put my trust in You alone

And I will not be shaken”

This past weekend the Arkansas State University at Jonesboro (A-State) Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), along with other BCM’s and churches from across the state, had the opportunity to come together for the first time in a year at the Lead>Defend Conference. After being separated from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for so long, it was amazing to be back together while still following all rules and regulations to keep everyone safe due to COVID-19.

I had the chance to be a Student Mobilizer and serve by helping with check-in as well as running mics. It was wonderful to not only get to know our three keynote speakers better, but to also help with a servant’s heart at a conference that helps so many young people grow stronger in their faith. How do we grow stronger in our faith you might ask? Through worship, thanks to the Kasey Earl Band and Cory & Stephanie Epps, as well as learning through speakers Frank Turek, Alycia Wood, and Mary Jo Sharp.

“Holy, there is no one like You

There is none beside You

Open up my eyes in wonder”

From the very beginning, Dr. Frank Turek wowed both me and the rest of the BCM. From the minute he began speaking I was hooked, which stemmed from his statement that is also the title of one of his books, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” It struck me as odd because I had never thought of the word faith in that context, but it made complete sense.

If we can prove that truth, God, miracles, and the New Testament both exist and are true, then there is no way in which Christianity can’t be true. It would take a lot of faith to believe otherwise. He then began to list all of the specifics of our earth and beyond, starting with the expansion rate of our universe to the exact distance between stars. In every instance, the universe was set to the exact amount for us to exist and I was in awe of how awesome and expansive our God truly is.

“Show me who You are and fill me

with Your heart”

The second speaker was Mary Jo Sharp, who was personally my favorite. While Dr. Turek was more facts-based, Mary Jo Sharp moved me with her personal testimony of both coming to the church and almost leaving due to the hypocrisy that we see now more than ever. It’s a problem that I have already begun to notice as I grow in the church and hate to see. She realized though that Christians will never be perfect and it’s unrealistic to think that we can be, but that doesn’t make Jesus any less perfect.

Not only that but if she went back to Atheism she was returning to a life of hopelessness with no purpose and no justice. She left us with three attitudes to keep which included being skeptical, realistic, and hopeful. With these three, we can recognize truth from the false things that the world tells us and keep our eyes on Jesus who is perfect, not on Christians who are still sinners, just saved by grace.

“and lead me

in your love to those around me”

The last speaker was Alycia Wood and she did her session unlike any of the other two speakers. In her session, she put the conversation directly in our hands by consistently asking us questions on how we should deal with difficult questions that cause us to be leaders and defend our faith. The two questions dealt with judgment in the church and morality both of which are key issues that the church today is dealing with.

After sharing these two questions, she then asked the students in the room to come up with different answers on how to answer them and this revealed something to me. We all know how to defend our faith; it’s just knowing when and how to say what we know. I say this because everyone who came up to the mic that I ran had a great answer to the questions that Alycia was asking.

She made it clear in the question of judgment that there has been an air of hypocrisy that has grown within the church that somehow we are better than others when that could not be further from the truth and it is something that as a whole we should work on to fix. On the topic of morality, she also reminded us that sometimes we forget that nonbelievers are going to act like nonbelievers, and we shouldn’t expect them to act another way. By giving the mic to us, both literally and figuratively, she reminded all of us, that we do truly know how to defend our faith.

During worship, the lyrics from “Build My Life” struck a chord within me and stayed with me even when I left Lead>Defend 2021.  I realized that this was the reason why we have Lead>Defend each year and why it is so needed. In a world that tries to give us twenty million things to put our trust in, there is only one true foundation. There is only one that is worth building our life on and putting our trust in and that is Jesus. It is through learning what His word says, asking questions, and searching for answers in Him that we learn to not be shaken.

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