BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–During the 2001 Missouri WMU annual meeting, Karla Kerr was so moved by the testimonies of two seminary students from the country of Belarus that she thought her own youth group would be challenged and inspired by their stories.
The 17-year-old Acteen from First Baptist Church, Smithville, Mo., wasted no time translating her thoughts into action. Not only did she arrange for the pair to speak to her youth group, but she also organized a worship service that featured them as guest speakers. Two cultures came together for a day, all because of the work of a single teenager.
Kerr’s leadership and willingness to take action are echoed throughout the National Acteens Panelist applications received each year by Woman’s Missionary Union, based in Birmingham, Ala. Each of the applications describes an active teenage girl, inspired to take the Great Commission to heart because of one common denominator — Acteens.
“Acteens is more to me than a group of girls,” said Megan Smith, an 18-year-old panelist from Waco, Texas. “Acteens means family, love and accountability. If it weren’t for this group, I would not be the person I am today.”
Being a panelist is much more than acquiring a title, said Pam Smith, WMU ministry consultant for student and collegiate audiences. “We’re looking for well-roundedness,” Smith said. “Leadership qualities at church and at school. A strong missions awareness, focus, commitment and involvement.”
Indeed, all of the panelists are committed to various types of long-term mission service. Literacy programs, mentoring, hospital ministries, senior citizen ministries and teaching younger missions groups are just a few of the activities in which the current panelists participate. Remarkably, the panelists participate in all of these missions activities while maintaining high grade point averages, serving on sports teams, playing musical instruments and leading clubs at school.
The panelists serve as pages at the WMU annual meeting as well as the Southern Baptist Convention each June. Additionally, they are often featured at state, associational and national Acteens events. Panelists frequently write for Accent magazine, the magazine for missions-minded teenage girls, presenting practical advice on strengthening the work of the local Acteens group.
National Acteens Panelists for 2002 are Nicole Beatty of Humble, Texas; Regina Bishop of Deming, N.M.; Stephanie Irwin of Houston; Karla Kerr of Platte City, Mo.; Jennifer Martin of Stonewall, Miss.; and Megan Smith of Waco, Texas.
Any Acteen who is a high school junior or senior may apply to be a panelist. Panelists are chosen on the basis of their leadership in church, school and community; participation in MissionsQuest and/or Acteens Activators project; and communication skills as evidenced by essays they submit with the applications.
Applications may be found in the September, October and November issues of Accent magazine or on the Acteens website at www.acteens.com. Completed applications are due Dec. 1 every year.
“Acteens is a natural matter for me,” Karla Kerr said. “I have truly been raised in a mission lifestyle family. I can’t imagine it any differently.”