- Baptist Press - https://www.baptistpress.com -

Excitement surrounds announcement of TruthQuest: California team


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee expressed his excitement for the 12 Southern Baptist teenagers selected to participate in TruthQuest: California.

“We are very excited about the young people serving on the TruthQuest: California team,” said Morris H. Chapman, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. “It’s good for them to know that there are Southern Baptists ministering all across the nation. These young people love the Lord and I look forward to hearing about their missionary adventures this summer.”

The TruthQuest team was introduced the Executive Committee’s Feb. 18 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The group includes students from New York, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana and Colorado.

TruthQuest: California is a joint ministry project involving Baptist Press, FamilyNet Television and Broadman & Holman Publishers. For 10 days, the students will write stories about and participate in cutting-edge ministry in California. Their stories will appear daily in Baptist Press and their adventures will be chronicled in a 13-episode television series that will air on FamilyNet in the fall.

Stephanie Huffman, TruthQuest brand manager for B&H, said she was “delighted” to meet the TruthQuest team.

“It is apparent that this is something that the hand of the Lord is on,” Huffman said. “I have no doubt that these kids will be good representatives for the TruthQuest line of products.”


The team includes Katie Royals of Jackson, Miss.; Freeman Field, New York City; Andy Botts, David Hicks and Cara Yates from Cleveland, Tenn.; Josh Merritt of Dacula, Ga.; Chip Luter of New Orleans; Tim Harms and Richard Sparkman of Franklin, Tenn.; Janie Jo Allen of Denver; Shanna Hawkins of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Sarah Brown of Youngstown, Ohio.

Will Hall, vice president for news services and executive editor of Baptist Press, said the focus is on ministry — not television stardom.

“This is not a cast of students,” Hall said. “It is a ministry team. We want the focus to be on the ministries they write about. We want people to know that you can use all your gifts to share the gospel of Christ with others.”

In California, the team will highlight cutting-edge ministries ranging from a surfing ministry in San Diego to a Baptist community center in San Francisco.

“There is some wonderful ministry happening through the California Southern Baptist Convention,” Hall said, “and we want the rest of the nation to see what is happening.”

The TruthQuest: California team encompasses:

— Katie Royals, a 17-year-old high school senior from Jackson, Miss. She is a member of the First Baptist Church, Jackson. She is the worship leader for her school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is president of the Key Club. She has served on domestic and international mission teams. Royals will attend Mississippi College in the fall where she will study either music or art.

— Janie Jo Allen, a senior from Arvada, Colo. She is a member of Riverside Baptist Church where her father serves as minister of music. Allen is active in missions, having served on trips to St. Louis; Merida, Mexico; and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. She is the editor of Junior Magazine. Academically, Allen is on target to be her school’s valedictorian. She will attend East Texas Baptist University in the fall, majoring in music education with an emphasis on piano. She plans on becoming an International Mission Board missionary.

— Tim Harms, a student at Freedom Middle School in Franklin, Tenn. He was recently featured in the role of Super Dude in the Cooperative Program video, “Super Dude and the CP Squad.” He plays recreational basketball, football and street hockey. A soul-winner, Harms recently started a chapter of First Priority on his school campus, resulting in many students accepting Jesus Christ. Harms plays percussion in the school band and is the student council president. He is a member of the First Baptist Church, Franklin.

— Chip Luter, a senior from New Orleans. He is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church where his father is senior pastor. Luter is an active part of the student ministry at his church. At Brother Martin High School, Luter is a member of the Magic Club and the NJROTC Armed Drill Team. He teaches Sunday School, sings in the youth choir and is a member of the young adult council at his church. In the fall Luter plans on attending Dallas Baptist University. He wants to become a minister.

— David Hicks, a senior at Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Tenn. He is a member of the First Baptist Church, Cleveland, where he sings in the youth praise band, youth choir, and has participated in numerous mission trips. At school, Hicks is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Gifted in the arts, Hicks sings and dances with his school’s award-winning show choir. He is also active in sports, serving as co-captain of the varsity golf team and basketball team. In the fall he will attend Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

— Cara Yates, a junior at Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Tenn. She is a member of the First Baptist Church, Cleveland. Yates is the vice president of the student government association at her school. She also is an FCA huddle group leader and varsity cheerleader. At church, she participates in the youth choir, sign language ministry and prayer ministry.

— Sarah Brown, a member of Rising Star Baptist Church in Youngstown, Ohio. She is a junior at Chaney High School where she is active in ministry. At church she is a member of the youth choir. She is also a Sunday School secretary, youth counselor and teen Bible study leader. Last year Brown served for one month in Uganda as a missionary. She wants to become a missionary or youth administrator upon graduation from high school.

— Freeman Field, a senior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. He is a member of East 7th Street Baptist Church where is father is pastor. Field is captain of the high school football team and also runs track. He is president of the FCA in what Field calls a place where there aren’t many Christians. At church, Field plays bass for the praise band. He recently wrote a first-person account of his escape from the World Trade Center disaster area in Guidepost for Teens. In the fall Field will be attending college, most likely at Baylor University.

— Richard Sparkman, a student at Freedom Middle School in Franklin, Tenn. He is a member of the First Baptist Church, Franklin. Sparkman accepted Christ two years ago after his friend Tim Harms invited him to attend the Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade. Since then, Sparkman has committed himself to serving the Lord through his school’s First Priority club. He also serves on the church drama team. At school, he was editor of a school-wide monthly newsletter. He also plays lacrosse.

— Shanna Hawkins, a junior at West Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem, N.C. She is a member of Calvary Baptist Church. Hawkins is a member of First Priority, Students Against Drunk Driving, and founded her school’s FCA chapter. She is an active weightlifter, mountain biker and runner. Hawkins has also won several pageants including the Miss N.C. American Pre-Teen and Young Miss Forsyth County. She is enrolled in journalism classes at her community’s career center and plans on majoring in journalism in college.

— Andy Botts, a senior at Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tenn. He is a member of the First Baptist Church, Cleveland. At school, Botts is a member of the FCA and Christian Crusaders. He has participated in mission trips to Houston, Philadelphia and Mexico. An active videographer, Botts produced a television program for his school’s television station. He also leads praise and worship in his youth group. He is a member of the youth choir and Promise, an auditioned ensemble. He plans on attending college in the fall.

— Josh Merritt, a sophomore at Grayson High School in Dacula, Ga. He is a member of the First Baptist Church, Snellville, where his father is pastor. Merritt has been a member of several mission teams, including one that built a church in Mexico. At church, he is a member of Catalyst as well as youth and praise ensembles. Merritt excels in both academics and athletics. He is a member of FCA and plays recreational basketball. Currently, he is leaning towards a career as a missionary.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: WALKING THROUGH THE MALL, HANGING OUT AT THE STADIUM, THE TRUTHQUEST GUYS, TRUTHQUEST TEAM.