Teenagers from Alabama, North Carolina and Texas have been named to the 2024 National Acteens Panel.
“I am excited to work with these Acteens this year and know that they will represent Acteens well,” said Heather Keller, Acteens consultant with national Woman’s Missionary Union. “These young women have missional hearts and are already doing so much to share the gospel in their own communities and through experiences across their states and even internationally. I am amazed at their service and know God will be glorified throughout their lives.”
Sarah Elizabeth Shelton of First Baptist Church Columbiana, Alabama; Gracie Stamey of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Hudson, North Carolina; and Faith Howard of Retama Park Baptist Church in Kingsville, Texas, were recently named to the panel.
The young women will be part of WMU’s Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in June prior to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. The panelists also will blog for wmu.com and be given leadership and speaking opportunities throughout the year. Each will receive a grant from the WMU Foundation through the Jessica Powell Loftis Endowment for Acteens.
As a pastor’s child, Howard, age 16, has been exposed to numerous missions opportunities: Wyoming Rodeo Ministry; working with church planters in Ohio doing canvassing, prayer walking and park/soccer evangelism; Youth on Mission trips to Nashville, Anaheim and New Orleans; migrant ministry in Brownsville, Texas; volunteering with the local pregnancy resource center; participating in live nativity and Christmas light display; and helping children bake to raise money for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
She admits her heart has truly changed since she came to know Christ at age 6. Her sister, Hannah, who was named a national Acteens panelist in 2020, helped lead her to Christ.
“Instead of a constant desire to serve myself, I am filled with a desire to serve and help others,” Howard said.
Holly Howard, Acteens director and Faith’s mother, said her daughter’s “faithful service, passion for the lost and love for discipling others” will enhance the Acteens panel.
Faith Howard prays God uses her time as an Acteens panelist, not only to help her grow in her own walk, but to guide and encourage other young ladies who seek to pursue Christ.
Marisol Sandoval, age-level consultant for WMU of Texas, said, “Faith is very active in missions with her family and her church family. She wants the opportunity to be able to grow in sharing the gospel with others, and she wants to influence younger students to do the same.”
Sarah Elizabeth Shelton
While Shelton gave her heart to Christ when she was in second grade, she has had three heart surgeries in her 18 years. She admits to succumbing to fear and anxiety especially over some medical issues with her heart.
“At times, (I) have allowed fear and anxiety to rule my life,” Shelton said. “They have been idols that my world revolved around, but not anymore. I still struggle with the temptations of worry occasionally because I am human, but I just give it to God, and He handles it.”
Shelton has been an Acteen for seven years. She was as a Mission Friend and GA before that.
Trish Jackson, missions lifestyle strategist for Alabama WMU, said Shelton is “an empathetic, honest and supportive friend as she gives God glory each day in public school.”
Shelton’s pastor, Michael Miller, also has high praise for her leadership ability.
“She is a strong leader with a creative mind, a compassionate heart and a warm personality,” he said. “She loves God and loves people.”
Involved in her church’s student ministry, Shelton has participated in missions trips to New York, Miami and Oklahoma City as well as two trips to Costa Rica. She has served in a local apartment ministry, parent’s night out, fall festival, Vacation Bible School, Operation Christmas Child, caring for children and with a migrant camp. She has been involved in missions trips to Savannah, Georgia; Newark, New Jersey; Skowhegan, Maine; Gulfport, Mississippi and Nashville.
“Serving as an Acteens panelist would give me a platform to share the importance of music as a way to worship God,” Shelton said in her application. “By writing blog posts and participating in various Acteens events, I can share how God has used music to reach the most intimate parts of my heart. Music is the purest form of praise for me.”
Stamey, age 16, accepted Christ as her Savior at age 7. She was baptized a week after her decision was announced in church.
It was while she was at Fort Caswell on Oak Island, North Carolina this past summer that Stamey was among those who responded to the call to talk to others pursuing a call to ministry. She was able to talk to others who responded but also to those who are already pursuing that call in seminary.
“Over the past year, I have felt a call to ministry,” Stamey said. “Being an Acteens panelist will help me pursue my dreams of working for the Lord and influencing others to do missions.”
“She is one of the most active students in our church,” said Stamey’s pastor, Edward Ford. “Gracie exemplifies a godly and loving character. Her heart for the Lord is evident in how she carries herself.”
Sara Lamkin, student and ministries consultant for WMU of North Carolina, shared in her recommendation of Stamey that she “has an eagerness to grow and learn in her faith so that she may better share Jesus with the world.”
“Gracie was called to [a] life of missions work while at summer camp,” Lamkin said. “She hopes to get a nursing degree then go to seminary for a global missions degree and then work for the IMB.”
Stamey said it was her aunt April, while stationed in Africa with IMB, who made “a huge impact on how I view missions.”
The teen has been active in her association’s Parade for the Hungry each year. She and other volunteers walk through the community collecting food for the local food banks and travel with their church to Shelby, North Carolina, to lead Backyard Bible Clubs. They also offer lawn services as well as simple construction projects and cleanup efforts while there.