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Jada Black, right, talks during a meeting for the Redlands College 2024 student mission trip to the U.S. Black was baptized at Lipscomb University during the mission trip in 2023.
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Australian teen who lost her mom to cancer dreams of leading her country

Christian high school senior celebrated as 'a symbol of resilience and service.'

BRISBANE, Australia — Jada Electra Black has a big dream.

The Christian teen would like to serve as prime minister of Australia.

“That’s my goal,” said Black, who attends Redlands College, a K-12 school associated with Churches of Christ. “I want to study law and justice. I want to be a lawyer. But ultimately, I really want to be a politician.”

Jada Black reviews her test results during a class at Redlands College.

Jada Black reviews her test results during a class at Redlands College.

Mike Shepherd, one of the school’s top administrators, praises the 16-year-old aspiring world leader as “a symbol of resilience and service.”

He predicts a bright future for her, regardless of whether she ever lives at The Lodge in Canberra or the Kirribilli House in Sydney — the two official residences for the nation’s prime minister.

Despite losing her 40-year-old mother, Alicia, to cancer in 2021, Black has stayed active in spiritual life activities and community service projects.

“Known for her empathetic nature, she has become a beloved and influential figure, especially following the personal adversity of losing her mother,” Shepherd wrote in nominating Black for the 2024 Redlands Coast Australia Day Awards. “This experience has profoundly shaped her commitment to positively impacting those around her.”

Nikki Coker, who teaches biology at the 1,440-student school, echoes Shepherd’s assessment.

“When you meet students, sometimes straight off the bat you just see something special,” said Coker, a member of The Point Church of Christ in the Brisbane area. “When she came into the class, she was always very aware of others. And she is very kind and thoughtful.”

“When you meet students, sometimes straight off the bat you just see something special. When she came into the class, she was always very aware of others. And she is very kind and thoughtful.”

‘Humble and focused’

Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland, ranks as Australia’s third-largest city, behind Sydney and Melbourne. It has a population of 2.5 million and will host the 2032 Summer Olympics.

The Redlands Coast Australia Day Awards celebrate outstanding citizens in a suburban area of Brisbane. Australia Day on Jan. 26 marks the Oceania nation’s history and achievements.

Jada Black displays the certificate she received as a finalist for her community's Young Citizen of the Year award.

Jada Black displays the certificate she received as a finalist for Redlands Coast Young Citizen of the Year.

At a ceremony Thursday night, Black was honored as one of three finalists for Redlands Coast Young Citizen of the Year. 

Shepherd, who served as the school’s director of formation and mission before a recent promotion to special assistant to the principal, does not expect the recognition to change Black’s outlook.

“Despite her numerous achievements, Jada remains humble and focused on serving others,” he told the selection committee. “This service-oriented mindset has been a cornerstone of her work, from local community initiatives to international service projects.”

Black, who has attended Redlands College since age 4, recalls her mother as a devoted Christian who taught her God has a plan for her life. 

That lesson inspires Black as she and her family — including her father, Stuart, and 13-year-old sister, Sophie — process lingering grief. 

“My faith is just like an everyday thing,” Black told The Christian Chronicle in an interview between classes. “I mean, God got me through with what I dealt with, with my mom. So I’ve got a lot of trust in him, and I carry that trust everywhere. Before I do anything, I’ll just quickly pray about it.”

Honest talk about faith

At Redlands College, Black has served as a spiritual life captain.

For her senior year, she was chosen along with a male counterpart for her school’s overall top student leadership position.


Related: No phones allowed, but machetes OK: Global program aims to build teens’ faith


She enjoys promoting faith-based opportunities on campus but avoids forcing her beliefs on anyone. 

In Australia — as in the United States — identification with Christianity has declined sharply in recent decades. Many of Black’s classmates eschew religion, despite attending a school with mandatory Bible classes and chapel assemblies.

Jada Black, right, talks during a meeting for the Redlands College 2024 student mission trip to the U.S. Black was baptized at Lipscomb University during the mission trip in 2023.

Jada Black, right, talks during a meeting about Redlands College’s 2024 student mission trip to the U.S. Black was baptized at Lipscomb University during a 2023 mission trip.

Scandals, including highly publicized misdeeds involving the global megachurch Hillsong, based in Australia, have intensified the “church hurt” some feel, Black said.

Marching through the hallways declaring “Jesus loves you” would not be the best approach, in her view.


Related: In a post-Christian landscape, school chaplain nurtures young faith


“I usually wait for my friends to, like, ask me questions and stuff about it,” Black said of her faith. “That’s usually how I approach it. And I just try to be honest because people have seen the dark side of Christianity, and you can’t ignore that.

“And so people often come to me, almost in a confrontational way, like saying, ‘How can you be a Christian?’” she added. “It’s that sort of thing. And I try just not to put it in people’s faces, but also, I try to be really open to talking about it.”

A passion to serve

Among her accolades, Black has excelled at sports, winning state and national judo championships.

At the same time, she devotes her energies to causes close to her heart, such as fighting cancer. She and her maternal grandmother, Charmaine Brown, have worked alongside each other to help patients and their families.

Just a few months ago, Black traveled on a Redlands College medical mission trip to the South Pacific island of Fiji. While there, she and her friend Imogen Meyers distributed Bibles and prayed with patients after their dental work or medical procedures.

Jada Black, right, listens to a classmate receive feedback on their recent end-of-year exam.

Jada Black, right, listens to a classmate receive feedback on an recent end-of-year exam.

“She’s amazing,” Meyers said. “We’ve both helped each other to grow our faith.”

Both teens traveled with a Redlands group to the United States last year. They stopped and helped at various charities along the way, from a soup kitchen in New York to a food bank in Los Angeles. 

And they attended the faith-based Impact camp at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. At a nightly worship gathering, Black and Meyers both came forward to be baptized.

“I’m really passionate about politics and stuff. I appreciate how multicultural Australia is, but I feel like there’s a lot more work to go. … I feel like there’s a need in a lot of areas where I could represent people.”

Until the Impact experience, Black said, “I didn’t really understand the importance of being baptized. Just being there, there were some verses that stuck out to me. And it just felt like the right time.”

Her future goal?

She wants to make life better for this diverse nation of 26 million people.

“I’m really passionate about politics and stuff,” she said. “I appreciate how multicultural Australia is, but I feel like there’s a lot more work to go. … I feel like there’s a need in a lot of areas where I could represent people.”

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. He traveled to Australia to report this story. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Australia Brisbane Christian education Christian trends International K-12 Christian schools News Partners People Redlands College Religious nones religious trends Top Stories

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