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‘God doesn’t promise us life will be easy’

Newly graduated from high school, Haley McMillon discusses tragedy, loss and the healing she hopes to bring to the world.

In recent weeks, about 3.6 million American students graduated from high school, the National Center for Education Statistics reports. In a few months, an estimated 11.5 million females and 8.9 million males will head to college and university campuses to continue their education.

Haley McMillon

Among them is Haley Cole McMillon, an active member of the Memorial Road Church of Christ youth group in Oklahoma City and a graduate of Edmond Memorial High School. Passionate about missions, she counts two mission trips to serve children in Honduras as a highlight of her faith journey. 

She sang in her school’s choir for several years and has participated in annual “Swine Week” fundraisers that have netted more than $750,000 for local charities. A member of the National Honor Society, she plans to attend Oklahoma Christian University and study nursing. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the last name looks familiar, there’s a reason: Haley McMillon is the granddaughter of Christian Chronicle president and CEO Lynn McMillon and his wife, Joy. Click each name to find previous Dialogues with Shelby McMillon, who graduated in 2013, and Hannah and Savannah McMillon, who graduated in 2015.

Why do you go on misison trips? 

The first few times, I had the mindset that we were going to fix things for these people. It wasn’t until my first trip to Honduras that I learned the purpose of a mission trip. It isn’t just about building things for people or even trying to convert non-believers. Missions is about loving people,  showing God’s love to people and, through that, hoping the people will see a difference in us and want to know more about Jesus. 

I love these trips because I see how joyful and welcoming the people are — even though they are lacking in the things of this world. They see their lives as good. 

I have learned a lot about being “content whatever the circumstances” as Paul wrote about his life (Philippians 4:11). The people we meet and work with are easy to love and learn from.  

Who are the strongest spiritual influences in your life?

The strongest spiritual influences in my life are my family and youth group. Friends and youth ministers have pushed me to grow. Church camps and mission trips have also had a very big impact on my faith journey. I have seen a life outside of myself and have learned lessons that will shape my faith forever. 

My family has also had a huge impact on my life. My family isn’t perfect, and all of us have faced different challenges, but this is how we’ve learned. Life events and changes are what mold us and shape us. I am thankful for a family, friends and church who all share the same goals and values in life. It makes living a life for Christ so much easier with others walking alongside you.

The tragic school shootings in Florida happened during your senior year. What are your thoughts about school safety?

These shootings are completely devastating. Schools have a responsibility for the safety of all of us, and we shouldn’t have to feel nervous or unsafe when at school. School safety must be a priority. 

These tragedies can’t be stopped, but schools should have a plan for us — if this happens — to assure peace of mind to parents and students. Hopefully an end will come to these tragedies. My heart goes out to every student that has been subjected to this violence. 

My friends and I all think about our safety at school. It is something we talk about. Sometimes, sitting in class, it’s easy to think how insecure our schools are with outside doors unlocked and even some teachers’ classrooms being unlocked. It is on our minds.

How difficult is it to be a Christian in your world? 

It is very difficult at times to be a Christian. People tend to think we are fun-killers and judgmental. 

“God doesn’t promise us life will be easy. In fact, he warns us that there will be difficult times here on earth.”

Christians as a whole are grouped together, but not all Christians are the same. It can be hard to stand out and be different when it feels like we are being ridiculed and disliked. Having a strong faith and making good decisions is not always smiled upon by our friends. 

We are called to stand out even if that means being made fun of or feeling like an outcast. God doesn’t promise us life will be easy. In fact, he warns us that there will be difficult times here on earth. “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:22. God promises us salvation through him if we follow him through the good and bad times. 

What are the greatest challenges to your own faith? 

Why do bad things have to happen? I really struggled with that question when I lost my mom two years ago to a horrible disease. I know these things happen to all kinds of people, but it can be challenging at times to love God and trust him when these things happen all around us every day. 

But I have learned that not everything in this life is going to make sense to us because we don’t have God’s knowledge. I believe that God has an ultimate plan and that things happen for a reason, according to his will. 

How do you hope to fulfill your Christian mission in life?

One of the reasons I plan to be a nurse is so that I can show God’s love for people by helping them and taking care of them. I also hope to do medical missions as a way of showing God’s love to people in other places. That is the essence of the Christian life, in my opinion. 

What do you have to say to older generations about your generation? 

I love the way older people are not so concerned about trying to be perfect. I want them to teach me how to live a simpler life and not always be so caught up in technology. My generation is so hooked on technology that I want to know how to better relate to people in a simple and basic way.

Filed under: Dialogue graduation Top Stories

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