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High school grads on faith in a changing world

‘We want to be able to say ... that we did things in our younger years that showed God’s love to everyone’

Only six weeks apart in age, Hannah and Savannah McMillon are cousins who often are mistaken for sisters. They are members of the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. In May Savannah graduated as a valedictorian of Memorial High School in Edmond, Okla., and Hannah as an Honor Society student at Guthrie High School in Oklahoma.

Both teens are active in their church youth group and have traveled on mission trips. They count their time in the Central American nation of Honduras as a highlight of their faith journeys. Both also have performed in their school choruses.

Hannah has worked with the special education class at her school, describing it as “a really cool experience to be able to bond with those kids and get to know them. They’re some of the most kind-hearted people you could ever meet.” She hopes to attend the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla.

Savannah lettered in cross-country, served on the student council and helped lead in a schoolwide fundraiser, “Swine Week,” that netted more than $700,000 for a foster care program. She will attend Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the last name looks familiar, there’s a reason: Both students are granddaughters of Christian Chronicle president and CEO Lynn McMillon and his wife, Joy. See also the Dialogue with Shelby McMillon, their oldest grandchild, who graduated in 2013. 

What do you consider to be the strongest spiritual influence in your life?

Hannah: The people I’m surrounded by every day make the biggest impact in my spiritual life.Seeing how my family, youth ministers and elders handle different situations has really influenced me.

Being around such positive people who always show love and genuine kindness to those around them at all times makes me think that if Jesus were here that’s how he’d be acting.

Savannah: One of my strongest spiritual influences is the church community. This year my youth group has broken into small groups in homes on Wednesday nights. It is unbelievably cool to watch my friends imitating the church that Luke describes. 

My understanding of the word “church” has changed. I’ve watched as this community has comforted and fed our hearts, and taught us what it means to be devoted to one another. 

Are your non-christian friends interested in becoming christians?

Hannah: Many of my non-Christian friends like to ask questions about my spiritual life and church. The majority don’t want to give church a try because they think that they will be judged. They often view Christians as people who think their way is right and no other way matters. To me it is very important to share God’s Word, but not in a way that seems as if we are pushing it on people.

Savannah: My non-Christian friends are definitely interested. They are super curious as to why we live like this. It all seems appealing, living for a purpose. In fact, a lot of them are so curious they begin to seek a potential relationship with Christ.

Although it isn’t always successful, there is definitely an interest.

What are the greatest challenges in your own faith?

Hannah: For me, it’s remembering every day that I’m living for a purpose — to serve God.

I get so wrapped up in my own life, school and social events that I forget the simplest things, like praying or reading my Bible or saying something nice that could make someone’s day. So the greatest challenge for me comes down to just making time for God every day no matter what.

Savannah: The greatest challenge is wanting to organize and plan out what I do. That’s just my personality.

The Lord has to push me to let go of my own plans and surrender to his. I praise God for those hard lessons and working with me on my “Type A” ways so that I can live the life he calls me to.

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

Hannah: I hope to be able to say at the end of each day that I did something that represented Jesus Christ. I want to make an impact on those around me — and my younger siblings. I want to do things in my lifetime that will better other people.

I plan to do mission work throughout my life. Someday, when I have a family of my own, I want to get them involved as well. I want to have a positive attitude in any situation and do my best to lift people up rather than bring people down.

Savannah: My dream is to become a physician’s assistant and use this career to further the Kingdom. The way I most commonly find God is through other people, and I want to serve his people with the love Christ shared with me. In my case, I hope to share that love in the medical field and to heal people emotionally, spiritually and physically.

What would you like older people to understand about you and your generation?

Hannah: We look up to them. I want them to understand we want the best for the generations to come, just like they want the best for us.

We want to be able to make as big of an impact on them on the stuff we do for others as much as they do on us. We want to be able to say when we’re older that we did things in our younger years that showed God’s love to everyone around us.

Savannah: Our generation doesn’t have the best reputation. If I could tell older people one thing, it is that we are all just trying to figure this thing out. The world we are growing up in is a lot different from theirs, and we are having to adjust to the added obstacles it throws at us. 

It might be taking us a little longer to catch on, but my peers are some of the most incredible, servant-hearted people who are striving to glorify God.

Filed under: Dialogue Features

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