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‘We can’t be bystanders to wrongdoing’

Silence is louder than words, says a young Christian as she urges older generations to 'speak up for those who cannot speak.'

Elise Miller is a 17-year-old on a tight schedule.

Elise Miller, a National Honor Society student, plans to pursue a career in journalism. (PHOTO BY RICHARD CHAMBERS)When she’s not working on the latest edition of The Panther Prints, the newspaper for Plano East Senior High School in Texas, where she serves as co-editor in chief, she’s studying for her upcoming Advanced Placement exams. Last year she played clarinet in her school’s marching and symphonic bands. (She also enjoys piano — and ukulele.)

A member of the Waterview Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas, she has participated in Leadership Training for Christ since third grade — using her God-given talents in speech, chorus, Bible bowl, signing for the deaf and art. On some Sunday mornings she serves meals to the homeless with the Main Street Church of Christ in Dallas.

“I am blessed to go to an extremely diverse school with teenagers who have various religious backgrounds,” she said. She’s had “complex, theological discussions” with her peers and a few teachers but finds the best way to interest her friends in her faith is to set an example “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity,” as she reads in 1 Timothy 4.

As she prepares for college this fall, she enjoys her final days at home with parents Rosalyn and Haven Miller and siblings Halle, 16, and Reece,13.

What would you like for older people to understand about you and your generation?My generation is constantly watching them — and taking notes of their actions and words.

Personally, I am grateful to have many wise and faithful Christians to look up to and model my life after. But sometimes their actions — or lack of action — have a negative influence.

Proverbs 31:8-9 teaches us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I have found that many adults are bystanders to wrongdoing. Thus my generation tends to be reluctant to address problems in our society.

Understand that actions — good and bad — set an example for younger generations. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words.
When do you see Christians acting as “bystanders to wrongdoing?”When Christians assemble, we are united in our ideas, hearts and beliefs as stated in Acts 2. But sometimes the assembly is used as an excuse to say inappropriate things about race relations, other religions or people who live in the world.

Sometimes, we try to excuse this speech from fellow believers by saying they’re just speaking out against “political correctness” in the world. Whenever these statements are made within the body of Christ, however, Christians should stand up for what is biblically correct — the over-arching love of God.
Who are the strongest spiritual influences in your life?My parents have stood alongside me throughout my entire life, and their influence makes me want to be a better person and a faithful Christian.

I think that parents do their children a disservice when they bring them to church to be pew-fillers but don’t instill in them faith at home. From the beginning, my parents taught me to believe and appreciate God’s Word deeply. Without this foundation, I am not sure how strong my faith would be today. My parents love each other and display their love and concern for other souls.
‘I think that parents do their children a disservice when they bring them to church to be pew-fillers but don’t instill in them faith at home.’
Another Christian who greatly influenced my life is my fifth grade Bible class teacher, Judy Smith. She sparked a fire in me, making Bible class invigorating. She helped me understand that God has always had a plan for his people (Jeremiah 29:11). I am eternally grateful to her.
How difficult is it for you to be a Christian today?In the Bible Belt, it is relatively easy to proclaim one’s faith. While many teach false doctrines — and those with different beliefs look down on Christianity — there is no doubt that it’s safer to be a Christian in Murphy, Texas, than in many parts of the world.

Still, no matter where we live, it will never be easy to be a Christian. God simply did not design our faith that way. If Christianity were easy, everyone would be a Christian, and the world would not be plagued with poverty, hate, murder and greed.

God wants us to take joy in our struggles and to persevere through trials. James 1:2-3 teaches that the testing of our faith builds perseverance.

How do you hope to fulfill your Christian mission in life?My personal mission is to win souls to Christ by being Christ-like. I also want to display gratitude in everything I do.

I know that God has a plan for my life, and my faith has led me to accomplish goals that I would have never imagined. I hope to intentionally live every day with the objective of going to heaven, pressing toward the goal that has been set before us.

Ultimately, I hope to reach and encourage people through my writing as a journalist.
What are the greatest challenges to your own faith? For me, it is a challenge to see people who identify as Christians contradict the numerous Scriptures that are in the Bible about love.

We live in a world where it is necessary to speak out against the many sins that enslave humanity. But so many of us have forgotten that the greatest commandment is love. Though we don’t like to talk about it, I think that hypocrisy is one of the biggest challenges that the church faces today.

I am optimistic about the church’s future, however, because I know that God has provided his people with his grace and mercy.

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Filed under: Dialogue

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