Fourteen years ago when Dan and I set out to start a Christian High School in our community one of the first orders of business for our founding board was to name the school. Most Christian schools are named after either the city or community where they reside, a church that sponsors them or after a Christian attribute or tenant like Faith, Trinity, Grace, Hope, Calvary or Victory. As we brainstormed these possibilities we decided that it would be fabulous to name the school after a Christian believer who had lived a stellar life of service and love for the Lord. One of our compelling reasons for going in this direction was in hope that our students would be inspired by the dedicated life of a saint who had gone before them and that they would be challenged to a higher level of devotion to God through learning about their life. We desired that this person would become a role model, mentor and example that they could follow.
After considering several great men and women of faith, the newly formed school board ultimately chose a missionary martyr named Jim Elliot and we were in wholehearted agreement with this decision!
Jim Elliot, born in 1927, was raised in a strong Christian home with parents who took him to church and read the Bible regularly. Jim professed faith in Jesus at the age of six and grew up in a home where obedience and honesty were strictly enforced. During high school he participated in numerous activities, including the school newspaper, the football team, school plays, and the public-speaking club. His oratorical skills were lauded—after preparing and delivering a speech in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt hours after his death, a faculty member called it one of the best speeches he had ever heard.
Jim used his speaking ability regularly, always ready at a moment’s notice to discuss Christianity or defend his moral beliefs. He refused to compromise his convictions and was not afraid to launch into a mini-sermon explaining them. He went on to Wheaton College, a private Christian college in Illinois, believing that God had led him there. He saw his time there as an opportunity to grow spiritually, develop discipline, and prepare for future missions work. He did ultimately go to the mission field in Ecuador along with his wife Elizabeth. Not content with bringing the gospel to the civilized people of the country, he and his four companions flew into the lands of the savage Auca tribe. Their first landing ended in a tragic massacre, but out of this seemingly senseless tragedy came the powerful testimony of the call of God on this man’s life that has inspired and challenged numerous people over the years to a closer walk with the Lord.
As our first school year drew to a close in 1999, we created the Jim Elliot Award. This award was to be the pinnacle award that an Elliot student could achieve and would be given every year to the graduating senior who epitomized the life, character and commitment of Jim Elliot. A student who like Jim Elliot was committed to their studies, involved in various student activities and community service, an influential leader and most importantly one whose commitment to the Lord was strong and unwavering. Over the past 12 years this award has been presented to some very outstanding and stellar young people. The 2011 recipient is no exception.
Ana is a beautiful, dynamic, responsible, confident, impressive and simply amazing young lady! Her accomplishments in high school are vast and include:
- Four years in leadership on student council including doing an excellent job as Student Body President during this past year
- Volleyball and Soccer team participation
- Interact Service Club member throughout high school
- Christian Character Award Winner for three years
- Numerous Speech Contest & Oratory Awards
- Church Volunteer
- Community Volunteer
- National Society of High School Scholars
- Elliot Legacy Award
- Harvest Christian League Scholar Athlete
- National Association of Christian School Principals Leadership Award
- ACSI Distinguished Christian High School Student Award
But most importantly, Ana loves the Lord Jesus with all her heart and has lived a life of faith and been a shining example for others throughout all of her four years at Jim Elliot. She will be attending Vanguard University and pursuing God’s will for her life.
In the beginning years of our school, we were asked by the then guidance counselor, Candy Payne if we would be willing to give a scholarship to go along with this prestigious award since we were the founders of the school and she knew we would “go the distance” with JECHS far into the future, thus insuring that the scholarship would continue. Although we lived on a very small salary and had no idea where the money would come from we enthusiastically said…”YES! We would be honored!” And the Lord has provided us with the funds to give this scholarship each and every year since that time. It is with great excitement, joy and gratitude to the Lord for giving us this opportunity that Dan and I will once again be presenting the award winner, Ana Martinez, with a personal $1,000 scholarship in honor of her becoming the 2011 Jim Elliot Award recipient. We know that this investment in Ana and her future will pay great dividends in the kingdom of God! What a blessing it will be to watch the great things that the Lord does in and through her as she follows him.
Could the Lord be nudging you through this post to make an investment in the life of a young person? Maybe you are being asked to invest of your time in mentoring, teaching or encouraging a young man or woman? Or perhaps you need to consider investing your God-given talents into lives through coaching a youth sports team, tutoring a struggling student in an academic area, being an advisor to a class or club or using your musical, artistic or dramatic talents to inspire young performers? Or are you be willing to invest of your finances to give a scholarship, help a child attend a camp or go on a missions trip? You may even be called to invest your time, your talent and your treasure into the lives of young people who are our future leaders, teachers, entrepreneurs, inventors, heroes, public servants, ministers as well as future moms and dads.
I hope you will consider today what type of investment you can make and take the steps needed to make it happen. Believe me, investing in the life of a young person is truly one of the best investments you can ever make! I guarantee it!
Congratulations Ana and may the Lord bless you abundantly as you live for Him!