1. Ware, Mikayla

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The summer before I started college, my 9-year-old sister had a seizure. She stopped breathing, had to be intubated, and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. Our small-town hospital airlifted her to a level 1 pediatric trauma center where she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Because I did not know Jesus, I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. I was not motivated to pursue college; I just wanted to lay in bed with my sick sister. My sister was a fighter. She spent the next 40 days in the hospital receiving treatment. My family and I had no idea what our future would hold, but God did.


By God's amazing power and grace, I ended up at a Christian college to pursue nursing. When I first arrived on Missouri Baptist University's campus, I truly did not know why I was there. I struggled being in a community surrounded by Christians. I thought, "How can these people believe in a man from 2,000 years ago when I'm going through all of this?"


One night, I had a conversation with my resident assistant who was a senior nursing student. I told her how scared I was for my sister and how I had nothing to rely on. She explained there was a person out there that truly cares for me and knows me, and that person was Jesus. She shared Revelation 21:4 (NIV): "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." I gave my life to Jesus Christ that night.


Since giving my life to Christ, I am not perfect by any means. I still mess up, I still sin, and I still rely on worldly things instead of eternal things. However, now I have hope in Jesus and he is constantly reminding me how good he is. Thankfully, I attend an amazing university with professors who incorporate faith and Jesus into our courses. In the school of nursing, we have a class called Spirituality and Diversity that gives us tools as nurses to start appropriate spiritual conversations with our patients. Because of what I have learned, I can better assess my peers, family members, patients, and even my coworkers' spiritual needs, with the hope that I can spark conversations that help them discover Christ's love.


Last summer, I went on a medical mission trip to Liberia, Africa. I was so excited to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and care for those in dire need. What I did not expect was to be challenged in my faith. I had so many questions. Why does God allow people to live like this? Why did God allow me to be born in the United States with plenty of access to the Good News? How can I continue to share his name no matter where I am? I am still wrestling with these questions.


On the first day of our medical clinic, I triaged about 10 children who tested positive for malaria. They were completely fatigued and did not want to do anything. After starting treatment, when the children returned for reassessment, they were completely different. Instead of lacking energy, they ran around and wanted to play with us!


Recently, my sister rang the cancer-free bell and is thriving in middle school. The complete transformations I saw in my sister and in the children in Liberia reminded me of my own transformation. Before I was a Christian, I felt worthless and angry. Now I have hope in Jesus Christ. God sees me as worthy through the work of Jesus on the cross. I no longer need to go through life angry, because I have the joy of Jesus and heaven! I encourage everyone to go and tell the world about Jesus as Acts 1:8 (NIV) directs: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."