On the day of the Unashamed Project (September 30th, 2017), I woke up around 6:00 a.m., went into the community dorm bathroom, listened to God inspired songs, and got ready.
After putting away my beauty bag, pajamas, and other essentials, I exited the doors of the dorm building. The air outside was very crisp. Sitting underneath a shade tree on a picnic table, I read verses of encouragement, ate four orange “nab” crackers, drank some water, messaged my family, and made my way down steps that led to a main walkway to buildings. My little fall booties were boldly making noise each step I took towards the Jerry Falwell Library where the Unashamed event started.
When I got to the library, a fellow Unashamed participant held the door open for me. We began to talk about our papers, jittery thoughts, and curious questions. Not knowing anyone else participating in the scholarship contest, Chase and I chose to stay together during the process. Although we heard different numbers, we are quite confident around 300 juniors and seniors intended on participating in the project. Only an estimated 250 students showed up on the big day of presenting our papers!
As Chase and I were in line to check in, we turned around to see another brother in Christ who quickly completed our new friend group. We comforted, encouraged, prayed with, and supported one another!
“TLGSTHP TLBHPWP Ps 29:11” was written on my hand. As I am sure it looked like another language or secret code (lol), Ethan asked what the letters stood for. I was then able to share Psalm 29:11, a verse I was clinging onto, with him. It says “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
We all checked in, received our room assignments and times, grabbed a bottle of juice or cup of coffee, and found our own little bench/backless couch to sit on. For about two hours, we just sat there and bonded. We had just met each other for the first time, but our spirits connected on a level created and understood by God Almighty. He knew each of us individually and worked in miraculous ways to intersect our paths. Chase, Ethan, and I truly felt God’s love as our “family reunion” took place. We each walked into the library physically by ourselves but walked out as a strand of three cords that was not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Chase and I were assigned rooms inside the Demoss building while Ethan was assigned a room in the library. Before we headed into two different directions, we all took turns praying together and exchanged phone numbers to stay connected throughout the day.
I found my assigned room in Demoss and didn’t wait any more than five minutes before I was called in to present my paper. In a small classroom, two judges were extremely intentional with the few minutes they had with me. They asked me questions to see my heart on a level deeper than the surface. They also prayed with me before even asking that I present my paper! Given the option to stand up or sit down, I chose to sit down as they asked me to be more conversational in sharing the details of my story. They were sitting down as well. As I spoke, I was overwhelmed with emotion remembering the miracles God has done in and through my life! Even though this scholarship opportunity was huge, God had placed a peaceful wave of His boldness within me. He had opened countless doors and made a way for me to be at Liberty the weekend of September 28- October 1, 2017. I talked with the judges and completed my presentation in about ten minutes. Afterwards, I called my mom and checked on Chase and Ethan. They still had not been called in to present their papers.
After everyone was finished with the first round, we all met back up at the library! We headed towards the rot (dining hall), but decided to enjoy the beautiful fall weather by going on top of Demoss! It was around 12:00 in the afternoon. The view and atmosphere on the roof of Demoss is one of my favorite things about Liberty! We then headed towards the bookstore to look around in there. Our hungry stomachs quickly led us towards the rot, where we ate food from a place like Chipotle. The anticipation was heavy as we prepared to find out the results of round one. Apparently, around twenty-five people out of the original 250 made it to round two! Rushing towards the TV, everyone was frantically searching for their name. Chase and Ethan, who were taller and closer to the TV than I was, searched for my name. Ethan and I made it into round two! We didn’t have time to sit and talk like the previous round so we headed back into Demoss. After helping each other find our rooms, we embarked on round two! The day was honestly tiring but so rewarding! For the second round, we were in different classrooms with two different judges. Mine were college or grad students. My presentation went well but a little faster than the first time. Overall, it still went very well. Ethan was the last person to present in his assigned room.
The results for round three were the most nerve-racking! The remaining estimated twenty-five of us went inside of a conference meeting type room back inside of the library. That was where the five finalists were announced! Although I wasn’t a finalist, Ethan was!
The girl who won the scholarship ministers through Spoken Word poems. After praying that God’s will be done, I rest in the fact that His plans are far greater than anything I could ever imagine on my own. I was joyful and am still so overwhelmed by having the opportunity to be a part of a movement of living unashamed for my Heavenly Father. He brought two new friends into my life and poured out His Holy Spirit upon us. We spoke with courage, confidence, and boldness. We reflected on the miracles God had done in and through us. We were inspired to keep praying and seeing miracles.
Living unashamed for Jesus isn’t about writing or presenting a paper to win a scholarship. Rather, living unashamed for Jesus is done when we think no one else is looking. Living unashamed, to me, means being intentional with each breath God gives to me. No one is perfect, but we are all called to a higher purpose in this life. Our lives are not about us.