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Beautiful for Jesus Christ and bold in the Spirit
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Today at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Gabrielle Jackson of Roseville will begin competing for a very special crown.  Having been named Miss Christian United States 2010 just weeks ago, she’s now in New York City.

I called her last night at 11 p.m. her time.  It goes without saying she was still wide awake.  Excited at 20 to be in America’s financial nerve center and a convergence of such culture, she’d written yesterday, “just got back from Time Square and a Broadway show.  NYC is one busy place…”

But now she’ll be on stage.  I’d first met her two months ago, when my brother paid a surprise visit from Tanzania.  Crossing paths in Roseville between her work and studies, we ate at the Olive Garden and heard about her journey as a relatively aimless kid to a focused Christian evangelist who, at age 17, had already published a book.   “Not Another Teen Rally” seeks “to impact this generation for Christ”, but moving beyond the easy formulas and sensational revivals to more lasting strategies for reformation.

At the time I first heard of Gabrielle, I’d been growing increasingly cynical about the Miss America and Miss USA pageants.  At first impressed by the Christian witness and plain old guts of Miss California, I’d later had to tone down my admiration as her less-than-holy pictures emerged on the internet.

“You’re serious that there’s a ‘Miss Christian California?’” I asked Scott Hurban, a Franklin High School teacher who first told me about Gabrielle.

But once I sat down for a serious conversation, I realized that this pageant, however small and seemingly insignificant, offered a more meaningful alternative to the organized insanity of the others.  Here, true beauty truly does consist in character, and one’s dedication to serving Christ in today’s metropolis forges the crown that may, one day, be placed on her virtue.

Go on the website for “Miss Christian United States” and you’ll see a bit of what the competition’s all about.  For her part, Gabrielle writes this in response to having won the nationals: “What an honor it is to be crowned your Miss Christian United States 2010!  It is such an incredible blessing and humbling experience to represent my country as a young woman passionate about the Lord and a queen called for such a time as this.

“My name is Gabrielle Jackson and I am 20 years old.  I am a senior at William Jessup University majoring in Public Policy.  I have a passion for prayer, a heart for justice, a calling to government, and a desire to see my generation come into the saving knowledge of the love of God.

“As a student, I have witnessed the need for effective apologists for the gospel, both within the classroom and in the world.  Because of this, I am truly passionate about training and equipping young people to be able to communicate their faith in a practical way. After graduating from high school I published my first book, “Not Another Teen Rally”, a practical handbook on how to impact this generation for Christ; and I continue to write on helping this generation understand their potential and calling.  I look forward to being able to continue both teaching and inspiring others to walk out their faith, understanding each day is an opportunity to glorify Jesus Christ.

“No matter the size of my actions as Miss Christian US, either great or small, I will remember that it is not by the actions of my two hands that anything is made, but it is by the grace of God working through me.

“May God bless you and thank you for the opportunity to serve you as Miss Christian United States 2010!”

Last night, I asked Gabrielle if she would share some wisdom.  She replied:

“I would just encourage young people to use the opportunities they have to reach so many people in the public schools and in the world -- to invest in other people’s lives.  God has an identity and a purpose for everyone of us.  

“I would encourage young people to consider a religious career.  Just as a person can be a doctor or an architect, they can also be a minister or missionary.”   But at the same time, “each one of us is called to be His ambassador and disciple, no matter what career we may have chosen.”

“Jesus literally gave his life for us, so we should be inspired by that sacrifice and be willing to give our lives for others.  We need to be courageous, and unconcerned about what people say, for Jesus said, ‘those who deny me before men, I will deny before my Father in heaven.’

 “I want to do something that involves media and government.  I’m very passionate about influencing government, because I know what a tremendous impact it has on society.  And I want to be a journalist, because I know that the media can keep the government accountable.”

Gabrielle has been an inspiration, and will be a keynote speaker, for youth events we are planning in the Stockton area this fall.  Scott Hurban has been meeting with other educators, administrators, and several pastors in order to help spearhead “Christian clubs” and other faith-based organizations on public school campuses throughout our area.  How ironic, I told him, that Gabrielle comes from the same urban area as that atheist who’s whole mission in life seems to be to eradicate religion from the our schools and our public activities.   I hope her faith humbles his arrogance.

If you think we can’t gather as Christians on school campuses, think again.

On Saturday, August 15th, Lakeview Assembly of God Church at Quail Lakes in Stockton will host a forum to discuss the rights of Christians to share their faith on campus and in the public square in general. Brad Dacus, founder of Pacific Institute of Justice, will be the presenter.  A lawyer, he defends the rights of Christians to practice their faith pro bono.

“Pastors, business people, or any concerned individuals are urged to attend this most important event,” the notices state. “We as believers have an obligation to spread the truth legally (‘thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven’) and to support our youth in…their mission to evangelize their generation.”   Location: 2111 Quail Lakes.  Time: 10:00am to 1:00pm.

Gabrielle, we’ll be praying for you.  Thanks for your courage and the bold example you’re providing not only our youth, but the older generation too.

May all of us take more seriously our call to transform our society and to take a stand, at all times and everywhere, for Christ.  He took a stand for us.

Fr. Dean McFalls, St. Mary’s Church, Stockton.  August 7, 2009