Many of you have loved our recent interview with Overcomer’s movie star, Aryn Wright-Thompson. But we’ve had the privilege of interviewing dozens of amazing young women over the years, and for the first time ever on October 1st, you’ll be able to have these role models all in one place.
Maybe you’ve been inspired by Bethany Hamilton’s new documentary, Unstoppable. Or you love reading books by teen authors. Or you’ve found inspiration with the younger members of the Duck Dynasty crew like Sadie Robertson, John Luke Robertson, and Mary Kate Robertson. In Girlz 4 Christ’s new book, Girls Who Change the World, you’ll find interviews and profiles of people like these and so many more! There are even girls who are making an impact in their everyday lives all across the globe. Of course, there will be tips for how you can change the world, too!
Girls Who Change the Worldis available October 1st, but you can get a sneak peek in the Fall 2019 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. You can also preorder a Kindle copy from Amazon. (Print copies will be available for preorder soon!)
Are you involved in a sport or other team? Is there one that you want to join? Imagine showing up on the first day of tryouts. You have your choice of seats, because no one else is there yet. You get a little nervous, and check the paperwork to make sure you’re in the right place. You are. Eventually, the coach shows up. No one else does. You’re the only person on your team.
What would you do? Stay? Quit? Encourage the discouraged coach?
Hannah Scott is in this situation in the movie Overcomer. Her cross country coach, John Harrison, isn’t thrilled that he had to give up basketball and instead coach his least favorite sport, which no one else seems to be interested in either. He’s more frustrated when he finds out that Hannah has asthma, which may jeopardize her ability to place in competitions.
But that’s the least of Hannah’s struggles. She’s new to this Christian school, and her home life is a stark contrast from her rich classmates. She lives with her grandmother, who’s told her that both of her drug-addicted parents died long ago.
But this one-person cross country team may be the life change that both Hannah and Coach Harrison need.
*2020 Update: You can read interviews with the cast of Kendrick Brothers movies, including actresses from Overcomer, War Room, and Courageous, in our book: Girls Who Change the World, available now!*
Kendrick Brothers Do It Again
Which of these films have you seen before?
Facing the Giants
All of these movies were made by the Kendrick Brothers, pastors who decided to expand their ministry with the silver screen. If you haven’t seen them all yet, order them online or check them out at your library this summer. That way, you can be all caught up before Ovecomer hits theaters on August 23rd.
Alex, Stephen, and Shannon Kendrick are the filmmaking Kendrick Brothers, based in Albany, Georgia. For OVERCOMER, Alex co-wrote, directed, and plays the role of Coach John Harrison. Stephen co-wrote and produced the movie. (He also has an onscreen cameo similar to War Room.) Shannon serves as the movie’s executive producer. They are excited to release their sixth movie.
The Kendrick Brothers exist to honor Jesus Christ and make His truth and love known among the nations through movies, books, curriculum, and speaking. By prayerfully blending engaging stories with doctrinal integrity, the Kendricks seek to encourage and inspire viewers and readers with resources that impact their spiritual lives and strengthen their families and personal relationships.
The Kendrick Brothers enjoy including little things to watch out for in their movies. Be on the lookout for these:
A favorite breakfast cereal for many of their movie characters is Coney Bombs. Who eats Coney Bombs in this movie? Can you figure out what real-life cereal it’s based on?
Alex Kendrick is the brother that gets the most screen time. He’s played a major role in every Kendrick Brothers movie, plus other Christian movies like Moms Night Out and The Lost Medallion. However, Stephen has made cameos in the last two films as well as Fireproof. Can you find him in War Room and Overcomer? (Hint: he seems to like competitions.)
Speaking of competitions, do any of the other teams seem familiar? Perhaps a school from Facing the Giants?
Many of the cars don’t have license plates. That’s because it appears that they were recently purchased, and still have the dealership plate. Where were they bought from? You might know if you’ve seen their first movie, Flywheel.
Can you find any other Easter Eggs or references to other movies as you watch Overcomer? Let us know and we’ll share your findings on our social media!
Aryn Wright-Thompson is an honor-roll student, a leader in her community, and studies piano and dance: ballet, jazz, tap, acro, and lyrical. Aryn also plays volleyball, basketball, and softball. Aryn has also participated in pageants including the Miss N.C.’s Little Miss program and the Black Miss North Carolina Organization. Overcomer is her debut film.
We had the opportunity to ask Aryn about her role as Hannah Scott in Overcomer, and we’re excited to share the inside scoop with you about her acting, her life, and her walk with God.
*2020 Update: You can read even more about Aryn Wright-Thompson and other actresses, athletes, and amazing Christian girls in our book, Girls Who Change the World!*
Have you done any acting or theater before Overcomer?
Yes, a little. I had done some regional NASCAR commercials, and extra work. I was an extra on the Three Stooges movie. That was a lot of fun because I was younger and there was a lot of playing outside and a big cafeteria scene where I got to sit next to my brother and eat and be silly all day. Jennifer Hudson took the time to talk to me that day. Still a highlight of my life…lol!
I have done both school and community theatre. I really enjoyed both.
How did you get involved with the Kendrick Brothers film?
My agent sent over the audition request. I read the sides that were sent and loved that. I taped the audition at home and made my dad cry.
What did a day on set look like?
Every day we would have devos as a group of all the cast & crew at between 7 and 8. Someone would pray and give a motivational or inspirational speech during breakfast. That was my favorite part of the day. Then I’d go to wardrobe, then hair and makeup. Sometimes I’d meet with Ms. Beth, the acting coach, to review my scenes. A lot of times Ms. Shari would talk with me or pray with me. We’d shoot some, have lunch. Shoot some more, then have dinner. There could be another wardrobe, hair or makeup change in there somewhere. We were also fortunate enough to have different churches volunteer to either cook or bring us all dinner to set! We’d eat, fellowship and then head home. Usually about 7 or 8 for me.
Your character is a runner, but do you do any sports?
Yes! My parents have always kept us busy and active. Dance has been a constant in my life. I’m a competitive dancer and tap is my favorite style of dance. I have also played softball, basketball, volleyball and been a cheerleader. I also enjoy competing in pageants. I have participated in several North Carolina pageants.
How did you balance acting with school or your other commitments?
To be honest, it has always been a challenge because I live in North Carolina and I have often had to travel for opportunities. My mom would work with the schools and my teachers so that I wouldn’t fall behind and I have had to attend Saturday school a few times to make up missed time. I am very serious about my education and school work, so I always take every opportunity to work on assignments so that they’re on time.
How are you and your character Hannah alike?
I think that we are alike in the sense that we are both unsure. I had not always been sure of myself or my purpose. Spending time getting to know God and the love he as for me and all of us has given me the confidence to follow my dreams and I know who I am in Christ. That’s a big deal.
In real life, what’s something you’ve been working on accomplishing or overcoming lately?
Hmmmm…lately I think it’s been body image. Social media is such a big influence on the world. It seems the expectation is perfection. That’s not realistic and actual. I think it’s ridiculous. I’m definitely overcoming looking at myself from the view of the expectations of other people. God made me exactly the way he intended to, Who am I or anyone else to second guess that? As far as accomplishments, I’m working on being a professional at doing my own hair, there’s a lot to it!
Now that filming is wrapped up and the movie’s almost out, do you have any plans or hopes for a next project?
Ultimately, whatever God has for me..I’ll do it and give Him my best. I would love to continue acting and telling stories! I have another project I’ve been cast in called Don’t You Tell A Soul. I’m super excited about it because it’s a period piece. I get to play a young lady in the 1940s. I have always wanted to do that. I also plan on going to college and maybe becoming an attorney one day.
Did you have a favorite scene or moment on set?
Every day was my favorite. If I could redo last summer all over again I would. Maybe my favorite day was the first day because everything was new to me. I was a little nervous, but after completing that first day I knew I could do this. I also LOVED getting to spend so much time with all of the Kendrick kids! That was so much fun.
Last question: how much did you REALLY have to run for the movie?
LOL! A lot! Probably an average of 3 miles a day, and when we were filming most of the distance running scenes probably about 7 miles a day. But the girls that were in all of those scenes with me are actual runners. They kept me going and encouraged. The crew was amazing in helping us get through those scenes.
I just came back from an amazing trip. I visited Ireland and the United Kingdom, collectively known as the British Isles. There I celebrated my birthday, kissed the Blarney Stone, took a river cruise, straddled the Greenwich Meridian, rode double-decker buses, circled Stonehenge, stormed castles, saw the Crown Jewels, rode the London Eye, ate delicious Irish and English food, and so much more. Does this sound like a trip you’d like to take? Go for it!
“But wait!” you say as you start the excuses. “I don’t have enough money!” I didn’t either at first. It took months of saving and careful planning to make this trip happen. If you’d like to take a trip this summer or next summer, now is the time to start preparing. Wherever you want to go, these tips will help you get there as you enjoy some snapshots from my recent European adventure!
by Jessica Lippe
How I Did It
I decided on a savings goal. I did this by figuring out the cost of my must-dos for the British Isles, as well as cutting back on areas that weren’t important to me. I could have spent less if I decided to only visit free attractions and only eat meals I cooked myself. However, I also could have spent a lot more if I stayed at resorts instead of hostels and only ate at sit-down restaurants. When it comes down to it, splurge on what’s important to you, and don’t feel obligated to spend on things that don’t matter to you.
In the months leading up to my trip, I found ways to save money on both trip expenses and everyday living. I kept all of my savings listed in a computer document. Check out below a few of my favorite ways to save. Even if I only saved five cents, I would add that to the list. Every penny counts!
I worked extra. That could mean being willing to put in extra hours at my regular job (it may help if your boss knows your travel and savings goals), babysitting, or doing some work from home. While some of the extra that I earned went to tithes and taxes, a large portion went directly into my travel fund.
I planned out my trip, but also left some time for spontaneity and incidentals (which came in handy as my flight was late). Although I’d be happy to return to the British Isles, I wanted to make sure that I did all my must-dos so that I wouldn’t feel like I missed out.
I packed up, prayed over the trip, and headed to the airport!
$aving at Home
Saving for travel is possible! Cut back on some of these expenses and prioritize your trip savings instead.
Pack your meals instead of eating at restaurants. Even fast food prices add up (not to mention your homemade food will probably be healthier).
Try to drive less by walking, biking, or at least combining your car trips. You’ll save on gas as well as your car’s wear and tear.
Carry a refillable water bottle or travel mug with you so you’re not tempted to buy pricey drinks.
Do you spend a lot on books and movies? Borrow from friends or the library instead. You can also check out the internet, as Amazon offers some free eBooks and YouTube streams some free movies.
Get great deals on clothing at thrift stores, or combine coupons with the clearance rack at your favorite department store. Better yet, make use of the clothes you already own.
Set a designated time (a week, a month, or until your travel departure date) where you buy nothing. Instead, appreciate the toiletries, food, and entertainment you already have at home.
No matter where you’re headed, try using these money-saving tips:
Try different forms of accommodation. Hostels, campgrounds, and inexpensive Airbnbs are my favorite frugal options. As long as it’s a safe place, where you stay doesn’t matter too much as you should be out exploring most of the time.
Plan one or two nice meals if you’re interested in that sort of thing, but supplement restaurants with street food and grocery stores. Yes, shopping for food in a foreign country can be an interesting experience in itself!
Pack light. If you’re flying, you’ll save time and money by only bringing carry-on bags. If driving, you’ll get better gas mileage with a lighter load.
You don’t have to take a taxi or Uber. Walk as much as possible to get a better lay of the land, and perhaps even stumble upon a local secret! For longer distances, you can rent a bicycle or take public transportation, such as a train or bus.
Don’t spend too much on souvenirs. Unless you’re visiting China, why buy something stamped with “Made in China”? Buy just a couple quality items, or collect free souvenirs like photos and ticket stubs.
Most destinations have some interesting free attractions, like parks and museums. One of my favorite free travel activities is attending a church service, especially in an iconic building like London’s Westminster Abbey!
“Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” — Zechariah 7:8-10
Today, across the globe, people will be observing World Refugee Day, an opportunity to show compassion, empathy, and charity for those fleeing their homes in search of a better life. Today, more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced from their home and 25 million that the United Nations considers refugees.
These aren’t just numbers. These are families fleeing violence in search of the safety and security and a better life.
That’s why we are proud to feature a cause called the Ration Challenge, which asks people to survive for one week on the food rations that a Syrian refugee eats in a camp in Jordan. The Ration Challenge seeks to raise money and awareness for these refugees, in the hope that we can both help ease their suffering as well as influence the way we think about refugees – especially those in charge in Washington.
The Ration Challenge was established by co-founders Kaz McGrath and Ben Littlejohn in 2014 during a visit to a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border, where they met with refugees and saw first-hand the rations refugees had to survive on. Funds raised this week by the challenge will provide food rations, medicine, and education for Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan.
Following the mission of Church World Services who have implemented the challenge, we believe that as Christians we sometimes must sacrifice what we’re accustomed to help those in need. And while eating rations is only one small glimpse of the incredible challenges many refugees endure globally, we hope that we will contribute to the discourse on how we should all be doing more to support displaced people around the world.
When John Smith crashed through the ice on a frozen lake near St. Louis, he was trapped for 15 minutes, and after he was rescued he had no pulse for 43 minutes. The ER physician called his mother in so she could say her final goodbye. She prayed instead and that’s when a miracle happened…John came back to life.
John Smith was probably like a lot of the boys in your eighth grade class. He played basketball. He played video games. He hung out with his friends. Although he was abandoned as a baby in Guatemala, he was adopted into a loving Christian family in Missouri.
January 19th, 2015 started out as just an ordinary Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To celebrate the day off of school, John and his two friends (both named Josh) decided to play on a frozen lake. After taking a selfie and running around… CRACK! The ice wasn’t as thick as they thought. Suddenly, the three boys found themselves in a cold lake with no means of escape.
When the emergency team responded, they found one Josh had managed to pull himself out of the water, and the other Josh was treading while trying to keep hold of an ice sheet. But John was nowhere to be seen. Since he had sunk underwater long before the rescuers arrived, they were prepared for the worst. As fireman Tommy Shine searched through the water, he heard a voice say “Go back!” He retraced the area he’d just searched and, sure enough, found John. Tommy Shine later tried to figure out who called out to him to go back, but no one on his team had said anything during that time. It was divine guidance that could have only come from God. Especially unusual since Tommy didn’t even believe in God!
It was a miraculous rescue, but it was only the start to a chain of miracles. The lifeless John had been submerged for 15 minutes- no breathing, no pulse. Yet the rescue team still did everything they could as they transported him to the hospital. He was considered dead for an hour by the time Joyce, his mom, was able to see him. After crying loudly, she shouted, “Holy Spirit…breathe life back into my son!”
No one expected John to make a full recovery. He was unlikely to even make it through the night, and if he did, he would have severe brain damage. But sixteen days and two hospitals later, John headed home as the healthy boy he’d always been. Prayer does work, and miracles do happen.
As you’ll see in the movie, God wasn’t present only in John’s hospital room. His story made waves around his community. The classmates at his school gathered for prayer, and people came to his church to do the same. The prayer vigils were just as important as the prayers spoken at his bedside.
Do you know someone that needs prayer right now? It doesn’t necessarily have to be for a life-threatening issue; God hears all prayers and knows that each request is important to us. Take a break from reading- yes, right now!- and pray for a family member, friend, or someone in your community.
Need an idea for something to pray about? How about that Breakthrough would change lives! Here are a few other things you can do to help with that:
You can reserve your ticket right now! If your local theater doesn’t have showtimes for Breakthrough, ask what it would take to get the movie to your town.
Bring some people to see the movie in theaters. You can get discounts on group tickets, so this may be something you want to coordinate with your church, youth ministry, or other group.
Even non-Christian friends might be interested to see the movie for its cast of stars or basketball player-turned-producer Stephen Curry. Invite some people to the movies and then pick a restaurant, coffee shop, or ice cream parlor near the theater to chat afterward.
Visit breakthroughmovie.com to find out more about the movie. You can also access some “share tools”, that include printable prayer cards as well as images you can post on your social media.
Allow the message of the movie to affect your life. And keep on praying.
The message of Into The Deep could be summarized in this quote:
“Following Jesus doesn’t guarantee sunny skies and smooth sailing.”
Into the Deep, written by Lauren Gaskill, is not just well written, organized, strongly themed, and easy to follow. It’s a new approach to Christian living–or if not new, better. Gaskill’s book divides between two crucial parts of the faith journey: choosing to trust in Jesus, and choosing to live for Jesus.
The part about choosing to live for Jesus really spoke to me.
Where I live, stories about “how God turned me around” and “how God changed my life” run rampant. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a testimony of how one got saved, sometimes leaning on this perspective of Christianity limits us.
The truth is, Christianity isn’t just a quick fix to solve our depression, relationship problems, and selfishness. Christianity isn’t just that part where God lifted you up when you hit rock bottom. Christianity is living with God every day–swimming with Jesus–even when the skies aren’t sunny and the sailing isn’t smooth.
It is those parts of our journey, Lauren says, that truly deepen our faith. Deep waters require deep faith.
I can’t describe how this book strengthened and encouraged me, but I would definitely give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars and I’m looking forward to sharing it with my friends. Whether you’re in a dark time or looking to deepen your faith, this book is for you.
This book is not a checklist of “do this, do that and you’re set!” Rather, it’s something to lean on–a source of strength. A reminder that you’re not alone, and God is there, because that message is always true.
Three-time young author Marjorie Jackson recently released The Devoted Life, a devotional journal that she both wrote and illustrated. Hopefully, you’ve had the chance to read her interview in the Winter 2019 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. We had a few more questions to ask Marjorie, so here’s a little more insight into her life:
Q: Many of our readers want to know more about the process of becoming an author. Tell us about your experience.
My experience of becoming an author and landing a publishing deal is such an only-God kind of story that I can’t really explain much of how it actually happened. The Lord literally opened doors and put me in contact with the right people in ways that I could not have done on my own. I give Him full credit for this opportunity, and I am so, so grateful.
I have always loved creative writing (note the distinction—I can’t stand technical, research writing!). The cliché “practice makes perfect” holds true, and while my writing is far from perfect, I’ve grown up journaling, writing creative short stories, little devotional blurbs, and imagining ways to share God’s Word in an engaging, simplified manner to people my age. It’s been a passion of mine for a while. That would be my best advice: find those passions that God has given you and then do something about them. Use your talents to get behind whatever message God is putting on your heart. I don’t know what that looks like in your life, but in mine, that has looked like using my love of written, verbal, and visual communication to share God’s Word with my peers—let God get all the glory in that. A surrendered “yes” to the Lord’s plans for your life will often lead you towards places and opportunities you’d never imagine!
Q: You seem to have such a positive outlook on life. Your Instagram is full of you smiling in just about any situation! Why?
While I am a firm believer that social media is not a great gauge of knowing what someone’s life is actually like (it is, after all, just a highlight reel), I would attribute the positivity and joy in my life to the fact that there is always hope. Even when life throws unexpected disappointments or challenges our way, as it often does, we have innumerable blessings to count as we reflect on who Christ is, the people He has strategically positioned in our lives, and the favor He has resting upon us. One of my favorite passages of Scripture to cling to is Psalm 16. As the psalm talks about, I want my confidence and any good in my life to be rooted in God—anything or anyone else is too shaky and fickle to put full trust in. Also, I fill my life with a lot of laughter and surround myself with a lot of fun, spontaneous, positive people. Life is too short to be down for too long. 🙂
If you follow us on Instagram, you know that we planned a cover reveal for the Summer 2018 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine this past weekend. While we always enjoy cover reveals, this one was extra special because the covergirl herself got to reveal this one!
I (editor Jessica Lippe) first met Taylor Bennett through Facebook, but when I learned she lived less than two hours away from me, I knew we needed to meet in person. That happened last month when I did a live interview with Taylor. Since then, her debut novel Porch Swing Girl was released. With that came a book release party planned for this past weekend. I happened to be planning a weekend retreat just north of her hometown, so I confirmed it for the same weekend so that I could stop by Taylor’s party on the way home.
Taylor Bennett is a published author at the ripe old age of 17, and has a contract to write two more books. I felt that her story was inspirational enough to share with girls all around the world, which is why she was chosen as the summer 2018 covergirl of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. I also asked our assistant editor and cover designer, Lily Garay, if we could make the cover a priority so that it could be completed last week before I left on my trip.
Upon arriving at Taylor’s church the day of her book release party, we enjoyed the Hawaiian decorations and food that matched the setting of Porch Swing Girl. Taylor Bennett was busy signing books for all the guests, but we did get the opportunity for a quick chat. I handed her an envelope, which when opened revealed a frame with the Girlz 4 Christ Summer 2018 cover.