Last-Minute Generosity Changes Teens’ Lives at CHIC

17-year-old Arianna Veasy (left) and 15-year-old Serena Perkins (right) unexpectedly went to CHIC with JaLise Haney (center) from Common Grounds Covenant Church.

JACKSON, MS (July 31, 2018) – Two teenagers from Texas who were visiting their dad here for several weeks had never heard of CHIC and certainly never expected they would make a decision to follow Christ there.

But a local tragedy and generosity from across the Covenant led to a week that would change their lives at the triennial youth conference attended by 5,000 other students in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The youth, 15-year-old Serena Perkins and 17-year-old Arianna Veasy, had gotten to know JaLise Haney, who volunteers with Common Ground Covenant Church in Jackson, over the past three years. “We have a sort of mentoring relationship,” Haney said.

No senior-high students currently attend her congregation, so Haney had volunteered to serve with the CHIC prayer team. She had never attended the event, and she figured this was a way she could learn more about it. She was set to fly to Knoxville and arrive early along with other members of the prayer team.

But when her friend was murdered, she stayed in Jackson to attend the funeral and play with the worship team. That meant she had to miss her flight and rent a car instead.

“I thought, ‘If I have to rent a car, then maybe I could take these girls,’” Haney said. “I thought it would be a good way for us to spend time together.”

Because the students could not afford the registration fees, Haney called Tim Ciccone, director of youth ministry for the denomination, to see if it might be possible to find funds to pay their registration.

She knew it was a long shot because of the late date. Any potential scholarship money had already been distributed. “I was willing to take a no, but I was unwilling not to ask,” Haney said.

Ciccone put out a plea on Facebook for help. Within minutes, churches had offered to pay the registrations and provided $100 of spending for both teens.

“They had an amazing time,” Haney said. “They were taking notes throughout the whole thing.  They wanted to be engaged in the deeper things.”

The teenagers had never seen anything like it, Haney said, adding, “For them to have references to their contemporary culture meant a lot.”

Both students ultimately responded to a call to follow Christ and now want to be baptized, Haney said.


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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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  1. Thank God for people who are willing to reach out and see where God takes them. Thanks to JaLise for being unwilling not to ask. Thanks to Tim for reaching out on Facebook to ask for the money needed to send these two teens to CHIC. Thanks to all those on Facebook who contributed to the request. Thanks to the Holy Spirit for working in the lives of so many and in the hearts of these two teens who responded to God’s call. Praise be to God!

  2. Hooray for such openness to the Holy Spirit, JaLise! How grateful I am for women like you who *see* the younger women around you! Thank you for listening and responding. I too am inspired by your approach of being unwilling not to ask!

  3. “I was willing to take a no, but I was unwilling not to ask,” Haney said. That is a wonderful verification of Ecclesiastes 11:
    “Sow your seed in the morning,
    and at evening let your hands not be idle,
    for you do not know which will succeed,
    whether this or that,
    or whether both will do equally well.”

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