At the ripe age of 14, Austin felt the call to preach and surrendered himself to the ministry. Now 17 years of age, Austin preaches once a month at a local Missionary Baptist church while maintaining excellent grades in school, being thoroughly involved in school events and organizations both in school and in the community, and working at Avilla Hardware in the summer time and on Saturdays during the school year.
“My hobbies include jogging, shooting archery and competitive archery, playing the guitar, singing, listening to music, playing the euphonium, marching band, spending time with friends, family, and church family, studying the bible, helping others, and spending time with God in prayer,” Austin stated.
Austin has also been known to visit the elderly and widows in the Saline county community and help out where he can. He has earned the honor of attending the 4H National Shooting Sports Championship in Nebraska for the past two years and has been a catalyst in organizing the new Archery Club for Benton High School.
Many people in the community speak highly of Austin and his selfless nature and attitude. Amy, a member of the Missionary Baptist congregation of the church that Austin preaches at stated, “Austin is one of the most generous and compassionate teens I have ever met and he definitely deserves to be honored. Aside from those accomplishments, he is a very selfless person and in his spare time he helps out wherever he can. If he sees anyone in trouble you can guarantee he will stop to help.”
As of right now, Austin is focused on excelling in school, reaching an ACT (American College Testing) score of at least a 30 – which is not an easy accomplishment mind you – and graduating high school to attend Henderson State University. “What I might major in is still beyond me. I am praying about that and researching different majors. At the moment, I am considering business and management as a major.”
After completing his undergrad in state at Henderson State University, Austin plans to attend seminary school and follow God’s calling for him to preach. “After that point, it’s a mystery of what I plan to do. All I can do now is pray for God to lead and guide me along and that with my life, He might be glorified and others will be pointed to Him as they come into contact with me,” Austin said.
You’ll find no shortage of comments from his peers and congregation regarding Austin and his character:
“I commend this young man in his service for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his Love for the Lord, I am encouraged by his example of what, we all as Christians should allow others to see.”
“He takes responsibility very seriously and is always asking what he can do to improve himself or help others to improve.”
“He witnesses to everyone he comes in contact with and has built up our youth group at church.”
Austin’s main goal in life is to live a life that brings glory for God and that he may be a light to lead others to Christ. “I want to eventually come to pastor a church after college and seminary. Mainly, I want to live a life of service to help others around me and to be a light.”
On January 6, tragedy struck Austin’s life when his step-father died unexpectedly. In the face of this terrible event, Austin was a pillar of strength for his mom, sister, younger brother, and all the family and friends around him.
Austin was the first to speak about his step-father at the service. Michelle Rundell-Stapleton recalls, “What he did today has been by far the most poised and well spoken I’ve seen of him behind the pulpit. He spoke of the love [Austin’s step-father] had for him and how he has helped shape him into the man he is today. He then finished with telling [his step-father’s] testimony and shared the gospel message with everyone in attendance.”
Austin concludes, “I want to serve God because of what he has done for me and every person on this earth.” There’s no doubt his words are completely supported by his actions every day.