By Holly McCray, Special Contributor…
Her mother recognized Jerrica Becker’s big heart for children when her daughter was a little child. Now a young-adult missionary, Jerrica uses her gift to help neglected children in Cedartown, Ga.
Connie Becker recalled shopping trips when Jerrica was small. The child sought out and engaged other children while their mothers shopped, too, said Connie.
In May, Jerrica graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology. In August, she was commissioned as a US-2 through the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and began her assignment, as assistant chaplain at a residential children’s center in Cedartown.
Her hometown church is First UMC in Fairview, Okla. “I remember vividly her working with our King’s Kids, as a counselor, and working with the little kids,” said the Rev. Rich Redinger, pastor at the church. “She had a heart for the kids with problems.”
Mr. Redinger said he’s known Jerrica since she was a second-grader. “She was a leader in things; she didn’t just participate. She is probably one of the most exceptional people to graduate from Fairview High School.”
Jerrica’s church and school accomplishments are extensive and wide-ranging, affirming a remarkable person. Among her achievements: presidency of the National Association of Student Councils.
Both a youth minister and a teacher at Fairview High quizzed parents Connie and Paul, “Do you have any kind of idea what kind of leader she is?”
The parents told their daughter, “Be happy in what you do. God has a plan for you.”
As a teen Jerrica and her friends started their own Bible study, said Adam Brinson, current youth director at Fairview-First. He also remembered her determination to take part in a youth mission trip to New Mexico, despite a conflicting event in Oklahoma City. Jerrica’s mom drove her to join the team at 2 a.m. in Amarillo, Texas.
During the mission, Jerrica took on a big cleanup project, Mr. Brinson said. “I remember her with a leaf blower and a cloud of dust billowing out of that storage building. No one else was willing to clean it up.”
In college, the Wesley Fellowship at Duke nurtured Jerrica, now 23. The campus minister there was among the first people she called after deciding to sign up for the US-2 program. Jerrica initially learned about it when that clergywoman emailed general information to the Wesley students.
US-2 missionaries serve for two years, usually in ministries that emphasize social justice, according to a GBGM online story. This young-adult program has operated through more than 60 years.
Jerrica described the training as both intense and encouraging, especially “discernment days.”
And, she said, “we spent a lot of time in discussion about social economic justice, how to minister cross-culturally, systems of oppression in the U.S. and other countries. The staff at the General Board has so much knowledge.”
She was in a group of 10 US-2s commissioned on Aug. 3 at Aldersgate UMC, Alexandria, Va., during the anniversary event “Celebrating Young Adults in Mission: Living Stones for Transformation.”
Now in Georgia, Jerrica is a spiritual mentor for children and youths and a coordinator for volunteer church groups at Murphy-Harpst Children’s Centers, a residential facility. It includes an independent living component for older teens. Murphy-Harpst is related to the North Georgia Annual Conference and is a national mission institution of United Methodist Women.
“The kids have a lot of questions about God and Christianity, but staff is employed by the state. My job gives me the freedom to answer them,” Jerrica explained.
Among her favorite Scriptures: I Timothy 4:12. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in faith, and in purity.”
Jerrica blogs at http://lifeofageorgiapeach.blogspot.com.
Ms. McCray is editor of Contact, the publication of the Oklahoma Conference, where this story first appeared.