GARLAND - On January 14th, Nayely Vallejo received a call, the call she had been waiting for for a long time. "Congratulations" is all she heard and she knew that all her praying and putting her faith in God paid off. The call she received was recognition that she had been one of four selected to serve as a National Acteens Panelist, and the only one selected from Texas.
"I began to cry happy tears," said Nayely.
With the start of her senior year, she could feel that God was going to do great things in her life. Following that one call, good news keep coming: she never could have imagined that it all started with gaining the courage to send off her application.
"The recognition as National Acteen Panelist of the Women's Missionary Union is an exciting spotlight for Nayely," said Mary Lou Sinclair, Nayely's Sunday School teacher. "We are very happy for her."
The National Acteens Panel is a group of young women interested in missions and impacting their world for Christ. The young women selected as national panelists have exhibited a strong commitment to Christ and to missions through their Acteens programs, leadership responsibilities in their church and community and dedication to their academic studies.
"I never thought that I would be able to call myself a National Acteen," said Nayely, "I give all the glory to God and praise Him for all the things He has done, is doing and will do through me."
Growing up in a family of believers, Nayely Vallejo and her family have been members of Freeman Heights Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, for 12 years. While attending church as a young girl, Nayely was always active in their children and youth departments. She was faithful in her attendance of the Sunday Bible study, and was heavily involved in the Children's Choir for six years.
"She had many solos and even leads in our musicals and even participated in all of our videos produced for Visual Story Bible Ministries, Inc," said Sinclair.
Nayely was also an active member of the Girls in Action (GAs) organization for five years until she was promoted into the Acteens organization.
"I was not able to join Acteens until I was in middle school but the moment I was finally of age, I was crazy excited," said Nayely.
As an Acteen, Nayely was selected to be a Teen Staffer at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Encampment in Cedar Hill, Texas, twice a year.
"She is loved and respected by the younger girls that she works with, as well as her peers that she works along side of," said Sinclair.
Nayely is a member of the Acteens Bell Choir group and has been involved in a local ministry at the Plaza of Richardson Rehabilitation Center. She has been recognized as an outstanding volunteer in the Recreation and Outreach Ministry (ROC), which is an active ministry at Freeman Heights.
"We go out and help our community and to me, that is the absolute best part of it all," said Nayely.
Being a part of Acteens, Nayely has been able to meet and befriend so many people. She has worked with refugees at a lock-in, gone to the countryside of Tyler to pet and ride horses, visited the Dewberry plantation house, and built stronger bonds with the younger girls in her church who look up to her as a role model. Nayely was also given the privilege to go to a Blume Acteens Convention held in Disney World.
"There is nothing I can find more rewarding than being an Acteen," said Nayely, "Acteens has given me so many adventures and opportunities that I could never get anywhere else!"
Besides being heavily involved at Freeman Heights, Nayely is also involved in North Garland High School. Along with being an excellent student, she takes part in her school choir and is a member of NG Strong (North Garland Students That Receive Or Need God).
"I love being able to serve others," said Nayely, "It makes me flood with joy knowing that I am not doing things for myself but for other people."
Nayely's journey to achieve her amazing honor was an emotional ride. When she was first asked to do the application, she was hesitant and pushed it to the side. Around November 2013, she began the application process. She started asking her Sunday school teachers and NG Strong sponsors for recommendation letters and got to work on her application and essays.
"One of the topics for the essays asked how I came to Christ - my testimony. That essay was the hardest to write," said Nayely, "It meant I had to look back to my past and remember how broken and lost I was."
While writing her essays, though it brought tears to her eyes, she said she did not hold back. She told them everything and hoped that they would read it and truly understand who she was.
For weeks, her family and friends prayed that she would be noticed and that if it was God's will for her to be chosen, then it would happen.
"I thought all hope was lost for me and that there was nothing I could do, but God told me not to give up, so I didn't," Nayley said.
Her perseverance paid off and now she has the privilege of sharing her story in churches across Texas as a 2014 National Acteens Panelist. She will also be representing Texas in Baltimore, Maryland, June 9-10, at the National WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration, as well as being a guest writer for the Acteens Magazine, TheMag.