By Mary Carmen Zakrajsek, Christian Leadership Summit Attendee
I am honored and incredibly thankful to have been a part of the Christian Leadership Summit (CLS). My name is Mary Carmen and I am a sophomore Political Science and Spanish major all the way from Indianapolis, IN at Marian University. My pro-life journey has been a roller coaster and I am in awe of how the Lord has taken me this far. These past few days in Florida have been absolutely incredible. They have given me the knowledge and courage to go out and spread truth on my college campus.
My pro-life journey truly began in high school when I attended my first March for Life. I had always been pro-life, but like many, I didn’t realize the weight of this movement until I traveled to our nation’s capital. I remember being shocked and appalled at the horror and reality of abortion, and since then I have had an enormous passion to fight for the unborn. I traveled to many political events, including a meet and greet with our Indiana governor. I spoke to him about abortion and he shared my views. I soon became the President of my high school club for two years.
My first Students for Life conference was my Junior year in high school and it was the Indiana Leadership Summit at Ball State University. That was the first time I had gone somewhere for training and I remember being really impressed by the guest speakers. A few months later I was able to meet with Sue Swayze, a lobbyist, at the Indiana Statehouse to learn more about the legal issue of abortion.
As aforementioned, I had a passion that was unwavering and unstoppable. That summer I was nominated for the Thaddeus Stevens Fellowship, a training weekend and yearlong fellowship run by Students for Life of America. I flew to Washington D.C. for the kick-off weekend and fell in love with the work that Students for Life was doing. I greatly enjoyed the training weekend not only because I met other fellows, but because I realized that abortion would not be outlawed if we remained silent. I learned so much over the weekend and throughout the entire process, and it set a fire in my soul that would not be easily dwindled.
That is why I was so excited to apply for this Christian Leadership Summit. I am hungry for truth and finding more ways to speak it. As a devout Christian, I wanted something specifically pertaining to the Christian Worldview and a Christian campus. My senior year of high school, we had gotten into some problems with administration after our pro-life poster was taken down by the principal and thrown away. I contacted Anna Allgaier, my SFLA regional coordinator, and she gave me the courage to seek legal counsel. Pretty soon it was me against my high school of 5,000+ students. I faced a lot of persecution from classmates, administration, and random people in my community. Abortion itself is controversial; I’m just shedding light on it. I was on the front page of the Indianapolis Star newspaper, all over the local news, and even testified on the Senate floor at the Indiana Statehouse. All the while, Students for Life stood behind me.
The Christian Leadership Summit flooded me with new ideas to bring back to my club. It taught me ways to table, events to put on, how to run a club, all of it. I learned so much about the importance of supportive services. Without knowing what pregnancy services are available, how am I going to help women who are seeking abortion? I need to be able to provide them an alternative.
Perhaps my favorite part of CLS was the Apologetics training by Healing the Culture. That completely changed my strategy of how to talk to people who are pro-choice. I am so grateful for the resources and books given to us and am confident they will help me advance in leadership skills. This summit was amazing because it brought so many people together from all over the country and allowed us to build a fellowship with one another, built upon Christ.
Because of this summit, I am set on fire for Christ and helping his flock. This year I want my club to be LOUD and vocal. People should know there is a pro-life club on campus, because if they don’t, then we are not doing our job. Up until now, our club would meet in a closed room and talk about pro-life facts and it was really, really boring. NO more of that. I want our club to be planning and putting on events all over campus. I want people to remember our flyers in the hall advertising for pregnancy resources. I want people to start talking about abortion on campus and why it is harmful to women. I want to leave a legacy.
As far as my future goes, I think God has given me the gift of confidence. He wants ME to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. I am not afraid to be bold and be passionate. I have many aspirations and dreams, whether that is being a pro-life lobbyist, lawyer, politician, missionary, or simply being that person who activates their community. I am open to what God has in store for me.