Machaela Murrell is from Durham, North Carolina, and a rising junior at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is an Ernest C. Hynds Jr. intern for the fall 2022 semester.

1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?

One of the many parts of the Bible that has impacted me is the story of Esther.

Ever since reading about her for the first time when I was young, I was fascinated by the story of how an ordinary Israelite woman became a Persian queen. I was amazed at her bravery and trust in God and how she was willing to risk her life in order to save her people.

My mom would always tell me that I needed to be prepared for my “Esther moment,” and as I’ve grown up, I’ve taken those words to heart. There may be a time when I am faced with a challenging situation, and even though it may not be a matter of life and death like in Esther’s case, I still hope that I can stand strong with the same fortitude as she had.

2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?

One of my piano teachers named Mrs. Hill really influenced me because she sparked my love for hymns. Music has been a huge part of my life since I can remember, and she was the one teacher that truly let me express myself through music. She was the person who taught me how to read music out of a hymn book, which has suited me well as a church pianist.

I also went to Worldview Academy camp three summers in a row when I was younger, and a plethora of people poured into me spiritually from the speakers to the small group leaders. I learned not only how to defend my Christian faith, but also how to critically think and listen to countering arguments.

I’ve also seen the examples of people at my church who have been steadfast examples of what having faith looks like. There is a sweet woman at our church who suffers from constant chronic pain yet is so cheery and friendly when you speak to her. She even offered to help teach me Spanish for a while, and her sweet personality despite her pain has been so empowering.

3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.

Besides the Bible (haha), I also love a book series called the Kingdom series. It is a collection of adventurous stories with Christian themes and messages but written in a medieval time period. I also love crime shows, so I’d probably be binge watching S.W.A.T. or Chicago PD on Hulu.

4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?

I think that one issue that people are facing, especially young people, is a lack of fulfillment and purpose. It seems every time I’m on YouTube or scrolling through online articles, people are talking about how they don’t feel fulfilled at their “dream job” or how they’ve reached their 20s and still haven’t found what they want to do in life. There are countless ads advertising the quick and easy way to make enough money to ditch your boring life and have a life of leisure. Discontentment seems to be a very common thing, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe it is because many people are self-centered. When we live our lives for ourselves. I’ve seen this in my own life. I am the type of person who gets great satisfaction in setting goals and meeting them, but I’ve had to ask myself how much of my time and energy is used to help other people.

5. What are a few of your hobbies?

I love to read! Growing up, the local library was my happy place, and it still is. I could spend hours and hours reading books and be perfectly content. I also love playing piano. I began taking lessons when I was four years old, and I’ve been playing in church since I was around 13.

6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?

If I could freeze a moment in time, I think it would be hanging out at my best friend’s house just enjoying her company. She is married now with a family, and I couldn’t be happier for her, but I still remember the moments when we were younger and sometimes wish I could go back in time so I could treasure those times more.

7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?

My “more to tell” is that as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that respect goes a long way. Treat others how you want to be treated, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. I’ve met many people who don’t share my ideals or beliefs but because I still treat them like fellow human beings, we get along just fine. People often say I’m easy to talk to and that’s because I just feel like kindness and empathy are important.

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