Showing the impact intentional discipleship of youth can have on the next generation, 14 year-old Indiana youth Hannah Foust addressed the 864 delegates and more than 2,000 visitors at the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church this morning in Portland, OR. During her speech she shared the passion she has for providing clean water to the people of Burkina Faso and her sources of inspiration.
“Can you imagine drinking water that looks like chocolate milk? Or bathing in it?”, asked Foust. Over the last 2 years, Foust has funded 3 wells in Burkina Faso by doing yard work, housework, babysitting, and sharing her message about the need for clean water. She has also inspired the funding and building of 13 additional wells in Burkina Faso, providing clean water for nearly 13,000 people.
“Funding wells is not the only thing God has called me to do. God has called me to be a light of inspiration for others to change the world no matter what their age or challenges may be. I have a hard time believing that me, a 14 year old girl from Indiana, can have that much influence.” She added, “but it’s not all about me! It’s about the way that God is using me to help his people.”
Sharing the story from John 6 of Jesus feeding the five thousand, Foust remarked that there are two miracles; one, that a boy would give up his lunch, which received light laugher from those in attendance and two, that the disciples believed that the task before them was too hard for them to accomplish. “The disciples forgot who they were with,” said Foust.
Foust mentioned the influence various United Methodists have had on her life and that it is her hope that “every young person can have an adult to look up to, and to nurture them, just like the many adults that have done the same for me.”
“Hannah Foust is the fruit God has grown through our Vital United Methodist Connection. Praise be to God!" said Rev. Amy Valdez Barker, Executive Secretary of Connectional Table. Hannah’s inspiring speech and humbling presence was a reminder of the vital need to engage our youth and even “go out on a limb to let a little girl preach from our pulpit.”