I love meeting women full of zeal for Christ! We have even featured many here on Spotlight such as Lauren DeMoss, and MiMi Atkins. But when I discovered that Haley Phelps was 16 years old, on FIRE for Jesus, and already a VP of an organization, I was taken aback.
Getting to know Haley, her testimony, and her beautiful faith has me excited to see what else God has in store for her.
This month we are featuring Haley in our Spotlight. You may also know her as our Teen Columnist here at Whole!
WM: Haley, can you share with our readers a little bit about your upbringing?
H: I was raised in Maryland, by my two parents, Kathy and Nelson. They are amazing people who I look up to greatly. They have done a marvelous job of raising me and teaching me when I needed to be taught the most. I have created some amazing memories with the both of them, alongside my brother, Quinn, who is a freshman in college at UMD. Truly, I would not trade in my childhood and my upbringing for anything else in the entire world. I am truly blessed for what I have been given and I would not have wanted it any other way. My mother comes from a traditional Catholic family, whereas my father has never really had any specific spiritual or religious affiliation. I grew up a believer and going to mass, but this was mainly on holidays, such as Easter and Christmas. For me, a relationship with God was never present. While my childhood was filled with such great happiness and joy, prayer and faith was never something truly prominent in my home and everyday life when I was raised. But again, The Lord really has blessed me with parents who have taken good care of me, have taught me well, and who love me unconditionally. And I could not be any more pleased with how I was raised.
WM: How were you introduced to Jesus personally?
H: First off, let me give a bit of background on where I was spiritually before I was born again. (I am currently 16 years old and was reborn when I was 15.) I believed. But the relationship with Christ was never there. I never thought about sinning or my sins. God was never something on my mind. I did not view Christianity as foolishness or anything, but it just was not a part of my life. I simply went about my life, thinking I was doing nothing wrong. Going into my freshman year of high school I began dating someone. As the relationship progressed and we continued to get to know each other a lot better, the topic of God and faith began to arise. I used to be very universalist, meaning I believed firmly that there were many ways to the one way and that all religions needed to be accepted and branded as correct. I believed in God as one God over everyone and regardless of who someone was worshipping or what religion they practiced, it was all the same. Google what a Unitarian-Universalist is, and that was me. I then went through a phase of a month or two, where I was strictly Catholic. I loved the Pope. I loved praying to Mary and the saints. I was all about lighting candles to Mary and talking to her. My boyfriend and I would argue consistently about Catholic doctrine, theological issues, and public issues, and it concerned me. I would think he was crazy and call him “narrow-minded,” and a “Jesus freak.” I was persecuting him. Our conversations made me mad and it eventually led to me questioning whether or not there even was a God to begin with. There was a period of time when my belief was completely gone. But one evening before I went to bed, I turned on the TV and Joel Osteen was on the screen. He was finishing up his service and He was talking about accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. And I thought about everything my boyfriend and I had discussed, and I gave my life to Jesus that night. I do not have an exact date. I do not have a day. But I know it was in March of 2014. As a matter of fact, March is the anniversary of my rebirth, which is why this spotlight is so special to me. It was a long process for me. It was a process filled with many if’s, what’s, how’s, and why’s, but God worked in me to the point where to this day, I am wholeheartedly in love with my Yeshua. He is my portion and He is my everything. It is funny, because I now understand where my boyfriend was coming from completely. And that is because the Holy Spirit lives in me now. My boyfriend and I are still dating to this day, and are coming up on our three year anniversary in May. I have such strong fellowship with my boyfriend, Matt, and his mother, Angela. They are blessings to my life, considering that they were used as a tool by God to have an impact on me. I can just remember spending time with him and arguing over everything, and now fast forward to today where we spend all of our time having Bible studies and engaging in conversation about the Lord. Now. To this day, I am not a fan of Osteen’s. As a matter of fact, I disagree with his teachings and refuse to get caught in the trap of the “name it, claim it,” prosperity gospel; HOWEVER, I feel that my testimony goes to show one thing: God can use ungodly things to bring you closer to Him. I know my testimony may not come off as special to those reading it, but the change and the work He has completed in me is astounding. What He has done with me, has become very special to me and is something that I will never forget. I am a new creation. My personal story is proof of God. The minute I became a follower of Christ, my life turned around for the better. Ever since I have been reborn, I have obtained a large amount of participation with Whole, I started a Non-Profit with my best friend, and so much more. Following Jesus was the best decision I ever made. Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Can you tell us about Hope 4 Tomorrow and the mission & vision behind it?
One of my dear friends, Janice Onigbinde, approached me when we were Sophomores in High School (We are currently Juniors). She discussed with me her life-changing trip to Nigeria (her family is from there) and really felt God tugging at her heart to do something about the horrid things she saw there. She would describe to me in detail the terrible things she had witnessed. After taking me through her trip, she asked me if I wanted to help her start a club at our high school, Century, that was aimed towards giving back and helping youth find who they truly were through the Gospel. And I was immediately on board. I had always had a deep passion to give back and make a difference, but I never knew how. God opened a HUGE door open for the both of us and we got the club started at our school. We had a surprising amount of kids sign up and join the first time. It really encouraged us! Towards the end of the school year, God laid it upon our hearts to become a Non-Profit Organization, and we did that summer with the help of so many wonderful people. Praise God! We have a wonderful board, made up of me, Janice, Jodi Slein, Angela Wade, Janice’s brother, Theo, and her mother, Laide. Theo has actually extended Hope 4 Tomorrow to UNC Chapel Hill and developed it into a club there. Our mission is to give youth the tools they need in order to succeed in life through the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Youth is our focus and we intend to expand our impact throughout the world. We do not highlight one specific necessity. We are willing and eager to help with anything we possibly can, whether it is food, clothing, water, school supplies, or anything else. While we are an Organization that has open arms for anyone who wants to give back, we make it clear that God is our foundation. He is our motivator and our driven force behind it all. We intend to complete our mission through the unconditional love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His beautiful Word.
WM: What are some of the toughest challenges you face as a young Christian woman today?
H: Let me start out by saying that being a 16 year old Christian girl is not easy in today’s society. I have been raised in a generation that has been taught that sex sells, drugs solve problems, dressing sexually gets you attention, and partying makes you popular. Unfortunately, this is the enemy’s work and he has managed to manipulate millions of teens my age. I am the exact opposite of what is considered “cool.” I prefer to sit at home, studying my Bible, drinking hot tea, while others prefer to spend their Friday nights partying, having sex, and smoking. I, along with the rest of you all, live in a corrupt and evil society that is filled with ungodly influences. Whenever I walk into school, I feel as if I do not belong. Being a young woman who dresses modestly, strives to stay pure, and spends her time studying God’s Word, is not necessarily winning me any popularity awards, that is for sure. But that is okay with me. Speaking for the Lord is not supposed to make you popular. (Luke 6:26) Being bold for Christ is another struggle. The rarity of teens who have hearts longing for Jesus is increasing. I am still struggling to find people who are truly willing to meet with me and study the Bible. Once I was reborn, I observed that friends and people began to leave my life, slowly and gradually, one by one. Being a Christian teen, you feel alone. You feel like you do not belong; however, I would so much rather follow God and obey Him, than follow the world and be denied by God one day. The wrong expectations are being put on teens nowadays. There is no sense of godliness in today’s generation. I hate saying it, but it is the truth. So to answer the question directly, I would say some of the toughest challenges are: 1) the constant pressure to engage in ungodly activities, such as drinking, having sex, cussing, etc. 2) feeling like you are alone and struggling to find people your age and gender who relate to you, and 3) staying true to who you are and staying faithful to God. When you do have all of these influences being forced upon you by the enemy, it can become extremely rough, but God has always been there to catch me and prevent me from doing something I would regret.
WM: What inspires you to press on, when you are faced with trials?
H: I love to meditate on the fact that I have an intimate, love-story like relationship with the Creator of the Universe. I think about the fact that there is only one me and I have been chosen by the Almighty to work for Him every day. I think about all of the things that the Lord has done for me in my darkest moments and my deepest struggles. I believe that we ALL have those unforgettable, life changing moments that are our turning points in our relationship with the Lord. They are those moments that stick to your brain and refuse to peel off. It is that one moment that is personal between only us and the Lord. I think about that. I think about the fact that He has always picked me up when I have been down, regardless of the fact that I fail Him every day. It sounds like a lot, yet it is all so simple, because all it is, is resting in His everlasting mercy, grace, and unfailing love that He has for each and every one of us. His love leaves me speechless and it motivates me to keep moving forward, because I know that He is on my side. There has not been a single moment in my life where He has left me to fend for myself. When He was dying on that cross for me, that was His promise to us that He would love us and cherish us forever. And He has never broken that promise. Ever. That is what motivates me: those thoughts.
WM:What advice do you have for young women who are seeking a relationship with Christ, with no support from friends or family?
My advice would be to spend time BEING in His presence as much as you possibly can. It is 100% possible to have a strong relationship with the Lord even when you are surrounded by those who my not understand you. Listen to worship music. Study your Bible. Talk to the Lord consistently. GOD HEARS YOU! He has you where you are for a reason. Soak yourself in His presence as much as possible. Ladies, He is all you need. You do not need any person on this earth to strengthen your relationship with Him. He is all we need to satisfy our souls. He is our water when we are thirsty. He is our food when we are hungry. He is our portion when we feel empty. Whether it is before you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning, simply gravitate all your energy on Him and Him ONLY! I know that for me, I put in my earphones, lay down, turn my worship music on, and just talk to Him and focus all I have on Him. Your routine does not have to be the same as mine. We each have a relationship with the Lord that is unique to just us and Him, but once you begin to pursue Him in the time you have been given, He will strengthen your heart. He will give you what you need in order to keep going. There is nothing more sustaining and moving than simply letting the Holy Spirit fill you with His joy and love. Find time to be with Him. And you are set to go. The time spent focusing on Him is crucial if you want your relationship with God to continue. If you are going through a situation where you feel alone and you have no who understands you, I can relate. And believe me when I say that something good will come out of where you are at this very moment. Let God know that you have faith in Him. Give your all to Him, ladies. Because when you do, He will do some pretty amazing things. He loves you. Never give up.
WM: What are 3 of your favorite Bible verses and why?
H: Toughy but a goodie! Let me order them by favorites, with 3 being the least and 1 being my go-to verse!
1) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:11-13 esv~
You know those times when God will show you a verse repeatedly whether it is through social media, music, etc. and you just know that it is Him talking to you? Well this happened to me…with this verse. And I realized that He was trying to show me something. I went a FULL MONTH with this verse showing up unexpectedly, at least twice a day. I have a particular struggle, which I intend to keep personal between me and the Lord, and this verse just fits in perfectly with what I struggle with the most. As the Lord led me in study, He highlighted the importance of us seeking Him with all our hearts. He showed me that a relationship with Him should not revolve around what He can give, we should seek Him simply because we love Him and want Him. This verse embodies our lives as followers: the fact that He has a plan for us, steadfast prayer is crucial, we seek Him WHOLE-heartedly and we trust Him through it all.
2) Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready. ~Revelation 19:17 esv~
This verse exemplifies my actions when the Lord comes back. I cannot wait for the moment when His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives and His Name shall be the ONLY name! I am reminded here that all glory goes to Him and no one else. We do not contribute a single drop to our salvation. It is all Jesus. I love how it says the “marriage” of the Lamb! A marriage is defined as a meeting and romantic joining between the Bride and her Bridegroom. This is us and Yeshua. This will be us meeting with Yahweh for the very first time, face to face, physically, after experiencing that deep and intimate spiritual relationship during our time on this earth. I ask you all to create a mental image of this in your heard. And I have dreamt about this moment countless times before. I have definitely made myself ready. After all He has done for me and shown me, I am ready for Him to come back at any moment. This verse just screams excitement for the Lord to come back, which is a moment I am looking the MOST forward to out of all!
1a) [Because I just cannot choose 3! Haha!] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. ~John 14:3 esv~
An extension of #2, the idea that the Lord is preparing a particular place for only us and Him gives me butterflies! He will take us to Himself, meaning we will be alone with Him. Just us and Jesus; no other. Wherever He is, I will follow. It is all about soaking in His glorious presence. After feeling His spirit in worship and prayer, I will finally be with Him alone in fellowship, physically in a place He made specially for us both.
2) MY FAVORITE: He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me is love. ~Song of Solomon 2:4 esv~
Okay. I bet you’re thinking, really Haley? THIS is your favorite? Well, 1) yes and 2) think about it. While Song of Solomon is discussing the earthly love between a husband and his wife, I comprehend it is a detailed description of our love-story like relationship we have with Yeshua. SOS 2:4 is amazing. This verse grabbed my attention, locked me in, and has never let go of me since. It informs us on what The Lord truly wants from all of us: our love. That is all He wants. HE WANTS to shower us with His unfailing, everlasting, unconditional love. HE WANTS us to love Him with all we have. This verse has always touched my heart and encouraged me in my relationship with Him. It is all about love. God IS love. To think that the Creator of the Universe holds nothing but love for me, has never ceased to amaze me.
Fun questions, just because!
1. If your life was a reality show, what would it be called?
Literally: “Njfksfdbhabv,” because you never what is going to happen with me.
2. Favorite movie?
Hmm. I have always had a tough time answering this one! I have two ultimate favorites: The Passion of The Christ (which I encourage all my brothers and sisters in Christ to see if they have not already), and Gone With The Wind! (Yup. I am an oldie!)
3. Coffee or tea?
Tea. For sure. There is nothing better than curling up with a good cup of hot tea and studying His Word.
4. Current obsession?
This may sound a bit silly, but my current obsession is wearing no makeup at all, whether it is in school or just going out. We live in a society where photoshop is our best friend. We use it like crazy. While it is fun to use filters and play around, I want people to see the real me. (I encourage all my sisters to go bare sometimes and simply embrace the beautiful woman God has created them to be!) I am really enjoying just being confident in my own skin and going all natural sometimes.
Typically, people just call me Haley; however, people very dear to me call me “Hales!”
6. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Cliche and expected, but Jesus. Hands down. Something He has shown me on our walk, is that all He wants is a relationship with us. A deep, intimate, love story-like relationship. He wants us to be His best friend and love Him like He loves us: unconditionally. Whether it is when He calls me Home or steps foot back onto this earth, having dinner with Him is something I pray will happen. It is a dream of mine. He is a person just like the rest of us, experiencing every emotion in the book. (Except He is God, of course!) But other than Him, I would have to say a Beatle. Either Paul McCartney or John Lennon. Can I do both?!
7. How can our readers connect with you and Hope 4 Tomorrow?
Because we are a fairly fresh and new organization, we would love all of the support and help we could possibly get. You can follow us at:
Facebook: Hope 4 Tomorrow (If it does not appear in the search bar, shoot me a friend request, and it can be located on my page!)
(Our site has more information on how you can get involved and make any monetary donations.)