For University of West Florida student Mariah Bush, family and faith have helped form her into the young woman she is today.
Adopted from China when she was six months old, she said her life has been filled with blessings.
She counts her church, St. Luke United Methodist in Pensacola, Florida, among those.
"(The church) has been absolutely instrumental in my upbringing. … The congregation houses some of my biggest personal cheerleaders for everything that I have been involved in growing up, and I know that they will continue to support me in my future endeavors, which means the world to me.
"Just having people behind you, supporting you and loving on you will do wonders for one's self confidence and drive. I firmly believe that without the people I have gotten to know over the years at my church that I would not be half of the person that I am today," she said.
Bush, who is studying to be a physical therapist, received a World Communion Sunday scholarship. She said the money gave her one less thing to worry about as she navigated some big life changes. In addition to her studies, she is active with her Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and serves as a mentor for a 6-year-old boy through a program with her church.
"Mentoring touches me so much because I am an only child and have always wanted a little brother or sister. ... Being able to be his buddy for that hour every week has given me such joy and it reminds me that you don't need material items and fancy clothes to be truly happy, because he is the sweetest, most caring, loving child I have ever met."
Bush also is interested in global mission work and plans to return to Santa Rosita, Peru, with her church this summer. Church members build houses there for families in need.
"The people of Santa Rosita hold a special place in my heart, along with my church's, and I will continue to minister to them and work on that seed that we have planted there as much as I can with my time, effort and prayer."
Bush is a prime example of how World Communion Sunday gifts are helping students answer God's call. She encourages her fellow United Methodists to continue to give generously.
"The church should see World Communion Sunday as a smart investment as these scholarships go toward paving a better road for The United Methodist Church. The only way to ensure that our churches will continue heading in the right direction is to continue to teach the next generations the right principles."
She said it's also important to support their future plans so that they will stay involved in the church, like she plans to do.
"I want my children to grow up in church like I have, since it has done so much for me and my upbringing. I also want to always stay involved in my church by holding a continuous leadership role. I look forward to being able to have a hand in other people's experiences in the church just as so many people have done for me."
Julie Dwyer, general church content editor, United Methodist Communications
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God's children. The special offering provides World Communion Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.
When you give generously on World Communion Sunday, you equip gifted, qualified students from around the globe to become the world changers God created them to be. Give now