South Carolina teenager lives as gospel catalyst

Eden Benton, a 16-year-old high school student from South Carolina, is proof of the adage, “God can use you no matter your age.”

She’ll be the first to tell you that she has had a great upbringing. Eden grew up in a Christian home and was raised in a healthy church. She surrendered her life to the Lord at an early age when her church experienced revival. But she knew there were next steps to the Christian life.

Perhaps that knowledge, ever in the background of her mind, was the reason her heart was so ready to take seriously the challenge from Pastor Johnny Hunt at the end of his sermon during an Xtreme Winter student event.

“As he was preaching, he talked specifically about, ‘Who are you bringing to heaven with you?’” she said. “And I thought about that because so many of us are believers, but we don’t take it to the deeper level — which the Lord calls us to. That question just got me thinking about how God could take my ordinary life and do extraordinary things with it. He meant for us to go and make disciples of all nations, and so I just started truly using that question to not just think about who I want to take to heaven with me, but to truly do something about it.”

Eden remembers the night when God wouldn’t allow her to ignore His Spirit’s promptings.

“One night, I’d text messaged a friend of mine, and she actually said to me, ‘Hey, I need some advice, and it’s too long to text,’” Eden recalls. “As she was talking, the Lord told me, ‘This is the one.’”

As Eden’s friend spoke into the phone, the Holy Spirit was speaking into Eden’s heart. It was as if God was giving her play-by-play insight as to the real matter that needed to be addressed.

“It was as if God was telling me that what she was missing is something that wasn’t of this world,” Eden said. “I could just sense that she was searching for peace and love in all the wrong places. I knew that God had opened her heart for me to share Jesus.”

Eden led her friend to Christ on the phone while sitting on her closet floor. But what’s even sweeter is that Eden got the chance to experience almost immediate fruit from her friend’s surrendering to Jesus.

“A week later, she called me again and was like, ‘Eden, the Lord’s given me such a peace about everything.’ And to me, that’s just evidence that the Lord just changes everything once He comes into your life,” she said.

Eden hasn’t stopped sharing the gospel with anyone she can, but particularly with friends already in her sphere of influence. So far in 2021, she’s led three people to Jesus. Two are personal friends, and one is a co-worker. Each time she sees the spiritual light come on for someone she loves, it stokes her fire.

“Once you see it happen firsthand that the Lord can change anyone, and sometimes people you may have thought would never come to know the Lord, it just motivates you,” she said. “It makes you want to do it again and again. It makes you believe that this can happen for absolutely anybody.”

She wants people her age to know that being a Christian is more than just posting a Bible verse on a Twitter or Instagram bio. She wants them to know that, despite the fact that secular society can make things hard, living for Jesus in a radical way as a young person isn’t impossible.

“I’m 16 years old, and I go to a public high school,” she said. “I’m a cheerleader, and I am living proof that it is possible to be a teenager in this generation and live a life fully devoted to the Lord and sold out to Him for His glory. I believe I’m definitely not the only one who can do that.”

— Gabriel Stovall writes for the North American Mission Board.