What I remember most upon first meeting Julia Linton was her smile. This young woman radiates with joy and can light up the room with a simple hello. I’m not the only one who believes this to be true. Julia’s senior class voted her as “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day.” I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Julia over the past few years and admire her in every way.
Julia was born in Kazakhstan and spent the first six and half years of her life in an orphanage. In 2004 she was adopted by a wonderful, loving family whom Julia says, “…taught me about God’s love for me.” Julia and her family moved here from Michigan in 2010 and joined Port City Community Church, where Julia became active in the student ministry. Later that same year, she attended Fuse, a camp for our student ministry, and decided to give her life to Christ. Julia states, “The experience changed my life.” A couple of weeks later, she was baptized.
There is more to Julia than her beautiful smile. She has a huge heart and a desire to serve others. Before her big move to start college, Julia volunteered as a Small Group Leader in Treasure Island. When I ask her what she loved most about serving in Treasure Island, she responds, “I loved working with the kids and teaching them about Jesus.”
Over the summer, Julia worked as a camp leader at Wilmington Christian Academy where, as a parent of a child attending, I got to witness her interaction with the children. She’d often peek into classrooms just to say hello, and as she made her way through the halls, little children would come running, arms open wide, waiting for a warm hug. Julia clearly loved her job, but even more, she loved those children.
In sharing the love of Christ, Julia’s devotion goes beyond her own community. In August of this year, her faith took her all the way to Guatemala working with Manos de Jesus/Pray America. Upon her return, she shares, “I’m so thankful that I went to Guatemala […] to serve widows and their children.”
Julia and the Port City Community Church Missions team visited different families each day to help make home improvements like building bathrooms or installing stoves. As they built homes, they were also building relationships. Julia found herself relating to those who shared stories of being orphaned and then finding a home through adoption. As she shared her own story, an unbreakable bond had formed.
Julia closes sharing about her time in Guatemala with a verse from James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” She says the verse has impacted her life in a major way. “This verse stuck with me during this trip because it says that God looks after orphans and widows. It reminds me that God was looking after me when I was an orphan, and now He has a different plan for me.”
Julia not only inspires me, but challenges the way I want to live my life. She chooses not to view her past as an obstacle to overcome, but rather a significant part of her story that God is using for His grander purposes. Thank you, Julia, for being a bright light in our community and to the world.
Story Written By: Mandy Hughes