|Mackenzie (right) and Cathy Price|
Mackenzie Price believes God called her to Liberty University.
And the 18-year-old graduate of Salem High School in Salem, Va., plans to make the most out of the opportunity He has given her.
At Salem High, Mackenzie was always a high achiever. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA, was president of the student body and National Honor Society, and represented the school at Girls State this summer in Farmville, Va.
“Liberty had the major I wanted,” she said. “I want to study family and child development.”
She said she had little interest in attending a secular university and believes Liberty will help her continue to grow in her spiritual walk.
“I wanted to grow closer to God,” she said. “I knew I had so many weaknesses. I knew that I needed God. I needed someone I could lean on to make me stronger.”
She had a desire for the same intimate relationship with God that other girls were experiencing at Lakeside Baptist Church in Salem.
Since becoming a Christian in 2010, Price’s faith has helped her weather some significant storms.
A major test of her faith came quicker than she would have liked. In December 2010, her father, Dennis, died unexpectedly at work at his Cloverdale, Va., convenience store while her mother, Cathy, looked on.
In the months that followed, Mackenzie, then 16, became a calming influence on her family, which included her older brother, Zach, younger sister, Maddie, and younger brother, Zane.
Through it all, she remained confident that her father had a relationship with Jesus Christ before he died. She talked often to him about Christ in the months before his death.
“At first, Dad was very closed off to it,” she said. “Then, I saw God drawing him closer.”
Mackenzie said she found comfort in that when her father died.
“My dad was my best friend. Everyone expected me to fall apart,” she said. “I ended up being the one who picked everyone up, with God’s strength of course. God just gave me a peace.”
When she first accepted Christ, both her parents worried that she might be going overboard with her Christian beliefs.
But since her father’s death, she helped lead her mother to Christ and has continued to teach others about God’s love, which she says is amazing.
“The way she handled Dennis’ death was a life changer for me,” Cathy Price said. “She handled every situation in a positive way. She comforted me instead of me comforting her. She reassured me that everything was going to be OK. I was thinking to myself, ‘I’ve got to find what she has so I can be that strong.’”
Mackenzie said she is fascinated by God’s love, which comes unconditionally and never focuses on superficial factors like material wealth and physical appearances.
In keeping with that love, she traveled with her youth group to Chicago, Ill., this summer where she ministered to homeless people, business professionals, or “whoever God would lead us to talk to.”
She hopes to continue her mission work at Liberty, although she is unsure whether God wants her to be a long-term missionary.
She said she finds great joy in serving a heavenly father, who always has her back.
“We just share our faith,” she said. “It brings you so much joy when you are obedient to God.”