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Ultimate Dependence

Published on February 22, 2017

Sarah Rennicke

Morgan Turnipseed hated to run the 400-meter hurdles while running track at Mississippi College (MC).

“It was the ultimate hard,” Turnipseed (formerly, Tynes) said.

She also hated being away from her family. The two-hour distance between home and school stretched the young freshman out of her comfort zone she fought to stay in. But God brought FCA for freedom and an endurance to become who He intended her to be.

First, God came close through sport. The strain of pushing her body through practices and meets forced Turnipseed to seek the Lord’s strength. She couldn’t get through one lap without Him.

“Track was what made me depend on God daily,” she said.

Then, He came in in the comfort of others.

Turnipseed (left, red) and her girls' track team at Waynsbororo High School.

Turnipseed was also on the cheer squad at MC, where one of her teammates invited her to the campus FCA Huddle her freshman year. She found the camaraderie between athletes refreshing and the comfortable atmosphere then MC FCA representatives Justin and Bethany Piggott created encouraged those in attendance to dive deep into faith matters.  

FCA also helped ease Turnipseed’s homesickness. When she joined the leadership team during her sophomore year, the Bible study was on Sunday nights.

“I had to make sure I was back by then, so I sometimes wouldn’t go home or come back early [for meetings],” she said.

God used those meetings to subtly loosen her grip on home and learn to trust His direction, which gently pulled her deeper into her faith through FCA. That was where the Lord began to shape so much of her life, and she eagerly joined in small group study, prayer and sharing testimonies. She got connected with FCA Cheer and served at camps during the summer.

God continued to connect faith and FCA, most specifically at one of her track meets in her grueling 400-meter hurdle race, where she sputtered out of the starting block. But, at every turn, members of her Huddle had lined up, cheering and propelling her to dig in and push forward with new bursts of energy.

“I think it was the first time I came back and won a race,” she said.

More than that, it painted a picture of eternal teammates rooting one another on, whether racing literally, or in the race of life.

When Turnipseed graduated and began teaching in her hometown of Waynesboro, Miss., she wanted to coach, and quickly found an opportunity at Wayne Academy.

“Track is a sport where people have so much anxiety just for those few seconds,” she said, “so to pray with [the athletes] and tell them verses not to be anxious about anything, and that they really can experience peace that passes all understanding, that’s what I hope they can cling to.”

Banquet BiblesTurnipseed also invested in the spiritual development of her athletes. Toward the season’s end, she recalled the FCA Bibles used at cheer camp and knew she wanted to get those into the hands of all of her track athletes. She approached a church about funding Bibles for 46 kids, then expanded her vision to give Bibles to every athlete at Wayne Academy. Additional funds came from additional churches and Bibles were presented at the end of the year athletics banquet.

“Kids were getting all these awards, and came and sat down and there was a Bible on every seat,” she said. “You saw them taking pictures of their trophies, but they were also taking pictures with their Bible.”

Now at Heritage Academy Elementary School, Turnipseed hopes she can find her way back to coaching and FCA to genuinely impact the lives of young people, because the stamp of God’s goodness is forever marked on her heart through the ministry.

“It’s hard to put it into words how much FCA, and Bethany and Justin (who currently serve with FCA in Texas) have had an impact on my life,” she said. “They were the first ones to bring me in and teach me how to lead and grow close to Jesus.”