Jade Mayo came to Tennessee Wesleyan University in Athens, Tenn. to play soccer and have fun. She never anticipated walking through a door one day in 2018 at the request of friend and teammate Tiffany and finding a room full of people who loved Jesus and welcomed her without knowing anything about her. She just wanted the free food, but there was something in the interactions around the room that piqued her interest.
“They loved me for who I was, as I was,” Mayo remembered. Though she attended a few Christian summer camps as a middle schooler, her family didn’t have a faith aspect and she quickly gave up on God at an early age. Mayo figured she wasn’t anything special, so why would God find her worthy?
But the Huddle’s welcome pulled at something in her, and soon after Mayo and Tiffany attended a female athletes’ study led by FCA Campus Director Heather Kirkland. The name of the group? Worthy.
Compelled by the “coincidence,” Mayo continued to attend both the Huddle and study, learning more about God’s love and what relationship with Him looked like. When Kirkland invited her to the College Advance Retreat, a weekend camp for college athletes in the area, Mayo went and experienced the personal connection with God she’d heard about over the past few months.
“It was the first time I felt God want wanted a relationship with me, and I wanted a relationship with Him,” the Cleveland, Tenn. native shared.
Once back on campus, Mayo dove into all things FCA, continuing to attend the Worthy study, weekly Huddles and preparing for a leadership role while being discipled by Kirkland.
“I didn’t trust God in a lot of ways—not as a loving or caring Father,” she admitted. “When I was asked, ‘Do you think God is loving and good?’ I wouldn’t answer certainly. I thought God cared about everyone but me.”
But her weekly time with Kirkland and the constant support and presence of other Christian athletes helped reveal God’s character and truth towards her. “FCA helped me figure out my place in the world. I didn’t think I could have a relationship with God because it wasn’t a thing in my family. But I learned I am fearfully and wonderfully made, forgiven once and for all.”
"I learned I am fearfully and wonderfully made, forgiven once and for all.”
- Jade Mayo
“Jade’s soil really took root,” Kirkland said. “She got in the local church. She served her guts out. She showed up early to Huddles, set up chairs, stayed late and picked up.”
Mayo felt a tug towards ministry and changed her major to church vocations. In January 2020, she tested the waters and interned with FCA for a year.
“It helped me grow and see what ministry looked like,” Mayo said, adding how it also helped her stay in God’s Word. From someone whose sport had been an idol, the transformation was staggering.
“Soccer was an identity,” Kirkland recalled. “But then she had a concussion and knee injury—the Lord stripped away everything she thought brought her worth.”
Once Mayo understood truth worth and believed God found her worthy as His daughter, she went out of her way to make disciples on her team, now seeing the sport as her mission field. Mayo handed out Bibles to teammates, and many of her girls have come to believe in Jesus. The radical transformation of her own life has spoken volumes to curious teammates who want to know why she’s changed.
“It’s been an honor to watch Jade’s journey,” said Kirkland. “I’m so proud of her.”
Mayo, who took this semester off to attend the Youth With A Mission Discipleship Training School in Washington and Africa, is preparing for a life in missions, wherever God leads. And Tennessee Wesleyan’s campus is all the better for her obedience.
Said Kirkland, “She left this insane impact, and it keeps going.”
She’s got it stitched on her wrist; a permanent reminder of what God says about her: worthy. Mayo has certainly been found worthy and lives a life worthy of the calling God has given her.
Life impact like Jade’s story is happening all over the world. To learn more about Tennessee Wesleyan FCA and what’s going on in the area, visit HERE.
Photos courtesy of Heather Kirkland