By Aaron Capp Tarver
Being born in America makes a person an American citizen and living in Chattanooga makes him a citizen of the city, but people who believe in Jesus Christ have the most important citizenship because that citizenship is eternal, said former State Rep. Robin Smith.
“We get so fixated on the here and now: school, parents, drama, Tic Toc, Instagram. Those are all important but you know what is most important? It’s that you were created in the image of God,” said Smith.
She spoke this month to more than 40 teens attending Camp REACH, a summer career camp hosted by the Mary Walker Foundation at Hope City Church. REACH is an acronym for Respect, Earn (money) Achievement, Citizenship and Hardwork.
Grayson Strickland, a 14-year-old freshman at Chattanooga Preparatory School attending REACH, was among several teens attentive to Smith’s presentation.
“She talked about how the nation was created,” said Grayson.
“She told us about caring for other people,” said Jaziah Pinkerton. Jaziah is a 15-year-old Brainerd High School sophomore attending the camp.
Smith is one of several speakers who shared insights and experiences this summer. Other speakers included Frenise Mann, owner of Mann Financial Consulting; author and entrepreneur Lakweshia Ewing, who discussed race and diversity; and singer Willie Kitchens of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group The Impressions, who discussed stage presence and music.
“We want to bring talented speakers and people who have been exposed to the world to help students understand there is a lot out there that they haven’t been exposed to,” said Lurone “Coach” Jennings, executive director of the Mary Walker Foundation.
“We want to give them insights on things to think about for their own future and help them plan their future beyond what they know about from their immediate surroundings.”
Smith, a Republican, was elected as the Representative for Tennessee’s 26th State House District in 2018. She resigned in March.
She told students that she made mistakes and that God forgives and redeems people. She gave the dictionary definition of citizenship but also talked about the opportunity that each of them has to be citizens of heaven.
Then she explained the benefits of being an American citizen compared to being a citizen of other countries.
Americans have the freedom to express themselves and to worship as they wish. They have a right to a prompt and fair trial by a jury. They also have the right to vote in elections for public officials, to own property and to pursue their dreams, said Smith.
But in China, the government permits neither free speech nor ownership of property. And instead of allowing people to pursue their dreams, most citizens of China are educated in a skill according to what’s needed by the government. Just because a teen in China wants to be a teacher, doesn’t mean he can pursue that profession. It depends on if the government needs it, said Smith.
Most people think of England as being pretty free, but all of the property in England is owned by the crown, the King and Queen of the country.
She also explained that taxes in many other countries are higher than in the United States.
She told them that the laws of the land are based on the laws in the Bible and she quoted Daniel Webster who stated, “Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”
Webster’s cousin was Noah Webster who is credited for creating the Webster’s Dictionary.
Smith emphasized that everyone is created in the image of God and has “unlimited potential.” Then she challenged students to fulfill the potential given to them.
“You are literally, physically created to be in the image of God,” she said. “And then you get to choose what you fill yourself with. Fill yourself with stuff that is worthy of your wonderful mind, your wonderful will and your wonderful soul.”