Hope Undivided: Tariah & Paxton

The world is set up to keep people like Paxton and Tariah apart, but God has a funny way of bringing things together that the world prefers to separate. In John 17 Jesus prays for his followers “that they may be one as we are one….Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Unfortunately, in America we know all too well how the enemy has worked to keep God’s people from uniting together in strength. But New Hope Academy exists to glorify God by creating a generation that fights against this separation, and no one exemplifies this better than two New Hope alumni – Tariah Lane and Paxton Perry.

Tariah and Paxton have known each other their whole lives. Their mothers were both mentored by New Hope founder, Paige Pitts, and they started kindergarten together at New Hope in 2007. “You take it for granted when you’re young that you’re in class with people who are different than you,” Paxton said. Tariah went on, “Consciously, you learn about diversity and celebrating the differences that God gave everyone, but unconsciously, just being in the same classroom makes all the difference.” They both readily point to New Hope as a place that shaped their lives. As they grew older, they came to appreciate more deeply the uniqueness of what they had in their friendship and among their classmates. “I’ve always been friends with Tariah,” Paxton said. “It wasn’t until I left New Hope that I found out that the world thought that was weird.”

They continued to support each other through the normal challenges of high school but also the specific challenges surrounding them at the end of their senior year. “When George Floyd was murdered,” Tariah said, “I had so many friends asking me how I felt. It was hard because I would have to relive that traumatic scene over and over. But even with all those challenges, I knew that I had an ally in Paxton and his family. To have someone alongside of me – it’s a little like having God’s hand in my life.” As they struggled together to find appropriate ways to respond, they looked back to what they had learned at New Hope about the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. They decided to organize a peaceful rally in the Franklin square, and it attracted hundreds of students in order to draw attention to the injustices against our black brothers and sisters.

Now freshmen at Vanderbilt (Tariah) and Georgetown (Paxton), they intend to continue to work for justice and unity because New Hope taught them that everyone matters. As Tariah put it, “New Hope is like a pocket of what God has intended for humanity, but when you go out into the real world, unfortunately it’s not like that, so we’re doing our part to struggle for that.” Tariah and Paxton are exemplifying “hope undivided.” They are the living answer to Jesus’ John 17 prayer, and they are showing the world a clearer picture of who God is because of it.

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