Vermilion teen named in Top 30 Under 30 (February 21, 2012)

Written by Murray Crawford

Published by Vermilion Standard on Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Alberta's youngest member of the Top 30 Under 30 calls Vermilion home and raised a hefty sum for Samaritan's Purse with an art show last year.

Melissa John, 16, was named one of Alberta's Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation recently.

"It's very humbling because it is hard work I knew had to be done," said John. "God enabled me to do this work and I definitely couldn't have done any of it without Him."

In October 2011 she put on an art show, with the help of a few fellow artists, entitled Painting The Way For Hope - Artists for Justice, which was held at the Vermilion Regional Centre.

Human trafficking is a very important issue that needs to be addressed; she said she would like to see it end in her lifetime.

"That was the drive for the art show I did last October," said John. "Just to know so many people are trapped in slavery (human trafficking), I knew something had to be done about it."

So John took her artistic gift and put it towards an art show that raised $17,000. Her original goal for the show was $10,000.

"I knew I couldn't do something directly and go to a third world country and help these women and girls in slavery," said John. "But I had been involved with Samaritan's Purse with Operation Christmas Child and they work with my church (Parkview Alliance Church) and when I found out about the project they did, I wanted to come alongside."

The project John fundraised for with Samaritan's Purse was focused on preventing the exploitation of children in Cambodia and Freeing women from poverty, abuse and exploitation.

"It's not over," said John. "It was just a little thing I did honestly, because slavery isn't over and I want to see modern day slavery end."

John is also a talented musician as both a pianist and a singer.

The work with Samaritan's Purse isn't John's only pursuit with raising funds. She has also worked Habitat for Humanity, the Goat's Christmas Convoy, the Salvation Army and the Battle River Ranch Camp, among others.

"I know everyone has a place in the community and everyone has been given gifts and abilities and they can all be used to serve," said John, adding that while the work she does is important the big reason she does this much is because she lives for Christ.

"He's commanded me to do these things and to help people that are helpless and support good work and encourage people to do the same."

For now John said she is focusing on her education so she can graduate from high school and further her education so she can do more.

"I'm focused on graduating this June and getting an education so I really can help these people," said John.