Katie Simmons Atchison has a love for teaching and sharing the good news of the Gospel, whether that means teaching English to students in China, gymnastic routines to her young pupils, tutoring piano, leading a Bible study or homeschooling her three children.
She was asked to speak at this year’s Marketplace Faith Friday Forums for the College of Arts and Sciences’ English, Humanities, Music departments and Great Books Honors Program and share her journey – one that was much different than she had planned.
Atchison, is a 2008 graduate from Faulkner and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. Before she came to Faulkner, she earned an associate degree in social work from Snead State Community College where she graduated valedictorian.
During her time at Faulkner, she was a member of Sigma Tau Delta, an English Honor society, worked at Starbucks, participated in Landmark Church’s Campus Ministry and graduated as valedictorian in Spring 2008.
She said by enrolling at Faulkner, she grew in her faith because of the professors she met and in turn she was able to share the comfort and love she gained with others.
“I am thankful God directed me to attend Faulkner. I have especially fond memories of my English professors, who set an example of academic and personal excellence while also displaying the character of Christ,” Atchison said. “God placed several people at Faulkner in my path whom He wanted me love, encourage, and disciple. In addition to that, I grew tremendously as a follower of Christ through the unity of the Landmark Campus Ministry and several mature women discipling and encouraging me.”
After graduation, Atchison moved to Xiangfan, China in 2009 to teach English at Xiangfan Vocational and Technical College.
“My personal experience at Faulkner showed me that even in a loving, Christian environment, there are many lonely people who struggle for purpose and even a reason to live. The Lord opened my eyes to notice the hurting, those who need to hear the Gospel the most,” she said. “I took this revelation with me to China as I prayed for God to show me who would be open to receiving the Good News.”
After one year of teaching, she came back to Montgomery to get married, intern in campus ministry and focus on local missions and operate a part-time business, Leap Gymnastics.
Even at Leap, she says her purpose is not just to give quality instruction, but to display and reflect God’s character in order to draw people to the Lord. However, the journey she’s taken is not necessarily the one she had planned, but is one that has made her feel fulfilled.
“The Lord strongly pulled my heart to China, where I was able to use the skills I gleaned in the English program at Faulkner to teach classes at a University while privately sharing the good news,” Atchison said. “Two very fulling years later, I gave birth to my first child. While I loved working with college students, the Lord clearly led me to start a new ministry: motherhood.”
“Looking back, there were moments when all the transitions seemed overwhelming. But I knew then and still know that the Lord is always with me. He is my Shepherd, and I am learning to hear His voice and follow His plans for my life, not my own. He has certainly directed my path, just as He has promised us in Proverbs 3:5.”
“I want the students at Faulkner to know that if He could use me, He can use anyone who is willing to follow His lead.”