College at Southwestern graduate crowned Mrs. America
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Having been crowned Miss Arlington and later Mrs. Texas, Austen Williams had already become well-acquainted with large stages and bright lights by the time she walked across the platform at Southwestern Seminary to receive her bachelor’s degree in May 2013. Now, just a few short months later, she has taken the stage again, this time being crowned Mrs. America.
Williams, who studied humanities during her time at Southwestern, competed amongst other married delegates from across the United States in Tucson, Ariz. and was crowned Mrs. America Aug. 28.
“I’m so humbled, honored, proud, joyful and excited!” Williams said. “I am grateful for everyone’s support.”
Williams used the contest as an opportunity to witness for Christ.
“During this amazing time, I shared the Gospel with 35-40 of the 52 women and led prayer for the group many times. I was able to pray with, encourage and talk with countless more. I think I shared something about Jesus with just about everyone. Jesus is so faithful! There were several believers, and several of us had nightly devotionals, and Christ really showed Himself true to who He says He is.”
Williams said she even had the chance to share a little of Southwestern with the women though a small gift created by the seminary.
“I gave each of the women a book of devotionals on becoming a Proverbs 31 woman, written collaboratively by Southwestern homemaking students and faculty,” Williams said. “The ladies were grateful, and several said they loved it. I am grateful that Southwestern donated them.”
Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs at Southwestern, developed a mentoring relationship with Williams while she studied at Southwestern, first as a single woman and later a wife and mother. Stovall was thrilled to see Williams win the competition, knowing the incredible ministry opportunity it will continue to be for the mother of two.
“It’s just fun to see a woman use her gifts and talents in a way that is a little different but still has a great impact and influence on [other] women,” Stovall said. “It’s not your traditional ministry, but it fits. It works.”
It works, she said, in the countless avenues of ministry it offers to Williams as she interacts not only with competitors but also with young women entering the modeling/acting/entertainment business.
“She takes advantage of conversations with her competitors, which really ties into our evangelism—being able to turn conversations to the Gospel,” Stovall said. “She also works with an organization that works with young girls who aspire to be models or in film or acting to help them do it in a way that’s God-honoring. Her mantra through all this has been, ‘For His name and His fame.’ That’s the only reason she does this stuff, is for His name and His fame and to have an inroad to these gals that an outsider can’t really speak to.”
William’s platform of human trafficking provides her yet another area of ministry, as she works and advocates for justice in that arena.
Stovall says Williams’ unique ministry speaks to the broad range of ways the Lord uses Southwestern to prepare people for the greatly varied tasks to which He calls them.
“It seems like, for women especially, God is so creative in how He uses them, that the list of what women are doing today is limitless,” Stovall said. “People ask me what our women do, and I can’t even give them a list. I can give them examples, but even that is such a variety of ways. So, what we do here at Southwestern is to equip women for wherever they are and in whatever context.
“For Austen, she really has a gift for acting; she's been very involved in modeling; and [she’s] marrying that with being grounded in Scripture and in truth for what God says to women. God has used that to allow her to mentor young girls and other women in an industry that often times tells them lies. She's able to counter [those lies] with the truth of Scripture [and] has made an amazing impact on women in an industry that doesn’t have a Christian voice often.”