Mercy Hope: Back in February you met with Congressman Fred Upton to discuss the importance of abstinence education. You have been very active in helping to promote the less than vogue standard of abstinence. How have your efforts paid off?

Erin Moss: I worked with an organization called Project Reality, which is based out of Chicago, Illinois. Erika Harold who won Miss America (2003) connected me with them. This group is just doing some awesome things. They work to talk about abstinence in the Public School system, and there has been a lot of opposition towards that. Obviously, our nation has been moving towards “safe sex” in the public school system more than they are abstinence. I went to a conference in Washington, D.C. for a weekend and they taught us about the opportunity we have as U.S. citizens to get involved in the Lawmaking process – what we can do and how we can talk to our elected officials. They taught us about lobbying and what it means to get votes for a bill. Then they put us in groups of about three or four people and set us loose in the Capital for the day. I had ten appointments; one of which was with Congressman Fred Upton. We met and talked about the abstinence issue and asked for their vote on an upcoming bill, which we are pleased to announce, did pass. (I think it was the next week that they voted on it.) I’m not sure of all the details, but it was a bill that upped funding for abstinence education. It didn’t decrease the “safe sex” funding but it was aimed at bringing them both to an equal level, which I think is a good approach because I don’t think that we are going to be able to diminish funding for “safe sex” education – that’s just not going to fly.

Mercy Hope: Several years ago you made the statement, “The more I hang out with negative influences, the more my relationship with God depreciates.” Talk a little about the importance of Godly relationships and contrast that with the destructive nature of negative influences, because I think most people underestimate the power of personal influence.

Erin Moss: I often talk about how we have a God-given ability to influence others. Sociologists have found that every person will influence over ten thousand people in their lifetime, which is absolutely amazing to say that every one of us will come in contact with that many people. And they say that, with the technology today and with travel, that statistic is true regardless of how introverted the person is. I think about the little ways we influence each other, and not only do we not realize how we influence others, but sometimes we don’t realize the influence others have upon us. When you asked about that, it made me think about my decision to attend a Christian University. I wanted to make sure that I surrounded myself with an environment that fostered Spirituality. It’s a difficult issue because the Bible calls us to be in the world but not of the world and so we want to surround ourselves with people who will encourage our Christian walk but at the same time we don’t want to isolate ourselves from those that need to meet the Lord. So I have found it to be an interesting balance. One of the things that I have really tried to commit to is that my closest relationships, the people that I really let into my life, are the people who share the same values and are committed to the same things and love the Lord. But beyond that, I try to meet people and make friends with people who have different lifestyles or different commitments, and I try to value people as Christ did. You think about the closest people He surrounded Himself with were His disciples – people who had the same life direction that He was teaching them to have but at the same point He ministered to the masses and they were right out there with people they needed to meet.

Mercy Hope: On the positive side of that issue of influence – how can we help others to develop their leadership skills and reach their full potential?

Erin Moss: I think that the first step is the realization that God has given each of us the ability to make our mark in the world. To realize that we do influence people and like the Scripture says, God created each one of us for a purpose. Jeremiah 39:11 tells us, “I know the plans I have for you…” God has plans for us. So I think as we begin to recognize that and feel the weight of that responsibility that, “It’s not just me. I’m connected to something bigger, and there’s a connectedness here” I think that one of the first steps in beginning to develop one’s self and to begin to make a difference is realizing that in fact, I can. The world sends us a lot of images and ideas that break us down. You know, we see the movie stars on the television screen or the people in the magazines or whatever and we think, “Well, they’re the ones who are ‘out here’ and they’re the ones who have a voice and little me – I don’t have much to say.” But when we begin to grow in the Lord and see ourselves as God sees us and realize the potential that He intends for us, then it becomes a natural progression to begin to input into others’ lives.

Mercy Hope: You said tonight that you are preparing to go into “Full-time Christian Ministry”. As you move into this new phase of life what do you envision in terms of future ministry?

Erin Moss: Well, who knows! (smile) We’ll see what God has in store. My dream for a long time has been to do writing and motivational speaking full-time – traveling and preaching, and just talking to people about various issues. I’ve really been blown away in these last couple years of my life with the opportunity to be Miss Michigan. It has catapulted me much closer to my dreams than I ever thought I could be at this point in my life. So I’m kind of trying to regroup now and figure out, “Lord, where are You taking me? And what is the vision here?” I really feel convicted that before I try to travel and write full time I need to sort of “get out in the trenches” so to speak, and get some experience. So I definitely want to spend some time in Pastoral Ministry. I’m hoping when I graduate a year from now with my degree in Bible and Religion that my husband and I can find a Church that will have a staff position for both of us. Personally, I would like to do some sort of teaching or preaching ministry, and my husband will probably do some sort of Children’s Ministry. So we’ll see where the Lord leads us.

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