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Student Story



Spiritual Gifts. We all have one! Whether you’ve discovered it or not, you have a God-given gift that you can use to honor our amazing God. It’s not about talent or aptitude, but using what God has given you to serve and build up the Body of Christ.

 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.”  

1 Peter 4:10-11

It can be scary when God reveals our spiritual gifts to us. Often times we don’t feel qualified or worthy of what God calls us into. But God would never call you into something if He wasn’t going to be walking right beside you every step of your journey. So lean in. Lean in to what God has for you. There’s going to be challenges and discouragement, but just remember, He knows what He’s doing. 

Another part of it is that God doesn’t compare our gifts. No gift is more important than the other and no one is “more gifted” in one thing than the other. When I felt God calling me into worship, my first thought wasn’t excitement, it was doubt! I felt as if I was not qualified to follow this calling because I compared my gift of worship to others. But God didn’t see it that way! There’s no pedestal because our spiritual gifts are all bringing glory to God. So whether it’s serving, teaching, worship, taking pictures, or making coffee, your gift can be used and it matters! All you gotta do is just trust and lean in!

-Paris Griffith

Student Leader



Starting on March 4th, I will be living in Nairobi, Kenya for three months to serve at Mavuno Church in children’s ministry. I will also be teaching English to kids while I am there. As excited as I am to participate in these things, I am most excited to be submerged in another culture and see what life is like for the people in Kenya.

With my adventure only weeks away, it's crazy to look back on how this whole process began back in October. I was doing online school and trying to figure out what to do for my second semester as a senior. I had the option to stay online or go back to a regular high school to graduate. None of these choices appealed to me. It was then that my mom and I discussed the possibility of me graduating a semester early. My parents and I agreed that if I graduated early, I would do something valuable with my time. This was when God placed an extended missions trip on my heart.

My mind flooded with reasons not to. “You’ll miss senior prom! What about your friends? You would miss your family too much! What about Student Leadership and your JHM life group?” Despite all these panicked thoughts, there was a louder voice saying that it would be okay. I felt an extreme sense of peace and confidence that this was what God had for me.

Both my parents are a part of the Kenya team at Mariners, so when I told them I felt called to travel, Nairobi was automatically thrown into the discussion. Through further research and conversations with pastors, God affirmed and reaffirmed that Kenya was where He was calling me.

As plans began and as they continue to take shape, it becomes more real...and scarier. But as my anxieties have grown more prominent, so does God’s voice. His voice continues to tell me that His plans are better than mine, that He already knows what lies ahead. I don’t expect my three months in Kenya to go without trouble. I know there will be hard times, but I also know God will meet me in Kenya in a way that I would have never been able to see if I didn’t step outside my comfort zone.

   “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 (NIV)

-Katie Nicholas


Student Leader

I Will Never Be the Same After Haiti

I Will Never Be the Same After Haiti

First and foremost, my trip to Haiti was an amazingly transformative experience that not only shaped my views on God and this world, but also myself. I came away with more questions remaining than questions answered but that was okay. For some reason the fact that I still had unanswered questions reassured me that my time in Haiti was well spent.

I expected my trip to Haiti to be like my mission trip to Mexico I took freshman year, but they weren’t that similar. I wasn’t expecting the trip to have as much of an impact on me as it did. Leading up to the trip, our group of twenty students would meet and discuss what’d we’d be doing there. After a while all that mission trip diction began to blend together and become an audible buzz in the back of my head. I began tuning it out because I heard it so much, I was ready for the real deal. I was ready to stop talking about going and finally go. So, when I actually got to Haiti, I was shocked to realize it wasn’t anything like I had expected. It exceeded all my expectations and blew them out of the water.

God met me in Haiti. He comforted me, He laughed with me, He cried with me (I mean really cried with me), He was with me everyday in a way I don’t usually feel in Irvine. I felt his presence in the stillness of the orphanage and saw his love in the wide smiles of the orphans. God had reminded me that He is God, the ultimate power of this universe, and he’s got my back. God reminded me that He loves me, my fellow student leaders, and those Haitian orphans with a passion. I will never be the same after Haiti. I don’t know when but I know I’m going back. I have to. I need to see the faces of those orphans again. I left Haiti with a hunger to do God’s work and show love to the outcast.

I waited till senior year to apply because I was lazy. Please, I’m begging you, do not be lazy. If you keep putting it off just because you tell yourself “it doesn't feel like the right time” or “I don’t hear God really calling me to go” or “I have so many other things going on” you’ll never apply. When I applied I wasn’t anywhere ready to go on a mission trip across the world, but I put my trust in God and applied. Applying is just the first step, the easiest step. Even if you have the smallest inkling of desire to apply... DO IT! Haiti was a wonderful experience that I will cherish for as long as I live. To pass up an opportunity to go to Haiti would be a mistake. Trust me when I say this, you will 100% not regret signing up for Haiti. You’ll love it.

- Brennan Ernst


Student Leader


Just Give Me A Reason

Just Give Me A Reason

Go on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (do people even use this anymore?), or any social media outlet right now. Find anything interesting? Maybe a really great photo of that super cute guy/girl you’re crushin’ on, a “totally relatable” Tumblr post, maybe a super trendy photo of Kit Coffee? Any of you find some crazy political posts?! Go on to any social media outlet today, and you will find a slew of people making their political opinions known to all who are willing to listen. We all see it. We all try to avoid it. Maybe we’re the ones instigating it…Who knows! Nowadays, it seems pretty easy to have an opinion on something (or everything), but far too seldom do we actually know why we stand for something we believe in. 

1 Peter 4:15-17 (ESV) says, “…But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 

This verse is killer. I know there’s a lot of information, but by dissecting it, there is so much wisdom within it; some of it may even appear as straight-up common sense. 

A lot of us would perhaps consider ourselves Christians. Someone may ask you, “Why are you a Christian?” Some answers could be: “I was born in Christian home!”, “My parents are Christians!”, “I go to church every Sunday (and am even in a Life-Group)!”, or “I was lost, and Jesus found me!”.

Not that any of these are bad answers or not characteristics of a person who may be a Christian, but maybe these aren’t the most solid answers for why. If we’re choosing to follow Jesus and live a “life set apart from the world,” then I think we may need a little more incentive than merely being born into a Christian home. 

If you call yourself a Christian, maybe reflect: why do I choose to follow Jesus? By having a strong answer prepared for those who may inquire about our faith, and really owning up to what we seem to “label” ourselves as, not only are we showing confidence in the faith that we have, but we are serving as a witness to those around us that our faith is real, and that in effect, the love, forgiveness, and redemption through Jesus Christ is just as real. 

But, unlike many of the perhaps political or religious debates of today, we need to answer such inquirers with respect. By responding to someone rationally, calmly, and collectively, we not only help them become more receptive to what we’re saying, but we actually show the work of Christ within us, by way of our patience and love. In addition, we even strengthen the odds of drawing, rather than deterring, those who may be curious about our faith. By not losing our temper, saying mean things, or blowing our top, we actually put those “haters” to shame, by presenting an example of self-control and love. Kill them with kindness.

Most of all, as the end of verse 17 says, “It is better to suffer for doing good if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” Dang. If we actually claim to be Christians, have a legitimate reason for following Christ in our daily lives, and respect those around us with different opinions, then we need to act like it. Someone is not merely going to follow Jesus because it’s fun or easy, because most Christians know that a true commitment to Jesus Christ is not such. Rather by living up to a different standard than the world’s, choosing good over evil, and maybe even suffering in our world for the justified cause of Jesus Christ, we are becoming living and breathing advocates of Christ. Not only talking the talk, but actually walking the walk. 

So, when you’re carrying through your Monday (ughhhh, Mondays), maybe challenge yourself with the three parts of this verse:

1) Don’t just say or know what you are (a Christian), but WHY you choose to follow Jesus.

2) When sharing our faith or opinions with others, we need to be respectful and considerate. You’re not always going to agree with those around you, but if you are sharing your faith and want that faith to make an impact in others’ lives, I mean, you’re going to catch more bees with honey, #amirite?

3) Good always trumps evil, therefore, if you suffer for the sake of Christ or “good,” God sees and he justifies us in all things. If we’re going to claim our faith is real, we need to act like it. Get some skin in the game, and be willing to fight and maybe suffer for a cause you believe in.

Written by: Isabella Redjai

HSM Student Leader

HSM Student Leader  :  Isabella Redjai (far right)

HSM Student Leader: Isabella Redjai (far right)