I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. My younger sister and I were born of God-fearing and loving parents who emigrated from the Philippines to provide a better life for themselves and us. Much of my childhood is a blur amid large family gatherings, Pathfinder camporees and other church-related activities. I attended Crawford Adventist Academy for 13 years—kindergarten through 12th grade—and developed long-lasting friendships with some amazing people. Some of the core values I remember my parents instilling in me were “don’t limit yourself,” “be resourceful” and “don’t just try; do.” I did... Read more

Only last year, if you were to ask me if I think miracles could happen in my life, I probably would have said yes, but not a huge miracle like the ones told by people in their testimonies. This year, however, I have encountered miracles. In fall 2016, acting on conviction, I decided to change my major from biology to integrated science secondary education. This was a difficult decision for me to make but I felt a deep peace in my heart. During the first week of Christmas break, my parents and I came... Read more

My name is Jessina Wangui Marenga, and I am an African. My mother is from Kenya and my father from Zimbabwe. That makes me African, and I hold that truth near and dear to my heart. I recently started calling myself a desert baby, because I was born and raised in a semi-arid region. My mum recalls the year of my birth as the hottest ever recorded. I love the heat. My birthday is in October, the peak of the summer season in the South. I grew up in Botswana which is where my... Read more

I have always known that I wanted to become a missionary; however, I assumed that when I went to serve I would be an adult, already equipped with a professional degree that I could use to help others. Instead, God sent me to be a missionary much sooner than I expected. Little did I know; my missionary year would change my life! When I arrived at Southern Adventist University, I was a young, enthusiastic freshman. Being a student missionary was not at all on my radar. Yet, when I began hearing the stories and... Read more

I was born in Toronto, Canada, to two feisty Seventh-day Adventist Caribbean parents. I had to wake up at 8:30 every Sabbath morning to get ready for Sabbath School at 9:30. My hair was tied in two high buns and secured by gum ball clips and I resembled Mickey Mouse. I had to wear colorful poufy dresses that would itch the living daylights out of me, topped off with knee socks. In my eyes, I looked like a piñata more than anything else, but of course my parents would say, “You look so cute!” ... Read more

I was born as a second child among three siblings in South Korea. My father was a police office and my mother was a full-time mom—we were just an ordinary family. South Korea promotes elite education through special purpose high schools. In my case I attended a “science” high school where only a small percentage of students are accepted. Ever since then I knew I was going to work in science or engineering. After high school, I went on to attend the Korean Advanced Institute of Technology (KAIST) with a full governmental scholarship. I... Read more

The small town of Dillingham, Alaska, has deep roots in commercial fishing, hunting and other forms of gathering food in the wild. Although I have many great memories there, I have painful ones too. Your average Native Alaskan young person has experienced physical, emotional, verbal and/or sexual abuse, and I am no exception. This is why my mother took me out of Dillingham and moved to Keene, Texas. A generous sponsor made it possible for my sister and I to attend Chisholm Trail Academy for a year, and this changed our lives forever. This where God started reshaping... Read more

As a boy of 4 years old, I was a shepherd in South Sudan, herding sheep and goats. I took them to pasture in the morning, where they grazed all day, and returned home in the evening. During that time, foreign militias were raiding homes and killing villagers. When I was 6 years old, I witnessed the plundering of the village where I lived with my uncle. Because of the conflict, I took refuge in Kenya. I lived in a refugee camp for nine years and during this time was converted to Adventism. When... Read more

My story begins in Europe with the immigration patterns to the Americas in the 19th century. Among the many immigrants were the Riffel brothers; one ended up in Kansas and one in Argentina. George, in Argentina, found life hard and joined his brother in the United States. That is where he became a Seventh-day Adventist. He was so excited by his new faith that he went back and shared it with his friends in Argentina. Within a short time, 50 individuals became Adventists. George was an enthusiastic evangelist, but had no concept of needing a pastor to baptize... Read more

When I entered college my freshman year I was an excited, focused 17-year old. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life—or so I thought. I had an extensive ten-year plan that outlined every aspect of my life. By my sophomore year, I was thriving. I was excelling at the top of my class, serving in student government and padding my resume with extracurricular activities. But something was missing. I was so successfully independent that I didn’t need to be dependent on God. So with my ducks in a row, and... Read more

Home for me is the African island paradise of Madagascar, located in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa. I was born and raised on Madagascar and one of my favorite childhood memories was spending time with my four siblings and my parents, playing soccer and sharing stories together. Both of my parents were teachers. Our daily routine included waking up early every morning, having morning devotions, and getting ready to arrive at school by 7 a.m. The after-school routine involved playing together as a family until dinner was ready. My parents believed it was important... Read more

I’m a native of Atlanta, born in one of the only two hospitals in the area that at that time would give care to African American mothers. With my birth came complications and there were strong fears that I would not survive. My mother, a devout Christian, realized the need for intervention and dedicated the young baby to God, promising (like Hannah) that she would give me to the Lord if I lived. I did live, totally unaware of my mother’s promise. My childhood and teenage years were unremarkable as I remember them, but... Read more

I’m originally from Illinois. My parents wanted me to go to an Adventist school but I wanted to be an engineer, and I lived next to the University of Illinois, which has a very good engineering school. I was planning on going there but things changed when God called me to be a pastor. Six years ago I would’ve laughed at the idea that I would ever say I wanted to be a pastor. When God called me to ministry I eventually said yes, and then I decided to come to Andrews University. ... Read more

My family came to the United States from Costa Rica when I was 2 years old. My parents spoke no English, had never finished college and they moved us into a poor neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks. Even as a child I was embarrassed and felt my parents and I were “stupid” because of our background. I soon became the translator for the family, as my young mind picked up language quickly, but that really only embarrassed me more. I did all I could to pretend I was just an American,... Read more

The impact of a friend shaving her head to support a cause really affected me. So despite the unexpectedly good outcome of my mom not losing her hair during chemo I still chose to move forward and shaved my head. Even before my mom was diagnosed with cancer I had already begun heading down the road of examining how my hair defined me. I wondered about the correlation between hair and identity, and was running a self-analysis. I consider both Arizona and Maryland to be home, so I have both the structure and traditionalist mentality... Read more

For the first 13 years of my life, I lived with my family in a small house on a 300-acre farm in Charlotte, Vermont, while my grandparents and aunts and uncles lived in a larger farmhouse on the property. My grandfather didn’t have much formal education; it’s possible he didn’t even attend high school. He worked from a young age. However, to give his children opportunities for a better life, he encouraged my father and his siblings to pursue formal education beyond the high school level. Consequently, my father earned a two-year technical degree in agriculture and my... Read more

A few years ago, I read an Ellen G. White quote that has stuck with me: “There is a picture representing a bullock standing between a plow and an altar, with the inscription, ‘Ready for either,’ ready to toil in the furrow or to be offered on the altar of sacrifice. This is the position of the true child of God—willing to go where duty calls, to deny self, to sacrifice for the Redeemer’s cause” (Ministry of Healing, page 502). I have always felt called to serve in the church. While only 5 or 6 years... Read more