Welcome to Redemption Gateway Student Ministry

We look forward to connecting!

Who are we?

Redemption Students is our ministry environment for students 6th-12th grade.

What we do?

We meet every Wednesday from 7:00-8:45pm at Redemption Gateway. We are committed to bringing the Gospel through intentional relationships to all of the students who come through our doors. A typical night includes time for students to hang out and get connected, followed by worship and teaching in the Box. The bulk of the night is spent in grade and gender specific small groups led by adult mentors. This time is meant to build long lasting relationships and help students connect the Gospel to their own lives.

Our team of leaders is committed to creating a culture that values our students.

We want to be a place where every name of every student is known.
We want to be a place where the unique story of each student is loved.
We want to be a safe place where students' hearts are centered on Jesus.

Josh Watt

Students Pastor
About Josh Watt

I’m married to my best friend Aubrey. She is a beautiful wife and loving Mom, and she makes coming home sweet. I’m Dad to my three boys: Elijah, Roman, and Jude . As a family we like to eat and when we are not eating we are usually thinking about what we want to eat next.

I became a follower of Jesus at a FCA baseball camp as a high school senior. On July 4, 2000, God gracioulsy showed me that my attempt to find joy in this life apart from Him was silly and utlimately sinful. From that day I began the lifelong process of following Jesus. It is interesting though how God often has to take things away from us in order for us to know Him deeper.

After college, I moved away for graduate school. I moved away from home, family, friends, and everything comfortable. I had nothing left to distract me…. so for the first time I opened the Bible and read it cover to cover. For the first time in my young faith, Jesus was bigger than just my personal savior. He was the center of my story, the center of the Bible, the center of human history, and He was the center and source of all joy. I have never recovered from this truth.

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Joshua Ruiz

Jr. High Student Pastor
About Joshua Ruiz

I am a born and raised Arizona Native.  I come from a crazy blended family of 8 (3 brothers, 2 sisters).  I’ve lived most my life in the east valley, attending Red Mountain High School and graduating from Skyline High School in 2001.  Immediately following high school I was employed at Empire Machinery (a Caterpillar Machinery Dealer) and have been there since.  I attended Southwestern Bible College in Phoenix AZ (now known as Arizona Christian University) for two years before changing gears after meeting my wonderful wife Lauren Ruiz and marrying her January 22, 2005.  By God’s grace our marriage is hoppin’, resulting in our 4 crazy great kiddos: Aidyn, Isabel, Violet, and Nox.  We run pretty fast through our daily lives, not really leaving much possibility for a boring day in our home.  Group gatherings, good food, and good time spent together minister to our souls.

I grew up in a small Baptist church in Mesa where I came to the saving grace of Jesus Christ at a young age.  Growing up knowing the truth and goodness of God, I found myself in great distress in my late teens and early twenties as I struggled to live out what I swore so deeply to believe, sadly proving to have significantly weaker flesh than the Christians I considered true believers.  God’s grace however was much deeper than the depths of my sin, and learning that truth has brought me to greater love and worship of Him.  My life is His and I long to serve him until my dying breath.  Should it ever be said  that I am a passionate worshipper of God, it would have to hold true that the greatest sinners always make the greatest worshippers.  Its why I sing so loud!  To Christ be all glory!  I’ve had the privilege of serving God’s people in worship leading for over 15 years now, and look forward to many more.  I love the church, I love serving the body of Christ, and love serving in youth ministries!

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Bob Powers

6th Grade Boys Mentor
About Bob Powers

I married my best friend and the love of my life in 1997 and we have been on an exciting adventure ever since.  We have 3 wonderful daughters and 5 especially wonderful grandchildren and are blessed to be an important part of their lives.  Arlene and I were on staff with International Messengers, a non denominational mission agency, for about five years and learned the importance and love of being involved in ministry wherever the Lord has us.  I have been involved in children and young teenagers ministry for more than 15 years and am continually challenged and excited to see what our Lord Jesus in doing in these young lives.  The crowning joy for Arlene and I was finding Redemption Gateway.  We love our church, having abundant opportunities to serve and all the special friends we have met there.

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Eric Drury

6th Grade Boys Mentor
About Eric Drury
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Arnie Ruiz

6th Grade Boys Mentor
About Arnie Ruiz
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Sam Drawbond

6th Grade Boys Mentor
About Sam Drawbond

I have been married to my beautiful wife Carly since the fall of 2014 and in the summer of 2016 our son Simon was born, making our family a trio. We love family time, spending time outdoors, great food and friends.

I grew up in church, often struggling with whether or not I wanted to follow Jesus. I remember fiercely struggling with God around the age of 12 or 13, but God preserved me through those early teen years. It wasn’t till age 17, while on a missions trip, that I surrendered my life and specifically my future, to God. I had been trying to keep those future plans to myself, I didn’t want to allow God to call me to a life of poverty in some foreign country. I was faced with a decision, live my “Christian” life how I wanted, or allow God to have complete control. I chose God’s plan and am still learning amid mistakes and surprises what He has in store for us.

We started coming to Redemption Gateway fall of 2015 it has been great getting to know people in Redemption Young Adults, Redemption Communities, Redemption Kids and now the Student Ministry. I’m excited about building relationships as a mentor.

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Andrew Heitman

6th Grade Boys Mentor
About Andrew Heitman
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Carly Drawbond

6th Grade Girls Mentor
About Carly Drawbond

My husband Sam and I were married in 2014 after graduating from Bible college where we first met. He’s a little bit country and I’m a little bit Rock n’ Roll, we’re proof that opposites not only attract but can work well together! We have a son named Simon who is one and I have the joy of staying home with him. Being a mom has been my greatest adventure so far!

I grew up in a Christian home where we regularly attended church. I professed faith in Christ at the age of 10 and was baptized, but it wasn’t until my teenage years that I began to take my faith more seriously. God showed me that no matter how hard I tried to live a “perfect” life I was always going to fall short, I needed Jesus. The freedom I’ve found in God’s forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness motivates me to help others experience it for themselves.

We have been attending Redemption Gateway for almost 2 years now and are so grateful for this church family! I love working with youth and in college, I helped lead teams of teenagers on mission trips to Mongolia and Tanzania. There’s nothing quite like the energy, creativity, and spontaneity of 6-12th graders. I look forward to Wednesday night every week and I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve these girls!

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Robbin Howey

6th Grade Girls Mentor
About Robbin Howey

I have been married to Jim since June 1993.  We moved to Arizona from San Diego one week after we were married and have made the Phoenix area our home. We have six amazing kids (four of which are teenagers) Kyla, Kevin, Rylie, Reagan, Jordyn and Presley.

I grew up in a Christian home and my mom was very dedicated to making sure my brothers and I were raised in church.  It wasn’t until I went away to college that I fully understood my daily need for Jesus.  Since then, Jesus continues to make himself bigger and bigger in my life.  I love spending time in the Word and am constantly amazed by God’s character and unchanging love for me. It is a privilege for me to spend time with these precious girls each week.

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Nicole Reeves

6th Grade Girls Mentor
About Nicole Reeves

I first heard the gospel from a persistent friend in one of my High School science classes.  After attending an apologetics Bible study at a small, local church, I came face to face with my hopeless existence without God and the truth of who this God was and how much He loved me.  My life has been utterly altered since falling in love with Jesus and life in Him continues to be a grand adventure.  My rock-star hubby, Mike, and I have been married for a quarter-of-a-century and we have 3 children: Abi-21, Joshua-17 and Hannah-13.  Our family has attended Redemption Gateway for 6 years and we enjoy being involved in a variety of ways at church.  I am excited to join the youth group mentor team and to get to know and love on the adorable 6th grade girls this year.  Mike and I homeschool our kids ( the two still at home ) and are actively involved in coaching a local speech and debate club where we encourage kids to become effective communicators for Christ.  Gardening, reading, hiking, and music are some of the things I enjoy in my spare time.  Each day I strive to find: something to think about, something to do, and something to love.

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Gianna Bongiorno

6th Grade Girls Mentor
About Gianna Bongiorno

I am a born and raised Arizona native.  I have an older brother and I am a recent high school graduate. My first summer after highschool, I worked my first job.  I lived in Prescott for a month as a summer staffer for the United Christian Youth Camp which is a summer camp for middle school and high school students. I am attending my freshman year of college at Chandler-Gilbert Community College this year and will be there for two years studying

I grew up in a Christian home and attended a Christian church in Gilbert until I was in 8th grade.  Four years ago, my family then began attending Redemption Gateway. Throughout my whole life, I’ve learned and heard God’s truths and have had many stumbles and triumphs in faith throughout my life so far. I was baptized in 2014 at Redemption and have dedicated my life and actions to serve and follow God’s instructions as a christian for his Kingdom.

I have attended youth group since I came to Gateway and loved being mentored. I love seeing God work in people’s lives as well as my own and am passionate about working with young students and seeing how God grows in them. I felt called to mentor by God after high school because I love serving the younger generation.  Throughout high school, I was a mentor at my school to younger students. I also love showing and seeing the girls I mentor  see God’s amazing love for his children. I’m also a enthusiast for travel and love outdoor activities.

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Peety Drury

6th Grade Girls Mentor
About Peety Drury
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Ashley Tyler

6th Grade Girls Mentor
About Ashley Tyler

I moved to Arizona from California at the end of 2011 with my dad, mom, and brother while my sister and her husband stayed in California. It was the best thing to have happened to me because I later met the love of my life, Clay Tyler. We got married in April 2015 and we have a dog/child named Dobby. I currently work at Starbucks and I love it because the people are amazing and the coffee is free!

I was in junior high when I started asking a lot of questions about God and wanting to know more about Him. He used my dad, mom, and grandma to point me to Himself and looking back, I realize just how crucial this age is for kids. I became a Christian at that age and I want to be apart of my students lives pointing them to Christ in the same way my family was. I hope to be someone in these girls lives that they feel they can talk to about anything, knowing I’ll always be on their side rooting for them.

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Derek Powell

7th Grade Boys Mentor
About Derek Powell
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Eddie Fearing

7th Grade Boys Mentor
About Eddie Fearing
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Braxton Tennison

7th Grade Boys Mentor
About Braxton Tennison
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Ike Birdsall

7th Grade Boys Mentor
About Ike Birdsall

My beautiful wife, Shonah, and I were married in October of 2015 and moved from Indiana to Arizona in January of 2016. We have two cats named Cat and Carl, and they are our temporary children since we don’t have any yet. I am also an English teacher at Queen Creek High School. Go Bulldogs!

I grew up in a family immersed in the church, and I have been going for as long as I can remember. Even though my dad is a pastor, my parents let my siblings and I grow in our faith without ever forcing anything. After I graduated from high school I was a camp counselor for two summers at a church camp I grew up going to and during that time I learned a lot about myself. There I realized my biggest passion in life is working with kids. It’s so incredible to see kids come to find Christ and see the Holy Spirit move in them. The last four years I have volunteered at different youth groups and with an organization called Youth for Christ. I’m humbled and so excited to be apart of Redemption student ministries and can’t wait to see what God has planned for this year!

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Kristine Heitman

7th Grade Girls Mentor
About Kristine Heitman

I’m originally from California, after high school I moved to Idaho where I graduated from Boise State University (Go Broncos!). From Idaho I moved to Pullman, Washington and attended Washington State University (Go Cougs!). After all the years of schooling, I graduated with my doctorate of veterinary medicine. While in veterinary school I met my husband Andrew, who is also a veterinarian and we now have two dogs Sadie and Piper.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of serving on short term mission trips to Mexico, Ecuador and even Mongolia. Having been to remote places has been both inspiring and convicting, to witness what it truly means to depend fully on God. Now in Arizona my husband and I have felt so blessed to be apart of Redemption Gateway, having the opportunity to serve and fellowship through Redemption Communities and Student Ministry.

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Andrea Henderson

7th Grade Girls Mentor
About Andrea Henderson
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Madison Graville

7th Grade Girls Mentor
About Madison Graville
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Evelyn Garay

7th Grade Girls Mentor
About Evelyn Garay

I have been married to Alex since August 2008. God blessed us with four beautiful children Andrea, Noah, Gabriel (who is in heaven), and Sophia. I am very fortunate to be a stay at home mom.

I currently serve in hospitality on Sundays, work for Kids Crew childcare, and now I’m blessed to have the opportunity to serve God and glorify his name by becoming a mentor for our Student Ministry.

I grew up Catholic and the only thing I experienced was emptiness. In 2014 I was invited to Redemption Gateway by my neighbors. The minute worship began, I fell in love with God. I was baptized two months later because God opened my eyes to his unchanging grace. I saw the light of God’s power and I felt something in my heart was different. My priorities in life had changed. I really wanted to know God and it gave me a great hunger to pray and study the Bible. I no longer felt emptiness because the Holy Spirit was with me. I’m forever grateful that when Jesus went to Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins and to give us power to be a witness for Christ.

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Carie Shinn

7th Grade Girls Mentor
About Carie Shinn

I am an Arizona Native and I married my best friend and high school sweetheart in November 1994.  We have four amazing children: Jordan, Jessica, Trenton and Kohl.  Our two oldest daughters are college students, Trenton is in 8th grade and Kohl is in 5th grade.

I grew up in a Catholic home and our parents took us to church occasionally, My parents divorced and our church attendance dropped significantly, but I knew enough to know that I “believed in God”.  In high school, I started working for a small family owned business.  The owners were the type of people that honored God with their marriage, their business, and their whole lives.  I noticed something was different about them and when they invited me to church, I wanted to go.  I continued attending and got plugged into an Adult Sunday School Class as well.

God used the circumstances in my life and my time at that church to show me that it wasn’t enough to just believe in God; I needed to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.   I gave my life to Christ when I was 23 years old.  My life has been drastically changed.

Our family has faced some very difficult circumstances in the past; I know without a doubt it was God’s strength and grace that got us through those times.  We have seen God’s work in our lives in miraculous ways.

While I am, and always will be a work in progress, I desire to honor God with my life.  I am so excited to join Redemption Student Ministry as a mentor to the Sixth Grade Girls.  Our family also serves with Redemption Kids on Sunday Mornings.

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Theresa Toth

7th Grade Girls Mentor
About Theresa Toth

In 2009 I married Dan, the love of my life. He is the most kind, humble, patient and crazy funny guy that I have ever known. He makes me “stop” and realize how beautiful life is. I have three children. Paul, Brad and Ariel. Paul and his wife Megan have blessed me with three beautiful Grandchildren, Savannah, Addelyn and Henry. I cherish the moments I spend with each of them.

I recall attending church a few times while growing up. I believed that there was a God but did not know I could have a relationship with Him. After a series of events years later, He grabbed my stubborn heart and turned my life right side up. My relationship with Him continues to grow each day. God brought me to Redemption Gateway and I have never felt more alive.

I’m a caretaker by nature and enjoy the times that I can make a difference in the lives of others. I love seeing God work on the hearts of the young people that He has placed me with. When I watch the students put their faith in Him it melts my heart and I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.

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Ian Boggs

8th Grade Boys Mentor
About Ian Boggs

I have been married to my wife Angela (who also volunteers as a mentor) since I was 19 years old.  We have two children, one of which is in the student ministry.  I grew up the son of a

pastor in southern California with my two brothers.  I value very much the opportunity to get to know the kids in our church and point them toward Jesus.

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Caleb Beeman

8th Grade Boys Mentor
About Caleb Beeman

I grew up the middle child of a five boy family in Mesa, Arizona. I was homeschooled throughout childhood and loved it. While in high school, I earned my Eagle scout award in boy scouts. I graduated in 2012 and started community college at sixteen. I left college with a certificate in computer aided design. I have worked in  landscaping since I was thirteen years old, and become a crew foreman. At the age of 15, God grabbed ahold of my life and my heart and I was baptized soon after that. I started attending Redemption Gateway in 2011, and have been serving with kids ever since. They truly are such a great joy and it’s amazing to see them grow-up and grow their faith.

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Lisa Aiello

8th Grade Girls Mentor
About Lisa Aiello

My husband and best friend, Augie, and I have been married since 1996. We grew

up, met and married in upstate New York. Shortly after getting married, we

moved here and have lived here since 1998.  I am a stay at home mom.   We have

three children, Jacob, Noah and Ava.

Although I grew up in a Christian environment and felt the love of Christ in my life

very early it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that the LORD revealed to me the

reality of my own sin and how much I desperately needed Jesus.  He called me to

turn back to the faith I was familiar with and cherished as a child and earnestly

begin to seek Him. I stand in awe of how He faithfully redeems and restores.  The

more I know Him, the more I love Him and desire to glorify Him.

I have been serving in the student ministry since 2015 and feel blessed to be able

to share Christ with Redemption students.

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Donna Kaplan

8th Grade Girls Mentor
About Donna Kaplan

I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Jeff, since 1993.  We have three wonderful children, Will, Jack and Caroline.  I was blessed to grow up in Christian home where I became a believer as a child.

God has been faithful to me in each stage of life.  I am humbled He has chosen to love me so

extravagantly and graciously. I have always been passionate about teaching children.  My degree is in education and I taught school for 9 years before staying home with our children when our first was born.  After becoming a mom I became passionate about the godly call of motherhood and fellowship with other moms. I have previously served in kid’s ministries and mom’s ministries, but joined Student Ministry here at Gateway when we moved here in 2014 from New Mexico.

God has given me a passion for teens as my own children enter this stage.  I am eager to see the gospel impact and faith grow in the lives of my own children and the students in our ministry I am honored to be able to get to know and love the girls in our group and have a part in their faith stories as God grows and nurtures them in this amazing ministry.

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Megan Tyler

8th Grade Girls Mentor
About Megan Tyler

I am married to my husband Curt for almost two wonderful years. We met through Redemption Gateway’s Young Adults ministry and have both been going to this church for about three years. I became a believer at the age of 15 and immediately fell in love with Christ. His overwhelming grace and  unfailing love captured my young heart. I love working with 6th grade girls, they are silly, loving and so thirsty for the Lord. I am so happy I get to share not only my experiences with them but the Gospel as well.

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Austin Staheli

9th Grade Boys Mentor
About Austin Staheli

I’ve been attending Redemption since 2013 and I really enjoy the diversity within our congregations. I recently graduated from Grand Canyon University with a degree in Christian Studies. I love fishing, hiking, and biking.

 

I grew up in a home with Christian values, but not in a Christian home. I tried to live a moral life until midway through my teen years. It was then I realized bad things happen to good people. I wanted to know how a good God could allow this to happen? This eventually led me to identify as an atheist. During the summer of 2012 God radically captured my heart. Since then I’ve been passionate about sharing the gospel with teens wrestling with the brokenness of this world.

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Luke Brandt

9th Grade Boys Mentor
About Luke Brandt

I am married to Heather, the most perfect fit God could have for me. We have a blessed blended family with 3 kids: Janiece, Ciera, and Titus

I grew up in church and almost seemed to be living there at times. There was not a time that the Bible was not impressed upon me and shown to me with people living it out. I really became aware of God about Jr High but preceded to do it on my own as I believed that I was superman capable and only needed to associate with God to add Him to my identity. This continued past college until the birth of my first child where the Lord shook my world, woke me up, and showed me being His child was more than just calling myself one. All of what I did needed to show Him.

Since then I have been pushed, stretched, and grown being shown that He is the center of it all. I am a glorious work in progress that He does not give up on. He has placed it on my heart to invest into younger people and show how Jesus is better.

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Daniel Toth

9th Grade Boys Mentor
About Daniel Toth

My beautiful, amazing wife Theresa agreed to marry me back in 2009 on a beach in Maui.  Best decision of my life. My daughter Ariel is a constant joy. I appreciate the depth of her heart. I spent my childhood and adolescent years in Mesa, AZ. My parents did a good job keeping me plugged into various churches while I was under their roof. As I set out on my own, the concepts obtained through the years of continued exposure influenced my decisions. Good thing too. Life can become pretty complicated between the ages of 17-23.

As I grew older, I returned my focus to the Gospel but approached the subject from a legalistic viewpoint. At one point, I felt satisfied that I was suppressing my outward sin, showing up to the right events and making the appropriate sacrifices. That kind of satisfaction leads to a perception of entitlement to God, at least for awhile. However, in time, I became aware of my inward sinful nature and my inability to rein in the rebellion in my heart. As I grappled with the futility of it all, God set me on a path that ultimately led me to understand how broken I was and the true value of His grace. As Jesus continues to work on my heart and mold my life, I’m humbled to have the opportunity to share His love and sacrifice through the Student Ministry.

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Juan Williams

9th Grade Boys Mentor
About Juan Williams

I am blessed with a wife Daphne, and two sons Hezekiah and Israel.

In my youth my life was marked by selfishness. My focus was purely on myself and what I could get out of life. In 2003 Christ came into my life and saved me and showed me that life is not about myself but it’s about him and his will. Now I live my life in the hope of Christ and serving him.

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Angela Boggs

9th Grade Girls Mentor
About Angela Boggs

I am married to fellow mentor, Ian Boggs. We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this September. We have two great kids, Aden and Logan.

My heart has always been with students. Through the last several years, I have served students both in church and at House of Refuge. I am so thankful that the Lord has put so many great students in my life. They truly make my heart dance.

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Stephanie Scallon

9th Grade Girls Mentor
About Stephanie Scallon

I have been married to my husband, Greg since April, 1998. We have two wonderful

and sometimes crazy children Sydney and Will. My family started attending church when I was in elementary school and in 6th grade during sunday school I went forward to “pray the prayer” and God saved me. My faith has always been the one sure thing in my life. God has grown me in my faith since that day through trials and mistakes I’ve made. He has continually shown me his love, grace and protection. I am always amazed to look back at my life and see God’s hand in so

many moments. I’m grateful that he continues to grow me and teach me things through his word and by using others in my life (even though at times it’s not fun). It’s very humbling to think that I get to be part of God’s story and share with others his never ending grace and love.

Student ministries is a blast! Grateful is the word that keeps coming to mind as I think about getting to walk beside these young teens as they navigate through this crazy life with all it’s silliness, sin, doubts, fears and questions. It’s a blessing to help them see God’s truth in it all and pray for them, love on them and be part of their story.

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Mike Hagan

10th Grade Boys Mentor
About Mike Hagan

I have been married to my lovely wife Melynn for 2 years and we have two dogs Bentley and Oliver.

I grew up in a Southern California, Christian home and surfed most of my young life. God saved me when I was in 10th grade after a high school church service. After I became a Christian, I spent a few years at a legalistic church but finally God brought me to a Jesus centered church to learn more and more about grace. I moved out to Arizona when I was 22 and have been at Redemption Gateway ever since. Through Gateway, my marriage, and life in general, God has shaped me through His son Jesus and I am grateful for that.

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Arnold Ruiz

10th Grade Boys Mentor
About Arnold Ruiz

I married my fun, hard-working wife, Ai, in 2008, and we have been blessed with three wonderful kids: Ava, Asher, and Aila. We enjoy food, family, and learning new things, or any activity that involves these things.

I grew up in and around church, but that did not save me from experiencing the sin and brokenness of a fallen humanity, nor the pain and strife and confusion that comes from living in a fallen world. For we have all been sinned against and we ourselves have sinned against others. And I was not exempt from this reality. Indeed, left to myself, I have an incurable propensity to seek after my own good and my own desires at the expense of others, in direct rebellion against the One who created me to do otherwise.

But thanks be to God that He found me and rescued me from the grip of sin and death! By God’s benevolent grace I have found his son Jesus Christ to be beautiful, wise to the utmost, patient, profoundly loving, and powerful to save. So I look to him as my supreme guide. And my trust in Him has not been misplaced. He is a friend to sinful people like me, a rock in times of trouble, a glad giver of guiding knowledge that helps me navigate through this world, and a source of incomparable joy. By nature I am rebellious, and I wrestle and struggle and fall and doubt. But He is ever merciful and faithful to me; he is my peace and my sanity.

I love to teach and to tell people about what Jesus Christ has done for me and how awesome He is. Nothing and nobody can thrill a heart like He can. In my current phase of life, God shows me about himself most through my relationships as a husband and father, in my friendships with his body the church, and by seeing the futility and pain in the world caused by living in rebellion against Him.

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Paul Swiatkowski

10th Grade Boys Mentor
About Paul Swiatkowski

I am an Arizona native and married to my highschool sweetheart, Megan. We have three children. For the first 27 years of my life I served myself and my family. During a hunting trip with some friends, God changed my life. In 2012, I started attending my first church ever, Redemption Gateway. Since then, God has used the body to do great things in my life. My wife and I currently foster teens. I manage a bank for Chase and enjoy anything outdoors.

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Susanne Grattopp

10th Grade Girls Mentor
About Susanne Grattopp

I have been married to my high school sweetheart since 1998. We have 3 kiddos, Lauren, Joshua, and Brennan. We have lived in Arizona for the last 11 years and have been attending Redemption Gateway since it first started. In my free time, which doesn’t seem to be a lot these days, I love to travel with my family, hike, or do anything outdoors.

I grew up in a military family and then married a military guy, which I said I would never ever do. God knew better though. As a first born, military brat and wife, I’ve always had an independent nature and like to do things on my own, not thinking I need much from anyone else. However, through some dark times in high school and college, God brought me to my knees, showing me my desperate need for Him. Jesus grabbed my heart at 17 and I am thankful He continues to find me moldable. He is daily refining me through being a wife and mother and I am continually reminded of my need for Him.

Seeing how my husband was truly shaped by his mentors in student ministries when he was in Jr. High and High School, gave me the desire to be a part of Student Ministries at Gateway. I love our students at Gateway and am thankful to be a part of the 8th grade (almost 9th) girl’s lives. It is a blessing to be able to walk through this crazy time of life with them and point them to Jesus.

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Melynn Hagan

10th Grade Girls Mentor
About Melynn Hagan

I married my husband, Mike, two years ago, after meeting him here at Redemption Gateway. We currently have two dogs that we love as our kids.

I was raised in the church and had several “Come to Jesus” moments as a young kid.  However, my faith was not real; it was based on fear and the idea that I needed to perform to earn God’s love. God broke me down my freshman year of high school and showed that I was not truly saved by revealing the hardness of my own heart. Over several months, He continued the process of breaking me down by taking away precious idols until I cried out to him on Christmas day of 2008 and surrendered to Him as my Lord. Since then, my life has been radically changed by His love and grace.

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Clay Tyler

11th Grade Boys Mentor
About Clay Tyler

I was born in Nashville, Tennessee and moved to Arizona when I was seven years old. I was homeschooled up to 5th grade and attended Junior High at Fees Middle School and Santan Junior High. I went to high school at Basha High School and graduated in 2007. After high school I went to ASU and graduated with my Bachelor and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. In 2012, I found out about Redemption Gateway through a friend and I’ve been attending ever since.

I met my wife Ashley at a community group at Gateway and about a year later we started dating. A year after that we were engaged and were married on April 18, 2015!

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Lauren Ruiz

11th Grade Girls Mentor
About Lauren Ruiz

I married Joshua January 22, 2005. We have 4 kids, and live in a constant state of chaos. I don’t think we would know what to do with ourselves without the whirlwind of crazy.

I am a stay at home mama and I love anything and everything crafty. I was raised Catholic and often have to still fight the urge to cross myself. I didn’t have a real relationship with God or fully understand what it meant to be forgiven until after my first daughter was born. In a moment of pure exhaustion and defeat God grabbed ahold of my heart, and I’ve been his grateful daughter since. I have truly enjoyed growing in faith and community here at Redemption. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and am looking forward to many years to come.

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Megan Swiatkowski

11th Grade Girls Mentor
About Megan Swiatkowski

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart and best friend, Paul, since May of 2006. We have three beautiful children, Savannah, Addelyn, and Henry. We are also a foster family!

Our family has been at Gateway for almost four years. When we first started attending, I believed in a distant God who would one day be pleased with me if I could be “mostly good,” or at least appear that way. I lived for the approval of man, consumed by anxieties of comparison and perfection. God used the teaching and relationships here to pursue and reveal himself to me. I now know that through Jesus, God is anything but distant. He wants to walk in close relationship with me. Everyday I am humbled and reminded of my brokenness, yet encouraged and overwhelmed by his redeeming love and grace.

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Aubrey Watt

11th Grade Girls Mentor
About Aubrey Watt

Josh and I got married in July 2007, just about 11 months after we first met.  We moved to Texas the weekend after our wedding and we spent 3 years there. In 2010 when our oldest son Elijah was 8 weeks old, we moved back home to Arizona.  In 2012 our second son Roman was born, and in 2013 our third son Jude was born.

God saved me in 2004.  He opened my eyes and I could finally see.  I could see my brokenness, my hopelessness, and my inability to make myself happy, but I could also see His love, His tenderness, and His pursuit of me even though I didn’t deserve it.  God used the Bible and a few wonderful people to shape my understanding of Him and His grace through Jesus Christ.

I co-lead a wonderful group of high school girls!

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Keri Garza

12th Grade Girls Mentor
About Keri Garza

I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Eloy, since July 1994. We started our married life in Illinois but knew we wouldn’t stay. So on December 26, 1996, the coldest and snowiest day of the year, we packed up all we owned in the back of a u-haul and started our journey west! We have never regretted our choice.  We waited on the Lord’s timing to have children and after 8 and 9 years of marriage, we were blessed with two boys, Malachi and Evan.

I come from a very large Catholic family and I am the oldest girl of 10 kids (7 girls / 3 boys).  I remember most of my adolescents attending mass but when my mom became a Christian (via TBN.. the Lord works in mysterious ways!)  we started attending a Free Will Baptist church.  Because of my Catholic upbringing, knowing more than God’s rules made it hard for me to ever see that I was good enough, though I thought I was saved because I went to church and said a prayer. It wasn’t until I was a mother that I truly understood a fraction of God’s unconditional love for me. Since then, Jesus continues to show me my need for Him daily.

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Evie Heller

12th Grade Girls Mentor
About Evie Heller

I’m married to my husband Joseph. He is a wonderful husband that provides well for us and loves me and our kids so much. Our kids names are Josias, Elisha, and Joy. I am a stay at home mom and love playing make-believe and building towers with legos/magnablocks with our boys. Our little girl is newborn and I love holding her and snuggling when I get the chance. Our boys also love being big brothers and caring for their sister as well.

I was graced with a family that loved God and taught me who he was. God saved me at a very young age and has kept my faith strong in Him through all these many years. In high school I developed a wonderful group of friends that challenged me to step out in my faith by applying God’s word to my life and speaking out about him to friends and even strangers at malls (yes we were those people that would walk up and talk to you out of the blue). In college I studied Wayne Grudem’s book “Systematic Theology” which helped me grow from a spiritual child into an adult that understood better who God was and how he continues to work in my life.

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Joe Heller

12th Grade Boys Mentor
About Joe Heller

I’m married to my love Evie. She is a beautiful wife and wonderful mother to our two boys. Our boy’s names are Josias and Elisha. Having two boys we like to wrestle, play make-believe, and build towers with legos/magnablocks.

I was graced with a family that loved God and taught me who he was. God saved me at a very young age and has kept my faith strong in Him through all these many years. In high school I went on several missions trips to Africa and Mexico. On these trips I met so many people who had never even heard about this ‘Jesus’ we were speaking of. Hearing this and seeing so much pain and suffering taught me to be thankful for how much grace God had given me. God continues to work in my heart and teach me to live my life as a servant for Him always.

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Colby Bennett

Student Cafe
About Colby Bennett

My wife and I have been married for nearly 8 years and we have two awesome little ones at home, Brody who is 3 and Quinn who just turned 1. I enjoy fly fishing, playing basketball, and I dabble in woodworking. I love date nights with Nikelle and watching my kids go through their new stages.

I became a Christian in the summer of 2005, right after graduating high school. I had an idea of who God was before this but the concept of grace never grasped me or influenced my life until that summer. Looking back on my high school years I often wish I had a mentor to constantly point me to Jesus. That is what I hope to do with the students I interact with in student ministries, constantly point them to the Cross. Nikelle and I have been mentoring students for over 6 years now and I feel so blessed to be a part of this ministry.

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Nikelle Bennett

Student Cafe
About Nikelle Bennett

I’ve been married 7 years to my husband, Colby, who also serves in the youth ministry. We have two crazy kids, Brody and Quinn, that I get to stay home with and run my photography business. I love to hang out with my family, be outside as much as possible, and try new restaurants!

I grew up in a Christian home and was involved in an amazing youth group during my teen years. Those years being involved in youth ministry (mostly having a mentor and a group of christian girlfriends that could encourage and challenge me with my faith) really grew my faith and relationship with God earlier on. Because I was so blessed through that ministry and saw what an impact it made in my life, God gave me a heart to mentor and serve in Redemption’s youth ministry.

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Heather Brandt

Student Cafe
About Heather Brandt

I started with Redemption Students when my daughter was in 6th grade (4, almost 5 years ago).  I have been married to Luke for 6 years and we met through second mile’s community group. I work part time as a medical assistant in an urgent care and also make cake pops as a small business on the side.  I have a 15 year old daughter, Janiece, 11 year old step-daughter, Ciera and 2 year old son, Titus.

I grew up in what I thought was a Christian home going to church on Easter and Christmas until God opened my eyes and saved me at 27 from horrible decisions and headed down a dark path! I am grateful for the people God put in my life to help me mold me into the person I am today and strengthen me in my walk with Him.  I love being apart of these high school girls lives and sharing my story and bad decisions that I made to help them strengthen their walk with the Lord!

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