CCA alumnus Jessica ‘Jet’ Thomas, now known as Jessica Nelson after marrying, shares the journey God brought her on after graduating from CCA in 2009. She credits her teachers, the strong biblical foundation she received at school, and the Lord’s faithful pursuit for helping her overcome life’s obstacles and live out the calling God had revealed to her when she was a student at CCA. “I now have everything I’ve been through as a testimony and can pour into young people the exact same way my leaders poured into me.”
It’s surreal to hear myself say this: “It’s been over ten years since I graduated from Calvary Christian Academy.”
Although, to be honest, it’s been quite a decade, and it feels like I’ve aged much more than just 10 years! I look at education nowadays, and it makes me realize how incredible my experience was at CCA. We had Godly teachers, we were taught the Bible and prayed in class, had access to the finest in arts programs, athletic programs . . . I could go on and on.
During that time, between church and school, I had role models pour into me and speak into my life and push me in areas where they saw God had gifted me. I learned to sing, act, dance, and lead worship, and I loved it all. My parents sacrificed a lot so we could have the greatest education they could offer us, and to put it plainly, I had a pretty great time in middle and high school.
It was during those years at CCA that God wrote onto my heart my destiny and purpose on earth.
It was during those years at CCA that God wrote onto my heart my destiny and purpose on earth. I wanted to be a storyteller — to share the gospel in ministry using the arts. I remember wishing I could just lead worship as a job for the rest of my life.
Those years weren’t without their hard moments, but I can see now how unique it was for someone going through their youth to never be faced with any major temptations or heavy struggles. Of course, that didn’t last long after graduation. We will all face trials and temptations eventually. Looking back now, I see God still had a lot of work to do in me after graduation. And boy, did He do it.
I now have everything I’ve been through as a testimony and can pour into young people the exact same way my leaders poured into me.
In an effort to keep this from becoming a full length autobiography, I’ll skip the harrowing details of my college years and say this about them: I found my community with the theatre and music students and not with the Christians. It didn’t take long for me to blend in with those around me, despite the faith that I claimed.
I graduated and immediately got a job on a cruise ship as a singer and dancer in the productions on board. If I had been isolated in college, this took that isolation to a new level. Even if I had wanted to find fellowship with other believers, it wasn’t always an option. I was living in a bubble of 800 crew members, and the lifestyle normalized alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, promiscuity, and unfaithfulness to one's spouse; it was a dark place.
In between each eight-month stint at sea, I’d come home to a family who knew things were not as I tried to make them seem. In church I would become convicted and cry out to God for forgiveness, only to return right back to the next contract with the exact same environment and toxic habits. I constantly tried to think of ships as my mission field but can see now that, biblically and historically, missionaries were never sent to dark places alone; we were created for fellowship! I’m so thankful that during those years in college and on ships the calling and destiny God has placed on my heart never truly got erased.
biblically and historically, missionaries were never sent to dark places alone; we were created for fellowship!
In a miraculous work of God, I broke my foot on a contract and ended up stuck at home and somehow landed in a Bible study led by CCA teacher Pastor Bill Schott. The Holy Spirit used one offhand statement to turn my life around completely. He said, “there’s no such thing as a ‘carnal’ Christian. If you are living in sin then that would mean your Holy Spirit’s ‘broke’. You either have the Holy Spirit living in you, or you don’t.”
This led me down an entirely new path, and long story short, I gave up ships, I gave up alcohol, I gave up certain friends, I gave up my lifestyle, I gave up my paychecks. This act of surrendering opened up a beautiful period of time that was so full of blessings, favor, growing, and freedom; my faith was now truly mine. I had an ownership of it that was different than before because it had cost me something. Pastor Schott teaches this concept to his high school students; he asks, “What has your faith cost you?” In letting go of “the passing pleasures of this world,” I found my faith and my destiny once more.
This act of surrendering opened up a beautiful period of time that was so full of blessings, favor, growing, and freedom; my faith was now truly mine.
I now live in Hawaii with my husband (that’s a whole different miracle story), and we are the youth directors at our church, lead our young adults team, lead worship, and head up the drama department. I also co-captain our young adults dance team and am facing a big and brand new challenge this winter as I direct, choreograph, and facilitate an entire production for Christmas.
The past decade has been . . . a lot. But I’m here now, and how amazing is it that God is using me to speak into the lives of youth here in Hawaii? The best thing that happened to me as a young person was God revealing Himself to me, and revealing the calling He had on my life. In even my darkest times, a part of me still believed He was there, and that somehow eventually, I would end up in the destiny He had for me.
I now have everything I’ve been through as a testimony and can pour into young people the exact same way my leaders poured into me. I am teaching young people what it means to lead worship the same way I was taught. And by the grace of God, I pray that I can help point these precious souls into the arms of their Father and into the calling He has for them, so that one day they too can say, “I’m doing what He’s called me to do, and my faith is my own.”
The best thing that happened to me as a young person was God revealing Himself to me, and revealing the calling He had on my life.