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Recognised for spiritual leadership

Committed: Kirsten Maske this year won an Outstanding Teen Award from Teen Services for showing spiritual leadership (Photograph supplied)

Mark Twain wrote, ‘Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.’

Kirsten Maske happens to take a different view.

Through studying God’s word over the past few years, she’s found faith to mean “trusting in God’s unchanging character and unbreakable promises”.

“I’m learning to trust many things into God’s care: my schoolwork as I choose to honour Sabbath, my exams I worry for, my dreams, my relationships and my future,” the 18-year-old said. “I am learning to trust that He is my all in all when I am left wanting, my protector when I feel afraid, my comforter when I grieve and my only hope for this life and the life to come.”

Currently in her final year of study at Warwick Academy, Ms Maske was “stunned” and “extremely thankful” to win an Outstanding Teen Award in the category of spiritual leadership from Teen Services in April.

“I wasn’t really expecting to win because, even though I love God, I still feel like I have so much growing to do,” she said. “Because of this, I also felt really unworthy to receive such a big award. I even told the judges if I were to win, the award should go to God, because He is the reason for all the good in my life.”

The award has given her a renewed energy and desire to set a positive example for others. It has also given her cause to reflect on how much God has changed her, with His patience and great mercy.

Ms Maske was 12 when she joined a youth group in Bahrain, where her family lived for four years after leaving their home in South Africa.

In those early days she helped others “as long as it wasn’t too much of a struggle”. As she’s grown to know God and what He’s really like, her service has become less about pleasing her peers or making herself feel like a better person. Instead, she’s focused on “an outpouring of thankfulness to God for all He has done for me”.

“As important as ministry is, I believe that the most important thing to God is your heart,” she said. “God can do anything! He doesn’t need my service — but rather graciously chooses to use me to accomplish His great deeds for such a time as this.

“God cares more that your heart is after Him because it’s so easy to be so caught up in doing things for God while missing Him altogether. The feeling of God drawing you to Himself can easily be quietened by the endless churning of work and ministry and, before you know it, you’re powerless. It’s no longer God working in you it’s you trying to do it all for God. So I definitely believe it’s important to be involved in ministry and I love to be a part of everything but I pray it never replaces my relationship with God.”

She recalls making the decision to follow God at 15.

She began listening to Christian radio programmes and reading her Bible over school breaks. Gradually, God began to break down some of her misconceptions and misunderstandings.

“I think I finally made a decision to repent and trust God alone for salvation when I was at a Word of Life summer camp,” she said. “I just came to the point where I had seen too much to not believe God and to choose Him today instead of always putting it off.

“Life is short and, even though I’m young, I don’t know when it will end. So I wanted to be ready to face God, and I’m in no way good enough to reach the perfection of heaven on my own. I have lied, dishonoured my parents, been so ungrateful and selfish and more. My efforts to please God only offended Him more because it was like trying to bribe Him.

“But God graciously provided a Saviour. Not just me but everyone can be forgiven and changed. Jesus took our sins upon Himself and suffered immeasurably, all for love. Now we can freely come to God. We are no longer separated by our rebellion. It still amazes me today.”

Ms Maske is off to study biology at The Master’s University in California in August. Eventually she hopes to serve in an underdeveloped country as a nurse or doctor.