PASTOR MARK & LORI GITTENS
Mark and Lori Gittens planted Higher Hope after seeing a great disconnect between the church and the lost. Mark's parents, and a woman named Eleanor Parish, were major inspirations in the development of his spiritual life. Mark confesses that he had very little idea of the life changing adventure that planting Higher Hope would create. He was raised in the Plymouth Brethren, where the Word of God was taught with great depth. To this day, he thanks God for the spiritual discipleship he received there. He loves wearing his jeans every Sunday and he loves when people say that he doesn’t act like a “Pastor”. Mark has no man-made Bible degrees to boast of, but when he opens the Word of God, you can tell that God has placed a supernatural gift on his life. His messages reach to the soul of each hearer. Mark is all about empowering the saints to be what God says they are.
Lori was also raised in the Plymouth Brethren and accepted the Lord at an early age. An only child who was born and raised in a small, rural town in Pennsylvania, at age thirteen, her family moved to a suburb of Pittsburgh. This was a pivot time in her life, leading her on a path of searching for acceptance throughout her teen years. At the age of eighteen, through a mutual friend, she met Mark. The next five years were the beginning of their story, and they married in September 1995. In June 1998, they planted Higher Hope. It was during the early years of ministry that she encountered God's love and presence in a very real and powerful way. It has inspired her, despite some hard times, to never give up and to never stop loving, sharing, and smiling.
Mark and Lori have been happily married for 25 years and have 7 children, 2 granddaughters, and more god kids than they can count. They continue to be humbled daily by God's grace, and the work of the gospel in their own lives. Lookin back at all God has done, they would not change a thing. Moving forward, they continue to trust in an unchanging and faithful God.
Melissa has attended h2 since she was 16 yrs old, when we gathered at the store front. Melissa’s teenage years were troubled with addictions and depression. The Lord has fully delivered her and is renewing her daily. She had a passion to work with the youth and went to school for criminal justice and counseling. She worked with the House of Hope, Center of Hope, in the Shikellamy after school/summer programs and with the youth in the YMCA programs for years. Before coming to h2, she was a personal trainer at Geisinger and cleaned for people on the side. Her & her husband Cole, have 3 children. Noah, Lily, & Zachary keep Melissa busy with their jobs, sports, clubs, and dance classes. Melissa enjoys being outside in the sun; reading, running, walking, biking, dining, or playing with her children. Melissa considers it an honor to work for her church family and to volunteer in her community. Melissa believes God is on the move and she is excited for what the Lord is going to do in the Susquehanna Valley.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MINISTRY OPERATIONS
Eric is a man of many interests whose number one passion is to discuss Jesus & the depth of God’s Word. His father passed away when he was a young boy, which led him to live with a unique view on time and the brevity of life on this earth. He loves discussing the Bible, math, technology, science and how they all fit together. In his free time he loves to play drums and travel with his wife, Jade, and his son, Rosco. Eric graduated from Penn State University and went into administration at age 25. He managed grants and afterschool programs, as well as designed and operated an online school for his home school district. Little did he know, God would bring him into ministry where his true passion could become his life focus. He considers this position a blessing from the Lord and strives to follow the Spirit in carrying out God’s mission for h2church and the Kingdom.
Jeremiah was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he studied the art of worship leading and discovered his passion for God and music. He was raised in a single family home, and was taught at a young age about God and the gospel. At age 4, his mom realized that he had a musical gift and made sure that music was an essential part of Jeremiah’s spiritual walk. He then went on to play over 20 instruments, continued to serve in many community outreach programs and started leading worship services. When he turned 16, Jeremiah discovered God for himself. He became passionate to be a worship pastor that allows God to lead and change the hearts of his people. He later went to Trevecca Nazarene University and got his certification in Worship Leadership. Our head pastor, Mark Gittens, discovered a YouTube video of Jeremiah singing, and asked him to come serve at Higher Hope. Through much prayer Jeremiah answered the call to serve at Higher Hope, and makes sure that worship is led by God and changes the heart.
Uriah grew up in a small city in Virginia, a lot of his biggest trials came early in life. This would lead to a passion for youth. He ended up getting into some trouble that put him in a pretty low place. In that place, Jesus met Uriah and gave him another shot at life.
Uriah is so grateful to serve a God who takes nothing and turns it into something. "He took me...this lost trouble making kid, gave me a whole new identity, put a paintbrush in my hand, and said 'go tell the world about me.'" Uriah is thankful to be where he is today and to have an opportunity to pay it forward working with h2 youth.
BENJAMIN & DANIELLE GUILZON
MISSIONARY (TANZANIA, EAST AFRICA)
Benjamin and his wife Danielle Guilzon are sent by Higher Hope International to Tanzania, East Africa where they are working with Tanzanians to reach the unreached. Their mission PUSH316 works with tribes who are considered to have not heard the gospel yet “unreached”. Currently Ben and Danielle are working on the construction of their home, learning the languages needed to minister, and settling into the country/culture.
Pastor Reuben is currently serving and sharing the good news of the gospel in Kenya.