Tim was a part of GOC during college where he met his wife Jaime. They returned to serve on staff in 2009. He is currently fascinated with historical non-fiction, fountain pens, and Peppa Pig. Tim would love to meet you!
Sophomore year, winter quarter, eighth week, Tuesday night, I was waiting in the Ackerman turnaround to be picked up. A beige Toyota Camry pulled up and I crammed in with four other guys; we drove to Enzo’s pizza in Westwood. Over dinner, conversation shifted in and out of Sunday sermons in Luke 8, 1 John, and Rick’s relationship series. The conversation also rabbit-trailed into school, girls and Bruin basketball. We shared prayer requests and drove back to the apartments. That was my first GOC small group.
I started going to Grace on Campus when a high school friend invited to be a part of his small group. I had known about Grace on Campus and Grace Community Church, since some of my youth pastors were students at the Master’s Seminary. Weeks earlier, I had decided to leave my parents’ church over a doctrine issue, but I had not yet decided on a church to be a part of. I was hesitant to commit to Grace Church because of its apparent size. after my first Sunday, singing three hundred year old hymns with a thirty-person orchestra, and hearing the clarity with which Pastor John explain the parable of the seed in Luke 8, I was convinced Grace Church, and GOC, is where I need to be.
My salvation testimony is typical of those who grew up in the church. I came from a nominally Christian family that emphasized morality, good-behavior, and academics. I considered myself a good person, evidenced by my speech and action. However, I was continuously rebellious in my heart and my thoughts. I was grossly boastful and self-reliant. Beginning in elementary school, my parents took me to a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. At first, I greatly disliked going to church because it was an intrusion into my Sunday morning cartoons. Slowly, I began to make friends at church, and began to enjoy Sunday school. However, I didn’t take the Bible stories seriously, and certainly didn’t acknowledge the God in those stories.
I grew in incremental commitment and devotion to church, but I didn’t call myself a Christian. God used the faithful ministry and prayers of several Sunday school teachers and youth pastors to give me understanding of the gospel. He revealed Himself through the Bible lessons, and drew my attention to His Word. Although I can’t recall a specific instance when I turned to God in faith, I remember in sixth grade, God revealing to me that my self-reliance and boasting were contrary to His attributes and His will, and was sin. I needed someone to save me from God’s judgment of my sins: Jesus, who was God and perfect man. He came into the world to die for the punishment of my sins. He rose from death so I could have eternal life and peace with God. And I knew I wanted to live my life to obey Him and His Word, the Bible.
Fast forwarding to my time at GOC, the Lord provided opportunities for me to serve on a couple of ministry teams and in small group. Many memorable times were the Lord teaching me to cultivate my relationship with Him and pursue discipleship relationships with older guys. GOC has been a wealth of opportunity for discipleship and fellowship. However, I quickly realized I was out almost every night of the week, at some ministry team meeting, small group, theology class, or simply hanging out with other GOCers. My personal time with God quickly went by the wayside. Instead, I substituted my quiet times with ministry activities. I mistook the exercise of my spiritual gifts for the operation of God’s spiritual graces in my life; and I mistook my ministry excitement as intimacy and communion with God. Ministry performance is not godliness. In John 15, Jesus commands me to “abide” or remain in Him. That means I am inseparably linked to Christ in all areas of life. I depend on Him for grace and power to obey. I look to His Word for instruction on how to live, obey. And I submit myself to His authority over my life. And my times in God’s Word and in prayer are opportunities to cultivate that.
I was also blessed to be in small groups in which we challenged each other and prayed for each other. The Lord placed several older guys in my life, who spoke the necessary truth at the right time. God taught me that discipleship didn’t only occur during small groups or meet ups with staff, but often I need to observe the life of those spoke the Word of God, and to imitate their faith. There was one guy, a couple of years older than I, who was willing to give me haircuts once a month. Those haircuts always lasted more than an hour, even though it only took him 15 minutes to cut my hair. I went for the haircuts and conversations. We talked about everything: the usual, school, work, ministry…But we also talked about how to respond to parents, how to treat our girlfriends… we talked about life. You know, the haircuts didn’t last, my hair grows back; but those conversations were impactful on my soul. We remain good friends today.
Even now, the Lord continues to instill in me the necessity and urgency of pursing communion with Him and discipleship from godly men. My marriage, my parenting, my work, and my ministry are richer and more effective because of it.