Testimony of the Week: Patrick Gonzalvo

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Patrick is a second year political science and economics major aspiring to be a lawyer. He enjoys movies (maybe minor), music, reading, and Arsenal Football Club.

I was raised in a Catholic household in the small island of Guam which is located in the Pacific Ocean. My parents and their parents have all been part of the Catholic Church for generations. Growing up they would bring my brother, sister, and I to the Catholic Church. The church focused on the idea that if you do good works you could go to heaven and that you can be absolved from your sins if you confess them to the priest. The only thing the priest would tell you to do was to recite a prayer a couple of times and you would be “forgiven” for the sins you committed.

However through God’s grace, my parents enrolled me in a Christian school for my elementary and middle school years. They decided to enroll me in a Christian school over a Catholic school because it was known for its academics. It was there where I learned about Christ’s love for me and the sacrifice that He had made when He died on the cross for our sins, so that we may be able to spend eternity with the Lord in heaven. It was around 4th grade when I thought I had accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord and savior; it was at that point where I accepted that God is in control of everything and put my faith in him that He knows what is best. However, that was as far as my understanding of salvation went. Throughout elementary school I was your normal kid who pleased his parents with good grades and was a delight to teachers, but inside my intentions for doing these things were ultimately not to please the Lord but to please my parents and others.

When I entered middle school, my heart had changed for the worst; it had hardened. I was selfish and did what was pleasing to me in the end. I had become prideful in my knowledge and hungered for the approval of my peers. It brought me to odds with both my parents and my teachers. By the end of middle school, I was able to convince my parents to transfer me to a Catholic high school for my freshman year. I only became worse when I got into high school. My grades slipped a little, and I started hanging around bad influences. At this point I had not had any growth spiritual growth since elementary school. I was also struggling with the differences between Catholicism and Christianity.

In college, I felt guilty for the way I had acted in high school towards my parents, so I fulfilled my obligation to them and attended the catholic masses they had right outside the UCLA campus. I only did it to please my parents and would never really listen to the message. One night after coming back from mass, I was texting my friend from back home. We were discussing our past experiences with Catholicism and what we were taught back in high school. We both came to an agreement of how we disagreed a lot about the theology behind it, but he had also hit me with a bomb. He had recently begun to stop believing in God all together. It was shocking to me that could ever occur to someone. The result of this was that it made me reevaluate my convictions and what I personally had believed in.

It is at this point where I considered checking out other fellowships and going to something I actually believed in. I knew a friend on my floor that was going to a fellowship, so I asked him if I could come with him to visit it. This is how I got introduced to Grace on Campus and large group. Chris Gee and everyone there were all loving and caring and wanted you to know more about Christ. Soon after, I joined a small group and kept learning more and more about our savior. It made me wonder and doubt the sincerity of me accepting Christ back in fourth grade especially with my thoughts and actions throughout middle school and high school. I did not act or speak as a true believer would. I was not living my life for God but for myself. It made me realize that if I had truly believed Christ to be my Lord and savior, I should be living a life devoted to Him and stride towards a path away from my old sinful life. There is no work good enough that I can do to get myself into heaven; it is only through Christ that I even have the ability to have a relationship with God and one day be with him in heaven. This conviction made me want to have no doubts and be completely assured of my salvation. As of fall 2015 I am sure of my salvation and am striving to live a life that is dedicated in glorifying God.

Even after all of my sins against him and things I have done, God led me to amazing brothers and sisters in Christ who want to help me become closer to Him and grow in my faith. They are all living testimonies to our Lord and that is something I am working my way towards to as well. As 1 Peter 1:18-19 says “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” We are freed from our sins, our old wretched lives, through the pure and precious blood of Christ that is worth more than any amount conceivable in this world that will soon perish as time passes. It is only through Christ’s love and grace that we are forgiven for our sins and could be allowed a relationship with our heavenly father and a future with Him in heaven. Nothing I could ever do or say could show how grateful I am to have such an amazing savior and God. I thank for Him for all that He has done and graced me with, and that He would allow a wretched sinner like me into His home and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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