Michael is a sophomore at UCLA studying biochemistry. He likes playing soccer, blasting k-pop in his room, and pretending to be good at basketball. Michael enjoys rap and beat-boxing but can only do the latter.
My parents used to always tell me how auspicious it was that I was born under the light of the full moon. This was before they came to America, before they were saved. I was born in China, into a typical Chinese family that celebrated luck and superstition. However, God sovereignly drew my parents to the States where they would eventually become Christians. Once I moved to California at the age of five, I found out that my parents, who had already been living in the States for two years, had been going to church. Every Sunday my parents would take me to Church even though I really didn’t want to go. Because I didn’t grow up speaking English, making close friends was difficult. Being an only child back then did not help either. Church was merely a place where nicely dressed adults would read me picture books.
As my English got better, my understanding of the character of God also saw improvement. However, as I attended secular public schools, I was inundated with information contrary to what I had been taught at church. Evolution vs Creation. Jesus was a teacher vs Jesus was the Messiah. These two sides were in constant conflict throughout my childhood, and I struggled to determine which side was reality. Even though I knew about the sweet inheritance kept in heaven for God’s children, my heart was hardened. I desired much more than anything else to fit in with my classmates. Wanting to be “cool” and accepted by my peers led me deeper into sin. In order to impress my classmates, I cursed without restraint, cheated in school, and put people down with my words. And when I didn’t receive positive confirmation from my “friends”, I sought pleasure in video games, another idol that resulted in habitual disobedience toward my parents. Outwardly, I seemed composed and in control, but on the inside, my soul was rotting in sin. I put on a guise of holiness during church and took it off after Sunday was over.
Despite my complete depravity, God, full of mercy and grace, worked on my heart of stone. Every Sunday, the preaching of His word slowly revealed the perfect goodness of His character and the ultimate joy we are able to enjoy through Jesus. Although I continued to rebel against him, God would slowly strike at my hardened heart week after week, month after month, and year after year. I was saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ sometime between the end of middle school and my sophomore year of high school. My dirtied soul had been washed and made anew with the blood of Christ. Because of the Son’s sacrifice on the cross, I am now able to call God my father just as Jesus did! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to find fulfilment and satisfaction in pursuing God. Convicted of my sin, I understood the futility of pleasing man and the. In school, I no longer relied on other people to feel accepted, but rather I found my identity in Christ. I was certain that the God of creation is the same God who emptied himself out of infinite love, mercy, and grace to rescue his children out of darkness into his marvelous light.
While my soul had been completely transformed, my flesh would take more time to become more resistant to sin. In high school, my academics became a source of pride and idolatry, but God, in his boundless wisdom, allowed me to endure various trials that grew my humility and thankfulness. In other words, I failed a lot of tests. It wasn’t until coming to UCLA that my faith really began to grow, but with college came a new set of temptations that I had to face. During the first few weeks of college, I had opportunities to become snared in the sins of the party culture. But my Father in heaven, out of love and faithfulness, kept me from stumbling in those temptations. I committed myself to become involved in Grace on Campus early in my freshman year and have since been growing stronger in my convictions as a child of God, cultivating a better understanding of what it means to take up my cross just as Jesus did, and most importantly increasing the joy and satisfaction I have in Christ.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness – Psalm 86:15