Joseph is a second year biology major at UCLA. He loves eating, playing basketball, and listening to music!
By God’s grace, I was born and raised in a family with Christian parents. My parents faithfully brought me to church every Sunday, where I learned about God. During Sunday school, my teachers gave points and prizes to those who memorized Bible verses. Wanting those prizes, I memorized verses every week. I never doubted God’s existence as a child but He also held no importance in my life. I knew I was a sinner and was in desperate need of Christ and that whoever was not in Christ would go to hell. I was horribly terrified by this prospect. During my elementary school years, my Sunday school teachers would ask us every year if any of us wanted to accept Christ. I did not want to go to hell so I prayed with my teachers to accept Christ. I was never sure of my salvation so I prayed multiple times to “accept” Christ.
During the summer before entering the seventh grade, I went to a Christian camp hosted by my church. At this stage in my life, I still lived a life to please myself and to fulfill the expectations set by my parents. I don’t think that I was a Christian prior to going to this camp. It was at this camp where God convicted me of my sin. He took out my heart of stone and implanted in me a heart of flesh that desired a relationship with Him. In response to Him working in my heart, I confessed my sins and decided to follow Christ as my Lord and Savior. Romans 10:9 says that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
My high school years were characterized by many experiences that God used to help me mature spiritually. It was during those years when I first went on short-term missions trips, served in the church through leading worship and teaching Sunday school, and evangelized to my friends as well as to the community around my church. These experiences allowed me to further grow in my love for the Lord as well as for others. God used them to help me learn to depend on and trust in Him more.
Coming into UCLA, I had a lot of pride in thinking that I was spiritually mature. Boy was I wrong. That all went away when I went to GOC and met so many people who genuinely love the Lord and strive to pursue righteousness and holiness. It’s been during these past five quarters that God has grown me the most through my friendships with other fellow believers. I have constantly been encouraged and challenged in so many ways. One of the biggest things I have been challenged in is my love for God’s Word. Prior to college, I would only occasionally read my Bible throughout the week and it seemed like a chore. After coming to college, God has instilled in me a love for the richness of Scripture. He has been so gracious and so good in growing me further in my love for Him, His Word, and the church ever since I was saved and continues to help me grow as life goes on.