Edward is a 3rd year (formerly chemistry, but now) applied math major. He’s generally quiet, but will always love a good conversation! He also enjoys playing piano, traveling…and enjoying dorm food while he still can (hehehe)!
I was first exposed to Christianity as a kid when my parents took me to church. My family was relatively new to Christianity at the time, and didn’t have a clear understanding of good doctrine or what to look for in a church. After attending a few churches, we settled down at a charismatic church, where the prosperity gospel was prevalent and solid biblical teaching almost nonexistent. I spent the majority of my time growing up here and consequently, had a rather inaccurate understanding of the Christian faith and what it meant to be a believer. I considered myself Christian, but my life showed little sign of it. My pursuit of Christianity was largely motivated by my self-interests, and I had very little genuine understanding of my sinfulness or the sacrifice that Christ had made for me. I placed my hope in my academics and struggled with sins like lust and pride. Though I sometimes noticed I didn’t have a strong desire for God, I continued to live as I always had, blind to the ways in which I was rebelling against God.
When I entered UCLA, it was in God’s sovereignty that I was placed as roommates with Michael Lin. Michael brought me out to GOC early in my freshman year, but I was initially unaccustomed to the teachings and doctrines of Grace Church, still influenced by my charismatic background. I quickly decided that GOC wasn’t for me, but also did not prioritize looking for other fellowships, as I placed my academics and extracurriculars before God. I only attended church occasionally and consequently, did not end up joining a fellowship my first year. Looking back, that year was very spiritually dry for me, as none of the academic success and leadership positions I strove after actually satisfied me. Instead, it only left me feeling empty and wondering, “What was the point of all this?” I did not understand that my life was meant to glorify God, and that there was great joy in doing so. I lived a self-centered life, pursuing everything for my own glory. Yet even in the midst of all this, God was gracious in planting in me a lingering desire to seek Him. In this way, though I wasn’t saved, I did not turn from Him completely.
My life continued like this through the beginning of sophomore year. During this time, I struggled increasingly with the temptation of the party culture so prevalent around me. After Fall quarter, however, God used my parents to remind me of my need to join a fellowship. I recognized that I had been drifting spiritually, and came back from break with a more serious desire to search for fellowships. On the first Friday that quarter, I decided to come out to GOC, almost on a whim. Though I did not expect to actually commit, God had sovereignly placed some GOCers in my classes that past year. I enjoyed talking to them, and figured it would be nice to see some familiar faces.
Little did I know, that night would change everything. In God’s providence, Dr. Steve Lawson was visiting UCLA for a Q&A session that night. As he recounted his college years and how he came to know Christ, I was struck by the passion and zeal he had for the Lord. I saw how genuine his pursuit of God was, and how he strove to live out his faith by example. It was because of this that I decided to give Grace Church another try. Over the next few months, God began to gradually soften my heart and open my eyes to the depths of Scripture. As Pastor John preached through the book of John every Sunday (no pun intended!), I began to understand the tremendous love that Christ had for me, and how he had humbled himself to the point of death for my sake. I realized that I was completely undeserving of His sacrifice, and that the way in which I lived my life reflected almost no understanding of this. I had never heard the Gospel presented with such clarity, and was in awe at how compelling it was.
Finally, God convicted me a few months later, in April. Through a sermon at Crossroads, He allowed me to realized how foolish I had been in prioritizing my academic and extracurricular achievements over Him. None of the things I pursued provided me eternal joy or satisfaction — they were all temporal, and would eventually perish and fade away. Compared to the joy I could have in following Christ, all these things suddenly became unimportant to me. I began to have a greater desire to pursue God and to serve in the church. The party culture I had previously been tempted with no longer appealed to me. And I no longer wondered about the purpose of my life — I was made in the image of God, as “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). That was a glorious thing, and how marvelous that I have been given the opportunity to partake in that!
The following months have truly been a blessed time of growth and learning, as God continues to cultivate my love for Him and teach me more about my sinfulness and depravity. He continues to hold me fast time and again, despite my constant disobedience to Him. As I reflect on my testimony, it is truly amazing to see how God has worked in my life. In His providence, He used a miraculous series of events to turn me from my former life and bring me to repentance. I know that there is nothing I have done to bring about my own salvation. I was utterly lost in my sin, falling short of the glory of God and unable to save myself. Yet God still reached into my life and brought me to Him. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).