Leo is a third year civil engineering major who enjoys searing steaks, baking potatoes, boiling homemade soup, and frying crabs. Two-time participant in the Spartan Race, Leo also delights in exercising: hiking, sprint workouts, or simply jogging around the UCLA perimeter. Occasionally, he takes pleasure in hand-lettering and card-making for his friends and family.
I was raised in a family with no religious affiliation. From birth all through high school, I had heard many Old Testament stories shared in bits and pieces, but had never been exposed to the Gospel. In retrospect, I never came to doubt the existence of a God, but possessed a misconception of one. As a kid, I believed that the longer I worshipped this statue sitting in the corner of my house, whom I called God, the greater the benefits to my grades, relationships, and popularity.
My early teenage years began with a passion for community service. I collected hours and hours of volunteering from raising money for disaster programs with the Red Cross to aiding the elderly at a senior citizen center to making kites and painting faces at children festivals. But despite these outward acts that may seem externally generous was a greater desire for second-hand pleasures: compliments, friends, and accolades. It was not long until I began to be consumed by pride. I participated in sports, swimming and track, and clubs, Vex Robotics and comics, only to attain the luxury of bragging rights for myself. Eventually, my haughty nature and disrespectful attitude caused me to become desperately lonely. And so, I constantly thought to myself, “Is there more to life than this?”
A summer later, I decided to study at UCLA and by God’s providence, I heard of an event happening during UCLA’s Welcome Week: Tour of Westwood. Knowing that I had free time, I decided to check it out. Praise God that He allowed a handful of people to impact my life and placed me in a loving fellowship that warmly welcomed me with heartfelt kindness; Through Grace on Campus’ constant care and counsel caused me to commit to a small group along with a progressive attendance to church and college fellowship!
However, it was not until spring quarter when God finally revealed the truth of the Gospel to me. On a day of communion near the year’s end, I committed a sin by taking the bread and cup without genuine faith in Christ. I was consumed with a superficial desire of wanting to become a Christian because at Grace on Campus, Christianity is regarded as “cool”. Yearning for the benefits while neglecting the cost, my impenitent heart believed that my sins would be washed away without a sufficient view of Christ. But several moments after did I realize the impossibility of salvation without the regeneration work of God. In response to that incident, I sought answers: read both the book of John and Romans, and listened to countless sermons from famous pastors, among which included Voddie Baucham’s “Why you can believe the Bible”. Yet, I struggled to fathom why a Christian was willing to endure persecution and give up everything for an “invisible” hidden treasure as explained in Matthew 13:44.
Naturally, I wanted to turn all of this world’s pain, suffering, havoc, death with a blind eye. However, the encouragement from my church caused me to seek God with great determination. Then it hit me, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). For all this time, I knew the Bible was true, but my unrepentant heart would not let go the desires of sin; I exchanged the opportunities of everlasting joy with an unchanging God instead for an evil, stained, and mortal image, in which I concluded, was myself. Knowing the unpayable debt of sin that laid upon my head and the grave need of a savior, I confessed my faith to Christ, that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
To this day, I am still filled with awe by God’s overflowing grace towards me; about three years ago, I never even read nor opened the Bible! As of now, I come to know that “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And so, my hope is to imitate Christ by spreading the Word of God to family members, friends, professors, classmates, and even strangers. Gazing onward, all I can behold is the glory of God, being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18) until that day of glorification, at the throne of God, when I hear God exclaiming to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”.