Testimony of the Week: Nick Kaneshiro

Nick is a second year Public Affairs pre-med who enjoys being in nature, singing in the car, and hanging out with his small group homies (past & present!).

***QUICK NOTE: if anything in my testimony resonates with you, please feel free to reach out! I’d love to be your amigo (: ***

I used to think the best life someone could have was to grow up as a non-Christian so they could experience all the “joys” of life when they were young, and then at some point, when it was time to get serious, God would save them and then they’d get to go to heaven. Even though I professed to be a Christian for most of my life, this was basically how I saw the world. I knew that living by the Bible was right, but I believed that living by the world was better.

My parents, who are very faithful Christians, raised my siblings and me in the local church. I used to see that as the start to a very “boring” and “basic” testimony, but now I see it as a testament to God’s faithfulness, that he would surround me with his love and truth even before I could understand either of them. Growing up, church was the place to be! I loved Sunday School because I knew all the right answers and all my best friends were there. People would tell me, “You’re so mature for your age,” and I became prideful by their love rather than being humbled by their kindness. I was baptized in 5th grade, not because I truly understood what baptism meant, but mostly because my brother was baptized when he was in 6th grade, and I wanted everyone to know that I was more mature than he was.

Even though I grew older and learned more about what it meant to be a Christian, I continued to care more about my outward image and less on the content of my heart. It was easier to hear and follow the application part of messages than feel the convicting truth that was presented for most of the sermon. I was like the Pharisees (Matthew 23:27); I did whatever I could to look good: volunteering to pray at church, being friendly at church camp, going on missions trips, and discipling younger guys. I thought I was living so faithfully, but looking back, my heart was full of pride. I went to church not to be humbled before God but to be praised for being the “alpha.” I loved that my friends would come to me for advice, not because I had a heart of compassion, but because I was “wise” enough to help them. I idolized friendships, being liked, being thought of as smart, and being a leader, so I pursued those things more so than I did holiness.

Despite what looked like growth and maturity, I was exposing myself to more sin and giving into more temptation. It was around middle school when I started to struggle with my sexuality. I knew it was wrong, but I kept it to myself because if my sin didn’t affect my image, then I didn’t feel the need to change. For years, I would let that sin fester and grow in my heart while pretending to be a repentant Christian.

Coming to college, I realized how comfortable I was at home. For the first time, I was really challenged in my faith. I wasn’t the one with the most Bible knowledge, there wasn’t someone to make sure I was at church every Sunday, and I didn’t have the reputation I spent so many years building up. It became apparent that I needed to change my outward appearance to fit in with this new crowd of GOCers. I started to read my Bible more consistently, watch Desiring God videos, and listen to more Christian songs so that I could fit in and thrive in this new environment. But God’s word is so powerful that even my ulterior motives were no match for his truth. As I started to fill myself with the word, God started to soften my heart to his Gospel. Broken, but for the first time seeing clearly, I finally realized how helpless I was.

In my helpless state, God convicted me to address my sin. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” I remember reading this verse and feeling not only convicted but also encouraged to confess my sin. I wanted to be healed and I knew that repentance was the only way, but talking about my sexuality was difficult. The first time I opened up about my struggle I made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, as if it was something that I used to or sometimes struggled with, but not something that serious. Because the truth was, my flesh still didn’t want to struggle. My flesh was so convincing that my confessions came out half-hearted and scared. My flesh told me that the world was still the better way to go and that I still had time later in life to settle down and “be a good Christian.” But through God’s relentless faithfulness, I eventually was able to be transparent and talk about my struggle honestly with dear brothers. These conversations were some of the first moments in my life that I truly felt that living according to scripture was better. The Bible did exactly what it said it would do. I felt healed. I felt its power. For the first time, I felt in my heart all of the truths I thought I knew all my life.

When I used to end my testimony, I would say something nice about how even though I still struggle with sin, I know that God is better and now I’m better because of that. But, I think a more honest way to end my story is to say that all of those sins that I talked about, all of the sins I should have moved past, I still struggle with all of those sins daily. As it says in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” The more I want to desire holiness the harder I have to struggle. And sometimes, I don’t want to struggle; I want to give in. And so if I want to end my story with how good I am, there really is no nice ending. So why do I struggle if I can’t win? Why do I fight a battle that I’m going to lose? Because my story doesn’t end with me. It ends with Christ. And looking back, my story began, was carried through, and ends with Christ. God was glorified in every moment of my life, whether I wanted to be a part of it or not. And I can take heart because God promises that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). What a testament to His patience, love, and mercy! PTL!

I’m not gonna lie, it’s still hard to follow Christ. It’s hard to have everything about your life be changed after you’ve lived in such a way for so long. But God can change your heart just like he did mine. The Bible says,

“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Promise after promise is given to us, all with great certainty. I know now that living by the Bible is better, because it is right. My desire to pursue holiness is no longer driven by a selfish fear of man, but a genuine love for and fear of God. I couldn’t escape the truth, and rather than losing hope because I was caught in my lies, I have a newfound sense of freedom because I have a Savior who took the punishment for all of my sins. And even though my sin might change how others see me, it even more so points to how insanely great Jesus’s sacrifice was, that he didn’t just bear the sins of a “good” person, but all the sins of a truly broken sinner (Romans 5:20). So although my outward image is that of a sinner and not of the perfect person my sinful self wishes it could be, I can still rejoice because I know that Christ, the perfect man and Holy God, is in my heart, and He promises that through his righteousness, there are better things yet to come.

Testimony of the Week: Charlotte Chan

Charlotte is a third year MCDB major who enjoys knitting, drinking coffee, and taking walks on her free time 😀

I’m so thankful to have parents who dedicated me to God in front of their church before I could even remember. They sent me to Christian school where I learned a lot of verses and sang worship songs, and prayed with my teachers. It must have been part of the curriculum because every year teachers would meet with me personally and ask me if I wanted Jesus in my life, and I would pray and accept Jesus once again because I was just never sure if I truly accepted Jesus the year before.

Growing up, it may be cliche to say, but God was a vending machine to me. I would give a dime or two only when I needed something. And weirdly, or maybe by God’s grace, it always seemed to work for me. In fact, things worked out so well for me that I distinctly remember telling my camp counselor one year at youth camp, that I didn’t feel like I needed God because my life was just too good. Pridefully, I really felt like I had everything I needed and wanted with friends, family, and school. There was little actual room for God in my heart. But still, I called myself a Christian and tried to be one, thinking that God would continue to give me the things that I wanted. And partly because I wanted to please the people around me.

Eventually, telling people that I was Christian and going to church started to feel like a lie. I felt so fake when I was praying and I couldn’t sing in church because when I sang, I felt like a liar. And honestly, it started to feel very scary because I knew what the consequences were. I knew in my mind very clearly that the wages of sin were death (Rom 6:23), and I knew very well all the verses about how someone who might say they’re Christian might approach Christ in the end and Christ will say “I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23). And that scared me because deep inside, I knew that was me.

I had this internal struggle for a long time, and I began to feel so bitter towards God because I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like a Christian even though I thought I knew John 3:16 well enough in my mind. Then one day, my friend was sharing with me about how she’s been going through the gospel of John. There were the Pharisees who rejected Christ and sought to kill him, and then there was the woman at the well who believed and shared the good news with the whole town (John 4). What separated them was that the Pharisees thought themselves too good for the need of a savior, whereas the woman saw her own sin and knew she needed the all-satisfying living water, eternal life and freedom from sin, that only Christ can give her. The gospel is only valuable to those who realize they need it.

I thought about what she said for a long time. I realized that God himself was never important to me because, like a Pharisee, I never really saw myself as a sinner. I had focused so much on all the ways that God is a giver, a giver of eternal life, a giver of good and perfect gifts, that I forget that God also takes away, he takes away sin by giving his Son to die on the cross on our behalf. I prayed for God to show me how much of a sinner I am and how much I needed to let him take my sins away.

God showed me that my heart had gotten used to rejecting him and giving into sin, so used to it that I wasn’t even aware of my own sin anymore. And my greatest sin wasn’t lack of love for others, pride, envy, discontentment, anxiety, disobedience, idolatry, though I regularly did all of those too, but it was that I had turned my back on God, rejected him with bitterness, and continued in the sin that put his son on the cross.

Looking back, I was certainly the person who desired too little, and was satisfied with the things of this world, being ignorant to what I truly needed. I asked God to fulfill my greatest need, to forgive my sins and reconcile me with himself, and to be my truest joy and he has already answered me through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Funny enough, since then, God has given me many more circumstances in my life where I felt like I needed him all the more. But through all these trials, I know fully that God is good because he grows my faith and draws me closer to him, making me more like his son. Even in this broken world, where death, pain, and sinfulness are at every corner, God does all for the good of those who love him. The truth that I had taken for granted, now makes me praise and worship God even more so as I am humbled and brought low. And God faithfully continues to teach me daily that I need him just as much when I’m in green pastures as when I’m in the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23).

Testimony of the Week: Christine Chen

Christine is a third year nursing major who enjoys having deep conversations & sipping oat milk lattes in coffee shops. 

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see

This is the story of amazing grace, how God saved a wretch like me. 

I was born into a loving family with God-fearing parents and attended my parents’ Chinese church for most of my childhood. I grew up learning about many of the bible stories, and I even memorized verses for my youth group’s yearly “Bible Challenge” event, but my heart was hardened to the truth from those words. I never doubted God’s existence, but I had a skewed view of God’s character and my own sinfulness. Really, I did not feel like I needed God because I was blind to my own sinfulness and depravity before His perfect holiness and sovereignty. 

Growing up, I prided myself on being a morally good person who was friendly, extroverted, and enthusiastic. In my early years of high school, I worshipped my reputation before man. The compliments of others fed my ego, and I genuinely thought I was better than most people. I continued to attend church twice a week and was an active member of my youth group, but I did so out of obligation and as an excuse to spend time with my friends (fun fact: they are still some of my closest friends to this day – God doesn’t waste anything!). 

As I progressed in high school, I lived for myself and the things of this world. I was consumed with academic success and the approval of man. My GPA and the praise of others determined my happiness, and as a result, I was never satisfied. My selfish heart always wanted more than what was meant to be sought after in this world. In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” My heart is certainly no exception. 

In the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I fell into a depressive episode. That summer, I was preparing to take the SAT, and there was not a day that went by where I did not think about college. I measured myself to a worldly standard and coveted my personal success in life. In the eyes of man, I would never be good enough. Never smart enough, pretty enough, or talented enough. Never enough. Blinded to my sinfulness, I was filled with egocentric thoughts, building and basking in a kingdom of self. This self-focused way of living eventually led me to this low point in my life. In retrospect, this dark time in my life was God’s blessing in disguise. 

During this time, It was difficult for me to get out of bed every morning because I felt insignificant. Yet even though I felt hopeless, by the grace of God, I somehow still had hope in my heart. I clung to the possibility that my life was not going to end in despair, and that I was meant for something greater than myself. Thankfully, this rang true. 

I realized that living for myself and my desires was a hopeless endeavor. I would always want more, and I would never be satisfied or content.The slight yearning in my heart that possibly, just possibly, my life was meant to be lived for something much greater than myself, kept me searching for God. And search, I did. 

In my junior year of high school, I decided to find a Bible-believing church in San Diego, and my older sister, a GOC alumnus, recommended Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego to me. I fondly recall the first time I attended LBCSD and heard Pastor Patrick preach. I remember hearing the gospel for what felt like the first time. After service, I remember feeling terrible but genuinely repentant. I was sorry for the ways that I lived for myself and thought nothing about God. God convicted me of my sinful state, and I realized that I needed to repent and transform internally. God opened my eyes to His word, and I began to find meaning in every verse I read. I was in awe of a gracious and holy God who loves sinners despite our obvious and apparent shortcomings. Romans 5:8 gripped my heart. 

Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

God, holy God, who knows how deeply we offend Him as wretched sinners sent His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, who is deserving of no wrong, who deserves our pure worship, who chose to love us. That is amazing grace.

From that season forward, I was so utterly convinced of God’s goodness and kindness in my life. I was in desperate need for God. I did nothing to deserve His kindness and care. In fact, I rebelled against Him, and yet He preserved me in spite of my sinfulness. 

I joined the youth group at LBCSD, learned so much about the Bible, experienced the sweet joys of being served by hospitable families, met up with many older godly women who I’m still very close to, babysat children from the church, and went on late night boba runs with college students after bible study. Through all of this, I experienced the bliss of being a part of a Gospel- centered, Bible-believing church family that has so much love for God and each other for the first time. I became a member of LBCSD the fall of my senior year and got baptized the following Spring. Needless to say, I am so glad God used this church as a part of my testimony to saving faith. 

In my time in college, I can say with confidence that my love for God and hatred for sin only increases with each passing day. As a result of God’s great love for His people, I strive to love others more perfectly. My life is characterized by Psalm 16:11, the joy that comes from God.

Psalm 16:11

“You make known to me the path of life;

    in your presence there is fullness of joy;

    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Now, I feel significant not because of my worldly achievements but because my identity is in Christ, not in the things of this world, and I can boldly proclaim that I am a daughter of God. While I still struggle with battling my anxiety, worldliness, pride, and sin, as I will until the day I die, I know that this is not a hopeless battle; it is a battle that I joyfully endure because the Lord, my God will help me overcome it. I take comfort in the promises of John 16:33.

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

My constant prayer for my life is Psalm 19:14.

Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” 

While there are many areas for growth in my life (..like a LOT y’all), I’m excited to see how God will continue to shape, sanctify, and use my life for His glory. Soli deo gloria. 

2 Corinthians 4:16 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Testimony of the Week – Rachel Tu

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The lyrics from “All I Have Is Christ” so accurately describe the ignorance of my life before college, heart transformation in college, and current sanctification (of which I am an undeserved recipient).

I once was lost in darkest night Yet thought I knew the way

The sin that promised joy and life Had led me to the grave

I had no hope that You would own A rebel to Your will

And if You had not loved me first I would refuse You still

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Testimony of the Week – Claire Lee

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Claire is a second year history major who drinks water.

I grew up as a church kid. My parents brought me to church on Sundays, I knew God existed, my mom prayed with me daily, and I sang children’s worship songs in the car. In Sunday school, I learned that Jesus had died for me, and I was asked to give my life to Him so that He would “live in my heart,” so I did; however, I cannot say I understood what sin was and why it required Jesus’ death to give me life.

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Testimony of the Week – Daniella Ching

Daniella is a third year PhySci major who loves ice cream, boba, cows, cheesy movies, and anything Disney related, but who is extremely indecisive otherwise!

Growing up in a Christian family and attending church every Sunday, as well as attending a Christian school all my life until I came to UCLA. I was constantly surrounded by people who loved Christ and made it a point to share the gospel with me. Because of that, I grew up believing that God was real and that Jesus came and died for my sins. But if I had to pinpoint when I became a Christian, it would be when I was in third grade. At that time, my teacher asked me if I remembered how or when I became a Christian since I claimed I already was. Realizing that I had no memory of accepting Christ as my Savior, I was scared and went home and told my mom. She asked me if I did believe in God and if I believed that I was a sinner saved through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for me, and I said yes. Since this is when I actually distinctly remember confessing what I believed, I consider this to be the point when I became a Christian. But though I believed, my understanding of the gospel was still shallow and part of my reason for wanting to be a Christian was to go to heaven and for social reasons. However, through His grace, I slowly began to understand more in middle and high school about what I professed, and how these truths impacted my life personally. The fact that I am a sinner makes me an enemy of God (for someone who was generally regarded as a good kid, that hit me so hard). But God, who is so rich in mercy and abounding in love, pursued me even while I was hostile through sending Jesus Christ to die for my sins. Christ suffered to become sin on my behalf so that I may have a righteousness that I do not deserve (2 Corinthians 5:21). And praise God that “if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). I, and anyone else who believes, am not only forgiven and no longer an enemy of God, but adopted into His family as His child.

But though I had a deeper understanding of the gospel, a lot of what I did was because of selfish reasons, like wanting to further my own reputation and to meet others’ expectations of me. This manifested itself in a lot of pride, worry, and a fear of things that were out of my own control, which pointed to a lack of dependence and trust in God. But at that time, God grew me through putting me through circumstances completely out of my control to teach me to rely on Him. Through the same trial, He also showed me His peace and His comfort in times of difficulty. In ninth grade, I had to undergo surgery for scoliosis. When I found out, I dreaded all the fear that I knew would fill me during the months leading up to the surgery. But knowing that the situation was completely out of my control forced me to not rely on my own efforts, but to surrender this entirely to God. We are commanded in the Bible to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). With the prayers and support of the family of God around me during this time, the six months prior to the surgery were filled with so much peace and comfort. But when unexpected complications arose after the surgery resulting in a longer hospital stay and a second surgery, there were moments when it was definitely hard to trust that God had a good and perfect plan. We were praying, but it didn’t seem like the physical circumstances were getting any better. But at that time, Psalm 121:1-2 came to my mind over and over again to comfort me: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Though things were so uncertain, I could rest in who God is and in His promises: He is the Creator of all things and the same God is the one from whom our help and strength come (Col 1:11).

Even since coming to college, pride and worry are still areas of sin in which I have been needing to constantly fight and through which God is continually growing me. Upon entering college, I was no longer in my little Christian bubble, but thought I was prepared because I had a deep foundation in knowledge of the Bible and grew up so surrounded by Christianity. But my spiritual pride quickly disappeared as I was humbled through meeting believers whose love for God was so evident in their actions and speech. I was a Christian for so long and though I had a lot of head knowledge, I didn’t have as much passion for God as they did. I was convicted to not just be content with where I was spiritually, but to really seek to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, to live out my life to reflect Christ in fighting sin and in trusting Him more (Phil 2:12). And I am so thankful for the fellowship with other believers that God has blessed me with, through which I can be challenged to excel still more.

Testimony of the Week – Amy Junus

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Amy Junus is a third year Psycho-Biology major who hopes to pursue a career in nursing! While nothing brings her more joy than reveling in the evidences of God’s grace revealed new every day, she loves listening to classical music, washing dishes, having long conversations, messing around on the violin, learning random animal facts, laughing at anti-jokes, writing ridiculously long sentences, and using exclamation points!!!

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Testimony of the Week – Jeannette Hann

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Jeannette is a third year applied math major who enjoys baking, watching movies, crocheting, playing monopoly, and running.

I grew up in a Catholic home where my mom especially made an important place in her life for faith and she put effort into teaching me about God, Jesus, the saints, and the Catholic church. By the time I was in middle school, I went to Catholic classes and Mass every week. I thought I had a relationship with God and I prayed to Him daily. But I thought it was because of kind deeds, good grades, faithful Mass attendance, and daily prayer that God accepted me; I had no concept of how much God hated my sin and that it is only washing in Christ’s precious blood that can make depraved sinners acceptable to Him.

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Testimony of the Week – Jeremy Tran

IMG_1316Jeremy is a second year statistics major who enjoys reading, napping, playing guitar, wearing sweaters with polos, and trying to understand cultural references.

Before I was saved, I was stuck in a life of pride and selfishness. Even though I grew up in the church and was praised as a good kid who said the best prayers, I did not truly understand the weight of my sin or my need for a savior. Instead, I placed my pride in being spiritually and intellectually superior to my peers, so I had little love for God and for others. At home, where there were no friends to see me, I rebelled against my parents and pursued pleasure above all else. I vainly sought satisfaction in video games, social status, and lusting. But evening in finding their failure to bring me true joy, I still did not want to commit everything to Christ. I “knew” God but did not honor Him as Lord.

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Testimony of the Week: Rachel Lin

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Rachel is a third year biology major who loves cows (they’re cute and also delicious), Narnia, dancing, and that really cute walking kinesin protein!

 

I was born into a Christian family, going to church every Sunday, raised on gospel children’s songs, Vacation Bible School, and John 3:16. I prayed the sinner’s prayer at an early age, but there was a crucial misunderstanding of Christ’s saving grace–I prayed the prayer about 4 times before someone stopped me, since I thought weekly prayer was necessary to be saved by Christ.

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