Nothing illustrated more clearly how devoid of faith I was than in my daily living and interactions with others. Sure, I went to church and even went to a private Christian school, but all the biblical knowledge I acquired made no difference in my life. Throughout preschool, kindergarten, and especially first grade, I was one of those troublemaker kids, being a constant pain to other students and the teacher, acting with a general disregard to other people’s feelings. Though I did not get into as much trouble in school from 2nd to 5th grade, my pride in academics, outbursts of anger when things did not go my way, and cold-hearted insults to fellow classmates showed the true condition of my heart. I clearly displayed my sinfulness in interactions with others and I was utterly unable under my own power to change the way I was living.
It was not until 6th grade at a school retreat that God graciously gave me the opportunity to evaluate my life and revealed to me who I truly was. After one of the sessions, I remember questioning my own faith and looking at how my life was a complete contradiction of what I said I believed. Though the Bible describes the believer as a new creation with new thoughts and new desires to please God and not continue in habitual sin, I could not affirm that in my own life. As I prayed to God and examined my life, I knew that by God’s gracious power I needed to repent and truly believe deep in my heart what Christ did for me and how that was to impact my life. I am still not sure if this was the definitive point where I repented and believed, but this was definitely the starting point of God growing my faith. I look back and thank God that he saved me from wrong thinking and deceiving myself into believing I was a Christian. As time progressed I began to see God work changes in my life through the reading of His Word and through the things I learned at church and school. Though there was still sin in my life, God would never fail to convict me and work changes in those areas.
God continued to work in my life throughout my teenage years. During that time, I decided under God's sovereignty to go to Berean Christian High School (see Acts 17:10-11). At a school that taught solid Biblical doctrine and challenged my wrong ways of thinking, I continued to grow spiritually, in spite of the fact that at times I gave more attention to doing well in sports and academics and did not prioritize my relationship with God. Looking back at my high school years, spiritual growth was slow, but still evident in my life.
My transition from high school to college was marked by an important decision to go to UCLA, which has profoundly impacted my spiritual life. By His grace, God brought me to Grace Community Church and Grace on Campus at UCLA, where I was challenged to grow spiritually and serve God and others. It was also His provision that gave me the opportunity to work down here and continue to be involved in serving Grace on Campus even after graduating UCLA.
Looking back at the decisions made and my character as I grew up, I can say with full assurance that it is God’s sovereign grace that brought me to a proper understanding of faith, that allowed me to grow spiritually, and that continues to sanctify me. Though my testimony is not a story of an extravagant lifestyle of sin and radical immediate change, it is still an illustration of God's abundant grace toward a sinner who would have never come to repentance and faith on his own power.