Looking back on it now, I never really rejected these Bible verses; instead, I read them and memorized them as truth. I wasn’t the least bit skeptical and never really questioned them, which I now understand to be God’s grace in my life. God graciously opened my eyes to my own sin and helped me understand my own need for salvation and the forgiveness of sin. I don’t remember the exact day or time of my conversion but I gradually learned more about who God is, how He loved us, and why we worship Him. My knowledge of heaven and hell was very basic back then, but it was also very real. Through memorizing those Bible verses, I understood that God had demonstrated His love toward me by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for sinners like me. He didn’t come to die for righteous people, but He came to die for sinners like me in order that we may be made righteous through Christ’s blood.
In high school, my church hired a new youth pastor who was from the Master’s Seminary. He came in and preached the Word like I had never heard before. He helped me grow theologically and deepen my understanding for the Word. He taught things like the holiness of God and how to study the Bible exegetically. It was during this time that I grew the most in my understanding of Scripture and my walk with God. As I was considering where to go to college, I knew that UCLA was at the top of the list because of Grace on Campus and other solid campus fellowships. God was gracious to place me at UCLA Grace on Campus and at Grace Community Church where I’m able to learn more about God’s grace in my life and grow in my theology. Week in and week out, the sermons from the pulpit are a great source of encouragement to me in my walk and they remind me of the difficulty of the Christian life.
One of these difficulties came during my freshman year of college. My family and I decided to seek out a new home church due to some issues with some of the leaders and pastors at that church. For us, it was hard to sit under the preaching of the leaders in the church, when we also knew what was going on behind the scenes. Some of the leaders didn’t follow Scriptural commands for church discipline and instead sought to cover these sins up in order to save face and to maintain a good reputation. My parents and I understood their actions as compromising the Word of God for the favor of men and we decided it was best to look for another church because of this and some other serious issues. It was difficult for me and for my parents because this is a church where we had attended since we’ve been Christians. Also, it was even more difficult for my parents because they needed to overcome a language barrier as they were accustomed to being in a Chinese speaking church and they weren’t as comfortable with their English. We wanted to find a church that taught the Word of God and that wasn’t afraid to follow biblical commands. After looking at a few churches, God was good to my family and He graciously led us to a church that taught biblical doctrine and had theological reasons for why they did things. We became members within six months and have been attending ever since. Though this search for a new church took away time for me to spend with my campus fellowship, I’m grateful because God graciously provided a church, for my family and I, where we could grow under the teaching of the Word and serve the body of Christ. This search showed me the unfaithfulness and weaknesses of people, even Christians, but more than that, it reminded me of how God is unchanging and always faithful despite our own lack of faith. The Christian life, I have learned and have been learning, is a difficult, everyday battle to be unstained by the world and to live each day as a child of God, made holy and separate by the blood and love of Christ.