My name is David Lin; I’m a Freshman at UC Berkeley studying EECS. Back in high school, I had one goal: to get into my dream university. I poured all my energy into this one goal: either cramming for classes, juggling extracurriculars, or preparing for various competitions. I cast aside things that mattered much more, such as spending time with family, hanging out with friends, or engaging in outside hobbies/interests. I was a mindless machine, emotionlessly chugging along in school.
I made a deal with my mother that I would try out church if I were accepted into UC Berkeley. While my initial motivation for attending church was not quite right, God began to work on and regenerate my heart so that I could embrace his teachings. I saw how the motifs within sermons and small group discussions directly aligned with the countless questions I asked to try discovering myself—Where do I derive happiness from? What is my purpose? I also realized the importance of confessing and coming to terms with my sins—from not helping my family or friends to being so selfish in my personal goals.
All this time, I’ve always had this sense of emptiness that nothing could fill, so I distracted myself with endless work; once I got into college, that hole simply expanded. The reality is that only God can fill that empty hole—not wealth, not family, not friends. As a sinner who’s been saved by Jesus Christ, God’s one and only son who died on the cross, I have an obligation to glorify him and trust in his word and love for us, which is far deeper than anything else.
Now, I find myself constantly looking forwards to coming to FiCB, this amazing, beautiful covenant community. My peers continue to inspire me every day, ranging from just how unbelievably funny, welcoming, or caring they are, to how they are so disciplined in their faith. I strive to strengthen my friendships with others; reaching out to them, asking them about their faith, or helping them in whatever way I can. I hope to discipline myself further so that I place my trust in the Lord and refrain from believing that everything stems from myself. Ever since believing in Jesus Christ, I’ve found myself more cheerful, hopeful, open to new experiences, and most importantly, confident. Each night, I pray for stronger and strengthened hands, so that I can push past life’s various obstacles---because I guarantee life doesn’t get any easier. With this heightened confidence, I look forward to life’s highs and lows, serving my community and the various things God has in store for me.
I grew up a PK, pastor’s kid, in a christian household from the day I was born. I grew up in a small church which my dad had church planted and I was the oldest kid in children’s ministry. I knew all the answers to the questions we were asked in bible study, I helped pray when the little kids wouldn’t volunteer. I grew up loved and with such a happy childhood. When that small church closed, my family and I moved to San Francisco in the middle of my third grade year. As big of a change as it was, it’s not something that affected me greatly. Everyone was so nice and welcoming at school and I had no trouble finding friends on my first day seeing as it was something I was good at. I found some of my closest friends that helped me adjust to life in the Bay area, which at the time, didn’t carry a heavy affect on me. I think that during this time, prayer and going to church on Sundays was already so routine that I didn’t find any sort of close connection with God early in my life. I just knew all the textbook answers without having a real connection, which would be understandable as a child. But once my middle school years started, things began to look down for me and I had to start asking about my own personal connection with God.
I grew up a somewhat healthy kid, but I was diagnosed with alopecia areata in between fifth and sixth grade. This condition caused around eighty percent of my hair to fall out and what was remaining were patches of bald spots and thinning, sparse hair. Thankfully, while this was occurring, I was barely conscious about how I perceived myself in a mirror and it seemed to not affect my how people saw me either. But as time went on, I began to notice it more and that was when I began to wish that it wasn’t there. I would cry with my mom and she would assure me that God was in control and would heal me if it was according to his will. I believed her and prayed every night, but not for the reasons I should have. I asked him to bring back my hair and that I would be healed so that I could have hair like I used to. It didn’t work for a couple years. I asked why it had to be me of all people to have it and why I couldn’t be normal like everyone else. My trust that he would heal me seemed so far off that it the same prayer just became routine. If he loves me so much, then why do these things happen to people? Come the end of eighth grade, my hair was coming back. While this should’ve been a time where I felt closest to God, I didn’t thank him for healing me. I thought little of his work in the process and ignored him as my condition finally disappeared.
During this time, I was also introduced to the idea of getting confirmed. This began in sixth grade and it was such a loose topic to me that I pushed it to the back of my mind. My dad would continue to bring it up for years, but I never really began to question and ask myself about it until around last year. I began to become curious and wondered about the real logic behind the Bible. This wasn’t the right way for me to go about teaching myself about my faith. It’s called faith for a reason, but I didn’t grasp that. I asked questions about what came after death and what heaven is like and of course that is something we don’t know for certain. The more questions I asked, the more I had, which came with doubt. I felt that if I didn’t know enough, I wasn’t ready for confirmation. I felt unable to answer the amount of questions that had piled up, so the old motivation to learn had been replaced with distance from God. Without myself knowing, I was the farthest away from God than I had ever been. I rarely thought of him and church felt almost like a chore.
The schedule continued, schoolwork piled up and soon, devotionals and reading the bible were at the very bottom of my priority list. I often felt distraught with the amount of stress and anxiety that had begun to overtake my life. My mom would tell me that the things I was stressing about were meaningless and that it was just setting myself up for potential relapse of alopecia. This only stressed me out more and nothing was able to put me at peace. I attended another one of my youth group retreats, expecting to have so much fun and make many memories. That was the case, the only thing different about this retreat was that I finally figured out that I needed to seek peace in God rather than in my work or my parents. It was a message that stood with me, idle for a while that I didn’t act upon. I finally began to pray on my own again, reading the bible more to find answers to my questions. Those that I couldn’t find the answers to, I finally understood would only be answered to me if I had faith that God was in ultimate control and that I just had to rely on him. The biggest lesson I learned through all of this was that some of my questions will never be answered. As a christian, you are always growing and the questions will keep appearing, so we just have to believe that he is the all powerful and that he sent his son to die for us on the cross.
As I mature as a christian, I want to grow in my relationship with God where I want to share my faith with others and spread the gospel that I’ve been taught. I want to read the bible and learn about what he has done for me and serve him as his follower. If I was to imagine life without God, I would be lost, distraught and probably have seen a very dark future, but because of his graciousness, he has saved me from my sins and I can’t wait to devote my life to being a child of God.
My name is Audrey Kong and I am currently a sophomore in high school. I was raised in a Christian home and I have been attending this church for my whole life. Many of my memories are filled with going to worship team practice with my family, attending church on Sunday, going to church picnics and playing hide and go seek after Bible study. When I was in CM, I would love to sing and do the worship motions to the different songs. As for Bible study, I loved all my teachers because they were so amazing and they would make the lesson interesting by doing stuff like interactive activities. As for the actual purpose of the lesson, I never really understood it because I viewed it more as memorizing the stories of the Bible. I thought a Christian was someone who memorized Bible stories, prayed, and attended church every Sunday.
Once I entered youth group, it became a big challenge for me because I started attending the adult service. The transition from CM to youth group was very quick. I never made the effort to try to understand or learn from the sermons and Bible study. During the sermons, I would find myself trying to stay awake or being distracted with my surroundings. I would never take notes and if I did, it would just end up as a doodle page. During Bible study, I would look forward to what snacks we were having that day. Eventually, this idea of confirmation was introduced to me when my sisters got confirmed. This is when I began to think about my faith and where it was. As I began to think about where my faith was, I kept questioning “Is this really my own faith?”. Soon enough, I started to doubt myself more and more. I thought that to be confirmed, I needed to have that life changing moment or conversion. Recently, I talked with my mom about bringing a friend to a youth group retreat and she asked me “What would your answer be if she asks you what a Christian is?”. I tried to come up with an answer, but it ended up me being so frustrated with myself because I couldn’t come up with an answer. I kept thinking that I was not good enough to be a Christian. When the retreat had finally came, I was able to open up about my feelings on the discussion I had with my mom to my youth group teacher. Even though I was able to have a great conversation, I still felt a little lost because my doubts were still haunting over me.
Coming back from that retreat, I started to make an effort to understand the sermons more and read the Bible more often. As time passed, I was able to feel God’s presence causing me to come to the point where I can say that “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
As I begin this new journey towards true faithfulness in God, I want to grow more as a Christian by developing a stronger relationship with God. I know that God has saved me through faith by grace so therefore, I should spread the Word of God to others through Christ.
Blessed to have been able to be raised in a Christian family, I was surrounded by God and the church since the very beginning. I can gladly say that I am very grateful for having my parents introduce me to God and the church as an adolescent. However rather than actually believing him as a child, I felt as if I was simply following through the motions of doing “christian things”, and acting upon what my parents wanted.
As I aged, I slowly was able to understand more about God, and the salvation he has provided for us with his death on the cross. However, with my maturity and increasing understanding of God, I gradually realized that I was a sinner no different from any other. The more I had matured, I realized the idea of sin had grown more appealing and influential in my life. Despite knowing I was a Class A sinner, it still took me time and time again to understand my sinful nature of selfishness and social acceptance. Throughout my childhood, like many people, I found myself seeking acceptance of others rather than seeking the approval of the Lord. I felt as if I was a very self centered person, only looking for ways to improve the public image of myself.
All throughout the entirety of my life, I felt that God has been watching over me, continually keeping me safe and healthy. Rather than having a specific epiphanic moment in accepting Christ, I felt as God has always been working within me. Through many discussions and prayers with family and friends, God has opened my eyes in helping me learn and accept my sin. Although I continue to struggle with natural human desires such as greed, selfishness, etc., God has helped me to acknowledge these sins, and wipe them clean for me. I believe through Jesus Christ who suffered and died for me, I may be saved from sin and have everlasting life with God.
Due to my growing faith in God, God has shown me that being christian is not just about “good works.” Even as I will continue to sin and fail in the future, I want to keep a strong relationship with him, especially during times of weakness and havoc. Every day, God helps me and gives me power to surge forward. Through Christ, no longer am I journeying life by myself, but now I have God walking and guiding me. God has given me a new meaning in life, which is to live, worship, and love him as he loves me.
I was raised in a Christian family since I was about two years old. My parents were struggling with my sister and I, crying uncontrollably as babies, and unfortunately being very anti-social. So, a friend of my dad recommended he take us to church in order to meet new babies and be taken care of, while they went in the chapel and worshipped. At the beginning, for my parents, it was just the thought of having their kids taken care of to socialize. They weren’t raised in part of a specific religion, other than my grandmother on my mom’s side becoming a Buddhist. As time went by, my parents started having a true relationship with God, luckily, leading me to start my life with a trusting and sincere relationship with God.
But as time went by, going to school and meeting new people affected my relationship with God. From these new interactions, I learned about different point of views of how others perceive the world, and learned about their beliefs and values, and started to wonder what the true meaning of life is. Going into middle school, I learned about the worldly desires of the people I had surrounded myself with. Continuous cycles of swearing and cursing, alcohol and drug use, and lust would roam around the school, entering thoughts inside my head. Then, entering high school, everything got much worse. My mental health was reaching an unhealthy point due to grades and relationships in my life. Witnessing drug use was pulling me close, a voice in my head saying that all the pain and destructive inner thoughts could slowly fade away, and using friends as a place to escape. Especially after going to missions over the summer, coming back home from such a spiritually high point, I crashed. I stopped paying attention to God, and I barely prayed. I let all these little things drag me around, when the truth was that nothing could ever heal me from any sort of pain, other than the love God has for me to send His one and only Son to die for me on the cross.
Even though after missions I had a fallback, I used what I learned to push me back and motivate me to get closer to God. I had been taught earlier that summer that nothing in this world should satisfy me, because it’s all temporary, and is all going to go away. The one thing that should ever give me hope and joy, is having faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
So, taking in from what I have learned, when I feel discouraged, I will try my best to continue to keep a strong bond with God, and use the one thing He had left for us to connect with Him: the Bible. I will continue and try hard to communicate with God through my prayers, but not to let my prayers be only about/for myself, but for others as well. I pray that I can humble myself, and learn to bring myself down in order to lift others up. I pray that from the Word, I can learn to be the best version of myself, and learn to love myself through the love of God, and create and master the vertical relationship that I have with the Father, instead of focusing on the horizontal relationships, or the temporary ones, with friends, classmates, family, etc. And lastly, from this Confirmation of my faith, even though I will still go through bumps on the road, I pray that when I do fall into times of trouble, that I will be able to find myself, and know that my Confirmation of faith will stand strong for as long as I live on this Earth.
I’ve been raised a Christian for as long as I could remember, but have just recently deeply understood the message of Christ. As a toddler, I knew the basics of Christianity like about Jesus dying on the cross for sins and I knew that God is good. But I would forget about it all throughout the week after the Sunday sermon. My faith had stayed the same for probably years, no highs or lows on my journey with God but rather ignorant to the fact that I was Christians go through spiritual fluctuations. I relied on God simply when I needed something to go well and was only grateful when things did work out my way.
This past winter was a very challenging time for me. I struggled a lot emotionally and I didn’t feel like myself. This led to feeling like the God I had been worshipping was not on my side and didn’t love me. It was as if God had completely left me and abandoned me, everything felt so hopeless. I had no motivation to even get out of bed in the morning or talk to anybody at school. Later during the spring, I was diagnosed and treated medically for an eating disorder. I was still confused about God because of the struggling He made me go through.
Over the summer, my sister and I went on a mission to Mexico. On the mission field, I witnessed people being blessed and other things I’d never seen before such as speaking in tongues. Throughout the time we spent in Mexico, I was honestly a little jealous of those that were receiving the Lord’s blessings and gifts. I remember thinking that I just wanted to be like everything else and asking God to show me something to prove that He could give my life worth. Towards the end of the mission, God revealed Himself to me it’s hard to describe but it simply was through a prayer where He reminded me of His love for me. When I thought He wasn’t listening to me and chose to let Him be my hope, God was really chasing after me. When I couldn’t even love myself, God still loved me for the sinner I was. He made me struggle to bring me closer to Him and it showed me that God’s love is much greater than any sin I had.
I learned that salvation means choosing Jesus to be Lord and Savior. I think in the back of my mind, I always knew that Jesus was my Savior because He saved the world from sin and death. But I didn’t know what choosing Jesus as my Lord meant until a girl from the missions told me. She said it was deciding to let Jesus be the leader in my life, to always keep Him first. My faith now goes through highs and lows, some days I feel far from God. But, I want to continue making Jesus the center of my life even in a world where it is difficult because everything goes back to His loving ways. I know now that He has taken my shame and sin, and that it is worth living for a God who cares for me as His own child.
I was born into a Christian family. Since birth, I’ve grown up going to church every Sunday. When I was 6 years old, my dad passed away suddenly. When we were coming home from the airport, he had a heart attack. I remember my mom telling my sister and I to pray over and over again. At the time I felt scared and confused, but trusted that God would save my dad. Although it was very hard for my family, especially my mom who felt angry and helpless, I felt really loved because so many people took care of us and brought us dinner every night. After, my family moved to KCPC, where we met many new people who became important close friends. If anything I felt more loved and taken care of after my dad passed. This was a huge blessing. But as a kid, I felt embarrassed of being a Christian and going to church. My friends at school would ask me why I had to go to a boring church every Sunday, instead of playing or relaxing. I had a hard time trying to talk about God and taking my friends to church.
When I started freshman year in high school, it was even harder for me to share about God. I spent most time rowing, where many people had a bad image of God, and nobody believed in God either. Also, coming from a K-8 school, I never had to learn how to make new friends so Freshman year challenged me, and I felt very alone at school. That year I went to the youth group retreat, where I realized that I didn’t know if I truly believed in God. But on the other hand I honestly felt too scared not to be a believer because I didn’t want to imagine not seeing my dad in heaven and was very afraid of the idea of hell. I cried to my youth group teacher and friends upon this realization and they comforted and prayed for me. Since then, I have become aware of how I seeked God and wanted to truly believe in him. I knew that these reasons for believing in him were out of fear and not ethical. I prayed for God to give me a sign or moment where he would reveal himself to me.
In my sophomore year, I started a new religion class that expanded my imagination of God and religion, and sparked a lot of questions. At this point, I knew that I believed in God and heaven and hell enough to deeply fear them. At that year’s youth retreat, the pastor gave a sermon that really comforted me because it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. During praise, I also started tearing up at the lyrics and I felt so moved by the overwhelming presence of God. I felt like my journey with God had at least started and God had opened up my heart to him. But after a few days, I came down from my spiritual high and returned to my routine, where I struggled in my faith and had many questions, worries, and doubts.
This past summer, my mom asked if I wanted to go to Paraguay on a mission. I questioned whether my faith was strong enough to even go. Going into the mission, I honestly had no expectations or intentions in going. I almost dreaded going, because I kept thinking, ‘How can I spread the gospel if I’m still having a hard time believing it myself?’ People kept telling me to pray, because it’s the best preparation. But my heart didn’t feel settled until I was in the church office the day of the send off. I remember everyone crowding around my team and putting their hands on us and praying for us, and the room was so loud with everyone mumbling their own prayers with passion evident in their voices. I thought, ‘if all of these people are praying for us, I think I will be okay.’ I finally felt reassured in this moment. After the mission, I realized that God’s way of answering my years of prayers about doubt, was by sending me to that mission. In Paraguay, I could really see the work that God was doing and finally understood and felt God’s presence. The genuineness and happiness of the Paraguayans made me rethink and reflect on my own mindset, attitude, and lifestyle. My team members’ willingness to serve wholeheartedly inspired and motivated me to leave my comfort zone and do whatever I could to love on the Paraguayans as well. I understood that God really does answer prayers; it just may not be on your expected timing. My faith grew more in that week than it had in the past few years. Now, I’m trying to work on incorporating God unto my everyday life instead of jumping from spiritual highs to neglecting God in my real life. I’ve realized that my faith in God will be a rollercoaster throughout my whole life, but I find reassurance in the fact that if you seek out God and ask him to open up your heart, he will never leave you in the dark.