Even before I was a Christian, I thought missionaries were the coolest people ever. As a kid, my family would attend the church a block away from our house fairly frequently, and one of the times in sunday school we had a day where missionaries came in to talk to us. I remember it was this guy who had taken his whole family to South America and they lived there now. He had really cool pictures of the Amazon and the Jungle. Being a missionary sounded like a permanent vacation to me, so I knew then and there this was the career for me.
When I was in the 8th grade, just a few weekends after I gave my life completely to Jesus, we had a guest speaker at youth group who was a missionary, oddly enough. I was reminded of that time sitting completely enraptured listening to the missionary from South America and thought, “oh yeah! Now that I really love Jesus, I REALLY want to do this!” I spoke fluent spanish and knew that God was calling me to a life of serving Him in missions. I went on a few mission trips down to Mexico for Spring break with my youth group, and was a translator on the trips. One time I even got a minor concussion from falling off my bunk in the middle of the night onto concrete, and stuck it out for the rest of the week. So I knew I was in it to win it with this missionary stuff.
After I graduated from high school, God opened the doors for me to go live in Ecuador with a missionary family and teach at a christian school in the Amazon region. To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. This was what I dreamed about, knowing that real life missions was not exactly like what we experienced in our week long treks to Tijuana. However, my time in Ecuador was more than I bargained for. I absolutely fell in love with the region and the people, but I experienced some setbacks that ended up bringing me back to the states just three short months after I had arrived. I was supposed to stay for a full year, and I was absolutely crushed. I was a failure, and I was convinced that not only was I not supposed to be a missionary, but that I never really knew how to listen to God in the first place.
During the months after I returned from Ecuador, I experienced a great deal of depression and bitterness. All I wanted to do was serve God and use my gift of spanish for Him, and I couldn’t even make it through a year. I felt so worthless, and that God couldn’t possibly love me or use me anymore. One of our pastors wrote me an incredibly encouraging note after I wrote on my blog about how I didn’t understand any of this. He wrote to me something that has forever been engrained in my brain:
“Ali, you’ve got to read some missionary bios, it will give you some great perspective…it’s what I often do. The road you\’re on, most never make it. Those who do, have been broken and rebuilt to withstand the innumerable bumps and challenges along the way. I believe God’s in the process now of making you into someone he can use in big ways around the world. We’re not born that way and it doesn’t only happen when we’re 0-18. God is making someone he can use and he often uses many of the ingredients that are currently present in your life. If something like this knocks you off the path, you weren’t going to make it very far anyways. If it doesn’t…THEN…you’re much closer to experiencing God’s best for you than you were 2 short months ago, and you just might have what it takes. We’re still figuring out if I have what it takes…this isn’t coming from one who has it figured out…no…one who is figurING it out.
you rock ali, don’t give up.”
That was exactly the truth God knew I needed to hear: Don\’t give up.
Since I’ve been at EBC, God has continued to show me this, and remind me that the Christian life is not about comfort and predicatbility (contrary to my five-year-old perception of being a missionary, it is the exact opposite of a permanent vacation). In fact, we just went through the book of Philippians in my Prison Epistles class, which is all about suffering for the sake of the Gospel.
My fiancé and I are still praying for God to open doors for us to go as missionaries to a latin country. We have dreams of starting a half-way house, or an orphanage. Something that involves our shared love of working with kids. God has really opened up my eyes to see what it means to follow Him, and I am still on board, after some pretty devastating blows, because I know that nothing compares. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
Blessings on your Journey. He is faithful
Coming to Eternity Bible College was definitely a step of faith for me. Having been in the construction field for almost seven years, I was in a place of security. At that time in my life, nothing made me more satisfied than loving others and teaching the Word of God in everyday circumstances. Walking and sharing with other believers and seeing growth was my new found passion!
During this time, I was following Cornerstone’s podcast and was “sold” on their leadership and passion to serve the local body of Christ. Then, my best friend asked me if I wanted to go to Bible College at EBC. Whereas the typical question to ask in this situation would be, “Why should I go?” I immediately thought, “Why shouldn’t I go?” EBC encouraged everything I was passionate about: loving others, knowing God’s Word in a deeper way, being under leadership that really cared about the students, and ultimately the Body of Christ. So, I sold everything and left all that was my previous life in Hawaii to come to EBC.
Since coming to EBC in the Fall of 2008, I have been overwhelmed by the quality of the education I have received. I have been especially impressed with the faculty, who have become like family to me. While my classes have been spiritually enriching, they have also been academically rigorous. The professors teach the text critically, thoroughly, and ultimately pastorally. I am ever grateful that the Lord has brought me to EBC.
I grew up in a Christian family out on the mission field; I guess I am what you call a third generation missionary, because it all started with my grandpa moving to Mexico on a crazy mission. We are still here and our focus is on reaching the deaf children by giving them an education, but more importantly telling them about Jesus. I have lived my whole life in Mexico (Yes, I am an American citizen; my parents drove to San Diego from Mexico and birthed me, and then went back. However, I am also a Mexican citizen, but don’t ask me how that works). I grew up knowing what was right and wrong because I was taught that way, but I was not really living for Jesus. I rarely read my Bible (to a point where I avoided it) and barely prayed, and if I did, it was the same prayer every time.
There are two important events that lead to my rededication of my life to Jesus. One was when I was 18 years old; I worked at Hume Lake Christian Camps. I attended (more likely forced/peer pressured in) a Bible study where the Spirit moved me, and I learned the importance of having a relationship with God through his Word and prayer. The second one happened the next summer on a missions trip to Spain and Morocco, and there I learned from the missionaries how we should Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, the second greatest command is love your neighbor as yourself. And these events deeply affected my walk with Jesus, and it’s a continuous process of understanding of what it means to be a Christian and to love God.
After I graduated High school, I felt this intense desire to stay at my parent’s ministry and help out. This went on for three years, and on my third year I felt like I should go to college. I had no idea where. I looked at Universities in Ensenada, Mexico and also looked at some colleges in San Diego. I wanted to study Biology and be a scientist…I don’t know why, but I just did. I figure that I would major in Biology, and return to teach, not necessarily to the deaf, but at public and private high schools in Ensenada. My father offered to take me to visit a Christian college in San Diego because they had a small biology program, and it was also Christian, so that was a plus I guess. We went to the college, toured the campus and it was really nice, but the tuition was around $20,000 a year. Since being a missionary is such a lucrative business (that was sarcasm if you didn’t know), I thought, “how in the world is my dad going to afford this?” and as usually my dad said, if God wants you there, He will provide.
Now during this whole time, I had started reading a nice little book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. That book brought up so many issues of an authentic relationship with the God of the Universe that I never have thought of, and what loving God, loving people and following Jesus looked like. I had started on my application for the Christian college in San Diego, and as I was finishing my book, my dad tells me, “You know that Francis Chan started a Bible College?” I did not know that. Then he said, “Yeah, it’s supposed to be very affordable.” I said, “That’s nice.” I still didn’t even consider Bible College to be an option; I honestly thought to myself, “why would I want to study the Bible?”
To make a long story short, I checked out the website, I liked their vision on giving an affordable Bible education and I felt like I should go for some reason. So my plan was to go major in Biology, and on the side, go to EBC; little did I know what God was going to do. After my first semester of EBC, my worldview was literally shattered to pieces, to a point that I am still putting the pieces back together, but glued together with a Biblical foundation behind it. I ditched the idea of majoring in Biology, and focused on my Bible education, and I do not regret one bit of it. My view of God has dramatically been changing according to the Bible, and the way I view ministry, the way I view the church, basically everything about my faith is being reshaped according to the Word.
After EBC, I know that I am returning to Mexico. The deaf in general are a very neglected people group, and one of the biggest unreached people group in the world. My heart ached as I thought of the countless of deaf children and adults that would probably never get a chance to hear (and when I say hear, I mean see) the Story of God, and their place in it, because most of them are illiterate. I want them to feel and learn what I feel and learn as I read the Word, and want them to feel God’s intense love for them, and how that flows out of Scripture. I want them to not be ashamed because of their deafness, but to rest in the fact that they are made in the image of our amazing and loving God. I understand now why God placed me at EBC, and this is why I am still going there. It is funny how God works. One moment I am in Mexico reading a book, the next I am in Simi Valley of all places going to EBC.
Un recipiente de gracia y hermano,
From the womb I was trouble. Is that too far back? I will try to catch you up to speed. I was a discontent, angry, self-absorbed, vengeful munchkin with no idea there was anything wrong with me. I would love to say that I matured as time went on, but instead I grew into my role, becoming a master of manipulation, dishonesty, and impurity.
I was a boy with many faces, but the one I wore most often was the ‘nice boy’ face; otherwise known as the silent rebel. This nice boy reputation earned me respect from the older crowd and preference above those my age. It was my ticket to ride. And it’s true, really. I was better behaved than my peers for the most part, but my heart was desperately sick. I would drag my knuckles and do as I was told, act as if I had love for anyone but myself and participate in as many Christian leadership roles as I could to build up a name for myself.
Have you ever visited New York City in the winter months? You may remember walking between the skyscrapers that act as a wind channel, making 20 degree weather feel sub zero. At the outset of the day the chill is almost unbearable to someone who is not used to it. As you continue on, however, you might find that the chill of the wind has lost its effect. You don’t notice the chopsticks forming below your nostrils.
This was me. I was entrenched in a Christianity void of the gospel. The gospel was preached from the pulpit, but somewhere between our ears and our feet there was a disconnect. I would hear the words of the gospel. It was preached to me, read to me and even sung to me before bed. I never witnessed the power of the gospel. I became numb to my sin, the gospel and any mention of God (who in my mind represented the misplaced feelings of comfort that weak and foolish people like to lean on in hard times). The constant chill of this cold message left me hungry for freedom, so I plotted my escape. As soon as my high school/home-life sentence was up I would run off to whatever college would teach what I wanted to hear.
I can’t explain what happened or when the change took place but to say that it was a steady wrenching of my heart in the quiet moments of summer prior to Senior year. The God that I fought to defeat logically began to draw this dead boy to Himself. It was in no way an overnight change. I found myself in the middle of evangelistic conversations with both strangers and friends. For the first time I was representing God and His gospel truth out of obedience, not as a show. My desire was to honor God, but I had little direction. I knew how to imitate what I saw in the churches that I had been a part of, but there seemed to be something we were missing.
With a scholarship to a local business school and a plan to make enough to support my future family very comfortably, I was a month away from stepping into the doors of the building that I would study at for the next four years. God had another plan. It was going to take a small, charismatic, Asian man with a shiny head to get me to realize it, but in the end it all worked out. I realized that as I began to think of the future, an idolatrous American worldview became my source for decision making. I was frightened that I would be further drawn into this way of thinking and made a last minute decision to decline the offer from the business school and take a trip to Southern California, home of Eternity Bible College.
At Eternity Bible College I’ve realized that seeking my comfort is only comfortable amid ignorance. I was blessed with roommates and professors that rebuked me, not to correct bad behavior, but to seek my restoration and heart change. This is a community of imperfect people, spurring each other on to live as if Jesus is King and God is worthy of our fear and praise. EBC remains a refreshing reminder that the purpose of Bible College is not getting through school in four years with a good GPA and piece of paper with a stamp and signature. God’s will is our sanctification and obedience to Him. If a grade fits into that plan so be it. In my case this has meant 4+ years of a mediocre GPA and no paper to show as of yet; an alarming thing to those who place their hope in a piece of paper.
God has formed me by His grace into a man that is zealous to do His will. I am the husband of an amazing godly woman, who is encouraging my faith daily as we serve the Lord together. God has blessed our marriage beyond what I could have imagined. The next chapter is scheduled to begin September 7th if God chooses to allow Hannah and I to be parents of this now peach-sized baby that He has given us.
Praise God for His goodness and infinite mercy toward us!
My name is David Elliott, and I am a freshman going to Eternity Bible College, and to be honest looking back at my life this is the last place I thought I would be. Well maybe not the last place, but not at all what I expected for a while. I had a pretty uncommon life. I grew up in a family united under God. My parents loved and still do love each other; and I have three younger siblings; a sister and two brothers. My parents took me to church since before I can remember, and I must have started out young, because all of these sweet older ladies will come up and tell me of the times they used to change me and look after me in nursery. I grew up in the church, being told that God loves me and has a plan for me.
At the age of three I understood enough to know that I needed God. I didn’t have any idea what that really entailed, all I knew was that I had to accept Christ into my life. So I got out of bed late one night, and on my knees with hands folded said just that; “Jesus come into my life” or something to that extent. My parents were overjoyed when I told them, and I went on with my shortly lived life; going to school, Sunday school, and playing when I could. I got all the way to sixth grade before anything interesting really happened. In sixth grade I had a teacher that challenged us as a class to dig into the Bible, and try to live out what it said. I also had an awesome opportunity to go with my church on a mission trip. So at the age of 13 my dad and I went with a team out to Bogota, Columbia. We were out there for two weeks, and helped them build a camp out in the countryside. I absolutely loved it, and after returning home soon was plugged into our churches youth group. I started helping out in one thing after another, and continued going on trips. Our youth went to Mexico, short term summer trips to lead a vacation bible school, hurricane Katrina relief trips, and things along that line. I’m not saying this to brag, it’s just these opportunities were placed before me, and the way my parents raised me, led to me finding joy in serving others. But I was extremely shy, so speaking in front of people was a big “No” in my book, but I was willing to try anything else. Senior year came and went, and I was able to be a leader in my youth group. The only problem was that unlike most I had no idea, none whatsoever of what I wanted to do with my life.
Through the years I had been consistently going to this camp called Hume Lake, and at one of the programs up there I experienced God and fellowship like I had never before. Our youth group came back to our church on fire, and we loved it. I found out that there was a program that was similar to Wildwood, but only way more intense, and it lasted for about a year. So having no desire to go to college (I was a good student, but had to push myself every step of the way. Not really one for school) I signed up for this program. Crazy thing is that out of all of the applications that went in, mine was accepted, and so I spent a year up in Hume Lake. I grew stronger and bolder in my faith, and realized that one thing I really had a passion for was serving others, and seeing a change that only God brought into people’s lives.
I then did the one thing that I told myself I would never do, I decided to go to college! I wanted to know what the Bible said and learn to speak it with boldness, but there was only one problem, I’m not rich. My Pastor told me about this college out in Simi Valley that was extremely reasonable, and had great staff and teachers. So I prayed about it, sent in an application, and I was accepted.
I am in Simi Valley feeling extremely blessed. God has provided a house, job, friends, transportation, and so much more for me! I can’t even begin to explain all that God has done for me, and all that I have been learning at this school. I am going to be here for the next three years, and then Lord willing seminary and then will see if God leads me to a church to pastor. My plan is to eventually become a senior pastor, but the doors are open for what God may do. I also want to be a blessing to this school as they have to me, because when I get out of here, besides having a great education I will have next to no debt if any. EBC is preparing me and my fellow students to go out into the entire world, to make disciples; and not just as Pastors, but also as an ordinary people working ordinary jobs. We are equipped to go into any circumstance, because we have God, and have a good understanding of what He is saying to us, and with that we will go out and make a difference.
In recounting God’s work in my life, I rejoice in humility at what God has saved me from while also lamenting the missed opportunities and my blatant disobedience. My testimony usually leaves me parched and thirsty for His continued sanctification of my life.
I have always been blessed with a vivid knowledge of how the Kingdom of Heaven works, God’s will for His people, and the order and truth of His creation. Growing up, all signs led to God: pass Go, collect 200 dollars. One needed only to obey and obey in love. I wish I could say that I did obey. In my past, I blindly and lazily let others tell me what having faith in Christ meant and how my worship should be. During adolescence, I observed the walks of those who I knew professed Christ, as well as my own walk, and saw that it did not match up with what I knew of God and what I had read of Him and His people. Discouraged and much alone, I concluded that either I must become perfect and be a pastor or give up. I thought, “God deserves all of me at my best or He wants nothing to do with me.”
So I did give up.
But God didn’t!
I spent my teen years absorbed in pride. I remember very vividly after many positive accolades my friends gave me, I internally boasted, “I, Donovan Henrikson, have such great love.” And, like when a large wave hits you unaware and you go spinning rolling over and over underwater, God screamed both furiously and lovingly, “If you love so great, then how much more is My love? For you? For all?”
Around the same time, a buddy of mine hugged a girl I was interested in, and I had a pang of jealousy. Bringing this up to God, I wondered why the level of my jealously felt improper for the small act that was committed. Through revelation He explained that it was so that He could show me how much He is jealous for me. When my worship/time/energy goes to something other than my Creator, God pangs with jealously.
Towards the end of high school God kept making Himself more and more known to me. At first I only sought God out of reverence and fear, trying to be Christian by my own power. Jesus was less of a savior and more of a means to an end for me. Through a few big events (mother, then father separating and later was left alone) and many smaller events, God taught me and brought me to a place where I relied more and more on His power. So much so, that at one point I remember telling a friend right after high school, “There is no turning back. I will have to give Him my all.” Through His word and with much of His patience and grace, I finally gave over myself, my will, and my plans. I want nothing more than to be like His Son. God did teach me that I will have to be perfect; but it is only possible because His son offered Himself to us, and by His sacrifice I can be reconciled and transformed.
It still took me a year or so to find what God has for me in terms of a vocation. There was much hesitancy on my part as well. I knew subconsciously that God wanted me to be a shepherding type. Some of the last things I wish to fight are being power hungry or to in anyway misuse my influence. Reassuringly, God has helped me to have faith that He knows me better and that I will serve His kingdom honorably. With growing faith and close Godly people giving counsel, I now believe that God has made me to be a teacher. I love watching people grow in Christ, investing in them, and am very passionate about sharing the life-transforming words of God. Seeing God work through his truth has always lit me up. In the endeavor to become a teacher I looked through over a hundred Christian schools. It was really important to me that I not just study God, but live a life worthy of Him, and where I went to school needed to reflect that. Not only did Eternity Bible College have a strict ministry requirement, but the personal investment by the administration and faculty stood out amongst the rest of the schools.
“I am not the man I ought to be, I am not the man I wish to be, and I am not the man I hope to be, but by the grace of God, I am not the man I used to be.” This paraphrase of John Newton just about sums up where I am now and where I will be for some time. Through the loving investment of the Church and EBC, I look foreword to a growing passion for God, His people, and the work we get to take part in.
What I really wanted to become was a rock star. Playing music, writing the feel good tunes and becoming respected with solid Christian guitar playing was my teenage dream. So, I spent three semesters getting equipped at a small Bible training school before the itch overtook me and I left the school to pursue our band ministry. Two years after that I was a defeated and spent rocker who had a chance to do youth ministry, and took it. A mere 1 year later I was again spent and this time without a strong vision for God’s way of working in the world. I decided to pursue business. We often get what we ask for. I was looking for a way to “glorify God” apart from the Church in a way that would let me have purpose, respect, supply and glory for God. Can you guess what happened next? Five years later I was a spent, in debt, disillusioned 27 year old who was really looking for God to show up and help me figure my way out of this aimless mess I spun in.
At this point I knew I needed a couple things. I needed character. And I needed to do God’s glory God’s way. Also I decided to finish my Bible training. When I learned a bit about EBC and the vision I just settled on it and made the move. I chose the four year plan to have as long as possible for God to develop character in me, and I chose to put my opinions on hold when I got there.
You see, in my time as a Christian I knew I needed to honor God and serve Him. That was an easy sell! But there are just so many voices out there telling us how to do that. My previous school had done a marvelous job loading me up on the truths that I used for my time after them, and like any group of people there would be good with bad that was passed on.
However, as I looked back I saw a glaring deficiency in my life. I had chosen music, youth, business and now Bible College all based on my definition of how to serve God. The truth was I didn’t know how to make good decisions. I was not equipped to discern why the business I chose to involve myself was misleading me into humanism (which it was). Or why the Church is the program of God’s salvation and glorification of His Son. Then too, I felt highly opinionated about everything. I was opinionated about theology because I took three speedy courses on Systematic Theology. I was opinionated about politics and business because I got around Christian businessmen selling their vision for a better “America” “under God”. What I had become was the sum of my influences, and I didn’t have the tools to thread through the influences and identify the voice of God in the middle of my voice, and everyone else’s voice.
When I visited the school the spring after God rocked my world with a firm redirection, I was delighted to be told that EBC was committed to helping students learn how to find answers rather than hand them a box of answers hoping that life would only come at them with questions that corresponded to the box. They believed that students needed to be equipped for a changing, dynamic world that didn’t always fit the mold that a system could describe. They wanted their students to come away and work equally well in Papua New Guinea as in post modern Europe.
It’s been a hard journey. Not that my God has not been good, but rooting out pent up pride and opinion is a surgical event. When I came into the school I was unable to disagree or interact with someone who differed with any real grace. Being right and being respected were idols in my heart.
The four year program has gently removed the heart that was using God and God’s word as a weapon against even God’s people, and has tangibly replaced it with a heart that can discern God’s voice among the voices.
What about the mind? What about being right about everything? Well, I am more convinced than ever that we must have a precision that hurts. However, the hand that holds the theological scalpel must be attached to the loving heart of a God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, who keeps loving-kindness for thousands. To have that heart will both ensure that theologically we are all kept safe, but too that God’s heart won’t get lost in the chorus of voices. Our tools are for building up, not for tearing down. Only a mind that is able to see the forest of thoughts and able to not be wrapped up in them can find the rose in a controversial theologian’s manure, and to pray for even the enemies of our beloved doctrines, much less the pagan, new age, post modern humanist next door.
I think I know Jesus better, now. I think I see the world a little more how He sees it. I think I can see that path that adorns the doctrine of our great God and savior. I have reversed so much of my thinking without any one telling me I should. I have come to so many conclusions and wonder how I will land on so many more. But I don’t fear the coming search of the Scriptures. I’m excited about it! Yet nothing in me thinks I myself am finally “equipped” for life in the ocean of Kingdom building. But I see my awareness of 4000 years of our faith and the 55 individual books of the canon that I have combed over thus far as being the guarantee of a coming freedom for me, and many, many others.
My name is Bryan. I am 20 years young and currently attending the wonderful school of Eternity Bible College. I am from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee and have lived in Simi Valley since January of 2010 when I moved here to attend EBC. Since then, my life has changed so much.
I graduated from Wilson Central HS in May of 2009 with the intention of going to a Christian College in Kentucky. By graduation I had already been accepted and was so excited to go, but there were a couple problems standing in my way. Although, it is an amazing school with a wonderful campus and student body, of which I had visited several times by this point, it was not exactly the cheapest school on earth. The way that most students get through college is either: student loans (incurring debt), scholarships (which I wasn’t exactly to eligible for many), or maybe parents paying for college (which wasn’t my case). I also had trouble getting a dorm and finding a job. So, after some prayer and hard thought, I decided it would be in my best interest not to go.
I then got two jobs and started working around 80 hours a week. All in this same 3 month time period I found out about EBC. I couldn’t believe the schools heart in not wanting students to incur any debt. After reading their Statement of Faith, what they are all about, and how they will help prepare you for ministry and help you to graduate debt free, I was hooked. I immediately applied. By this time, though, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the Fall semester. So, I worked as hard as I could Fall semester, saved up some money, and after hearing I got accepted, moved to Simi Valley in January to start in the Spring.
This has been the craziest, happiest year and a half of my life. I thought I knew a thing or two about the Bible before I moved out here but quickly realized how much I didn’t know. EBC has reshaped my understanding of the Bible and the reality of the Gospel in my everyday life. The passionate, loving faculty has shown me what it means to live as a follower of Christ. You can gain all the knowledge about the Bible on earth, but until you see someone living it out, (in this case, the entire staff and student body), it’s hard to understand how living as a follow of Jesus plays out in your own life.
I came out to Simi Valley with a pretty substantial amount of money, but God quickly broke me down and showed me how non-dependent of Him I was. I became next to broke and had to rely on God for everything, and everything I needed was given at the perfect moment on God’s timing. I was unable to attend school last semester but I think it was good for me. I started back again this semester and have loved every minute of it. I can’t wait for the Fall semester, and every semester after that, to continue my studies.
In all honesty, without EBC, I don’t think that I would be in College right now. I wouldn’t have the money, resources, passion, friends, or motives to be attending school. I would probably be working and just doing what I could to get by back in Tennessee. EBC is distinctly where God brought me in the most miraculous way that no one could have ever predicted. I have been trying to think about what my life would be like without EBC and have been unable to imagine it.
I love EBC and all the students, Professors, and faculty. They have all impacted my life to an unimaginable degree and I am so very thankful for that. I love how I am constantly challenged and motivated to live more like Jesus. The staff doesn’t just teach you; they get to know you and become part of your life. They love you and care about you. It’s not just their job, it’s their passion and what God has called them to do. EBC may be small but it is powerful. It is changing the lives of many for the Glory of God. It is preparing and sending out students for/to the ministry and mission field. EBC faculty is not only teaching students how to live Gospel minded, it is showing them how to by their own lives. They teach not only in the classroom but by the fruits in their personal lives as well.
God is doing a work at EBC that is incomparable. He is using Eternity Bible College to mold students into a Gospel minded people who are passionate about sharing Jesus with everyone they come in contact with; not with words and hasty speech, but by the way they live their lives and by their actions. EBC is training students up in righteousness to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.
This is just a tiny glimpse into the work God is doing in my life at EBC. I hope that this has encouraged you to believe in EBC’s mission and purpose and empowered you to join in praying for EBC’s staff and students; that God would continue the work He is doing at EBC.
Christ is Risen,
I knew about EBC since it started. Mainly because my older sister began attending there my junior year, but also because my high school youth group gave a weekly sales pitch. Every tuesday night my parents made dinner for any student from the Eternity who wanted to come, which was most of them considering their dinner every other night was top ramen and diet coke. Plus, the admission lady lived at our house.
So yea, I knew about the place.
I started to truly follow Jesus sometime in 10th grade. I remember thinking, “If I am going to give Him my heart, I wont just give him pieces”. To me, going all in meant giving him my life. Eventually going oversees was a no brainer and meanwhile I was stuck in this torment called education. To pass time, I started playing water polo l and I was getting pretty good at it. Good enough to get me into the four year school of my dreams? Probably not. So I had to bring it home with the grades. However, school was never my forte, and lets be honest, my main drive to showing up for class was whatever boy I had a crush on that week. I quickly realized that just because of my girl genes, I had insta-maturity points, so those crushes were not going to peek my interest enough to get out of bed at 6:45am. The invention of off-campus lunch for those able to drive themselves became a problem junior year. Oh, I can go off campus at 12:15 and…never come back again?
Yea, I was into that.
I heard rumors about “getting involved” somehow with your high school played a part in getting accepted into colleges. I finally found someway to cheat the system: volunteer everywhere. A bit late in the game, but I joined Leadership on campus senior year. The group of girls I was most close to throughout those four years were pretty much running the thing. Each with a 3.8 or higher. When SAT’s came around I was going to opt out until all of them were signed up. Peer pressure has its strengths. True, they bought the SAT study book, were weekly tutored months in advance, and have already taken it multiple times, but I figured if I can take this test thing and do decent it is one step closer to getting out of California. All the while, I knew EBC was an option, but not the option I wanted.
So there I was, sitting in those half desk-chairs at Thousand Oaks high school waiting for the teacher to get finished with her no cheating on the SAT’s policy (blah blah blah). Of course, the first section was math. Last time I was in a math class was a year prior and I barely escaped the flames with a 60.02%.
Asking God to help me on something I worked so half-heartedly on seemed a bit off base. So I asked Him about His plan, about how He saw this all working out for my good.
“Okay, I get it. I really have no knowledge to offer these little titled bubbles that are so hard to fill in with a #2 pencil. You tell me what you want for my life”. Then there it was. That daunting feeling of the Bible College option that was so removed from my plan, but this time, I felt so much peace. Maybe it was because I knew I was going to fail this SAT big time, or because I was an average water polo player, or because my grades were stinky. But what I know, is that all those things were part of His plan. His good, perfect plan.
I now am 3 semesters deep at Eternity Bible College. People ask what I plan on doing with that education and I tell them, I have no idea. I am learning to love the no-plan plan.
I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I heard my parents talking about it. I had lived in the same house, had the same friends and gone to the same church my whole life. And now we were moving. My dad was the pastor of a small church in Alaska and my brother and I had been homeschooled since kindergarten. My parents had raised us to love Jesus with all our heart, mind and soul. Now at 13 my whole life was flipping upside down. I would learn to trust Jesus in a deeper way than ever before as he changed my heart and became my rock in this uncertain time of life.
God had been drawing me steadily closer to Himself. Throughout our family’s numerous moves He had been teaching me to trust Him. As a pastor’s daughter I rose to the challenge of being a leader at the different churches my dad pastored. My parents told me that I was a leader, even if I didn’t want to be the younger girls at church would watch me and learn from me. I felt the responsibility of living my life as an example of Christ, knowing that I could affect others for good.
When I was 15, my family and I moved to Maryland. As I got closer to finishing high school I began looking at my college options. I wanted to attend a Bible College to continue growing in my faith. I applied to my dad’s alma mater. I had visited the college a few times and liked it a lot, plus it was only a few hours from home. But the door seemed to close when I was put on the waiting list for the College. God knew what He was doing because a few months later my family and I were moving across the country to California!
“Hey Alise, so what do you want to do after you graduate from high school?” This question seemed to be on everyone’s lips before I even had a chance to come up with an intelligent sounding answer. Soon I would graduate and need to choose a college and a major, but the only thing I really ever wanted to do or be was a pastor’s wife. I wanted to live a life of ministry; I knew that wherever I was would be my mission field whether it was my school, work place, family or some tribe in Africa. So while I was trying to figure out life-after-high-school, I went to community college to work on my general education.
I still wanted to attend a Bible college, so I began looking at the ones in Southern California. I figured I could grow in my relationship with Jesus and find a guy who wanted to be a pastor and marry him; perfect plan right!? I thought so. I looked into a local Christian College and Eternity Bible College. The more I found out about EBC the more it sounded perfect for what I wanted. The school’s core values matched up exactly with the values I had been raised with. They believed in the authority of scripture and offered courses that rigorously studied the Bible. They encouraged service in the local church yet had a vision for the global church. They pushed students to love each other as the body of Christ. They pushed students to reach out and engage the secular culture around them including their neighbors, because there were no dorms at this college. In order to graduate students were required to go cross cultural on either a study abroad trip or mission trip. And despite all the rigorous study, Bible knowledge was not the main point of this college. Students would graduate with changed hearts that longed to humbly serve Jesus wherever He would lead. EBC keeps their costs as low as possible so that their students can graduate debt free and jump right into whatever ministry God would lead them into. I was sold.
My family and I drove an hour north from our home in southern California to visit the EBC campus. We pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall where a few of the buildings were labeled “Cornerstone” and “Eternity Bible College” right next to a dentist office and contracting company. There was no way I could know it at the time, but God would use this school in this strip mall to draw me closer to Him in deeper ways than I could have ever imagined.
Before the fall of 2008 I had never shared a room with anyone, I had never shared my clothes with anyone or had to buy my own groceries. I had never actually lived on my own before, but that was all about to change. I moved into a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with three other girls who I had never met in my life. They were new students at EBC too and that’s just about all we knew of each other. At student orientation we were all told that our first year at EBC would tear us down, things we believed before would be challenged and we would be stretched to the max. I wasn’t too scared because I figured I was pretty solid in my faith and knew exactly what I believed. As I plunged into my first semester I found out that though I was solid in my faith, it was being stretched and reshaped from hours of study in God’s Word every day. My professors were causing me to think through things from a biblical perspective and wrestle with scripture in ways I never had before. God was tearing me down in His own way so that I could be built back up into an even stronger Christian. I was taking 14 units at EBC and 2 units at Moorpark Community College; I was working 20 hours a week in retail and fitting in church ministry and long hours of homework. I was being emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally stretched.
Semesters multiplied and turned into years. I learned how to use a lexicon and commentaries. I learned that context is king and grammar rules. I learned about community and loving my brothers and sisters in Christ. I learned the importance of unity in the Spirit. My theology was fine-tuned based on what God says through His Word. I learned to bear other’s burdens and to cry with those who cry. And to laugh with those who laugh.
As I finish up my junior year and look forward to my senior year at EBC, it amazes me how much I have grown in just the past three years. God has blessed me with so much: amazing Bible teaching, incredible professors, close friends, a loving church family, exciting ministry opportunities, studying abroad, a comfortable home to live in, and jobs that provide income. However, I have recently come to truly know that none of these things satisfy. None of them are guaranteed, deserved or promised. Time changes things. Friendships change, people move away, friends hurt us, knowledge makes us proud, ministry burns us out, and money disappears, yet life moves on. If there is one thing I have learned from my experiences at EBC, it is that my Heavenly Father is the only sure and unchanging thing, the only thing worth giving everything for and the only thing that truly satisfies. This world is so messed up and entangled in sin and suffering. The more I see this the more beautiful Jesus becomes and the more I look forward to Him returning and making everything perfect again! I think, after loving Jesus for 23 years, I am finally figuring out what it really feels like to love the Creator of the universe, and to be loved back.
So, after EBC courses on biblical theology, hermeneutics, the Greek language, the history of civilization, discipleship counseling and advanced issues, and survey courses on almost every book in the Bible… I have come to the conclusion that the main purpose of my life is this: to love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. This is what God has taught me. This is what EBC has equipped me to be: a child in love with her Heavenly Father.
My name is Daniel Hickinbotham, I am 28, and I am a redeemed son of the King of Kings. This is my testimony of the great and wonderful works that God has accomplished in my life. I am going to keep it relatively short and PG, but you are welcome to reach out and ask me for help or any further questions. I have nothing to hide praise God!
I was born into a really faithful family. I say faithful because they weren’t all about the religion, they were all about the relationship. Seriously, behind Christ my salvation, my family is the greatest blessing in my life. I always knew that God loved me, because it was modeled so well in my family. I always knew that the Bible was the inspired Word of the only living God. We were encouraged to read it to understand what God wanted us to do. We were encouraged to love and serve others. We were encouraged to be all that the Bible told us we should be and promised we could be. Even still, the only thing my parents would say they might have done differently was to preach MORE Christ and a little less “being Christian”. I asked Christ to be my Savior at a summer camp and I meant it with all my heart, and I knew that I was no longer my own; my very being had changed. I believe, at that moment, I had put my hope in Christ for my eternity.
Here comes the ‘but’. At some point around the beginning of High School the call of the world sounded louder than the call of Christ. I felt confident that all was well because I was still “being Christian”: no smoking, no drinking, no drugs, no sex. But there was a far more insidious idol that began creeping into my heart. Self. I began to covet the adoration of men and the affection of women. I began to thrive off the laud of teachers and the praise of my parents. Slowly but surely I began to be my own obsession. On the outside I was respectful, diligent, and ‘righteous,’ but I did all things in order to bring glory and honor to myself. I boasted in my faith, not because of the value of Christ, but because it made me exceptional among my peers. I treated women with respect because it incited them to long after me. I was kind and helpful to the unpopular because it made me more popular. I was truly a whitewashed tomb, experiencing ever diminishing effects from my selfishly motivated action, and walking alone in my self-determined identity.
The night I graduated from High School was the night I got drunk for the first time. To say I was enthralled is an understatement. I had discovered something that allowed me to be free from the paralyzing fear that is the ultimate consequence of a self-centered life. I could cross any boundary of decency or morality that before had been off-limits. It seemed to be everything I had been looking for to quell and abolish the disquiet and revulsion that had germinated in my spirit over the course of the back-sliding. The next 6 years was condemned to confusion, despair, failure, and pain. The summer of 2001 marked the beginning of a glut of broken and brutal relationships, dismissals from universities, spiritual and moral bankruptcy, sexual perversion, hundreds of instances of driving drunk, and most painfully at the time the return of the paralyzing fear with no means of escape through what had become my ever present companion: alcohol. Honestly, I was addicted to anything that made me feel different, but whenever the women or drugs ran out, alcohol was there to return to. By the end I had lost the power of choice when it came to booze. Horrifically, in light of my knowledge of Christ and my ‘commitment’ to Him, I had enslaved myself to another master. I hated myself for it. Insane, physically ill, despairing of life, and convinced that I was merely a disappointment to God, I know that I was soon to kill someone else or myself.
Then Jesus saved me. December 7th, 2007 the Lord used Alex Arnett of the Oxnard PD to reach into my life and arrest my descent. Humorously He literally did it through an arrest, but I am entirely grateful for it! On a night that seemed exactly the same as every other night I spent at a bar and drove home drunk, I turned down the right alley at the right time and the rest is Christ’s story. I was exposed for the drunken liar that I was. I was freed from the burden of deceit and pretense I had been laboring to maintain. The chains of my addiction were struck from me that night. The Lord has kept me sober each day since, released from the obsession to drink and use, and pressing in hard after Him. He has called me to preach the Gospel. He has redeemed me to restore the broken-hearted and to proclaim freedom for the captives. Graciously, He has rescued me so that I might proclaim release from darkness for those who are prisoners; those who are prisoners such as I once was.
Whereas before I was mainly relating to others’ relationships with Christ, today I have a relationship with the living Son of God! I know that He is alive and moving in this world because one day I was a hopeless drunk, and the next day I had hope and was free. It happened not of my own will, but because God was revealing His power and claim over my life. As I continue to chase after the ministry that He is leading me into, an orthodox and relevant biblical education has become a vital next step. Primarily, my prayer and intention is that, through deepening my understanding of the Scriptures, I will be equipped to draw people most effectively into the person and work of Jesus in this world. Practically, a degree opens doors for the Gospel to go forward. Relationally, the discipleship and fellowship of growing in the knowledge of the glorious grace and Gospel of Christ is priceless.
EBC has provided an environment where Christ and His glory hold primacy, spiritual development is not divorced from intellectual pursuit, and the opportunity to receive excellent, holistic, biblical instruction has been redeemed for those who cannot afford an expensive educations or, as in my case, who cannot gain access to other “more established” institutions because of a broken past. I am only 16 units in but already it is an answer to my prayer, as I know it has been for others!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and may the incomparable grace of our Lord Jesus be with you always!
Hi! My name is Kat Cooke, and I am a second-semester twenty-two-year-old at EBC. I like to share a bit about myself, so I’m going to start with wonderful news: I have recently become an aunt for the second time to a beautiful baby boy, Noah Jacob. I am the youngest of three, with two parents who love Jesus and each other more than words could express. I am SO blessed to have a family like mine – no one else would put up with me.
I will start at the beginning: I was raised in a Christian home by my two wonderful parents in Maryland, but I myself did not submit my life to Christ until the age of twenty. I spent the first twenty years of my life thinking that because I knew about God and Jesus and the Bible, I was “saved”. My idea of salvation was very skewed, and I lived my life under the assumption that I could do whatever I wanted with whomever I wanted, but I wouldn’t have to pay the consequences. I had my “Get out of Hell free!” card, and I lived a very wanton, hurtful, selfish life. Now, I know a lot of people tell their testimonies, and you think, “Okay, so you did something bad. What, did you say a swear word or something?” I won’t go into all the details here, but I will say that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at fifteen, and got involved in bad relationship after bad relationship. I hated my life, and I didn’t know how to fix it.
I moved to New York when I was eighteen, following my parents. I had lived on my own for about a year, but, after a series of poor decisions and suicide attempts, I didn’t know where else to go. So moving back in with the parents it was.
After a year and a half in NY, I started going to my parents’ church, and got plugged in with an amazing small group. Seriously, second to my family, they have been some of the most wonderful and influential people in my life. In November of 2008, I realized my life was a total wreck, and that I had ruined other peoples’ as a result. I basically told God, “Look, I suck at life. I don’t know how to do this right, but I know You created it, and You sent us Jesus to show us how to live it. You need to do something here.” His response? “Finally, she gets it!”
So what does all of this have to do with EBC? Well, as their mission statement says, they desire to teach students to live and die well. Never being one for school, God led me to here to help further answer my request two years ago: teach me how to live right. So I packed up my bags, moved to the other side of the country, and am writing this in the living room of my apartment in Simi Valley, CA.
EBC is not your typical college. There is no huge, fancy campus, because they want students to be able to get an amazing Biblical education at a reasonable price. It’s very small, which I love, because I get to talk to the professors, and we actually know what goes on in each others’ lives. I was telling one of my friends (that went to another college) the other day how our president has lunch with a group of students once a week, and anyone is welcome to come. He was surprised, responding that he had only ever seen his college’s president twice – at orientation and graduation. We don’t have on-campus housing, because the school wants us to live out what we are learning and be involved in our communities. This is not a “Christian bubble” college.
My favorite thing about EBC, though, is that I don’t feel like I’m in college. This is more like advanced discipleship. We get to learn about the God of the Bible, the universe, and my life. We get to learn how to read the Bible in a way that reveals more and more of God’s character to us, and how to live our lives according to this knowledge. We get to learn how to have Biblical, God-honoring relationships, and how to function well in the Body of Christ. We get to learn how to think, not just what to think.
This is not a school where you mutter, “Dang, I have to go to this class again…” This is a school where you are EXCITED to go to class because you have the joy and opportunity to learn more about the Triune God.
I’ve only been here seven months, but I know God is already using this college to change my thinking, to stretch and grow me, to edify and be used in His body, to His glory. I am excited to see what the next three years will bring.
I started my schooling at EBC about 6 years ago. I was just married the previous summer and worked as a youth pastor at my church. At first, I did poorly in my schoolwork. Pride had made me overly confident in my ability to pass the classes the way I had previously done in my previous college courses. The classes at EBC challenged me to the point where I was put on academic probation. God used this to sober me up.
Shortly after wrecking my first semester, I learned why EBC had placed such high and difficult standards – to wake up college students like myself. In life, we get through by the grace of God alone and that applies to my schooling as well. I learned the necessity of prayer going through the semester. I learned the significance of the study I was privileged to take part in. I learned that it was more than schoolwork but an opportunity for worship. These principles refined my attitude and the way I undertook the rest of my courses.
Not only was I growing as a student, but my ministry began to take shape as well. What I was learning at EBC I would turn around and apply it toward the youth group that I was entrusted with. To draw students into the youth group I let go of empty fun and games and placed the majority of my attention on teaching well the word of God. God blessed this approach and began to draw in students hungry for God. My ministry is a way off from being perfect, but it has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to God and what He is doing through the teaching at EBC.
Within this last year, I have even had the privilege of preaching for the Sunday morning worship service. The response I received was clearly a result of God’s work in my life. Hearing stories of how people were spending more time with the families, a handful of hurting people sharing how the message meant a great deal to them given all they were going through, and other stories of the fruit being produced in the body was again a clear sign that God had been working through me.
I frequently tell people if you have appreciated anything I have preached on to give thanks to God because it is Him who uses people like me to edify the body in these ways. I know that I have no business claiming the honor when I would have a mild panic attack speaking in any public situation. But when I preach I get excited and not nervous because I have something of true value worth sharing. This, of course, being thanks to everything that EBC has taught me and equipped me with.
Nothing in my life is the same. The way my wife and I parent our children has been entirely changed due to the teaching at EBC. The youth group I lead has changed a great deal because of EBC. My church is now being changed as I grow within it – all thanks to what EBC has done for my life.
I do have to express my gratitude to the professors as well. If it were not for these godly men, I would have left ministry years ago, frustrated and hurt. They spent time with me over lunch, walks, and meetings to pray for, counsel, and guide me through a very difficult time in my life and ministry. There are many professors that I will never forget because of the genuine care and love they showed me during this time.
All this to say, praise God Almighty for His blessing on EBC and the professors that work so hard at shaping lives to be more effective and passionate in continuing the work of the Lord Jesus Christ! To God be the glory for what He is doing at EBC! I owe an endless amount of praise to Him for EBC and for all that they have done in my life.
I always found myself hanging out with the wrong crowd and it just brought me down. After a while I just didn’t hang out with anyone at school at all, so that made it very hard. I didn’t want to go to college because I thought it would end up being the same way, but my friend, Beau, told me about EBC and let me sit in on the Foundations class, which I ended up loving. I decided, I did want to go to college, and I made the right choice. I can feel God’s presence at this school, and I have made a lot of friends here as well.
God truly blessed me with EBC, I’m so glad it was His plan for me to come here. Not only have I been blessed at EBC, but through EBC I have gotten the courage to reach out to others, and make a lot more friends outside of school (Christian and non Christian), and God guided me to the friends He knew would be a good influence, or I could be a good influence on. I can’t stop thanking God for all that He has done for me since my journey started at Eternity Bible College.
When people think of Ireland I don’t think that they would ever think of it being demonically dark. They would probably think instead of leprechauns, st. paddy’s day, Guinness and maybe that the majority of Ireland is catholic.
I did grow up a Catholic but I delved into a lot of demonic things as I grew up. I was very aware of Satan and his demons and I had dabbled in the Ouija board and such things when I was a teenager (I have some crazy stories). When I became 17 I started to practice Buddhism. It was very much mixed with a lot of New Age stuff so any true Buddhist would be offended. But Satan was crafty because he masqueraded the whole thing under another way to worship God as a catholic. They would openly speak of Jesus and God but I didn’t realize at the time that they were not speaking of them the way the Bible refers to them.
I began to get curious of the Bible and wanted to know more about it so I started to pray and ask God to teach me His word, among other things. Well God certainly answered my prayers just not at all the way I wanted, naturally . The last time that I met with the group to meditate was a really big turning point for me toward finally realizing the God of the universe. We were meeting in a big room in a hotel and there were quite a number of us. Some crazy spiritual things were happening that day and even though the heat was on I was shaking and shivering. Everyone gave me their jackets but I could not warm up. People began to chant over me and nothing would cease the iceberg feeling over my body. Everyone got attacked that day in various different ways and when I left the room I no longer was cold. I knew something weird was going down and I thought then that Satan was attacking us because we were the ‘chose ones’. How wrong I was!!
Well over a matter of five months God broke down everything in my life and remove the things that I loved so dear and brought me to my knees. I came to know the Lord (March 12, 2004) and met my husband all around the same three weeks (long story ).
But he lived in California and so we began to have a long distance relationship until we got married in 2005.
I was attending a church in Ireland and was growing so much in the Lord. At the time I was finishing a BA in Speech and Drama but I began to long to go to Bible College. I really wanted to know more about the Bible and be able to answer so many questions that I had. But at the time there was no Bible College in Ireland and the nearest one was in Germany. So I just knew that if it was God’s will that when we got married hopefully I could attend Bible College here in the US.
So I began to pray about it and when we got married I got a visitor visa to come here and stay while my husband’s citizenship processed (He’s Filipino!). Well that was June 2005 and by Jan 2006 his citizenship got denied because he had gone to the Philippines to study to become a pastor and had been out of the country so long that he messed up his five years necessary to apply for citizenship.
Anyway, as a result my visa expired and I had no status to stay in the country so I had to leave in March 2006. A long two years went by as we waited (apart) for his citizenship and consequently my green card. After the two years were up praise God I got my green card and arrived back in the states on April 15, 2008.
I had been praying this whole time that God would allow me to go to Bible school but I was well aware of the costs and knew that we could not afford it. So, I began to pray to God a crazy prayer that only He could answer. I asked the Lord for three requirements for Bible College. 1) That God would make a way for it to be affordable. 2) That it would not be far from our house in Los Angeles. 3) That God would find a school that was sound doctrinally. I knew that if God did not answer my prayer than it was entirely His choice for me not to go to Bible College and that He could train me Himself.
Just before I arrived back to the states two deacons from our church here had heard about EBC and asked my husband (the pastor) to go with them to check it out and to give His opinion. He came onto the phone with me that night very excited telling me all about this great school that was so affordable and was really sound doctrinally and saying that we should check it out as soon as I get back. (He did not know anything about the specifics of my prayer only that I wanted to go).
When I arrived to California we went to check out EBC and they took me through the whole concept of how EBC was designed to be affordable and a good education. They explained how the school was set up because they didn’t believe that people should have to go into debt just to get a Bible education and that if God called a person to serve Him that they wouldn’t say no on the basis of debt.
I applied for EBC to begin in August 2008 and now I’m at the end of my third year here. I have been transformed by the wonderful way in which they teach the gospel. The more I have been here the more I love this school as it has transformed my thinking on how to be a Christian, how to live for Jesus, to bring Him the most glory. They are constantly challenging us with projects that motivate us to think of how we can live out the gospel on a daily basis.
The fact that they do not have a huge campus with dorms is so wonderful, as it really motivates us students to be constantly a ‘doer of the word and not just a hearer’. I am so glad that they do not simply teach a bunch of knowledge in order that we become arrogant. But instead they rebuke that behavior within us and call us to constantly think of how we ought to be living for Jesus.
I am so tremendously blessed to be able to go to Bible school as I am in a huge minority (Perhaps less than 1%) in Ireland of those who have had the privilege to go to Bible school and study His word. It will be a joy to be able to take God’s word back to my country and confidently share it now thanks to the blessing of EBC.
I know the darkness that Ireland faces and to be equipped with the truth of the gospel is a wonderful privilege and blessing for me as I go back to try and lead others out of that darkness and into the light of Jesus. I know without a doubt that God has blessed me truly with EBC and I really hope that many more after me will also get to enjoy the same wonderful privilege.
I remember when I was younger, I was the girl that all the parents at church told their kids not to hang out with. Sometimes they wouldn’t want their kids to hang out with me because they thought my swimsuit was too revealing, or that I was too loud. Sometimes it was because I sat by boys in youth group, or that I would sit in the back during the lesson. This all gave them the impression that I had problems, but instead of helping me work through the crap in my life, they quarantined me to a place that everyone pitied at a distance.
They were right, I wasn’t a good kid and I did have problems. And because I could tell they didn’t care enough to help, I started to really hate church, and the people in it. They were intimidating, and so unwelcoming. People would say, “Hi, Joylissa.” With their churchy smiles, and I would say hi back with my own smile, and that would be that. There was no further communication, and there was absolutely no relationship.
This hardened me to Christianity which had been something I wanted so much when I was little, but as far as I could see, Mom and Dad fought a lot though they went to church and were thought of as Christians and the people who were supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ felt a lot less like family than the friendly kids at school who partied on the weekends.
Slowly I made myself part of the popular crowd and that was nice because they hung out all the time. That meant I could spend less time at home, where yelling had become the most common form of communication.
So I started dating boys and drinking every weekend, as was the norm for the popular kids. I was constantly depressed, but I felt less sad when I was hanging out with my friends or “drinking my sorrows away” as some poetic people would call it.
My mom, who has always been a Christian but has gone through some rough stuff, wanted me to go to this thing call “World Changers” for a very long time. My youth group (that I went to as little as possible) had gone to it for years, and both my brother and my sister loved it when they went in high school. I finally agreed to go to it the summer before my junior year. World Changers in a week long mission trip where a number of youth groups go and work on a certain broken part of a house that the owner cannot afford to fix. The youth groups are split up, where one or two of them is assigned a crew with kids from other youth groups.
It was the night before we left when I smoked weed for the first time. I had always sworn I wouldn’t do it, so when I did it I hit my breaking point. I honestly don’t think I could have hated myself more than I did then. It was perfect because it left me vulnerable, and empty. I was able to be surrounded by kids from other youth groups, my age who had no idea about who I was or what people thought of me. They loved Jesus!
On the Wednesday night of that week there was a concert of prayer, and one part of it was we could come up and write on a big black sheet of paper everything that was between us and God in black pen. This made it so no one could see it. I went up there, and that was the moment where everything changed.
When I got home I told my mom everything I had done, and started taking school online because I knew at that point in my faith, that I couldn’t be around the same kids at school while staying strong in my walk with Christ.
I started playing guitar and writing songs. Before that I had always hated playing guitar, and though my Dad had wanted me to practice, I wouldn’t so we were about to sell the guitar he had bought for me. Good thing we didn’t sell it because I do believe that God’s plan for me is to pursue a career in secular music, and be used by Him to make a difference in the music industry.
A lot of things happened in those two and a half years or so and now I’m in Simi Valley. I believe that God lead me to Eternity Bible College because I needed a good foundation and knowledge of him to be able to do what he has planned for me. I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ so much since coming here, and I’ve become more and more confident and at peace with His plan for me with every break down, conflict, lesson, and word of encouragement that I’ve experienced since coming down here.
I cannot imagine where I would be if I had gone anywhere else, and I’m more in love with Christ than I thought was possible when I was that lonely kid in the back of the church. Not only do I love Christ more, but I am amazed at how much He loves me. I am joyful because of this, and am so excited for what he has already planned out, will do in the future.