Category: Feature

A Taste of Heaven: Abigail Gunning’s College Journey – By Carissa Arend

A Care Unlike Anywhere Else

“I’ve had people care for me when I’m in tears. Hearing people tell me I’m special––‘You’re important; we love you; you have a special place in my heart.’ From peers, I don’t think I’ve ever heard those words, or anything like them.”

Abigail Gunning’s hands gesticulated with elation and her eyes were bright with joy as she reminisced about her first semester at The Master’s University.

“I never even expected to go to college.” Gunning said, sterling silver earrings swinging as she shook her head in amazement. Now a student at Master’s, she can look back and said she sees a consistent pattern of God’s guidance in her life.

As an only child, Gunning grew up spending much time with her parents. Gunning’s mother legally became her tutor in Pennsylvania and began to homeschool her from sixth grade through the end of high school. Each summer, her dad––“Papa”–– gave her a summer challenge to complete, such as listening to all of John MacArthur’s sermons on Genesis. Though she’s been at Master’s for nearly a semester, Gunning’s relationship with her parents has remained steadfast.

Continue reading “A Taste of Heaven: Abigail Gunning’s College Journey – By Carissa Arend”

Hebert leaving chapel band, but not the music – by Ellie Kindlund

hebertHe called the audience to its feet, but this time the setting wasn’t Bross Gym.

Sam Hebert, in a T-shirt and jeans, stood at the edge of the ornate stage of the historic Mount Baker Theater with his acoustic guitar. Mic stands and amps, for the two large bands’ following performances, surrounded him.

Grinning, he invited the audience to sing along with him in one of the set’s four original songs. He got them to clap along and garnered whoops for his spoken word riffs. Outside, his first merchandise sold in the hall beside the Kings Kaleidoscope table.

The Seattle-based 10-piece alternative rock band headlined the concert, a benefit for Skookum Kids, an organization aiding healthy transitions into foster care. The online concert ad promised, “Add newcomer, Sam Hebert, and this should be a show to remember!” It was his first show, but he isn’t new to playing before big crowds.

Continue reading “Hebert leaving chapel band, but not the music – by Ellie Kindlund”

Back on the Track – By Jonathan Wais

ingoldsby-rachaelThe pistol cracked on the afternoon of April 28, signaling Rachael Ingoldsby and the six other women to begin the 3000m Steeplechase at the 2016 GSAC Championships. Ingoldsby raced into the wind, clearing each hurdle as it came. Then she felt her right knee slam into a hurdle. It hurt, but she kept running.

A few laps from the finish line, an opposing runner pulled even with Ingoldsby. Both girls ran stride for stride approaching the eight-foot water jump. They leaped and pushed off the hurdle. The other girl face planted in the water but Ingoldsby landed on her feet kept and running—leaving the past behind and focusing on what lay ahead.

Ingoldsby ran her first 3000m Steeplechase for The Master’s College at Occidental Distance Carnival on March 11, 2015. She clocked 11:40.15 and came eight seconds short of the “B” standard she needed to qualify for the 2015 NAIA National Championships.

Continue reading “Back on the Track – By Jonathan Wais”

Lui’s Hotchstitch a hit – By Samantha Dick

From Smith Smoothies to the recently launched Hotchstitch, the entrepreneurial spirit runs high at The Master’s College. Students are becoming increasingly creative and successful at meeting the needs of their peers. Most recently, Fall Thing was the buzz of the campus, and freshman communication major, Jenna Lui, found a way to bring in clients for her new sewing company, Hotchstitch.

Hotchstitch is a sewing company that I started in September. I think it was the week after WOW [Week of Welcome] week,” says Lui. “I saw that there was a need for sewing and for someone to fix things within Hotchkiss at least. I figured I have my sewing machine, so I might as well fulfill that need and make a few bucks off of it if I can.”

Continue reading “Lui’s Hotchstitch a hit – By Samantha Dick”

Tilton, Good launch Finn Goods, online retail phone case and tee shirt designs — By Kelsey Kukaua

Behind every self- started business is the story of the businessperson. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn introduces a boyhood hero known for surpassing societal norms while living in a fun, carefree way. The character Huck Finn was the inspiration for the original brand, Finn Goods, which produces custom wooden phone cases and apparel.

Established in the beginning of April by students from The Master’s College, Finn associates have worked to spread the word of this rising franchise around campus.

TMC sophomore, Justin Tilton, is leading this company in finance, design, and direction. As a business major studying marketing and finance, Tilton’s aspirations for growing Finn Goods has proven to be the perfect platform in gaining first time experience.

“My dad always told me that it’s best to work for yourself, so I’ve always known that if I could, I would like to run my own business. So I figured the best thing to do would be to start young, when you don’t need as much money as you do when you’re older. If nothing else came of it, at least I’d get experience,” Tilton said.

Finn Goods is a California brand that offers individually engraved wooden phone cases and graphic T-shirts. Their goal is to target audiences of similar age, ranging from 16-25 year-olds, who share an appreciation for resembling interests.

“[Finn Goods] is very genuine. Like whatever we do is what we enjoy and we do it because we want to do it…People like stuff that other people are excited about,” Tilton said.

Most of the shirt designs use images of the ocean and palm trees, but the brand is not to be mistaken for a surfing company. This outdoor style still strives to reflect the hobbies its creators take part in, surfing being one of them.

“We’re going for a vibe where if you listen to the band The 1975 or The Neighborhood, that vibe you hear in your head,” Tilton said.

This idea originated with an attempt by Tilton to hand craft a pair of wooden sunglasses after losing his previous ones. Searching online he came across a website selling wooden phone cases, which sparked the idea to offer custom designs for a cheaper price.

“Our motto is to have fun while getting the job done. We would never design a phone case we wouldn’t use ourselves,” Tilton said.

The art of phone case production takes about 40 minutes involving set up, engraving the image requested, and holding two sessions for the final staining of the wood.

“Essentially we’d want them to know that whatever they buy, it’s actually something that we’ve invested in and something we think people would like,” Tilton said.

From there, the company flourished to more than just phone cases. By reaching out to three other designers, they launched an expansion of graphic T-shirt designs for males.

“In regards to the consumer market, you fill the need and then you make it. So essentially people don’t really know what they want until they are told,” Tilton said.

Assisting Tilton is Pearson Good, a freshman communications major monitoring company advertisements and sales.

“We just like being creative. It’s personality being explored; it started as a project first, like something to do, but then it turned into something to express our creativity,” Good said.

Described as a people person by Tilton, Good has lined up major names such as singer Cody Simpson and rapper Jez Dior to represent the brand.

“At first we were going to everyone to get people to buy our stuff, but now we have them actually coming to us, interested in the brand,” Good said.

Social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter have played a vital role in exposing Finn Goods as a credible company to its consumers. Surpassing 1,000 followers on both social mediums has allowed the company to grow a fan base and make connections with people.

The beginning productions proved slow because of limited designs, but Finn Goods is hopeful for their future visions of the company.

“We got plans,” said Tilton, “It’s about the rate we expected for now, but once girls stuff starts coming out, that’s when sales will start jumping a lot.”

There has been discussion about introducing at least two more male shirt designs, a woman’s line, and accessories.

“The sky is the limit for Finn,” said TMC sophomore Jason Karkenny, who is also a loyal customer.

By Kelsey Kukaua

A TMC tradition: Summer soccer camps — By Kinley Kane

SoccerEach summer the TMC men’s soccer coach Jim Rickard and about 10 to 12 selected players from the men’s and women’s soccer teams come together to run two five-day soccer camps for kids 14 and younger. Campers arrive each day at 8 a.m. and then spend seven hours doing soccer drills, tactics, lessons and scrimmages. Aside from the sport components, they receive Bible time, a lunch meal in the cafeteria and an hour of swimming at the Hotchkiss dorm pool.

“Our camps started in 1987, my sophomore year of college,” Rickard said, “Why do we do camps? One reason is to get the community kids on campus. I would say 30% are Christian kids from the local churches and about 70% are unchurched kids. It’s a way to expose the community to The Master’s College and who we are. That’s why we take time each day of camp to have Bible time where we talk about the gospel with them.”

In addition to the ministry opportunities, summer camps such as the soccer camp give the college players a way to earn money during the summer in a coaching position.

“What is unique about our camp is that we have our college players training the kids and so not only do the kids have the chance to talk about soccer knowledge and skills but they are getting to interact with our players and seeing the college level athlete in a Christian,” Rickard said.

Natatsha Coyle, a senior on the women’s team, has experienced coaching at four camps with Rickard. She started working even before her freshman year.

“It was so neat. I got to meet a ton of people from the guys and girls programs and get familiar with the school before I came in,” Coyle said, “After working the first camp I definitely looked forward to each summer because of the camps. It was a lot of hard work dealing with so many kids but it’s really rewarding in a lot of senses. The younger girls who come to participate really look up to us as older athlete’s and women. It’s really fun for them to see and meet us college girls as well as provide examples for them with what they could be and what they can do in the aspects of improving their skills but also just having an absolute blast with the sport.”

Rickard has seen college players grow as they coach. They learn valuable lessons by having a plan each day for training and teaching tactics and technicalities.

“The best part is just seeing the college players interacting with young people and sharing their enthusiasm for the game of soccer,” Rickard said. “The camp provides our college players with a professional interaction to a coaching level. It’s fun and I hope to see most of them at one point coaching after college.”

As there is a coach-to-college-player interaction there is also a college-player-to-camper interaction.

“My favorite memory from the camps was seeing how quickly the kids grew close to each of us,”Coyle said, “By the end of the week at pool time they would start to chant each of our names getting us to jump in the freezing cold pool…It’s so cool how something like that can be the highlight of their week.”

Rickard was a coach for the summer soccer camps when he played for the men’s team. Sitting on one of the shelves in his office is a soccer ball that was given back to him from a former camper at the time, who had received the “player of the camp week” award. This ball is covered with faded autographs by Rickard and his college teammates.

“It was super cool that he had kept it and gave it back to me 17 years later.” Rickard said.

By Kinley Kane

IBEX, AMBEX, GO teams carry students worldwide – By Desi Buchanan

EarthThe Master’s College has always had a large global impact. Since 1998, they have sent out more than 1700 students on Global Outreach (GO) teams to countries around the world. It is a branch of the school that many students are familiar with, either through personal involvement or support of their peers.

Another branch of TMC that students customarily hear about is the opportunity to study abroad. Programs such as the Israel-Bible Extension (IBEX) and American-Bavarian Exchange Program (AMBEX) are often mentioned in chapel or heard in lectures while attending classes.

Sabrina Michael is just one of many students who have experienced a study abroad program and then participated in a GO team. Although the two international trips may initially have different purposes, there is a connection that can’t be denied.

Michael attended AMBEX in the fall of 2014, and spent three months studying and traveling around Europe. Her journey included seven different countries and the chance to see the world from a new perspective. As a part of the AMBEX program, she served with Lifestream Church, located in Regensburg, Germany. In addition to serving on Sundays, leading Bible studies and helping lead congregational worship, the AMBEX group had the chance to spend time evangelizing to students at the local university campus.

“It was really amazing seeing how the body of Christ isn’t defined by language, cultural barriers, who you are or where you come from or your social status. Christ isn’t bound by that. He surpasses all of that. Being able to see that in an experiential setting was amazing,” Michael said.

Near the end of her semester, Michael was asked if she would consider being a part of a GO trip. Finances were a cause for concern — after spending three months traveling, money was not something she had in abundance. But despite her worry, the funds were supplied, along with enormous support and encouragement from her peers and family. For four weeks this summer, she will be traveling once again to London to host a theatre day camp and soccer games for the local Muslim-Pakistani community.

Michael believes that her time spent studying abroad was influential in her decision to participate in missions through TMC.

“It made me realize that there are so many people that don’t know Christ, who are lost. In the Great Commission, we are called to go. We are called to share the gospel and love other people passionately, like Christ loves us,” Michael said. “It gave me a heart and a motivation to really love people — not just people who speak my language, but in all different cultural contexts.”

Rachael LaCom was also a member of Michael’s AMBEX group. In addition, LaCom attended IBEX in fall of 2013. She has been to a total of ten countries in the last two years, including Israel, Germany, England, Spain and Italy.

LaCom grew to love not only the opportunity to travel, but also the people she met along the way. She was affected by the spiritual darkness that permeated the cultures she visited and learned about. The lack of strong churches opened her eyes to the deprivation of truth in many countries around the world.

LaCom will be traveling to three additional countries (Kosovo, Croatia and Albania) as part of a GO trip with TMC’s Chorale choir group this summer. For two weeks, they will be ministering to the people through music performances and investing in local believers.

In addition, LaCom has been accepted as a GO team leader for the next school year. She believes her the desire for missions originated with her time abroad.

“Studying abroad definitely changed the way I think about missions and other countries and taking the gospel there because I got to see the necessity firsthand,” LaCom said. “It has shown me that there is a need and it gives me that desire to try to be involved and do something about that. Being a part of a missions trip is very practical way of doing that.”

Both Michael and LaCom advocate participating in a study abroad program while in college. The Master’s College offers AMBEX and IBEX, as well as resources for various programs through other colleges.

“If anyone has the opportunity to go and study abroad, they need to do it. Whether its IBEX or AMBEX or through another school. Because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Michael said. “In college, you’re not tied down to jobs or marriage, or a lot of the responsibilities that will come after college. It’s your time to be independent and figure out how to be in the world. There’s a bigger world out there, and it doesn’t all revolve around you.”

By Desi Buchanan

Team London off to evangelize Muslim community — By Stacey Schuett

London GoPutting together a Global Outreach Team is a long process involving dozens of students and 20-30 different locations. At the end of every spring semester at The Master’s College, King Hall is frequented by students putting together final pieces for their trips ahead. Yet there is more beneath the surface of fundraisers and the jokes dropped in chapel.

About 25-30 locations contact Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, Director of Global Outreach, each year requesting teams. TMC is able to send teams to about 10 of those destinations. This year one of them is London, England. GO Leader Lindsey Mullin, a senior at TMC, says her initial reaction to London was a surprise. She thought it couldn’t be a missions trip because they wouldn’t be living in huts and it is already an English speaking population.

“I didn’t even know London was an option,” she said.

Matt and Kimberly Davis, alumni of TMC, were described by Mullin as a missionary couple who have a heart for London and its people. Striving to use their gifts to further the gospel there, the Davis’s have been working with the London City Mission, affiliated with around 100 organizations, one of which is a coffee house, run by believers seeking to engage the Muslim community.

“The goal of our mission is to establish better relationships between London City Mission and the actual people in East London,” Mullin said. “Establishing connections with the actual people and the families is a lot harder.”

Barboza, along with his seven teammates, will be holding after-school programs in the park next to the coffee house teaching young children how to play soccer. They will also host theater and arts camps. In addition, the team plans to play soccer pick-up games with Muslim men who frequent the park.

“I am excited for their opportunity to participate in some drama activities.” LaGeorge said. “They will be able to really see how that would work out in a ministry context.”

Alex Barboza, a junior, sees the strategic possibilities of where they are going to serve East London, he says, “Is somewhere in the 90th percentile of Muslim population.”

When the team began learning about their trip and the population, they were given helpful tools for evangelizing. According to Barboza, John Azar, head of the Arabic community at Grace Community Church, spoke about the culture.

“He was telling us different things about Muslims and Allah. The one name Allah isn’t, is love.” Barboza said. “And that will be a great tool to reach out to them, showing them that our God is love. They don’t really understand what they read. They just read it and believe it.

La George has worked with almost 135 teams, 85 of which have been under her leadership. Working with so many teams of students has given LaGeorge the opportunity to observe lives change as they see the work of God through their stories.

“A lot of times students underestimate the work of God in their lives. They can’t see how God can use their story.” LaGeorge said, “It’s the word that’s the power and the Spirit that works through the Word. It’s not your story that is the powerful thing.”

To LaGeorge, seeing students come to this realization is why she sits in her office everyday.

GO Team leader applicants go through an interview process, once they are accepted, LaGeorge determines their strengths taking into account their majors and their specific skill sets. Then, with the information she builds, she pairs them with a student who “has not similar but complementary vocational training.”

In regards to the team itself, LaGeorge stresses that teams are put together with consideration of who will work well together and as young people “who have a heartbeat for the vocation and a heartbeat for the location.”

Gender poses a problem for LaGeorge at times, there are not many young men who apply for GO trips, “I want to make sure we have about two guys, my preference is three guys to go with every trip.” LaGeorge said. “But it is much easier to spread out the young women”

LaGeorge recalls a team a while back that worked with refugees from the flesh trade in Thailand,

“We had 8 spots, and 17 woman who applied for 4 of those spots,” she said.

LaGeorge, Barboza and Mullin are aware of some specific challenges they may face on their trip. Issues stretching anywhere from getting caught up in the tourist mentality of London, to dealing with the quirks and habits of each individual. Sarcasm is something Barboza sees as a possible challenge.

“I think sarcasm will be our biggest thing” Barboza said. “We know when to be serious, but we are a really sarcastic group so hopefully that doesn’t affect us.”

Mullin believes the group gets along well. She says it is encouraging to see how the group takes certain situations, whether funny or serious.

“Seeing that willingness and the cohesiveness has made being a leader so much easier,” Mullin said.

GO teams have a large financial need they must address. Each team comes up with creative ways to raise money to meet these needs. Team London leaders Sam Hebert, a junior at TMC and Mullin met with their teammates to brainstorm ideas deciding which ideas most marketable to students and faculty on TMC campus.

Team London camped outside the Music Recital Hall at North Campus during TMC Theater Arts Great Expectations performances, selling coffee and snacks. Held a night of music at Honu, a local coffee shop that donated a percentage of their proceeds from the event. Attendees of this particular fundraiser said the line for drinks was out the door of the coffee shop throughout the night. They also held a fundraiser at Cold Stone. At the time of the interview, Mullin calculated the donations they made to about a thousand dollars.

“As a leader it has been super helpful to see how supportive the whole campus is of the GO program.” Mullin said. “To know that even while we will be several times zones away we still have a great support system back here is super encouraging.”

As the team prepares for weeks leading up to their departure, they remain thankful, hopeful and excited for the trip ahead.

“The Lord has been really gracious with our team.” Mullin said.

Barboza expressed that he is looking forward to using the gifts the Lord has given him as a tool to share the gospel. All the while, praying that even when are tired they will continue to keep their eyes focused on the Lord.

The team will be having a landing party on campus the evening of June 10 to publicly share their experiences and pray for their time in England.

By Stacey Schuett

Off campus BBQ event fires up Oak Manor – By Keylin Portillo

BBQThe smell of baby back ribs welcomed The Master’s College students as they entered Oak Manor on a Friday afternoon. Hosted by the Off Campus staff, the BBQ Dinner offered an afternoon of fun and fellowship.

Immediately after work, Steve Ross rushed to Oak Manor, fired up the grill, and began barbequing on the patio. He worked alongside TMC junior Cari Logston, who decorated cupcakes.

In previous years, the off-campus leadership team was larger, allowing for greater planning and executing of events. This year, the team consists only of Ross, the resident director of commuter life and Logston, the off-campus commuter assistant. Several weeks before the event, the two brainstormed ideas for a large semester event. They settled on the BBQ Dinner.

This was the first off-campus event of the semester. Although difficult to execute with only two team members, student volunteers like off-campus junior Jessica Alamilla are a great help.

Oak Manor and Ross’ apartment have been inviting places for TMC students. Around 4 p.m, Ross, Ross’ family, Logston, and Alamilla greeted the students as they witnessed a patio full of food.

Ross’ ribs were the affair of the night. His son, Justus Ross echoed this feeling.

“Those ribs were gone super-fast. I didn’t even get to have my last one,” he said.

The afternoon consisted of food and music for students who lived on and on campus. It gave them a chance to catch up with friends and to get to know new people. Living off-campus presents TMC commuters with the tough problem of getting involved. On a typical Tuesday, immediately following work, Alamilla scrambles to school. After classes, she heads home to finish her homework.

This atmosphere is exactly what the students needed.

“This is so fun. It’s nice to see people outside of campus. I love just seeing everyone out of the pressure of school,” Alamilla said.

Logston shared Alamilla’s enthusiasm.

“I was really excited for the BBQ. I just wanted to be able to get as many commuters out as possible, usually because many of them do have commitments. I wanted to reach out to the smaller number and give them a chance to make friends,” Logston said.

The BBQ Dinner fulfilled this need.

“It was a desire to get everyone you don’t usually see, together,” Ross said.

Next year, the leadership team will expand to include seven new members. Chosen by Ross, these individuals parallel Logston’s and Alamilla’s aspiration to see a greater execution of similar events. This passionate team will be ready to manage the 250 off-campus students.

By Keylin Portillo

Ecclesiastes in practice: A testimony of Cody Cantabrana — by Jen Gibb

ecclesiastesIn a community of mostly 18-22-year-olds, the experiences and thoughts of a 28-year-old can stand out from the crowd. Cody Cantabrana, a Senior Theology major from San Diego, is exactly one of those 28-year-olds who, although still young, has lived a life very different from most of the college students he is around.

He makes no claim to know all the wisdom of Solomon, but the parallels between Ecclesiastes and the experiences of his life are hard to miss.

You can hear them in his words.

“What advantage does a man have in all his work which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.”

“My earliest memories that I have are of going to the park when I was a little kid with my dad. I hung out with my dad a lot. My mom worked far away for JPMorgan Chase. She’s actually retiring this year. But she works in the car loan department. She doesn’t work for the bank she works for corporate. My dad’s a barber. He owns his own hair salon so I remember hanging out with him a lot.

“We went to Holiday Park a two minute drive from my house. We used to go there when I was probably five or something. It was a wooden park. You know how everything is made out of plastic nowadays; I feel super old but it was constructed of wood and metal. Those are the old school kind. I remember going down the slide, and there was sand on the bottom, not rubber.”

 “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth. . . . Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”

“[We] went to church every Sunday: Carlsbad Community Church. We didn’t talk about it, though. We just went because it was something to do. I remember sitting in Sunday School where they had the felt board. I didn’t remember anything, just that Moses and David looked alike on the felt board.

“I think when I was younger I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I think I know this Jesus character.’ Then my motives were different when I was in high school. I was going to high school group because of girls.

“Then I’d go to Hume Lake for the summers because it was a different change of pace than staying at home. But I didn’t really participate. I’d hang out with all of the gothic kids and the kids whose parents made them go. I felt like I fit more in with that crowd.”

“I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ . . . All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure . . . and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind.”

“I graduated from high school and moved to Hollywood. I went to music school for recording and engineering at Musicians Institute. And I worked at the House of Blues as music hall security, also known as a bouncer.

“I was trying to do as much as I could to fulfill myself whether that was girls, partying, fighting, music—I loved music. I still do love music—I wanted to live that lifestyle that I thought would be most desirable and when I hit that point . . . it wasn’t.

“One of the biggest moments was when I ran into one of my favorite musicians in Ralph’s. His name is Jesse Hughes and he’s in a band called Eagles of Death Metal. He’s a really nice guy, but the more I talked to him the more I saw a sense of emptiness in his life. He was waiting for his coke dealer so that’s why he was talking to us. He actually gave us his phone number and told us to call him up because he was having a party at a hotel and he was having a bunch of porn stars and stuff and a bunch of musicians were going to be there.

“At first I was like, ‘Oh cool. Sick!’ And then we got back and I thought, ‘That’s so depressing. This is the life I want to live. Is this what I want for myself?’ It seemed so . . . empty. I kind of hit rock bottom at that point. I had used up all of my vices.’

“The heart of fools is in the house of mirth . . . as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.”

“One thing about the House of Blues that got me is that it showed me the depravity of the world. It was eye opening to see how people would react when they have the Fridays off work and they would come in and just want to do their own thing. There were porn parties that we had to work. You’d see the rich people snorting coke. Some of the bands that would play would be super dark. It was very much a gloomy experience and showed me how dark things can get.”

“What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.”

“When I was working one night my friends moved out so I was left paying the rent for myself which I couldn’t do so I had to move out. My parents were loving enough to bring me back home to San Diego. I moved back and started to do the same thing I was doing in Hollywood. I met up with a lot of high school and then played on a softball team but I would get super high or super drunk and then we’d play softball and party and I was dating around as well. And then, I don’t know, I just hit this moment of [thinking], are there any answers out there?

“I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business . . . for in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

“I started to look at religions and test if they were right or not. So I started with Islam because I thought that was the total opposite of America. I didn’t want to touch Christianity because I had been around that boat a while. I read the Quran for what it was. It seemed very political. I tried to research all of their apologists and listen to [them] online, and it seemed too political for me. It seemed like it had an agenda more than a hope. I threw it out.

“Then I was into Buddhism and Hinduism. I actually really liked them. I thought they had a lot of good things to say. But they didn’t deal with death and death is something we all have to face in understanding, contemplate and acknowledge. They are very humanistic, and they didn’t want to tackle death so I threw them out.

“Then I went to Christianity because I wanted to prove Jesus wrong so once I proved Jesus wrong then I can move over to Judaism. And then if I could prove Judaism wrong then I could get rid of religion altogether and I could just live life the way I feel.”

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come.”

“I read the Gospels but I couldn’t really understand them. But I read Mere Christianity with the trilemma effect, which is: Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or he’s telling the truth. So I went with that and though, well, he’s not crazy because a lot of religions accept him as a good teacher. So I was left with a liar, and it was hard for me to get past that and so logically I came to the conclusion that Jesus is who he said he was.

“At that time, though, I was still doing the same things. I was still doing drugs and stuff but this time I was going to church were my parents were going.”

“The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person.”

“I always tell people you’ll know when the Spirit enlightens you or illuminates you to understanding the truth, and I think that became a reality when I was going to a men’s Bible study. I stopped at a light and thought, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. Why am I doing this religion and still doing the same thing? Either I’m going to be 100% in or 100% out. I feel like I’m still serving two masters.’ And since then, everything changed.

“I was in a band and we would practice at least three or four times a week. We would drink and do drugs when we would practice so when I got saved I went to practice one day and told them, ‘I’m not going to do this any more. I’m done. I’m a follower of Christ and I can’t live this lifestyle any more and I need to get away from it because it keeps slowing me down.’

“So I lost my best friends. I started at zero. With nothing.”

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”

By Jen Gibb