I never know how to start a testimony, nor how to approach the topic: I usually kinda spew it out in some weird or awkward manner. I have tried and have skimmed over topics, left out details, or even said too much. I remember I shared my testimony one time and actually lost a friend because of its content. Today I will do my best to again try and share my faith and how Biola has helped further shape it. 

I grew up in a Christian home my whole life. My parents actually met at Azusa Pacific University—in the same city where they got married and moved to Redding, California. There, I went to Little Country Church and Country Christian School until 8th grade. I loved my Christian community and I am blessed to say that I was a part of it, however, sometimes it felt so fragmented and fake. My faith was never challenged but presented to me at face value and expected to be accepted—no questions asked. I knew that I didn’t want to go to a Christian high school. I wanted to escape my shelter and see the "real" world without the comfort of a community that thought exactly like me.

I never truly felt like my faith was my own, and I carried with me a judgmental and legalistic sense of Christianity that began to really take root in middle school. It continued throughout most of high school as my friends were engaging in things I considered “sin”. I was quick to point a finger before looking to my own shortcomings. My friends stopped telling me what they were doing because they were afraid I would tell my dad, a teacher at the school, or judge them. I was blinded to the ways of how to to truly love as a Christian. I thought that if I “judged” and condemned my friends for what they were doing, then that was me acting out of love. I finally brought myself to a place of humility in realization that we all sin, and not to first come forward in condemnation but in love.

I will spare details of the exact things my life has seen because they may be intense for some readers. Let me just say that my life has seen its share of battles in the realm of mental health and addiction. However, through all of that (and with the loving support of friends, family, and my Biola community) I can now happily say that I am cleaner, healthier, and more appreciative of God’s unfailing love through it all. I shouldn’t be where I am today with the path that I was gong on—and now I wake up knowing that, but also knowing how grateful I should be for the fact that I have the life I do. If you want to know more personal details, you can always reach out to me.

Life can be messy, and things happen that you may have never thought possible. But if my testimony is anything, I want it to be a message of hope. That even through questioning everything and living through traumatic experiences and pain, God will always continue fighting for you and your heart. I’m proud to be a part of a community that has accepted my faults and struggles and has walked with me through them all. I am forever thankful for the student care team we have at Biola for being patient with me and finding the best plan for me to continue growing here on campus. Though I may start to feel alone in my struggles, I am reminded how surrounded I am by loving arms to embrace me through the difficult times. And although my time here on campus is coming to a close, through all the anguish and hardships, I am proud to say I am finding my footing in my faith and becoming more able to navigate this experience.

Max behind the camera